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Swedish Armed Forces
Försvarsmakten (Swedish)
Coat of arms of the Swedish Armed Forces
Armed Forces' coat of arms
War flag and Naval Ensign of Sweden
Founded1521; 503 years ago (1521)
Current form1975; 49 years ago (1975)
Service branches
HeadquartersStockholm
Websiteforsvarsmakten.se
Leadership
Commander-in-ChiefGovernment (Kristersson Cabinet)
Minister of Defence Pål Jonson
Supreme Commander Gen Micael Bydén
Personnel
Military age18–47[1]
ConscriptionYes[2][3][4]
Available for
military service
3,020,782 males, age 18–47 (2017 est.),
2,760,451 females, age 18–47 (2017 est.)
Fit for
military service
1,980,592 males, age 18–47 (2017 est.),
1,649,875 females, age 18–47 (2017 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
58,937 males (2017 est.),
56,225 females (2017 est.)
Active personnel24,400[5]
Reserve personnel32,900[5]
Expenditures
Budget$12.04 billion (2024)[6]
Percent of GDP2.0% (2024)[7]
Industry
Domestic suppliersBAE Systems AB
Saab Bofors Dynamics
Saab Kockums
Saab AB
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Sweden
RanksMilitary ranks of the Swedish Armed Forces

The Swedish Armed Forces (Swedish: Försvarsmakten, lit.'the Defence Force') are the armed forces of the Kingdom of Sweden, tasked with the defence of the country as well as with promoting Sweden's wider interests, supporting international peacekeeping, and providing humanitarian aid. It consists of four service branches: the Swedish Army, the Swedish Air Force and the Swedish Navy, as well as a military reserve force, the Home Guard. Since 1994, all Swedish military branches are organised within a single unified government agency, the Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters, which is headed by the Supreme Commander, even though the individual services maintain their distinct identities.

The Swedish Armed Forces have a long history, dating back to the sixteenth century, and have played an influential role in the history of Sweden. They reached their height in the seventeenth century, during the time of the Swedish Empire, when they participated in a variety of wars; these include the Scanian War, Second Northern War, and Great Northern War, among others.[8] Since the nineteenth century, they have also played an important role in the maintenance of Swedish neutrality, especially during the Cold War. However, they have often collaborated with NATO, and were formally invited to join the alliance in 2022.[9]

The Swedish Armed Forces is made up of 24,400 active personnel, 11,400 military reserves, 21,500 Home Guard and 5,200 additional conscripts yearly into the Reserves (set to increase to 8,000 conscripts yearly by 2024) as of 2022.

Units of the Swedish Armed Forces are currently on deployment in several international operations either actively or as military observers, including Afghanistan as part of the Resolute Support Mission and in Kosovo (as part of Kosovo Force).[10] Moreover, Swedish Armed Forces contribute as the leading state for a European Union Battlegroup approximately once every three years through the Nordic Battlegroup. Sweden has close relations with NATO and NATO members, and participates in training exercises like the Admiral Pitka Recon Challenge, and Exercise Trident Juncture 2018. Sweden also has a strong cooperation with its closest allies of the Nordic countries being part of the Nordic Defence Cooperation and joint exercises such as Exercise Northern Wind.

Sweden has not participated in an officially declared war since the 1814 Swedish–Norwegian War, although its forces, under the UN flag, have been involved in conflicts like the Congo Crisis and the military intervention in Libya. The Swedish government has managed to keep Sweden out of war through a policy of neutrality.

Equipment

Main article: List of equipment of the Swedish Armed Forces

The Swedish army has 121 tanks (Leopard 2A5/Strv 122), roughly 1,300 APCs (Patria XA-360/203/180, RG-32 Scout), 800 IFVs (550 CV9040, 150 Bv410, 90 Bv308/309), 11,300 utility vehicles (ex. Bv206/208, MB G-Class 6x6 and 4x4, MB sprinter), 84 towed and 40 self-propelled mortar (12 cm grk m/41, grkpbv90) and 48 self-propelled artillery guns (Archer). It also consists of several different specialized vehicles.

The Swedish Navy has a total of 387 ships, including 4 submarines (3 Gotland, 1 Södermanland), 7 corvettes (5 Visby, 2 Gävle), 9 minesweepers (5 Koster, 4 Styrsö), 13 larger patrol boats (2 Stockholm and 11 Tapper) and 9 specialised ships with different support duties. The rest is made up of different smaller vessels such as the CB90.

Currently the Swedish Airforce has a total of 210 aircraft, 94 of those being JAS39C/D Gripen (60 JAS39E on order), 6 C130H Hercules (1 with aerial refueling capabilities), 4 SAAB 340 (2 AEW&C and 2 VIP transport), 4 Gulfstream IV (2 SIGINT and 2 VIP transport) as well as 15 UH-60 Blackhawk and 18 NH90 helicopters. The rest is made up of different transport and trainer aircraft.

History

Main article: Military history of Sweden

The history of the Swedish Armed Forces dates back to the early sixteenth century, when they were founded by the newly crowned monarch Gustav I Vasa. Since then, they have played an important role in the history of Sweden; they have been engaged in numerous conflicts since their founding.

