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Sweden names new military chief

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11:38 CET+01:00
Sweden's defence minister revealed on Friday that Sverker Göranson will take over as head of the country's armed forces.

Defence minister Sten Tolgfors confirmed the news on his blog ahead of a press conference scheduled for Friday afternoon.

“Sverker Göranson has received good marks and is an experienced and good coach for his team,” Tolgfors wrote on his blog.

“A primary responsibility for the new Supreme Commander is to take the military in a new direction in accordance with this spring's defence bill. The Armed Forces, and especially the army, are going to go through meaningful reforms in going to standing and contracted units, as well as more flexible battle groups. The renewal is going to demand the continued close cooperation between the government and the Armed Forces.”

Today, the 54-year-old Göranson leads the military's headquarters, making him in principle the right-hand man of current Supreme Commander Håkan Syrén.

Göranson also served as army inspector from 2005 to 2007.

The government's final choice stood between Göranson and Lieutenant General Mats Nilsson, who has served in the Ministry of Defence since 2007 as head of military defence.

The post has previously been seen as the last step on the road to becoming Supreme Commander, and was the position held by Syrén before he became Sweden's highest ranking military official.

But things were different this time, and part of the reason may be that, unlike Nilsson, Göranson has experience serving abroad, something which has grown in importance as the Swedish military had taken on more foreign missions.

Syrén, who has served as Supreme Commander since January 2004, was named in October to be the new chair of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) and will leave his Swedish post in December 2009.

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