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Swedish military issues foreign duty ultimatum

TT/The Local · 24 Sep 2010, 11:22

Published: 24 Sep 2010 11:22 GMT+02:00

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"We feel completely steamrollered," said Lars Fresker, chairperson of the Swedish Military Officers' Association (Officersförbundet).

All Swedish regiments will on Friday report to the Armed Forces Headquarters how many of their personnel have accepted the new employment contract which includes mandatory foreign duty. The contract overs all 25,000 employees.

The staff have until Monday at the latest to decide whether to accept the terms.

Armed Forces' employers have been clear that the consequences of not signing the contract could include redundancy.

At the Armed Forces in Blekinge in southern Sweden, some 137 people risk redundancy after rejecting the contract, due to the foreign service requirement.

Lars Fresker is highly critical of how the issue has been managed by the military authorities and considers the most serious part to be that members don't know what it is they are signing up to.

"The details over how often the postings would occur, and possible exceptions regarding having small children, or sickness, are not clear. There is a significant level of concern among members," he said.

Fresker also questioned why there are large numbers of administrative staff also covered by the new requirements.

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"There are groups such as economists, pay administrators that we do not understand why they should be covered by this. Are they going to sit in Afghanistan and pay out salaries," said Lars Fresker.

According to Per-Olof Stålesjö, director of human relations at the Armed Forces, the uniform contracts are for reasons of solidarity and that all should be prepared to travel, officers as well as lawyers and economists.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:28 September 24, 2010 by byke
speechless ......
12:34 September 24, 2010 by AirForceGuy
Foreign service is an assumed possibility in all other militaries in the free world, why not Sweden? They too need to fill their 'responsibilities' to preserve world peace just at all other civilized countries do. And there are many overseas posting for troops other than in the combat arms; administrative and logistics funtions are vitally important in war zones too.
12:42 September 24, 2010 by gplusa
Unbelievable. Imagine joining the army and then being asked to go and fight someone. That's the last thing you would expect.
12:51 September 24, 2010 by swedekk
It's one thing to defend your own country, and it's another thing to defend someone else' country.

I don't know your nationalities but today US for example only fight at places where they can gain money (oil, raw materials, etc).

Please step down form your high horses or join the army and do service in a foreign country.
12:51 September 24, 2010 by dizzy09
13:28 September 24, 2010 by Rapier
I don't think that the member's of the Armed forces here are particularly worried about going overseas on a tour of duty. It is more an issue of contract and the basic rights of an employee and the obligations that employers have.

The serving members of the armed forces, signed a contract I believe that did not cover going on these tours, so as in any other business if you want to expand the "scope of work" then that means the existing contract needs up dating through negotiation...not intimidation.
13:28 September 24, 2010 by tillerman
Join the Army a see Skåne! What a crazy way to think.

Swedekk: It is true that the US fights in places considered strategic for resources, but remember that when US did not want to go to the Balkins, Europe pressured them into it. There were no resources the U.S. wanted when it deployed to East Timor, Somalia, Sierre Leone, Zaire, Central African Republic...
13:48 September 24, 2010 by Marko2010S
@tillerman #7

It's pretty clear that you worship the US, good for you (No one cares though!).

1) It is called "Balkans" you bloody-goon.

2) US and Europe thought about after tens of thousands of muslims were killed. Shame on them all.

3) As for the african countries you've mention, go and get some basic education about the diamond sources. Then, open your mouth.

@swedekk #4

I agree with your second paragraph about the US. But if we put your first paragraph into action, then, it will turn out that you are such an ignorant jester because you showed that you know nothing about Sweden.
14:20 September 24, 2010 by jack sprat
Oh dear,it must have come as a terrible shock to the poor guys.

I mean they were probably expecting staying close to home in a nice warm cosy barrack with all mod cons till it was time for their pension.
14:23 September 24, 2010 by Tall swede
And people commenting have no understanding of how the swedish armed forces work, think or why they do what they do. Its are called "The Defense" in swedish for a reason. We have decided to never attack someone, and that effects every decision in the armed forces. It was hard just to accept that our fighter airplanes needed range that allowed us to fly to other countries. People had to argue that we actually needed to strike the facilities in attacking countries too, not just defeat the soldiers they send into our country. With that in mind, are you surprised that people who signed up to "defend the country" now are hesitant to sign away their right to decline to go to some desert far away to fight someone else's war?
14:33 September 24, 2010 by wabasha
... but, war, technology, enemies, allies, and the world in general keeps changing. sorry boys! clean your rifle!
14:36 September 24, 2010 by millionmileman
For those who never know about anything before the day they were born, Swedish forces were fighting in Katanga Province, Congo long ago. One of the Saab Tunnans involved is in the Flygvapenmuseum, in Linköping.

