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Swedish soldiers forced to train in soleless boots

David Landes · 26 Oct 2009, 15:29

Published: 26 Oct 2009 15:29 GMT+01:00

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According to a report filed by Captain Bengt Nitz of the Amf 1 amphibious regiment, based in Hårsfjärden outside of Stockholm, the boots issued to the unit’s soldiers were of such poor quality that one commander considered ordering soldiers under his command to refrain from participating in training assessments.

“The soldiers’ boots lacked soles and in some cases had been previously issued to other soldiers up to eight times,” Nitz writes in his report.

Furthermore, the regiment is so short on uniforms that soldiers are forced to continue wearing their only set of military clothing for days on end without washing them.

One commander fears the practice of forcing conscripts to wear dirty uniforms will lead to an increased risk for diseases such as impetigo, a contagious skin infection common in school children which can result in blisters and scabs.

In order to protect his soldiers from infection, the Swedish commander has “encouraged his soldiers to take their uniforms home over the weekend and wash them at home”, according to Nitz.

In addition to clothing shortages, the regiment has also had a hard time getting much-needed night-vision equipment and weapon accessories.

Nitz has now voiced his concerns to officials at military headquarters, warning that the lack of equipment could have serious consequences for the morale of troops in his regiment and the military's ability to hold on to new recruits.

“Better boots and two sets of uniforms are a must to be able to carry out quality training of soldiers,” he writes.

“Participation in exercises and the fulfillment of the goals of our training are set in opposition to our soldiers’ physical health. In addition, the inferior equipment sends a message to the soldiers – the exact same soldiers we’re hoping to recruit to serve in the future with the Armed Forces.”

According to Nina Enocsson with the Swedish Conscription Council (Värnpliktsrådet), equipment problems aren’t isolated to the Amf 1 regiment, but have occurred at military units across the country.

Story continues below…

She blames military leadership for failing to pay attention to the needs of conscripted soldiers.

“The Armed Forces give priority to overseas units and overlook the conscripts, it’s just easy to blow them off,” she told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:10 October 26, 2009 by the pigeon hunter
i honestly don't know what to think. i'm a bit speechless, actually.
16:14 October 26, 2009 by Tomandjerry
i know....spend less money on refugees and use those money to equip the soldiers
16:40 October 26, 2009 by Nemesis
Journalists have a duty to publicly, without any mercy whatsoever, to as publicly as possible name and shame the people responsible for this problem.

Sweden is starting to send troops to fight in Afghanistan. They need proper equipment and training, otherwise they will be heavily disadvantaged in the face of the enemy, which will cost lives.

Improperly trained troops are merely target practice for enemy troops. Improperly trained troops are not able to be effective in combat situations, even if later given good equipment.

Literally if any of the troops who have been trained under these conditions are sent to a combat zone, it will be like putting up a target sign, with the words shoot here on it.

Whoever is responsible for this, if equipment shortages cause troops to die in combat, them the person responsible should be tried and executed for treason. If soldiers die because of this, the people who have made the decisions are in my eyes, guilty of murder and treason.

This happened in the UK recently as well. Several people I know were running aorund collecting basic equipment, such as weapon cleaning kits, clothing and most commonly good body armour to send to family members and friends out in the combat zones. This was due to traitors in Whitehall in England sending the troops out to combat without adequate equipment.

Who ever is responsible for this, journalists have a duty to name and shame the individuals who have caused this problem.

Why has the Local, not named and shamed the people responsible for this?

Why is every journalist in Sweden not publicly naming and shaming everyone involved and screaming form the rooftops about this?
17:24 October 26, 2009 by Random Guy
..they have to spend the money going after those who file share. now that is a crime!
18:58 October 26, 2009 by spy

Journalists do not have a duty to name and shame, they have a duty create interesting stories sadly they are mainly interested in 'selling papers'. The government has the real duty to equip soldiers, hospitals, police etc.