It was in the seventeenth century that the Swedish Armed Forces reached their height, during the time of the Swedish Empire. During this time, they were among the leaders in military innovation, and engaged in many wars; among the Swedish wars of the seventeenth century were the Thirty Years' War, Second Northern War, Scanian War and Great Northern War. The military of the Swedish Empire was one of the most important institutions in the empire.[11]

After a period of enhanced readiness during World War I, the Swedish Armed Forces were subject to severe downsizing during the interwar years. When World War II started, a large rearmament program was launched to once again guard Swedish neutrality, relying on mass male conscription as a source for personnel.

After World War II, Sweden considered building nuclear weapons to deter a Soviet invasion. From 1945 to 1972 the Swedish government ran a clandestine nuclear weapons program under the guise of civilian defence research at the Swedish National Defence Research Institute. By the late 1950s, the work had reached the point where underground testing was feasible. However, at that time the Riksdag prohibited research and development of nuclear weapons, pledging that research should be done only for the purpose of defence against nuclear attack. The option to continue development was abandoned in 1966, and Sweden subsequently signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968; the program was finally concluded in 1972.

During the Cold War, the wartime mass conscription system was kept in place to act as a deterrent to the Soviet Union, seen as the greatest military threat to Sweden. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union meant that the perceived threat lessened and the armed forces were downsized, with conscription taking in fewer and fewer recruits until it was deactivated in 2010. This small size is often considered one of the major strategic weaknesses of the Swedish Armed Forces.[12]

The Russo-Georgian War of 2008 and the events in Ukraine in 2014 gradually shifted Swedish debate back in favour of increased defence spending, as concerns grew over Russia's military buildup and intentions. Conscription was reintroduced in 2017 to supplement the insufficient number of volunteers signing up for service. Unlike in the past, the current conscription system applies to both men and women.

Following the United Kingdom leaving the European Union in 2020, the EU's mutual defence clause (Lisbon Treaty Article 42.7) ceased to apply to the UK. In 2022, Sweden and the UK signed a mutual security deal, re-pledging support if either state is attacked.[13][14]

On June 29, 2022, Sweden and Finland were formally invited to become members of NATO.[15]

Doctrine

Main article: Foreign relations of Sweden

The Swedish Armed Forces have four main tasks:[16]

  1. To assert the territorial integrity of Sweden.
  2. To defend the country if attacked by a foreign nation.
  3. To support the civil community in case of disasters (e.g. flooding).
  4. To deploy forces to international peace support operations.

Sweden aims to have the option of remaining neutral in case of proximate war.[17] However, Sweden cooperates militarily with a number of foreign countries. As a member state of the European Union, Sweden is acting as the leading state for EU Battlegroups[18] and also has a close cooperation, including joint exercises, with NATO through its membership in Partnership for Peace and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.[19] In 2008 a partnership was initiated between the Nordic countries to, among other things, increase the capability of joint action, and this led to the creation of the Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO).[20][21] As a response to the expanded military cooperation the defence proposition of 2009 stated that Sweden will not remain passive if a Nordic country or a member state of the European Union were attacked.[22]

Recent political decisions have strongly emphasized the capability to participate in international operations, to the point where this has become the main short-term goal of training and equipment acquisition.[23][24][25] However, after the 2008 South Ossetia war territorial defence was once again emphasized. Until then most units could not be mobilized within one year. In 2009 the Minister for Defence stated that in the future all of the armed forces must be capable of fully mobilizing within one week.[26]

In 2013, after Russian air exercises in close proximity to the Swedish border were widely reported, only six percent of Swedes expressed confidence in the ability of the nation to defend itself.[27]

Organization

Swedish Armed Forces is located in Sweden
F 17 & 3 Helicopter
F 17 &
3 Helicopter
F 21 & 1 Helicopter
F 21 &
1 Helicopter
2 Helicopter
2 Helicopter
Swedish Armed Forces
Swedish Armed Forces main bases 2017
Naval Base Air Base Infantry Base Mechanized Infantry Base
Cavalry Base Artillery Base Air Defence Base Engineer Base
The Swedish multirole fighter, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen.
NH90 of the Swedish Armed Forces
The Swedish Visby class corvette.
The Infantry fighting vehicle CV 90 produced and used by Sweden.

The Supreme Commander (Swedish: Överbefälhavaren, ÖB) is a four-star general or flag officer who is the agency head of the Swedish Armed Forces and the highest ranking professional officer on active duty. The Supreme Commander reports, normally through the Minister of Defence, to the Government of Sweden, which in turn answers to the Riksdag. The current supreme commander is General Micael Bydén.[28]

Before the enactment of the 1974 Instrument of Government, the King of Sweden was the de jure commander in chief (Swedish: högste befälhavare). Since then, King Carl XVI Gustaf is still considered to hold the honorary ranks of general and admiral à la suite, but the role is entirely ceremonial.[29]

The Swedish Armed Forces consists of three service branches; the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, with addition of the military reserve force Home Guard. Since 1994, the first three service branches are organized within a single unified government agency, headed by the Supreme Commander, while the Home Guard reports directly to the Supreme Commander. However, the services maintain their separate identities through the use of different uniforms, ranks, and other service specific traditions.

