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Sweden's defence 'not fit for battle': expert

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11:59 CEST+02:00
Sweden's armed forces would not be able to defend Sweden should the need arise, according to experts, who point to the lack of protection against radiation, chemical and biological warfare, and the needs for field hospitals and helicopter training.

“The Swedish armed forces could not be deployed if the situation would require it,” said defence analyst Johan Tunberger, formerly of Sweden's Defence Research Agency (Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut, FOI) to daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

The government, prioritizing a “balanced economy” thinks that the armed forces should be reformed without a new cash injection; something Tunberger says is a recipe for disaster.

When the new minister for defence Karin Enström was appointed in mid-April, prime minister Reinfeldt said that one of the more fundamental tasks the new minister would face is to keep the armed forces' finances in order.

However, this may be a tall order, as SvD showed that the need for a balanced economy in the military has meant that planned material investments have been postponed.

The military budget for 2012 amounts to 8.9 billion kronor ($1.3 billion), according to SvD. But the 27 material investments requirements that the military will file over 2012 will amount to 9 billion kronor, and so eat up all the allocated funds.

And according to SvD, this is not even counting orders that have already been despatched, not to mention the Gripen fighter jet project.

Without these investments, Sweden is at risk, according to Tunberger.

If Sweden would find itself in battle and suffer great personal injuries to the personnel, it is “utterly demoralizing” not being able to treat them or transport them to safety, he told the paper.

And that the Navy's corvettes and the Army in general are lacking anti-aircraft missiles could have devastating effects, according to Tunberger.

“The Navy is already depleted and weakened. The ships haven't got enough arms and are not a credible force if they needed to into battle. That we have 100 modern JAS fighter jets don't matter if the lack of anti-aircraft defences in the army means we can't protect our bases and the air force is defeated while on the ground," Tunberger told SvD.

The problem, Tunberger told the paper, is that there are systems that are functioning as they should but that they have no chance to work together.

”The armed forces can't perform large scale operations and the overall result is that the Swedish defence won't be able to be deployed if necessary,” Tunberger told the paper.

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