Sweden ill-equipped to defend itself

Sweden ill-equipped to defend itself
Defence minister Sten Tolgfors wants Sweden’s Armed Forces to have more units ready for immediate mobilization to defend the country’s borders.

Currently, about one third of Sweden’s roughly 30,000 soldiers can be combat ready within one year. But Tolgfors claims that the remaining 20,000 soldiers are lacking in quality and availability.

“We need units that can be immediately useable for the defence of Sweden,” writes Tolgfors in an article published on Friday in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

“Units should be useable in reality and not just on paper.”

Tolgfors believes that Sweden’s military needs to be more flexible and readily deployable domestically, in neighbouring areas, and internationally.

He also emphasized the importance of improving the Swedish military’s interoperability with other forces from within the European Union, as well as with members of Nato.

“Sweden needs to have more units available faster. This is also the direction in which Nato’s forces are being developed. Availability, flexibility and mobility are the key words for both us and them,” he writes

“Within availability lies interoperability, that is the capability of working with other countries in the Nordic region and the EU.”

Therefore, writes Tolgfors, the military should do away with the division between a national operational force and an international force.

The Armed Forces should instead consist of rapidly deployable battle group battalions made up of career officers and soldiers rather than the reserve officer system in place today.

In addition, Tolgors suggest that national home guard be transformed into a national protective force which can then work with volunteer organizations and focus on patrolling national borders.

“Through this strategy of renewal, we can achieve a military with better capabilities for defending Sweden, which can at the same time maintain high international ambitions of spreading peace and security together with other countries,” he writes.

The proposed changes are to be submitted to the Armed Forces on Friday as part of the ongoing reform of Sweden’s military.

In the spring, the government plans to present a more comprehensive proposal for the future of Sweden’s Armed Forces which is to take effect on January 1st, 2010 and which will describe how the military should look by 2014.