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MILITARY

EXPLAINED: What is Sweden’s Home Guard and who can join?

Sweden's Home Guard are a volunteer branch of the armed forces who are responsible for defending Swedish territory and assisting society in times of crisis. But how many are there, and who can join?

EXPLAINED: What is Sweden's Home Guard and who can join?
Crown Princess Victoria attending a Home Guard exercise in September 2021. Photo: Ulf Palm/TT

What are the requirements for applicants?

To apply for the Home Guard (Hemvärnet in Swedish) – you must be over 18, speak good Swedish and be a Swedish citizen. You can apply if you are a dual citizen, so long as one of your citizenships is Swedish.

You can be a member of the Home Guard until you turn 70, although people applying for the first time who are over the age of 57 are not usually accepted. This is done on a case-by-case basis, so you may be accepted even if you are above this age.

You must also undergo a security test, where your suitability for a classified role will be assessed, as well as a foundation course for volunteers (Grundläggande utbildning för frivilliga or GU-F) if you have not previously undertaken military service or basic military training.

Can I take time off work to train?

There is no law stating that you can take time off work to take the GU-F course prior to joining the Home Guard, but many employers will grant time off for their employees to attend Home Guard training. Once your application is accepted and you become a member of the Home Guard, you have the right to take time off to serve. Usually, you will serve between 4-13 days per year.

You will receive free food and lodging during training, and may be able to borrow equipment. You have the right to free transport to and from training, and the right to healthcare, including during the journey there and back.

If you take part in a course lasting more than two days, you will receive a financial benefit – this is based on your income and is currently between 1,191 and 130 kronor per day.

How do I apply?

If you fill these criteria, you can apply online to the Home Guard’s website, after which your local battalion will contact you for the next steps in the process.

Some battalions have more applicants than others – and therefore longer waiting times – so it may take some time before you receive a reply, depending on where in Sweden you live.

If I am accepted, am I employed by the Home Guard?

No. 

As a member of the Home Guard, you sign a contract to serve 4-13 days per year, and you must serve if the country is placed into a state of höjd beredskap or “heightened preparedness”, which the government will announce if there is a risk of war breaking out.

You may also assist if there is a crisis or natural catastrophe.

How many applications do the Home Guard usually have per year?

Between 2017 and 2021, the Home Guard received between 4,000 and 5,000 applications per year.

From January 1st to March 7th 2022, the Home Guard received more than three times this number – a total of 15,285 applications.

There are approximately 21,000 members across the country.

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MILITARY

IN PICS: The assault ship USS Kearsarge arrives in Stockholm

The USS Kearsarge, a 257-metre amphibious assault ship, arrived in Stockholm on June 2nd. It is in the region to take part in the Baltic Operations (Baltops) military exercise.

IN PICS: The assault ship USS Kearsarge arrives in Stockholm

The USS Kearsarge isn’t the only military vessel expected to arrive in Stockholm for this exercise – around 40 vessels from 13 nations will be arriving and mooring in the capital in the coming days.

Here’s a video showing the ship working its way through Oxdjupet, a strait between two islands in the Stockholm archipelago.

The Kearsarge will be in Stockholm until June 5th.

 

This is the 51st time the Baltops exercise has been held, with this year’s exercise including air defence, submarine detection, mine disposal, amphibious operations and medical exercises.

As well as Sweden, 16 other nations are taking part, with Sweden and Finland coordinating with members of the Nato alliance.

The military exercise is being held in parallel with celebration of the Swedish Navy’s 500th anniversary, and will end on June 17th.

The USS Kearsarge and a Djurgården ferry in Stockholm harbour. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
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