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Sweden's military gaffe exposes large gap

The Local/AFP · 20 Aug 2011, 08:14

Published: 20 Aug 2011 08:14 GMT+02:00

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Sweden's military must explain an error in calculating the number of new recruits since mandatory military service was abandoned a year ago, the defence ministry said Friday.

Sweden's chiefs-of-staff recognised last week that they had erred in counting how many part-time recruits had signed up. The number was not 2,700 - as originally reported - but 300.

Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors is "very irritated by what happened" a spokeswoman said, adding that military head Sverker Goranson must fix the mistake.

In a report, the chiefs-of-staff admitted confusing the 300 actual recruits with the target of 2,700 for the period.

Since switching to a professional military, Sweden had set a goal of recruiting 6,600 new soldiers: 3,900 on a full-time basis and 2,700 part-time.

The new goal for part-timers has been reduced to 2,000 in order to make-up for the recruitment gap caused by the blunder.

The social-democratic opposition, who had opposed the end of mandatory military service, strongly criticised the government for its difficulty in recruiting.

"The government generally embellished the situation," Peter Helquist, who presides over the defence committee in parliament, told the AFP.

Story continues below…

In July, newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that the Swedish military was having great difficulty meeting its recruitment targets. Several recruits had given up during or just after initial training, it said.

At the time, the chiefs-of-staff recognised that they might have to ease entry requirements for new recruits.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:24 August 20, 2011 by eddie123
sweden can solve this problem by allowing immigrants to join the army, serve for a period of time and fast track their citizenship. this is way better than handing out unnecessary welfare payments. unfortunately, some dumb politicians decided that only swedes can work for the military and the hitherto mandatory military service was abolished. very poor thinking to be honest.
12:16 August 20, 2011 by Abe L
Eddie, that's a terrible idea as it would attract more immigrants. They should have never cancelled the mandatory military service program. It's a good learning experience for young people.

On the other hand, other then a few commercials the military does nothing to make service compelling or interesting. If you can do a few years of service and come out with some degrees or other kinds of qualifications, it would raise far more interest. In the states having served tends to pay off in your career afterwards, companies are happy to recruit you as it usually puts them in a better position for getting awarded public tenders.
12:42 August 20, 2011 by muscle
@eddie123: only by birth citizens should be allowed to serve in the military. It is too dangerous and risky to have people who just came to sweden. In old times, yes it was fine, but considering the rising trend of threats and various countries and various sects, the country has to adopt difficult ways.

Its not only if you are placed in unit which has no secrets or anything. Its the influence as a person you cast on your fellow colleagues....and many times you manage to change their thinking as well. THIS is wrong and dangerous.

My family members, (parents and elder brothers) belong to armed forces. And trust me you have no idea how things can go wrong after years.
13:16 August 20, 2011 by jostein

A state whose citizens are not willing to defend it does not deserve to exist.
14:01 August 20, 2011 by bells on the knight
eddie your solution is perfect.

take the immigrants and send them to afghanistan, since no one knows the local culture better.

after all the idea is not foreign. france has had this sort of arrangement for almost 200 years. not to mention germany, usa, spain and most of africa and so on.

moreover this was also the case during the "great wars" that sweden fought.
20:54 August 20, 2011 by The_Truthisbitter
@Muscle: The Service man in the US who spilled secrets of the Evils of the US military in Afghanistan was a Natural born American. So stop shouting loud about RISKS of taking in Foreigners into your the military.

Also in neighboring Norway( Utoya) the lone assassin who killed scores of innocent Norwegians was a Natural born Norwegian .

Examples of Home bred Terrorists abound..but the Media would always want to call them Gunmen, suspects , etc but refuse to call them TERRORISTS.

This teaches us that the RISK FACTOR is not a function of NATIONALITY
21:14 August 20, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Unemployment is high in Iceland. I don't believe Icelanders would be a security risk to Sweden and they would make good soldiers. Since they have no army of their own many Icelanders would probably jump at the chance to serve in the Swedish army. Look into it.
23:57 August 20, 2011 by muscle
@The_Truthisbitter: Perhaps it is because of the preventive measures that only some cases have taken place involving the citizens of the state. It is not a reason to state that forces should start indicting people who are not by birth citizens.

People do die in accidents while wearing seat belts. Its not a justification to say that people should stop wearing seatbelts!
00:27 August 21, 2011 by kenny8076
i looked into joining the military here after i get dual citizenship......but i would have to give up my US citizenship..... which i am not prepared to do.
01:53 August 21, 2011 by BBKING
Some of the requirements that should be eased,

1. The recruit can be a Citizen of any country.

2. He or she can be a student.

3. He or she has lived in Sweden for no less thatn 6 months

4. He or she may not speak Swedish.

So that it suits me just fine and earn enough to send money back to my home in Africa.
18:58 September 5, 2011 by Timec
Abe L - For some reason, when I first hear about a manpower shortage in some area, my first thought isn't "well, let's start forcing people into it against their will!" My mind will go more toward things like (as you yourself admit) "maybe they should try increasing certain benefits of taking that career path" - I can guarantee that, if the benefits are good enough (and they don't have to be spectacular or particularly expensive, especially for the "part-timers"), they will be able to fulfill their quotas. And volunteer workers are ALWAYS better than forced workers.

With that said, I would hope that, in the unfortunate circumstance that a return to forced military service is ever considered, that men and women would be considered equally for this "obligatory period of service" (surely everyone could benefit from this "learning experience.")

You say mandatory (forced) military service is a "learning experience" for "young people" - by which you mean it's a chance for young men only (and a relatively small number of them) to see what it's like in a career they don't want (no, not all, or even most men benefit from time in forced military training and service.) Besides the fact that social engineering of that sort - "let's force people into certain jobs so that they adopt some of the behaviors and attitudes that we want them to have" - seems a bit (extremely) questionable to me.

The day Sweden stopped forcing young men into military service was a good day for freedom and equality - let's hope that the deeply antiquated and unjust system doesn't ever return (except, perhaps, in cases of the severest national emergencies.)
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