Military cuts slammed by government

Sweden's defence minister has criticized plans by the head of the country's armed forces to cut the length of national service and slash flying hours for fighter pilots.

The cuts are among those announced by Supreme Commander Håkan Syrén as a response to a shortfall in the defence budget, but Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors is opposed:

“The measures so far announced have the character of an emergency cut. Many will acutally lead to costs increasing over the coming year,” Tolgfors told Dagens Nyheter.

The minister said he wants tighter political control over the armed forces’ budget in future and for the military to submit monthly reports to the government.

Syrén has been asked to report to the government on why there is a cash shortfall, what measures are needed and what the consequences will be.

The defence forces’ operation budget is 1.55 billion kronor ($245 million) short. Officers have asked to be allowed to take 850 million kronor from the procurement budget, saying the rest of the shortfall will be made up through savings.

The budget shortfall is expected to be at least as big over the coming three years, totalling around six billion kronor.