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Reinfeldt irritated by Sweden's defence debate

Reinfeldt irritated by Sweden's defence debate

Published: 29 Jan 2013 16:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Jan 2013 16:52 GMT+01:00

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has described as "strange" an ongoing debate about the country's defence capabilities, noting that Sweden was very unlikely to come under attack.

Reinfeldt was speaking in response to the furore surrounding comments made by armed forces chief Sverker Göranson, who earlier this month claimed Sweden's defences would hold out only for a week if tested by an invading force.

Göranson's statements prompted reactions from far and wide, with Swedish security service Säpo launching an investigation last week into whether he had revealed classified information.

He has since gone on sick leave for exhaustion.

Defence Minister Karin Enström also drew criticism soon after Göranson's comments when she claimed that the level of preparedness was appropriate given the implausibility of an attack.

"There is no basis for the opinions expressed in the media and that makes this debate very strange," Reinfeldt said at a press conference, according to the TT news agency.

He added that the parliamentary parties enjoyed near consensus when it came to the defence budget.

Reinfeldt said an attack aimed solely at Sweden, on Swedish soil, was highly unlikely. The country did not need to focus on a hypothetical attack, he explained.

On Tuesday, opposition leader Stefan Löfven blasted the Prime Minister for referring to the armed forces as a "special interest".

"It is not a special interest, it's a national interest," he told TT, adding that the Prime Minister's decision not to take action was "worrying".

"One of the government's most important tasks is to ensure we have good defences," he said.

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Your comments about this article

18:04 January 29, 2013 by Eric1
Reinfeldt is living in a world that only exist in his head. Obama is disarming the US, and destroying our economy. There will be another power to come and might not be as generous as the US.
21:42 January 29, 2013 by Iraniboy
Reinfeldt has always proved that feelings have no place in his decisions for the country! Some may argue that it is bad though but it it better than the otherwise!
23:40 January 29, 2013 by jimfromcanada
Every nation needs a defence strategyly, even those who feel safe, because feelings can change overnight, but military preparedness takes years/decades of planning and preparation.
01:11 January 30, 2013 by saab
@ jimfromcanada

You are correct. Just ask the French who now find themselves in Mali, without enough transport vehicles, refueling tankers and other related equipment that would allow them to extend outward in the large territory under terrorist control.

But Sweden is not likely to extend itself beyond its borders for anyone at anytime. We are sideliners, for better (Iraq) or worse (WWII).
01:48 January 30, 2013 by prince T
Fredrik better wake up from his slumber. He is breeding terrorist in sweden. Does he think they will repay him in kind wen d time comes.
08:14 January 30, 2013 by isenhand
The worst thing that can happen to a general is a politician gets involved!

Here in lies the problem; Reinfeldt doesn't know what he is talking about!

You don't plan a defence on what you need today. The political situation can change very rapidly but it takes a long time to build a realistic defence.

You don't just look at Sweden as Sweden has commitments to defending both the Nordic countries and the whole of the EU.

You can't build a defence for a non-aliened country based on the idea that someone else might come to your rescue!

It is totally irrelevant that Sweden has no immediate threat today; we have no idea what will happen next year. On the political horizon we can see plenty that could cause the political situation to change; from the military build up of Russia to the political situation in Latvia, Ukrainian and Belarus. Even events in China could result in use suddenly needing an army!

With Reinfeldt that detached form reality I think it is seriously time for him to go. Unfortunately I haven't seen anything better form the opposition. S doesn't even have a defence plan for what I can see. :(
08:41 January 30, 2013 by RobinHood
Mr Reinfeldt has a problem. If he is to spend hundreds of billions of crowns to defend Sweden from a threat, he has to have some idea of what that threat might be. Equipment and training is then tailored to meet that threat.

Is it the Chinese with their nice new carrier? Is it the US and their drones? Is it the Russians hiding under the bed? Is it the Norwegians with their wily ways? Are the Lithuanians looking aggressive? Will nutty Belarus invade anytime soon? Will the evil Brits leave the EU and return to Empire building?

Mr Reinfeldt's problem is that the answer to these questions keeps coming up as "NO". There is not a single serious military threat to Sweden on a short term, long term or mega-long term anywhere at all.

So what does he spend his money on? Submarines, fighter jets? Bombers? Panzer divisions? Battleships? You don't just buy these things willy nilly, you buy them as part of a well thought out strategic plan.

