Government opposes plan to scale down domestic defence

The government is reportedly opposed to a plan from the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) to reduce defense spending by 800 million kronor ($112 million).

Government opposes plan to scale down domestic defence

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.”

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.

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More women sign up for Sweden’s military

An increasing number of women are joining Sweden's military, with aspiring female soldiers now accounting for 20 percent of new basic training recruits.

More women sign up for Sweden's military

In 2011, the year Sweden moved from mandatory conscription to an all-volunteer force, 14 percent of recruits for basic military training (grundläggande militära utbildningen – GMU) were women, the Arbetarbladet newspaper reported.

The move to 20 percent represents a significant shift from the era when military service was mandatory for men and the number of women who volunteered was only five percent.

IN PICTURES: Swedish women in the armed forces – from Afghanistan to submarines

Mathilda Spaton-Goppers, a 20-year-old Stockholm native at the start of basic training in Gävle in eastern Sweden, cited curiosity and a thirst for experience as motivating factors behind her decision to sign up for the military.

“I want to find out for myself and develop my own understanding of whether Sweden needs a military,” she told the newspaper. “It’s pretty male-dominated. As a woman, and as a feminist it’s going to be very interesting.”

Sweden’s basic training lasts three months and was first offered in 2011. The courses held in various locations across the country, with the Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) holding recruiting drives three or four times per year.

Candidates are admitted after first taking a web-based survey that assesses their suitability and then going through a more thorough admissions test.

Those who complete basic training are then eligible to be employed by the military as either soldiers or sailors. Completing basic training allows new soldiers to continue onto officer training programmes or take a tour of duty with the home guard.

According to figures from the Armed Forces, 20,529 people, 2,822 of whom were women, applied for basic training in 2011. So far this year, a total of 33,146 people have applied, including 6,551 women.

TT/The Local/dl

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