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Swedish armed forces suffer new recruit exodus

TT/Rebecca Martin · 1 Jul 2011, 07:44

Published: 01 Jul 2011 07:44 GMT+02:00

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“We have failed somewhere in the physical selection,“ Per-Olof Stålesjö, human resources director of the armed forces, told SvD.

National Service was abolished in Sweden on July 1st 2010. Since then the Swedish Armed Forces have been trying to recruit young people with massive advertising campaigns asking “Have you got what it takes?”.

According to SvD, the plan was to recruit 4,000 young Swedes every year.

Successful applicants then undergo a basic training course (Grundläggande Militär Utbildning – GMU), lasting three months.

The new figures show that out of the 6,600 applicants to the first intake, 862 were recruited. Out of these recruits 15 percent left during training.

In the second intake, which comprised 300 recruits and is underway at the moment, the drop out rate has increased further.

“So far, 20 percent have left. We will need to analyse why this is so,” said colonel Lars Hammarlund, in charge of training.

According to the military, one of the reasons is that many of the new recruits can’t take the physical strain that soldiering entails.

”This gives us reason to review the physical tests and examinations in the recruitment process,” Stålesjö told SvD.

Story continues below…

A report from the Swedish Defense Research Agency (Totalförsvarets Forskningsinstitut - FOI) shows that the military was initially too optimistic in their predictions, expecting the drop out rate to stay at 15 percent, based on figures from National Service.

However, in the report the agency pointed out that previous experiences from neighbours Denmark and Norway showed that the drop out rate of new recruits often reached 30 percent.

The report also showed that an increase in recruits leaving will cost the already cash-strapped Swedish Armed Forces somewhere close to 745 million kronor ($118 million).

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:36 July 1, 2011 by planet.sweden
The parents of Swedish boys, particularly their mothers have lost the plot over the las decade, pampering and pandering to their every whim and trying to raise them to be "gender neutral" (trained to take a pee while sitting down and all).

The result is plain to see. Whereas as as recently as the 1990s, young people in Sweden were the envy of Europe, the new crop are a bunch of spoilt, self obsessive, ill mannered, dysfunctional, ar.se holes.

It's absolutely no surprise to me at all that these idiots can't handle life in even the most soft and liberal armed forces in the world. Hopeless. You only have to look at the Local's latest editions of "The weekend's 'finest'," so see the problem. Effete men in lipstick and make-up etc etc.

If Sweden comes knocking on the door asking to join NATO the answer should be "no" due to the exceptionally low calibre of its troops. Sweden is a nation devoid of real men. Young ones at least.
10:13 July 1, 2011 by Zeffanyx
It's so painful to read about these consequences of gender neautrality and liberalism in Sweden.

The army is a backbone of the state. It must be national, monoethnic and fierceful in fight.

The current state of Swedish armed forces is ridiculous: it just has either to go back to its roots or disappear.
10:24 July 1, 2011 by Luke R D
Might also be the case that more and more people are realising the true idiocy that is war. I hope their next intake renders no applicants, maybe then these war mongering nations (and if you think Sweden isn't, consdier BOFORS or a second or two) will get the message that Humanity is evolving.
10:40 July 1, 2011 by rise
That the compulsory military service fairly recently were taken away was a big mistake since now the military will have too small of a recruit base. In the 90's when I did my military service, that year 44 000 other people did it as well. When my father did the military service in the 70's almost 60 000 people did theirs in the same year. It's a big difference compared to the silly amounts they're talking about today.
11:37 July 1, 2011 by johnny1939
Well who wants to join the armed forces and die in American wars? Previously one had to volunteer to serve in foreign countries but now you have no choice but to go. The National Service should be put back both for men and women for the security of the country. This is just my personal opinion for what it is worth.
11:38 July 1, 2011 by Zeffanyx
Luke R D: The armed forces are named to defend, not attack. There's no idiocy in defense, nor in security.
12:43 July 1, 2011 by eddie123
The Swedish government should remove the restriction on immigrants joining the army. It makes sense to permit immigrants to join the army and fast track their citizenship process. Moreover, that could help with the high unemployment in that segment of the Swedish population. The US and UK have this provision where foreigners can serve in the military and gain US, UK citizenship afterwards in addition to an education of course.
13:02 July 1, 2011 by Luke R D
Zeffanyx: agreed. But have a look at Sweden's true involvement in combat around the world at the moment, and the sheer number of devastating weapons the *neutral* Swedes sell to people on all sides of combat, and I think if you're thinking with anything resembling a level head, this cannot in any way, shape or form be considered defense, my friend. The Swedes produce more implements of war than most countries on the planet. This goes well beyond defense.
13:16 July 1, 2011 by Stickeroo
The Swedish Armed Pansies! Damn deserters...the only physical reason causing you to leave should be a mortal wound!!!
16:29 July 1, 2011 by Icarusty
I'll join up, but I'm not Swedish
16:49 July 1, 2011 by Carbarrister
It may take time to get the selection process right and it may be necessary to do extensive preselection physical training and prescreening. My son is currently in US Navy Seal BUD/S training. They did that to get the passing rate from 20 - 30%. It is not a lifestyle for everyone and very few can endure the pain and injury. Men and women who really try but fail should not be stygmatized. My father told me stories about the Swedish cavalry just after WWI and I saw the same thing in the USMC during Viet Nam. If Sweden is going to have a military let it be a small but "real" one.
19:03 July 1, 2011 by Avidror
@ Zeffanyx, #2.