Some posters here seem to suggest he buys them all, just in case. A strategy that has seen the US through thick and thin. But the US is a huge country and can afford these things, and often needs them . Sweden can not, and (until now) never needs them.

If anyone here can think of a tangible,specific, foreseeable military threat to Sweden, please would they tell Mr Reinfeldt, and solve his problem for him.
09:09 January 30, 2013 by jonathanjames61
Reinfeldt is only a man of peace,if we learn to leave with one another why pray for war,as for the terrorist among us they can only travel out to carry out thier trade,and they will be surely caught,hope you guys remember those 2 idiots in Djibouti,The sweds are very smart and deep thinker than any other living creature on this planet,200 years of no wars in the land is enough for case study from others.
09:26 January 30, 2013 by Iraniboy
The fact is that Sweden administration has not made any enemy over the past decades unlike many other countries so it is just waste of money! Swedish politicians know that and they are not influenced by this enemy stories created by other countries! Most countries with enemies have some other problems and they want to cover it up by exaggerating their enemies!
09:38 January 30, 2013 by isenhand
@RobinHood

You don't look at what country will do what as the political situation changes faster than it takes to build up an army. So you look at what type of equipment we have around today and what countries have in development and will come into use in the next 10 or 20 years and then build a defence based on that. A defence that has a certain degree of flexibility.

You will always end up with a poor compromise between what you really need and what peace time resources you want to spend on things so you need some sort of balance between the two. At the moment Sweden doesn't have that balance.
10:08 January 30, 2013 by ?????
Sweden has one of the best defences ever: its weather!

Oh, and another thing: why would anyone attack Sweden? For its oil? Its strategic location next to North Pole? For what?

OK, Army officers may moan in order to get attention to their useless job but I assume that Sweden spends its money way more wisely than other countries that see enemies everywhere
10:18 January 30, 2013 by RobinHood
@ Isenhand

"You don't look at what country will do what ...." Yes you do. It's called strategic defense planning, and threat analysis is a fundamental part of strategic defense planning. And when you have done your SDP, you implement a procurement policy; a policy based on the threats you identified, and your available budget.

Mr Reinfeldt's difficulty is his diplomats and military advisers can't identify any threats. Now put your money where your mouth is, and tell us all who is going to attack Sweden over the next hundred years.

I can't wait to hear who you have in mind.
11:51 January 30, 2013 by isenhand
@ RobinHood

- Yes you do. It's called strategic defense planning

And that's where it goes wrong!

Political situations change rapidly but the military situations doesn't. You have no idea what the political situation will be next year. It takes many years to build the armed forces. If you just pay attention to what this country or that country is doing or not you end up with defence that lags many years behind the political reality. Instead you look at what type of equipment militarise have and what new programs they have going. Then you build a defence to defend against that.
16:28 January 30, 2013 by Reason and Realism
@ Isenhand

If you look at the wars that have occured involving modern powers since the end of the cold war, these have been mostly resource driven (Iraq x 2 and Chechnya and Lybia for oil, The Falklands for fishing and offshore oil, Mali for control of oil and Uranium mines, etc..). The next area of tension will likely be the arctic, for oil and gas, and along which Sweden has no shoreline. The oil and gas driven wars may slow down midway through the century once the Sahara dessert and all other sun filled spaces are filled with arrays of solar cells, and all places that have a breeze also have wind turbines.

So there is no need for a massive spending on the Swedish armed forces for self defence, beyond a decent sized military police for token enforcement of Swedish borders, and to police the shores for illegal fishing or suspicious boats approaching nuclear power plants. In that context, the 60 grippen purchase is massive or even excessive.

One could then debate the utility of an expeditionary force (land, air, sea) to participate in distant conflicts. But these, by their nature, will always involve multiple partners, because Sweden never needs to rush off alone and defend any colonies or territories, since it has none. In any case the debate is about self defence, and not about the amount of military purchases required to support distant military events.
21:42 January 30, 2013 by isenhand
@Reason and Realism

Forgetting, of cause, the mineral resources in the north of Sweden and the opening up of the Arctic with the resources there as well which includes territorial disputes.

And forget that Sweden is responsible for defending the Nordic countries and the EU.

And ignore the Russians wanting to dominate other counties within "their" sphere of influence and forget about the fact that we don't know what tomorrow political situation will look like.
22:55 January 30, 2013 by Reason and Realism
@15 Isenhand

A few facts:

- The West would not allow Russia to invade Sweden.

