Alliance politicians call for end to military service

Four Alliance politicians have said they want Sweden to reconsider mandatory military service and have called for an end to punishment for those who don't want to participate.

Writing in Svenska Dagbladet on Tuesday, Eskil Erlandsson (Centre party), Ola Sundell (Moderate party), Allan Widman (Liberal party), and Erling Wälivaara (Christian Democrats) pointed out that during the 1980s most young men went through military training, but last year only 9,225 took part.

They said the defence department has set a goal of 8,000 youngsters to be trained each year – only one sixth of the possible total.

Sweden is not threatened by invasion and the best way to make the country safe is to push for peace in other countries, said the four, adding that most do not want to do their military service abroad.

They said the military has attempted to train a large group in the past hoping a certain percentage would be willing to do foreign service. The four said since nearly two thirds of those trained do not want to fight abroad, the country is dumping billions of kronor on those who stay close to home.

The Alliance members said the military decided in 2004 to focus only on those who take part willingly, but noted that young men are still legally bound to do their military service.

The four said in SvD that too many youngsters go to jail because they do not want to enter the military, which benefits neither the military or the individual. The said a law change is needed to adapt to the plan created in 2004.

Björn Körloff, director of The National Service Administration, said that if the military did not have mandatory service, it would be left with the least capable individuals.

“Look at the United States,” Körloff said.

“Without mandatory military service we will get what is left over and we will have to compete for young people along with the business world and the universities. The American forces in Iraq have had many problems and it is because many with economic and social difficulties join the military.”