14:42 September 24, 2010 by Kevtravels
It makes sense for Sweden's now all volunteer army.

But the missions they'll undertake won't resemble UN missions like Haiti or the Balkans. More likely to be like stabilization missions with high combat and an insurgency like Afghanistan and more and more likely to be Somalia.
15:24 September 24, 2010 by GefleFrequentFlyer
Sweden is such a funny place. They seem to fully understand they need to maintain some sort of military, but they are totally against the role and actions of a military.

You'd think they would see thier military as a tool of enforcing thier moral superiority complex....guess that's all talk....
15:56 September 24, 2010 by Jes
@ Tall Swede, you are the one who is commenting without understanding that the word "defence" should not be looked at literally in every case .

In military terms , "defence" is not always the opposite of "attack". There other elements in between . The army is an armed force , which has various assignments , combat being one of them .

Since its no sectret that Sweden exports weapons , it follows that the same nation subscribes to the notion of war .

it is also naive to accuse USA of fighting wars for Arab oil or African diamonds . Sweden has an industrial oreinted economy . How can Sweden hope to be player in the global market if it does not participate in securing peace for its potential consumers ?

What is an army for if it cannot "defend" those things that make a modern nation economically and idiologically survive ?

Anybody who has no stomach for tough situations should not join the army , period !
16:21 September 24, 2010 by Tall swede
@jes I understand it perfectly. But the swedish mentality have not always been that understanding. You dont understand how literally sweden takes "defence" in this matter. The weapons we made (ourselves), our alliances (i.e no alliances), the politics, what the armed forces are allowed to do. Everything have been done in a special way in sweden. You have to look at in from were sweden are in all these matters, not for where it should be. I am in favor of a professional military force and our presence is required in some places. Im just saying that people who always worked in the swedish system might not appreciate the ultimatum of "sign away one of your rights or you are fired!" when they performed their job flawlessly for 20 years just because some politicians want to use the armed forces for something new that these people never signed up for. Especially when this agreement dont say anything of how, when or how much you are paid. Just "we want to be able so send you away, if you dont like it you are fired". Everything else is still under investigation (i know, several in my family have to sign this agreement) and will be decided later. Do you want to sign something like that when you cant read the fine print cause they haven't written that part yet?
16:22 September 24, 2010 by seagull
I think both sides have it right. Any soldiers who have signed a contract which grants them the right to avoid overseas duty should be allowed to see out that contract. Going forward any soldier being brought in would not have that right.

I say this not knowing much about the swedish military,but in the end it is up to the employers (the state) to give the terms of service, so long as they fulfill any existing contracts as are. imho.

@Marko. Have you any other way of debating with someone other than personal abuse?
16:34 September 24, 2010 by Tiddler
Defend their country - ha! Don't make me laugh.

Since when has any frontline or even administrative member of the armed forces, in any country, ever owned a part of "their" country?

The owners own the country, and the owners sure aint the soldiers.

Perhaps the owners should fight for the land, I sure won't be fighting to preserve somebody else's land.
17:34 September 24, 2010 by Jes
@ Tall Swede , don`t be too sure that I am not aware of what the " swedish mentality " was .

If it was as simple as you present it , any "ultimatum" after the contract would be illegal , in whic case , this would cease to be a military operations question but a legal one .

Moreover , I not talking of how it should be ; I am talking of how it is . This is not Sweden during the 3rd W.war ; it is Sweden that has no option but to adapt to new global realities .

Today , there is almost zero posibility that Sweden could be invaded by another state . So , what is such a large expensive army for if its not going to send its troops beyond Swedish boarders if it is necessary ?

Would you support the idea of having a police force with some of its officers not willing to work at night ?
17:55 September 24, 2010 by Tall swede
@jes I mean the mentality in swedish armed forces. Just because you are willing to fight for your country in case of ww3 (which is what most people signed up for) doesn't necessary mean you are just as willing to spend 4 years away from you children to guard a border somewhere else.

