“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.
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).