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Government opposes plan to scale down domestic defence

Roger Choate · 7 Mar 2010, 10:13

Published: 07 Mar 2010 10:13 GMT+01:00

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The military would like to close at least one air force base, eliminate a troop regiment and halve training resources for home defence, according to a report public broadcaster Sveriges Radio (SR).

“We have a certain over-capacity and can carry out our activities in fewer locations,” said General Lieutenant Jan Salestrand.

The plan was rejected on Saturday by Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors, reported SR.

“This is a proposal which, if coming from the Swedish Armed Forces, will be dealt with in a year and a half's time when a decision will then be made," said Tolgfors. “As things now stand, the Swedish Armed Forces achieved a multi-billion kronor surplus last year.”

The plan was further opposed by Education Minister Jan Björklund, who is also leader of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) that is part and parcel of the center-right coalition government.

“In view of developments in Russia, my belief is that we in Sweden, in our next decision about defence, should seek to strengthen it.”

Story continues below…

The government has earlier been criticized for plans to close air force bases and regiments.

Compulsory conscription ends in July, to be replaced by a voluntary system that is not expected to require the same training resources.

Roger Choate (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:35 March 7, 2010 by albert1974
Just in Sweden, the Army itself can call for a reduction of its own budget and resources!

However, are they really serious in considering Russia a threaten to Sweden? Why should Russians invade us? To take over IKEA? And lets say that Russians will do it... does really Sweden think to have any chance to stop them? With a population of 9 million people? With Gripen (only Thailand bought it! not evan Norway did!)? Ah ah! We can try to fight back with snowballs!
17:32 March 7, 2010 by 2394040
Power determines what gets done in any nation. Apparently the government in Sweden, like the government in the USA, is told by the real powers what is going to happen. Who are the real powers in any country? Why, the ones who control most of the wealth, of course.
19:35 March 7, 2010 by badgerknox
albert1974 , I guess they don't teach history in Sweden. Don't you recall that in 1939 the Soviets invaded your next door neighbor, Finland? The Finns very nearly held them off with only 4 million people and without the benefit of a domestic weapons program like Saab, Mossberg, and Bofors. Remember, you don't have to be big , just determined, or as we say, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. And yes, Russia is a threat: ever hear of South Ossetia?
23:42 March 7, 2010 by wenddiver
The world is a dangerous place. To depend on the US or Britain to defend Sweden is foolhardy. They might be fighting for their own life very soon with a very agressive Communist China rattling her sword in the Pacific. The US may be tied up and Sweden left with an agressor on her border. As long as there is a Russia: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Germany will need a strong defence.

Go to Youtube and search "Reagan Bear Commercial". Explains it perfectly, better to have an Army and not need it, than need an Army and not have it, like the US in 1941.
03:14 March 8, 2010 by kzjh72

I liked your qoute: 'better to have an Army and not need it, than need an Army and not have it'. I can't recall having seen that one before. Another 'food for thoughts' qoute relevant for this topic is: "All countries has armed forces, either it's own or someone's else".
07:48 March 8, 2010 by wenddiver
@Kzjh72-"All countries have armed forces, eithe their own or somebody elses", that's good did you make it up???? I will have to borrow it sometime.

Swedish Veteran's need to find their voice politically, as I am not sure everybody who has ideas for Sweden loves the country as much.

You have a lot to defend, in a dangerous neighborhood; Look how long it took for the US to come to the aid of the Philipines and France in World War II. Swedens freedom may one day depend on a small group of determined patriots ability to hold on, like Finland in the war with the Soviet Union.
10:57 March 8, 2010 by Mackan2017
I'm no expert on this subject, but I've never really understood why the Swedes are so afraid of Russia invading??

Yes, I realise what happened in Finland all those years ago, but surely it would be more logistically convenient and make more strategic sense to invade and repossess the Baltic states than Sweden?? The russian military couldn't sustain a presence in Sweden for very long and, in any case, I think the Swedes are a very patriotic people and a guerilla/sabotage movement would quickly make life unbearable for any occupying forces. The 19-year-old russian conscripts would soon become very demoralised and their rusting tanks would make easy targets.