The legal issue is the issue for a lot of people. A lot of military personell have "fullmakt", a contract that states that they cannot be let go, only moved around the country. And of course people get cranky if their life time contracts get cancelled if they dont agree to extend the possible workplaces to the entire world.

I agree that the armed forces must go through changes and adapt to the new world. But the way to do that is not to ignore all earlier contracts and without warning just force an incomplete biased contract in its place and fire anyone who objects.
19:15 September 24, 2010 by Jes
Tall Swede ,

the point is that is is stupid to have to ask a soldier if they will be willing to do this or unwilling to do that .

An army is an institution based on giving and taking orders . You don´t join the army and later think about what will happen to your small children should you be sent on the frontline for a long time .

Like the Director Of Human relations says , one should be prepared to go anywhere they are deployed . It simply has to come with the job or else you have no army .

And the trouble is that in the army , there is a legal window that permits the command to terminate the services of any soldier who refuses to carry out a reasonable order.
20:00 September 24, 2010 by Tall swede
Of course the new soldiers will have to agree to the new circumstances, otherwise they should not sign up. But many old ones did not sign up for that. And sweden do not have a history of expeditionary forces deployed abroad unless its peacekeeping that have easily been solved by volunteers. It did not come with the job for those who joined in the 70s and 80s.

If they signed a contract that said "we will not force you to go abroad", then you cant force them to sign one later and say "well, what did you expect?" Sweden do NOT have that history with a president as supreme commander. That position is a military job. They had one purpose, to stop an invasion and support the society in cases of emergency. And they dont get ordered around by politicians who are the ones conducting international talks and treaties of who started a war or not and what we should do about it.
22:28 September 24, 2010 by erc4309
When you wear a green tuxedo, you're supposed to dance in the corner they tell you to.
22:31 September 24, 2010 by jackx123
wake up and smell the coffee chaps. It's called ARMED FORCES and the personnel reports to and executes instructions from the military command, period.

you are taught how to fight an enemy, be it defending swedish soil or not but by virtue of joining ANY military you should be prepared to follow what is said in the constitution
08:44 September 25, 2010 by 4thtankie
Your country needs you chaps, man up, pack your bag and get on the plane, boat etc. To think that youre only there to fight in your own country is niave and also selfish. Those that think the US/UK coalition only fight for raw minerals is not only stupid but also blinkred "oh the resources in afgjanistan are flooding the market" Its known as fighting an away game to prevent it leaking over our borders. It also prevents the terrorists using it as a training ground AGAIN, any country that condones terrorism, does so at its own risk. Sweden has done its bit in the past and it will continue to do so...
09:34 September 25, 2010 by notpresto
They should be happy to go to Afghan.....It could be alot worst and more dangerous if they got sent to Malmo!
11:49 September 25, 2010 by Marko2010S
Good job !
14:11 September 25, 2010 by Marc the Texan
Time to man up. If you're chickens#!t, then don't join the military.
14:50 September 25, 2010 by Jes
@ Tall Swede ,

it clear that you are in a very tiny minority on this one .

Those old ones who joined in the 70 and 80s and signed that silly contract are now being asked by their "employer " if they are ready to adapt to new operational developments .

Should they exercise their right to say NO , then the employer has the option to say that he does not need their services anyomore .

The rest is up to their Trade Union to handle .

I am quite sure that the employer will be able to explain that he is not asking the old ones to quit , but offering them the chance to choose if they want to stay on and serve in a modern and REAL army .
17:14 September 25, 2010 by voidplay
Somalia is an anarchy with only warlords and pirates ruling the nation. Why couldn't have the USA used a fraction of their war machine in Iraq to bring peace there? Instead of fighting a Saddam with Dangerous weapons (WMD - Wonded Maimed or Dead?).

May be all these days you were cheering to the Viet adventures or that Rambo was fighting alongside taliban. The USA isn't the only country involved in this captive resource exploitation. The French and the British (not as much as they wish they did) seem to have a hand in every African coup or unrest.

