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One-fifth of Swedish military conscripts 'fear for their lives'

David Landes · 1 Oct 2009, 08:27

Published: 01 Oct 2009 08:27 GMT+02:00

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When the Conscription Council (Värnpliktsrådet) asked the same question back in 2004, only 13 percent of conscripts reported believing the life was in danger, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reports.

But a new survey carried out this year involving 1,000 conscripts reveals the figure has increased to 21 percent.

“We haven’t been able to establish what caused the increase,” Oscar Rosén, chair of the Conscription Council, told the newspaper.

One theory is that recent cuts in military spending have led to reduced training on how to handle dangerous equipment and weapons.

“Having a service weapon is risky. You need a lot of training on how to handle a weapon,” said Rosén.

The survey also showed that 71 percent of conscripts who experienced safety lapses believed they were caused by negligence, while 27 percent attributed safety problems to their commanding officers.

Since 1995, 15 Swedish conscripts have died in accidents, with most fatalities occurring in connection with transport vehicles, according to SvD.

The problem appears to stem from a communication breakdown between commanders and conscripts when it comes to safety.

“Conscripts disregard safety when commanders aren’t around. We’re talking about just a few people, but it’s dangerous for many others,” said Rosén.

Story continues below…

And while he admits that conscripts need to do a better job of following instructions, Rosén adds that commanders also bear some responsibility for safety lapses.

“We’re talking about a communication problem. You have to success in communicating how important safety guidelines are,” he told SvD.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:45 October 1, 2009 by Dr. Dillner
Sounds like some should dial 1-800- waaaaaa. Life's a beach, isn't it.
12:39 October 1, 2009 by Gwrhyr
Well it's a good thing they're getting rid of mandatory conscription so people can volunteer to fear for lives instead of being forced to.
12:42 October 1, 2009 by zeero
Oh, come on, I've spent 5 years in the military (no, not in Sweden) and you never publish things like that... I can tell you that when the bullets are flying by the only thing you can feel is not fear but the Adrenalin rush.

Yet I can understand th SE guys, their fear is due the lack of proper training, I had the opportunity to be part of some SE mil training and in real fight, they will most likely die.
15:23 October 1, 2009 by spy
Well I spent 7½ years in the Army including 5 years in Recce - I enjoyed the rush too but I signed up to do the job and so my head was around the idea - it was my decision.

Conscripts by definition are not volunteers and they are only given a modicum of training as they are only retained in whatever service for a short time before being released. Therefore, understandably, they have a different view on military training, operations and their own fragility. Regardless of this I am guessing that it would be almost unheard of for a conscript to go on an operational tour due to likely political ramifications.

Also it is worth noting I have seen some pretty average regular allied soldiers too (especially from the US military).
18:04 October 1, 2009 by jose_s
pretty funny report after the previous one where "elite" soldiers blew up the wrong building..... hell.. i would be scared as well if my comrades were screw ups---
18:58 October 1, 2009 by hjoian
one reason why conscriprted soldiers are not efficient on the ground.
21:45 October 1, 2009 by efm
In an actual battle, the conscripts are going to be out there ahead, and may die. Those who are in the lower rank and file will suffer the most. Not the ones sitting in offices and computers calling the action.
20:55 October 2, 2009 by spy

With insight like that I can see you have probably been in quite a few battles. . . . On your playstation!
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