- None of Sweden's territorial claims are under dispute

- Sweden's Iron ore production is impressive within Europe but is for example only 1/3 of the production levels in the Ukraine, and 36 times less than the production tonnage in China, who are flooding the world market with cheap steel.

- Sweden's responsibility for defending Nordic countries is already met by the size of their military, according to EU defence regulations.

For several years in the 1970's Sweden had the 2nd highest military expenditures per capita in the WORLD, behind only ISRAEL when the cost of mandatory military service and all the weapons development work in Sweden was taken into account.

But UNLIKE Sweden, Isreal had by then already faced THREE wars of attempted extermination by the Arabs, who outnumbered them 10 to 1, and wanted to drive them into the sea and wipe them off the map.

Sweden's military expenditures per capita have come down a bit since then, but Sweden continues to be better off than most, since many defense hi tech companies are situated here.

In any case there is simply no motivation to maniacally boost military expenditures and bankrupt the nation to create a larger army, navy, and air force, out of an irrational fear of what tomorrow's political situation will look like.
07:46 January 31, 2013 by isenhand
@Reason and Realism

- The West would not allow Russia to invade Sweden.

As the head of NATO said; Sweden cannot expect another country to come to their aid. If Sweden did get invaded by another country, Russia or otherwise, it would most likely be as a side action and The West would most likely have more important things to do.

- None of Sweden's territorial claims are under dispute

So? Is that with or without Gotland?

-- Sweden's Iron ore production

So? Easy gains with no army in the way.

-- Sweden's responsibility for defending Nordic countries is already met by the size of their military, according to EU defence regulations.

So? Norway is out side the EU and Norway has territorial disputes with Russia. And as much as I would like to have confidence in the EU's ability to assess the level of military preparedness needed in Europe I don't. Europe depends heavily on US troops in Europe and the EU is not a defence alliance.

-In any case there is simply no motivation to maniacally boost military expenditures and bankrupt the nation to create a larger army, navy, and air force, out of an irrational fear of what tomorrow's political situation will look like.

Correct but then who's taking about that?

A non-aligned country like Sweden need a realistic defence. Even if Sweden would join NATO it would need to double it's expenditure in terms of GDP on defence to meet NATO requirements.

It doesn't take much of look at history to realise that the political situation can change more rapidly than it takes to build up a realistic defence. For example, after building up the armed forces to fight a war in Europe including an ASW fleet that would only operate within air cover of the UK, the British armed forces never got to fight the Soviet Union. However, it did get surprised by the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands and ended up fighting the exact kind of war it had not prepared for!

Much the same happened after WWI where the British army would only police the empire and conduct territorial defence. It ended up fighting in Europe, Africa and the far East; exactly what they had not planed to do.

History is full of such examples.

They say the only thing we learn form history is that we don't learn form history. History teaches that political situations change faster than it takes to build up a military.

A rational government, a responsible government, would maintain a realistic defence. Sweden doesn't have such a defence. Reinfeldt demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of that.
10:11 January 31, 2013 by Reason and Realism
Recent history about being part of an 'Alliance'

- Lybia is nowhere near the north Atlantic and yet NATO sent hundreds of fighter bombers there.

- The former Yugoslavia was never part of NATO and yet Nato flew a 100 day bombing campaign in response to the seige of Sarajevo.

- Syria has never been part of the Warsaw pact, and yet Russia will not allow the West (at least no so far, after more than a year of war) to rescue Syria, because this is Russia's only naval base on the Mediteranean

Recognize the Nato leader's comments for what they are: whining that Sweden is not a part of Nato, and that he simply wants a bigger international force.

And incidentally who, other than Sweden, claims that Gotland is their sovereign territory?

The simple fact is that Sweden has no enemies, has no distant empire to go to war over, and has not been at war with anyone for 200 years. In the bizarre situation where Russia invades Sweden, the West will assist with Sweden's defence.

And here's main thing: Russia will not invade Sweden. The cost of invading Sweden for Russia is a world war. No nation suffered more in WWII in terms of loss of human life and infrastructure than Russia; they do not want another world war, regardless of who gets elected leader there. The last war they fought outside of Russia's 1817 tzarist borders was a proxy war in Afghanistan, which bankrupted them and led to the collapse of the USSR and loss of all of Eastern Europe.

Sweden should focus its energies on education, infrastructure, a greener planet, and some expenditures to guard against the odd terrorist threat, but not waste money to prepare now for a surprise attack from an enemy that does not exist.
11:10 January 31, 2013 by isenhand
- Lybia ... former Yugoslavia ... Syria

Thanks, I think that illustrated my point nicely; history is full of examples where the political situation changes rapidly, and therein lies the problem.