Swedes have a right to be someones private army, when they sign up to protect their country. I wonder where the world has come to, if accept the belief that it is necessary to carry out full scale wars in two countries displacing millions for the sake of capturing 'some' terrorist with no reasonable evidence. How fantastic are these, the new world mind control machine called the media. They just need to keep repeating something until people start accepting it without any trouble.
17:31 September 25, 2010 by Tall swede
@Jes Tiny minority, all alone, except for the chairperson of the Swedish Military Officers' Association and everyone he represents. We dont use our army as an political tool and a meat wall in other countries and just expect that they shed blood and tears for us. We only call on them when it is absolutely necessary, and that is the basis of our agreement, they sacrifice their lives, and we promise to never force them to do it if it is not absolutely necessary. And to just expect them to "man up" when not volunteering yourself is a sign of complete lack of understanding and respect for those people who already serve.

But I am not arguing that this change is something bad. It is an adaptation of new needs and challenges. Im saying that the way they handled this is flawed. You dont force people to sign a contract that is so one sided. The american army way is not the "right" way or the only way (as proved before when we did have a Defence, and not an expeditionary force) so dont be surprised when people dont share your view of what an army is supposed to do or dont.

Just because someone said "i will follow your orders to the death in case of war" do not mean that you can throw them out or treat them as scum if they dont sign away their rights to you in time of peace.
18:08 September 25, 2010 by Rikey
You don't " throw them out", you put them in jail.

Sweden has found yet another way where a man can be a coward.

Just amazing history.

These kind of troops are not needed anywhere and the boys should stay home.
18:22 September 25, 2010 by Jes
Tall Swede ,

you have used the word "volunteering " so many times , it is like you are talking about Scout boys and not an army .

True , no one should be forced to sign away there rights . Unfortunately , an employer has rights too . These men and women are not fools . They know what an army is , what it does etc . It absurd , therefore for anyone to join the army and just choose to "move around " Sweden . When you wear than green Uniform , you have , in principal , signed away some of your civilians rights . You essentailly surrender part of your ownself to the state .

Let me also state that I agree that cowards should not be forced to sign anything . That is why I think that they should be left to go into other lives that are less risky , because the army is not supposed to be an allout glamorous business .
19:05 September 25, 2010 by Rikey
Sweden is not a warrior nation and that's good. America learned that age 26 was an important age when it came to fighting in Vietnam. Those over 26 were just as likely to shot their CO as the North Vietnam army.

A foreigner can join the US military and fight all he wants. If he survives he can gain US citizenship and be allowed a lot of benefits. Free 4 year university education. Lifetime medical etc. These wars are nothing like Vietnam.

Let those Swedes with this high level of testosterone join the US forces and let the others form a joint scandinavian league.

Let Sweden do what it does best.
19:33 September 25, 2010 by Tall swede
Of course volunteering is essential to have an army with high moral and capacity. Otherwise we get only stupid people who dropped out of high school and then start killingcivilians for fun, put electrodes to the testicles of prisoners or build human pyramids of them.

The american (and many other countries) may think this is normal army business to go abroad. But the swedish army did not do those thing. The swedish army did not go abroad. The swedish army do not have its own laws and judges. Why do you keep insisting that these people should expect anything else than what was required of them? And as you probably know, unions in sweden do have great power and influence, especially over government employees since LO (the largest union) is in symbiosis with the social democrats.

And please do not call anyone a coward. Anyone who signed up (old "only sweden" contracts or new "real army" ones) have done more than their share to protect the country.

The persons in the swedish army are not own by the government, do not have any special laws, requirements or rights. (unless they are conscripts, which is another story) They are just normal citizens who trained for a situation when the society might not be so organized and civil.
20:16 September 25, 2010 by Rikey

Volunteering here in the USA consists of those who have failed at most other activities. Left school, no job etc. So there goes your point.

Coward is too strong a word but it does describe Swedens government eg. WW2. That has been an interest of mine for 40 years.

Does Sweden still ban Boxing. You had a world champ, heavyweight who was treated like shiet by the Swedish elite, drank himself to death in Fla. If you can not stand boxing--what is the point to all of this?
00:47 September 26, 2010 by wenddiver
@RIKEY- Self identified leftist loser. One third of all young people who volunteer for the US Military are turned down, because the high Academic and Physical Fitness standards. Multiple Professional atheletes, Doctors and Nuclear Pysicists are serving right now as we speak. Rich and Poor tens of thousands of young Americans voluteer to serve in an Army where nobody cares where they are from, what connections their parents have, or what their race and religion are. They volunteer for an Army they know will serve oversees, will go into combat and will be fighting for the Freedom's of other people that we already have. You slander better men and women than yourselves.

