Swedish soldiers “train with hangovers”

A new report suggests military service soldiers in Sweden spend more time propping up the bar than serving their country.

According to the survey by Sweden’s military service organisation (Värnpliktrådet), a third of conscripts have undertaken duties with a hangover. One in five believes the Swedish Armed Forces have a more tolerant attitude to alcohol than society in general. And they admit to having a bigger thirst for booze as soldiers than as civilians.

Researchers randomly interviewed 500 conscripts and a pick of the findings were published in Thursday’s Svenska Dagbladet.

Questions were asked such as: “If you have a hangover, can you skip the day’s training on the grounds of being sick?”

Compared with a similar study undertaken two years ago, the situation has become alarmingly worse. According to the recent report, every fifth conscript also believes their military peers are using drugs.

The conscripts were also asked: “Is it fair to say that the reason soldiers might use drugs instead of drinking alcohol is to avoid a hangover?”

Värnpliktrådet’s chairman Fredrik Lundgren says the revelations are shocking. “From a security point of view it is completely unacceptable,” he told SvD.

The opening paragraph of the report reads: “The results of our study are, in many respects, astonishing. There is clearly a problem among conscripts with regard to drug abuse and drinking culture.”

Responding to the conclusions, Sweden’s defence minister Leni Bjöklund told SvD: “Zero tolerance should be in force when it comes to being under the influence or hungover during military service.”

Last week the government decided to investigate the possibility of random drug-testing among conscripts, a move strongly supported by Värnpliktrådet.

As the report states: “In an environment with weapons, explosives and heavy artillery the government must take every necessary action to ensure safety. That is why random drug testing is an important step.”

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