(NSI News Source Info) March 23, 2009: Sweden's defence must be well-prepared to be able to defend this country and to contribute to stability in the surrounding world. This requires a defence system that is adapted to today's threats and to the rapid sequences of events in which conflicts can arise and be determined. It requires a functional, available and flexible defence.
For this reason, the Government is now setting a new direction for the Swedish defence system with a substantially strengthened defence capability.
Alone and together with others, the military defence must defend Sweden and promote our security. The whole of Sweden must be defended. Our preparedness is continually being adapted to the current threat and risk level of our region. Air and naval forces, including submarines, monitor both the sea and the airspace and can rapidly be adapted to needs both in Sweden and in our region.
"When I took up my post, it was obvious that defence needed to be strengthened. The political requirement at that time was only that a third of the operational organisation was to be available, within a year. What the Government is now presenting means a significantly strengthened defence capability compared with today and ensures that our defence will be strong, both for Sweden and for operations within and outside our region. We will achieve a defence that is functional here and now," says Minister for Defence Sten Tolgfors.
The main items of the bill are:
-- The entire operational organisation of some 50 000 people will be able to be used within a week after a decision on heightened alert. Today only around one-third of the national operational organisation is equipped and prepared for an operation within one year.
-- All operational units will have the same capability for operations, in Sweden and within and outside our region. This means that the division now existing between the international force for operations abroad and other units will be removed.
--According to the Swedish Armed Forces' proposal, 28 000 people will be in permanent and contracted units.
--The Home Guard will be strengthened and will have a more important role in defending Sweden. The Home Guard will consist of a total of 22 000 people and will be part of the operational organisation. Of these, 17 000 will make up the qualified national protection forces, who will be given better training and military equipment and will be under a service obligation even in peacetime.
--An increase from three available manoeuvre battalions today, to eight tomorrow. This means more than twice as much availability. --Twice as much capability for peace-support operations. It will be possible to keep 1 700 people in continuous engagement in international operations.
--The number of Gripen aircraft will be 100, of the C/D model. The number of new helicopters will successively increase. Main battle tank 122 will be retained and access to splinter-proof vehicles will increase. Artillery and anti-aircraft capability will remain of the same size as today. There will be seven corvettes, five of Visby class; the number of submarines in the operational organisation will be retained.
--Outside the operational organisation, a reserve unit of four mechanised battalions will be available.
--Personnel supply will be modernised so that voluntary participation will be the basis of manning the operational organisation instead of compulsory military service. This will be required for greater functionality and availability, but also for the transition to permanent and contracted units. The officer profession will be changed, with more specialist officers who train and command troops and fewer people in staff and command functions.
Today's threats against Sweden cannot be dealt with by yesterday's defence. The war in Georgia, for example, shows that developments can occur rapidly. This war went on for five days and was determined in two. Not many Russian soldiers were deployed to the area, but they came very quickly.
In the future defence, Sweden will now have more soldiers who can be deployed more rapidly, in Sweden and within or outside our region. The division between a national operational organisation and an international force has now been removed. Everyone should be able to serve where, and when necessary.
The security policy map of our region has been fundamentally redrawn in the last 20 years. The Baltic Sea is entirely surrounded by NATO and EU countries, apart from Russia. The threat of invasion from a previous superpower has long disappeared, and a single armed attack targeted directly at Sweden is unlikely for the foreseeable future.
However, this does not mean that we can exclude the risk of military conflicts of interest and incidents in our region, either on or around the Baltic Sea or in the northern areas. It is not possible to envisage a military threat that would only affect Sweden or another country in our region. But the new threats require us to be able to act, individually and together with others, at short notice. Security is being built collectively, for the Nordic countries and the EU. The Government wants to see far-reaching Nordic cooperation and sees no limits in principle to such cooperation so long as national decision-making power concerning operational capabilities remains.
In the Statement of Government Policy, the Government emphasises that the security of our country is founded on community and cooperation with other countries. Sweden will not take a passive stance if another EU Member State or other Nordic country suffers a disaster or an attack. We expect these countries to act in the same way if Sweden were affected. We must be able to give and receive military support.