These Swedish conscripts are not in an operational theatre so whilst it is a disgrace it in no way is as bad as some of the examples of kit deficiencies faced by a small number of UK troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
22:32 October 26, 2009 by richardbw
Even my grandfather had two uniforms (during WWII). Surely two uniforms are a basic requirement. However, I notice the Swedes tend to do something really well or not at all. So maybe the armed forces should issue recruits with a basic (i.e. not high standard, not combat specific) training uniform. That way we can protect all people in Sweden (including 'refugees' T&J :-) ) and still afford a decent social welfare system.
06:04 October 27, 2009 by rise
When I did my compulsory military service 1994-95 I think Sweden still had a descent defence. The country produced about a half a million soldiers every ten years.

That time has past. Today our minister of defence is a clown who himself was a conscientious objector during the time of his own compulsory military service. If attacked we wouldn't have the armies needed to defend ourselves. I think the politicians wants to make Sweden dependent on the rest of the EU or maybe NATO.

Here doesn't seem to be enough money for anything any longer. And people who are too ill and/or too wounded to be on the labour market - have to work anyway. But of course none employs sick people so the queues to social welfare-offices only gets longer and longer. But to get social welfare, you first have to sell the most of your stuff. This is a society falling...
07:00 October 27, 2009 by Rick Methven
This is not a new phenomenon. My son did Lumpen in 2004 and brought his uniform home for mum to wash at the week-ends
08:07 October 27, 2009 by rise
Rick Methven, I actually had to look for any English word for "lumpen" or "värnplikten" and didn't find any better words than "compulsory military service". ;-)

I did as Lapplandjägare but the year of 2000 "my" regiment was closed. The big slaughter of the defences began approx ten years ago. My younger brother did lumpen 2001-02 and it was apparent that the defences weren't given enough money any longer. Why do we still even make our own subs, airplanes and such!? Do we even have any defence left that's buying the stuff.
08:32 October 27, 2009 by Rick Methven
The Folk Partiet would close down the Army, Airforce and navy along with SAAB, Bofors etc. We could then Ask the Norwegians to take care of our defence!
09:57 October 27, 2009 by spy
I think asking the Norwegians would be a good idea - at least the put up a fight in WWII.
11:07 October 27, 2009 by rise
I won't answer for what our politicians chose to do during WWII. But Norway was invaded so of course a resistance movement raised. I guess our politicians tried to play smart with the Germans. But if it was right or wrong to let them use our railroads is a thing that still is up for debate in Sweden. But fact is Sweden didn't have anything you could call a defence - not until 1942 or was it 1943. What should we do, throw snowballs at them? When we actually stood ready to defend ourselves, the German trains stooped.

And don't forget the 10000 Swedish soldiers who _voluntarily_ fought for Finland against the invading Russians. At least those individuals are worth remembering.

Anyway now our navy plays Captain Crock arresting pirates outside Africa. We have a couple of hundred men that, together with Finnish soldiers, are playing with the big guys in Afghanistan. One can only hope that they actually are making any difference being there. If nothing else so just to stabilise things in "their" territory. And maybe more importantly: we can only hope that our politicians are standing ready if/when acts of reprisals comes to the actual Sweden.
14:05 October 27, 2009 by spy
I can see you lap up the Government propaganda as well as the next Swede.
14:58 October 27, 2009 by rise
I've tried to give a balanced view of good as well as bad things. Open up and read the history books. Oh, is it propaganda? Didn't think of that.

And the voluntarily swedes that fought for Finland, how can it be that those people were "governmental propaganda" since they weren't even there on behalf of Sweden. Does the word _voluntary_ mean anything to you? I have (had) grandparents who fought against the Russians in WWII. Don't you dare dishonour their names!
15:31 October 27, 2009 by Nina_
Jeez... buy some clothes for the kids! They even sell them for a good price in ÖB! LMAO!
16:00 October 27, 2009 by rise
Yeah there's an ÖB-store in the city I live in. In which they sell out old military stuff cheaper than cheap. Tons after tons of military junk that have cost Swedish tax payers I don't know how much millions or billions.

