Where’s Sweden’s Defence Headed?

Swedish soldier and CV9040 IFV in the Californian desert.

[On Swedish defence policy.]

Speak softly and carry a big stick, was Theodore Roosevelt’s motto for international relations. Sweden does not have a big stick. Nevertheless, it is bad-mouthing the Russians over their problems with Georgia. This contravenes Mr Roosevelt’s sound advice on both counts.

The Swedish Conscription Committee wants to abolish general prescription in times of peace and instead offer a voluntary basic training of three months. There are a number of problems with this proposal:

  • territorial defence will be completely abandoned,
  • inertia if territorial defence is to be re-established,
  • dimished recriutment base for the armed forces,
  • the armed forces will be short of competent staff,
  • uncertainty about the size and life of expeditionary forces.

In my view, Sweden should choose a solution which maintains an effective territorial defence while providing the expeditionary forces with suitable recruits. If Sweden maintains general conscription but shorten basic training to 3 months then it maintain the basis for both territorial defence and expeditionary forces.

It is also important to make the expeditionary forces permanent. It is near madness to spend so much time and resources on the creation and training of a competent expeditionary force, such as the Nordic Battlegroup, only to disband it after six months, wasting all accumulated skill.

If Sweden is to defend its territorial integrity and fulfil its promises of international expeditionary forces, then it must have general conscription and several permanent expeditionary battlegroups, which also form the core of the national defence. It’s a hybrid of a conscipt defence and a professional defence.

There is no simpler or cheaper solution that is also effective.

Swedish sources: SvD, SvD, SvD och DN

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