Next point: The military situation takes much longer to change. We can see an example of that with the current Russian build up. They started that a few years ago and expect to have everything ready by 2020 but it will most likely take a few more years than that.

- enemy that does not exist.

I wish I have such abilities to predict the future with such confidence, as I can't I'm going to have to disagree with you.

So, my argument remains:

1. political situations change rapidly.

b. Sweden has responsibilities that extend beyond its boarders so we don't just limit ourselves to Sweden. Even events in the far east could effect Sweden.

2. Military situations change slowly.

3. We cannot predict the future with 100% accuracy.

Therefore, any rational, responsible, government will always maintain a realistic defence force even if they see no enemy for the near future.

:)
11:42 January 31, 2013 by Reason and Realism
What you did not seem to undestand about Syria, Lybia, Yugoslavia is that although situations may change quickly, alliances act to protect their interests, even when the nation under attack is not part of the alliance.

And in any case Sweden IS part of the EU alliance, and meets their EU armed forces requirements and obligations for that alliance, and so automatically qualifies for pan european defence assistance.

What seems to upset you is that, according to you, we are not armed enough (even with an announced 60 Saab fighter bomber purchase, for a nation of 10 million) in the eyes of NATO, and/or that we are not part of NATO.

If Sweden signed up to NATO and John McCain had been elected president in the USA in 2008, he might have been stupid enough to confront Russia imilitarily in Georgia (look up his speaches on YouTube), and filled body bags full of countless thousands of NATO and US soldiers over a war he could not win, in addition to the two wars the USA was already losing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Any rational, responsible, government appropriates resources in accordance with a reasonable view of the future and current needs. My argument remains that a military build up above and beyond our EU requirements is a waste of money for a country with no enemies.
12:17 January 31, 2013 by isenhand
- is that although situations may change quickly

So you agree with that point? Political situations change rapidly.

- IS part of the EU alliance

The EU battle groups doesn't count as an alliance and it is irrelevant if Sweden "meets their EU armed forces requirements" or not. And as pointed out before, I see no reason to consider the battle groups an effect defence for anything anyway.The Swedish army is still not in a fit state to mount an effective defence of Sweden nor for Sweden to effective defend the Nordic countries nor the EU. For a start, the Swedish army is dominated by light infantry with no combat vehicles and then the problems go on and on after that.

- My argument remains that a military build up above and beyond our EU requirements is a waste of money for a country with no enemies.

Given that political situations change rapidly and, in additions to that, we cannot predict the future with 100% accuracy. We need a realistic defence. Sweden doesn't have a realistic defence capable of meeting modern mechanised / armoured enemy. The EU battle groups do not offer more than a token of a defence. Hence, Sweden needs to build up its defence.

:)
13:48 January 31, 2013 by Reason and Realism
Everyone knows that political situations can change quickly, but post 1945

allegiances among the most heavily armed developped nations have not. Two notable exceptions are Nixon's visit to China, which is credited with getting China onto the side of the Western allies during the cold war, and the massive change in allegiance away from Russia and toward the west of all of Eastern Europe after the break up of the USSR.

And still you panic that Russia or someone else will invade Sweden.

For all of the reasons that I have stated here and above, I remain UTTERLY unconvinced that Sweden needs to waste money on a larger military, and will write nothing further on this topic.
14:15 January 31, 2013 by isenhand
- Everyone knows that political situations can change quickly, but post 1945

Hence the need for a realistic army, thank you :)

- still you panic

Who?

- For all of the reasons that I have stated here and above

and they don't stand. As already pointed out the political situation changes rapidly. and you cannot predict the future. Perhaps we don't need an army today. Perhaps we have no enemy today. But what about tomorrow? Next year? What about in 20 years time? How long will it take to build an army to meet any potential threat tomorrow?

It takes far too long compared to how fast the political situation can change. Therefore, you always need an effect defence.

To put it another way; we hope for the best but plan for the worst and went it comes to Swedish defence there is no plan for the worst. Just we don't need one today! History has show how stupid that is!!

:)
02:19 February 1, 2013 by prince T
There has already been a suicide bomb attack knstockholmn

Sweden has fought in libya and afghanistan. It means we already have enemies.

Recent stories of so called swedes caught in terrorist acts will tell us we are not iimunne to attack.
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