It's simply not going to happen. Leave your old army kit in the basement of your sommarstugas for the moment.
12:00 March 8, 2010 by Audrian
It is a pity that the present government of Sweden sounds like neo-conservatives. No major power can invade an industrial country like Sweden and rule it. Just look at Iraq, the only thing the US has done is destroy its infastructure and kill over a million civilians. It is planning to leave because the vast majority would not rest until US leaves. NATO (read the US) is not able to subdue a much poorer country, Afghanistan.

Russia military is a 1/10 of its cold war strength. Besides, if communist USSR did not invade Sweden in the cold war why should Russia (a capitalist country) invade a fellow capitalist country. Russia's population is shrinking and because of it it might eventually lose some of its territory in the far east. Unless Sweden is planning to send its army to United States future war, increasing expenditure on its military is wasteful.

The only real guarantor for Swedish independence now or ever can be nuclear bombs. The US or China would not attempt to invade North Korea ever because it is armed with nuclear bombs and has the technology to launch them all the way to Japan or the US. If this is a bad idea, then spending more money on convential arms is more stupid.
15:58 March 8, 2010 by stoffer
Russia is a still a serious threat, but now it is more of an economical threat, they use their natural gas and pipes as a weapon. With the Nord Stream pipe they will hold Europe hostage and Europe will have to do whatever Russia will want, or it will be left without natural gas in the middle of the winter.

We shall also remember, that Russia still has potent army, remember what happened in Georgia? They first provoked Georgians, then they came as "liberators" of Southern Ossetia. The puppet Ossetian government told they want to unite with Northern Ossetia, which is a part of Russia. Russia is still an imperialistic country. Have you seen photos from the anniversary of Stalin's death? They still miss him!
16:16 March 8, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
I see the pros and cons of ditching conscript, and going all volunteer, but unless something fundamentally changes in Sweden, they will still be woefully undermanned.

Like mentioned above, you only need to understand the Finnish mindset to see what Sweden needs to do. No harm in protecting yourself. I would expect in the next 15-20 years, Nato being disbanded and western military influence waning in the area.... and guess what will fill that vaccuum.

Then again, generationally, Sweden now is mostly populated with a bunch of pantywasters who never experienced any kind of armed conflict on thier doorstep, so it may be in vain, till it's too late.
16:45 March 8, 2010 by wdwizard

The argument that using Nord Stream Russia will hold Europe as a hostage is simply ridiculous. In fact, this is just another line of supply complementing already existing network. Actually, its purpose is just opposite - to provide Europe with reliable line of support bypassing troublesome Ukraine and Belorus. It's in Russia's best interest that Europe receive natural gas uninterruptably.

We don't want to repeat situation when Ukraine being unable to pay steal transit gas from Europe damaging our reputation.
16:54 March 8, 2010 by nneville
Sweden will need a stonger Army in the future to protect any resources in the Artic region that they have yet to discover or extract. Luckily Noway can take on Russia if they find anything in the Sea. But Sweden has the most long-term projected sources of clean water on the planet - and sooner or later, corporations and other goverments will attempt to take it. The next wars will not be about energy, it will be water and manpower.

They should continue with mandatory service for the youth, there are far too many juveniles with no sense of survival other than what they see on MTV.
16:57 March 8, 2010 by wdwizard

I stare in disbelief at the amount of fear you have.

'Germany needs protection from Russia'. C'mon, look at the map.

Actually, wasn't Germany invading Russia twice over the course of the 20th century?
06:55 March 9, 2010 by wenddiver

I don't know how your history books read, but the ones on my shelf have Germany attacking France in an attack to knock her out before RUSSIA mobilizes, starting World War I.

World War II ends with a Russian Army in Berlin as I recall. In the end it's not who invades who, it's who beats the other in the end. Russia has a long history of military dominance/Imperialism in the region.

Germany would do well to take a more serious attitude towards her own defence; Modern Germany is not the Wehrmact of 1940 or the Kaiser's Army of 1914.
21:11 March 9, 2010 by wdwizard

In my book Germany FIRST declared war on Russia (not vice versa) on August 1st, 1914 and then IMMEDIATELY attacked on the western front hoping to knock out France, before Russian mobilisation.
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