I quote from "Viking Weapons and Combat Tactics" , Ketill Ormsson said The ways of young people aren't what they were when I was young. Back then, young men where eager todo some notable deed either taking part in a raid, or gaining wealth and honor in expedidions that called for manliness. But nowadays, yong people prefer to be stay-at-homes, sitting at the kitchen fire and filling their bellies with mead and small beer. That comes from Vatnsdala Saga.
01:41 September 26, 2010 by Rikey
I agree. Many of our 18 year olds are turned down due to what you say and due to the fact they can not read. They often have criminal records. Now with high unemployment, better kids are joining.

My boys did well in school and thus went to University.

"Multiple professional athletics" are now serving--shiet are you drunk.? If they are professional, they are playing sports and are not in the Army. One famous player, Pat Tillman was killed by his own troops and that cover up is still going on.

"Fighting for others freedom"--do you really believe that. That's why we are in Iraq.? Just like Vietnam? Even little children here do not believe that.

In short, it is just like Vietnam. If you are smart, like I was, you go to University. If your genetics are poor, you fight and die. Darwinism all over again.

I like the saga, have read and took a class in it at UCLA.

Thanks for the reply. What I said about the Army is a fact, the rest are my opinions. I voted for Obama--dosen't make me a leftist though I have great admiration for Palme. I think Palme was one of the greatest leaders of any country, ever.
16:29 September 26, 2010 by Jes
Tall Swede ,

your comment is twisted and does not make sense . You would probably use the word "screening" in place of volunteering .

I mean -how can volunteering stop stupid school drop-outs from joining ?

And - -it seems to me that you have already forgotten that you wrote that it is better to look at how things ARE , and now what they WERE . " the Swedish army DID not go abroad " is a too outdated line to rely on .

The government of Sweden today , which also happens to employ all civil servants , including the army , has the constitutional power ( not to mention the obligation) to use the national army for national interest purposes .

I don`t need to repeat that it is a smart strategy for a modern state to be engaged in international affairs , even when they are not the easy ones.

Yes , I use the word "coward " deliberately , because that is what you are called when you chicken out. The opposite of that is to join the army , put your mind , your heart , and your body in it ,while hoping that you will never have to go to war anywhere .

If your idea of a tough job is to move around Sweden , eating and sleeping rough as you go , you should become a truck driver or work for a circus .

Lycka till !
22:20 September 26, 2010 by L.Johns
Go Sweden, GO! The best think ever happen to all military personnel, jobs, jobs and more jobs. Viva Sweden!
12:17 October 13, 2010 by monica dahlby
Redan i värnplikten blev människor misshandlade och förstörda.

Hundratusentals soldater som varit i krig är förstörda för resten av livet.Fysiskt eller psykiskt.

Krig är organiserat mord och våra organiserade gäng uppstod till stor del i USA,när förstörda människor kom hem från krig och inte tyckte samhället var något för dem längre.

Ska mänskligheten fortsätta med sådana dumheter tills inte jorden existerar längre.

USA utvecklar hela tiden nya kärnvapen och hotar alla länder som inte gör som de vill.Redan Churchill ville släppa en atombomb på Sovjet.

De 1000 atombombstester som gjorts har säkerligen på verkat klimatet till det sämre.Ska människan aldrig bli vettig.Sluta kriga!
19:59 October 13, 2010 by rafa1981
I don´t like private soldier armies, (aka mercenaries) because:

-They can be longer in wars that in the case of being done with replacement soldiers no one would accept the damage, those armies also isolate people of realizing that also the enemy is dying and the real value of how a war is worth for the people (not elites), they are soldiers and they get paid so they can go, no citizen would go to war if it doesn´t feel it strictly necessary.

-They can act against their own people, if you have an foreigner army and they are ordered to attack the people of your land they can do it, a replacement army would never attack the people from who they come from.

-The people is not having access to weapons if their leaders are tyrants, back in the days of the swords maybe it wasn´t that important, now how people fight the leaders if necessary? they have tanks an weapons and you kitchen knifes (hence the American right to have weapons).

-Having private armies in all western countries is not done because we are more modern and better than our ancients, we are the most submissive people of all times.

"Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state." Thomas Jefferson.
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