Swedish military turns to jobless to fill ranks

Swedish military turns to jobless to fill ranks
Job-seekers with a military background could be required to accept a vacancy as a soldier when the Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen - AF) begins recruiting professionals for the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) in the autumn.

“But we are not going to force people to bear arms,” said Bengt Lyngbäck at AF to the Aftonbladet daily.

Since the abolition of compulsory military service on June 1st 2010, the Armed Forces have been tasked with attracting recruits for a professional military.

The Armed Forces have contracted AF, which operates 320 job centres across the country, to aid them in their search for 4,000-6,000 suitable recruits to enter basic training.

Once admitted to the military soldiers will be obliged to bear arms and required to fulfil overseas operations on demand, according to the Armed Forces homepage which details the job requirements.

Under existing regulations jobseekers who refuse to accept an available job run the risk of losing unemployment benefits, but AF told the newspaper that while policy remains unclear on the issue no one will be forced to bear arms.

“We have to be careful enough so that we don’t force anyone to bear arms,” Bengt Lyngbäck told Aftonbladet adding, “we understand the problem and are going to develop a clear policy to deal with this.”

The Local reported in June that the Armed Forces had met criticism of its new recruitment campaign for allegedly painting a false picture of life in the military.

The three advertising films – for the army, navy and air force respectively – feature soldiers battling a forest fire, chasing Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, and pilots scrambling their jets to meet an incoming threat to Sweden’s borders.

Fredrik Svahn at the Swedish Armed Forces told The Local in June that the films should not however be seen as a recruitment drive for a military career but should be seen more as a “discussion with the Swedish people”.

“National service ends on June 30th and will be major major change with the first voluntary recruits admitted on August 15th. We want to open a discussion and invite opinions on the purpose of the Swedish Armed Forces,” he said, while adding that the campaign website can also be used to apply for a job.

The centre-right Alliance government decided on June 19th 2009 to end 99 years of mandatory military service, which on average had lasted about 11 months, and move toward a professional military.

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