"It must be national, monoethnic".

I understand the use of the word "national". But "monoethnic"? Why?
21:14 July 1, 2011 by conboy
Planet Sweden spot on analysis my son will end up serving either with the Swedish armed forces or my own country's I served myself and would not have it any other way Swedish women have lost the plot and they are floundering!!!
23:30 July 1, 2011 by Avidror
@ planet.seden, #1

"It's absolutely no surprise to me at all that these idiots can't handle life in even the most soft and liberal armed forces in the world. Hopeless. You only have to look at the Local's latest editions of 'The weekend's finest,' so see the problem. Effete men in lipstick and make-up etc etc."

What the hell has the Swedish nightlife to do with the Swedish armed forces? And who are you to take Swedes as idiots?
00:13 July 2, 2011 by millionmileman
If anyone is contemplating volunteering in the armed services then the are advised to report in physical shape to begin with. Believe me it makes the process a lot more pleasant.

Swedes have to cope with heat in the Summer and bitter cold in the winter. During WWII the American skiers came up with the idea of forming a volunteer Alpine unit (10th Mountain Division). One was a Norwegian Olympian. They lived in the Colorado mountains for a month in -20c winter weather but they were already in shape, becoming great soldiers.

This just broke on the BBC:

02:40 July 2, 2011 by GLO
Sorry, most young men in Sweden are maxed out lifting a bottle. The rest are Gay!!!!
15:11 July 2, 2011 by Icarusty
Swedish men look good in a tuxedo though
20:36 July 3, 2011 by Uncle
The problem of Sweden is that the only logical enemy - USSR, ceased to exist.

Nobody sees reason in defending if there is no attacker.

The theories that swedes are too weak for the military program because they are too spoiled, is like saying that South African Recce had only 700 members during their existence because SADF was filled with little crying girls and not because they underwent a training that combined hardships of both Delta force and NAVY SEALS, whereas their mental stability was tested on par with astronaut training. The numbers of casualties (including GRU special forces in Angola) against these few hundred may prove this assumption a mistake.

Swedish military should be applauded for making it hard enough for the generally well trained swedes and not making it easier because of attendance problem. Additional money and PR may make Swedish armed forces as deadly as they were supposed to be against Soviet armored divisions.
20:57 July 3, 2011 by johnny1939
@ Uncle

You really have a good point there and we really have no enemies close to worry about for the time being. I still think that we would have a better chance of recruiting young people if the armed forces c ould only be used for defense of Sweden and not be deployed else where.
00:03 July 4, 2011 by Uncle

First of all, defense of Sweden could actually mean - deploying elsewhere.

The 150 troops (out of which, about 30 are actually fighters) in Afghanistan are specialists in negotiation and their contribution there is allowing a huge area in Afghanistan to live in peace, provide food and education (including education of girls) and continue on with their lives. Such a deployment should serve as an inspiration to the young kids and not a turn-off. Their withdrawal will without a doubt indirectly cause death of thousands.

Many other wars are taking place for actually saving people. Take Korean war, rampage in Kosovo, attempt to save hundreds of thousands in Somalia, Finnish war, First Gulf War... a lot of people are still alive because someone else cared.

Besides, units need to train. They need to see war in order to be able to defend their country if needed. From purely military point of view and leaving ethics aside, army needs action. Soldiers need to taste violence and fear. Otherwise there is no point of them sitting on a dark tower in a middle of the night at -25 degrees.
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