I don't know how many regiments that have been closed down and the military of course has tried to get rid of all the stuff. And now we read this! That they don't have proper shoes! Which politician are going to hang?
18:45 October 27, 2009 by spy

Yes the word 'voluntary' means something to me. As someone who volunteered and deployed on operations in a number of theatres: N.Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo etc. the concept is fairly familiar.

As for the history books, I think the Swedish record of participation (or collaboration) in WWII, differs from many other nations that took a stand; for example, the British, US, Norwegian, Dutch, French etc.
03:27 October 28, 2009 by rise
History is written by the victor, and each country's history books probably is written with a touch of patriotism. Sweden didn't participate to win anything; the country was neutral just as Switzerland.

As for the trains through Sweden. They were heavily guarded. My own, as well as my fiancés, grandfathers have had many interesting stories to tell. The Germans weren't allowed to leave the trains. Not even at the different train-stations.

And those particular soldiers were actually on its way to Finland helping against the Russians. Both countries were at war with Russia. I think it actually was good that, from Finland's point of view, the Germans were there to help fighting the invading Russians. Even how stinking and awful the Nazi regime may have been at other fronts. But by the end of the war, the Finns actually throw the Germans out of their country! Hehe. ;-) I guess Swedes have a kind of special relation to Finland, after all the country has belonged to Sweden for 600 years (untill 1809).

The war wasn't as black or white as only "the allied against the Nazis". It was many complications at many different fronts.

And regarding the UK, the US, Norway, the Netherlands, France etc, they were all attacked - Sweden was never attacked!

I often wonder why... I mean the Nazis rolled in in France, the Netherlands, up through Denmark and Norway. Why did they stop? They wouldn't have had that much of a problem to take Sweden as well. As I've said earlier we wouldn't even have been able to defend ourselves - at least not at the time of 1939-1940.

But then again, my grandfather have told of many, many shrewd or smart tricks to fool the spying airplanes and such. Tricks that would never had worked today with all the satellites, IR-cameras and everything. For example they were building "antiaircraft defences" out of ordinary trees and many other things. Just to give the impression that Sweden was very well defended while in the reality we didn't have any defense.

Today with the EU and all, with less nationalistically thoughts in the European countries, it wouldn't have been the same. We're all in it together. I mean, even we Swedes are giving a little hand (on the same side remember!) in Afghanistan even though we have less inhabitants than the city of London..!
09:34 October 28, 2009 by spy

Many good points however both Sweden and Switzerland did, in actual fact, profit from WWII and that is what my grandparents remeber.
10:40 October 28, 2009 by rise
I don't know much about Switzerland. But yes Sweden kept selling iron-ore to the German war-machine and at the same time we sold war-material to the allies. For example countless of Bofors-canons to Britain. We took a profit of both sides. And I have only one thing to say about that: it stinks! Earlier I stated that I won't answer for what our politicians did during WWII, and I don't become ashamed easily, but that part of our history makes me redden out of shame! You simply don't do such a thing! But yet we did.

I know that Britain had plans to simply bomb the ore-fields in northern Sweden. But for some reason they didn't... Maybe cause they needed our anti aircraft-weapons as much as the Germans needed our ore?

And after the war, Sweden was still fully intact so Swedish companies could get contracts and start rebuilding Europe! In fact much of the "world famous" Swedish welfare, had its start thanks to all the riches WWII and the time thereafter gave us.

In a way we help to supply with weapons and material to destroy Europe, and then we sold material to rebuild Europe again. And now I have to kill myself.
19:30 October 28, 2009 by spy
I enjoyed your candor - don't kill yourself.

03:34 October 29, 2009 by rise
Thanks mate! There's no point in spreading ignorance and lies...

I am proud of having had relatives that fought for independence (for the sake of Finland). On the other hand I hate politicians! It is their fault that many people today seems to despise "the arrogant Sweden".

But I think ordinary people actually are the same everywhere. You cannot really say that "Swedes are this and French are that". We're all just regular people trying to get food on the table.

I'm not so sure that the European Union actually has any future. If it's gonna be anything more than just a playground for the political elite, we have to begin talking and getting to know each other.
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