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NEWS | June 11, 2023

Forty Years of Service: Capt. Koefoed in BALTOPS 23

By Staff Sgt. Madeleine E. Jinks

Captain Jens Peter Koefoed is operational leader of the protection force in the Danish Homeguard Bornholm and is currently participating in the missile reload exercise portion of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 23). The following is an excerpt of a conversation in which he reflects on his career and his experience working with NATO ally and partner nations. This story has been edited to improve readability and context.

“I first joined the military in 1983, which I’m now realizing was 40 years ago already. I was born and raised on Bornholm my whole life, so I started my career right here as a Marine Corps infantryman. I served through the 80’s and 90’s and we had a NATO immediate reaction force, which was a part of Allied Mobile Command Europe. Basically, it was a group that was on call in case of any escalation in the area. You needed to be ready to go anywhere in Europe. That was what we called the spearhead of the NATO reaction force in Denmark in the 90’s.

Eventually, we had a different kind of mission when things settled and there was peace in Denmark. My plan to have a military career in Denmark was no more, so I went civilian in 2003. I worked as a vice principal at a boarding school and then I was head of the island Christiansoe for four years. This was a very special thing. In 2021, I came back to Bornholm and had a job at the municipality of Bornholm, so in all that time I was keeping my connection to the military. When Ukraine was invaded by Russia in 2022, I was called back to service. I know that Bornholm is isolated as the most eastern part of Denmark, so we are in a hot spot of the Baltic Sea. I thought we needed all hands-on deck, so I came back to it. For the 20 years I have been out, the defense of Denmark has been trained for international operations. There hasn’t been much about what we did back in the Cold War. I’m from that era, so I have some of those skills and perspectives I thought we might need again. We need to rebuild and stay strong. That’s my mission for the last years of my career.

We need to be more ready than ever. That means training with our allies and partners. I love seeing our allies here on the island. BALTOPS 23 is going to show how we can stand together when the time comes.”