Armed Forces Headquarters

The Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters is the highest level of command in the Swedish Armed Forces.[30] It is led by the Supreme Commander with a civilian Director General as his deputy, with functional directorates having different responsibilities (e.g. the Military Intelligence and Security Service). Overall, the Armed Forces Headquarters has about 2,100 employees, including civilian personnel.[31][32]

Schools

Some of the schools listed below answer to other units, listed under the various branches of the Armed Forces:

Centres

Nordic Battlegroup

The Nordic Battlegroup is a cooperative formation of the Swedish Armed Forces alongside mainly the other Nordic countries but also some of the Baltic countries as well as Ireland, tasked as one of the EU Battlegroups. The headquarter garrison for this group is currently situated in Enköping, Sweden.

International deployments

Sweden is part of the multinational Kosovo Force and has a naval force deployed to the gulf of Aden as a part of Operation Atalanta. Military observers from Sweden have been sent to a large number of countries, including Georgia, Lebanon, Israel and Sri Lanka and Sweden also participates with staff officers to missions in Sudan and Chad. Sweden has been one of the Peacekeeping nations of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission that is tasked with overseeing the truce in the Korean Demilitarized Zone since the Korean war ended in 1953.[35]

Past deployments

Swedish air and ground forces saw combat during the Congo Crisis, as part of the United Nations Operation in the Congo force. 9 army battalions were sent in all, and their mission lasted 1960–1964.

A battalion and other units were deployed with the NATO-led peacekeeping SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1996–2000), following the Bosnian War. NORDBAT 2 has been studied as an example of mission command on a chaotic battlefield with conflicting national orders.

Sweden had military forces deployed in Afghanistan with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (2002–2014), and the subsequent Resolute Support Mission (2015–2021), which ended when all NATO troops were withdrawn after 20 years of action.

Personnel

From national service to an all-volunteer force

In mid-1995, with the national service system based on universal military training, the Swedish Army consisted of 15 maneuver brigades and, in addition, 100 battalions of various sorts (artillery, engineers, rangers, air defence, amphibious, security, surveillance etc.) with a mobilization-time of between one and two days. When national service was replaced by a selective service system, fewer and fewer young men were drafted due to the reduction in size of the armed forces. By 2010 the Swedish Army had two battalions that could be mobilized within 90 days. When the volunteer system had been fully implemented by 2019, the army consisted of 7 maneuver battalions and 14 battalions of various sorts with a readiness of one week. The Home Guard was reduced in size to 22,000 soldiers.[36] In 2019 the Swedish Armed Forces, now with a restored national service system combined with volunteer forces, aimed to reach 3 brigades as maneuver units by 2025.[37]

National Service Force 1995 Selective Service Force 2010 All-Volunteer Force 2019 Selective Service Force/Volunteer Force 2025
Maneuver units 15 brigades 2 battalions 7 battalions 3 brigades
Auxiliary units 100 battalions 4 companies 14 battalions ?
Readiness 1 to 2 days 90 days 7 days ?

Re-implementing conscription

After having ended the universal male conscription system in 2010, as well as deactivating conscription in peacetime, the conscription system was re-activated in 2017. Since 2018 both women and men are conscripted on equal terms.[38] The motivation behind reactivating conscription was the need for personnel, as volunteer numbers proved to be insufficient to maintain the armed forces.[38][39]

The Swedish defence forces are currently, educating 5,000-6,000 conscripts per year.[40] However, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the defence forces stated that there is a need for significantly more than the current.[41] By December 2022, it was announced to increase the yearly conscripted to 10,000 by the end of 2035.[42] In addition, figures from 2022, show that 79% of Swedes support in some form, an increase in the number of people who are conscripted. 47% of the respondents said that the majority of 19/20 year-olds should perform conscription.[43]

Personnel structure

Swedish soldier during an exercise in California, 2007.

Military personnel of the Swedish Armed Forces consists of:

K = Continuously

T = Part-time

Swedish soldier firing a rifle in Denmark, 2016.

P = Conscript, for personnel drafted under the Swedish law of comprehensive defence duty

Planned size of the Swedish Armed Forces 2011–2020

Category Continuously serving Part-time serving Contracted
OFF 3,900 OFF/K 2,600 OFF/T
SO 4,900 SO/K included in the above SO/T
GSS 6,600 GSS/K 9,500 GSS/T
Home Guard 22,000
Chart showing the size of the Swedish Armed Forces 1965–2010. Yellow = number of air wings; Blue = number of infantry regiments; Red = number of artillery regiments; Green = number of coastal artillery and amphibious regiments.

Annual recruitment of GSS is assumed to be about 4,000 persons.

Source:[44]

Criticism and research

In 2008, professor Mats Alvesson of the University of Lund and Karl Ydén of the University of Göteborg claimed in an op-ed, based on Ydén's doctoral dissertation, that a large part of the officer corps of the Swedish Armed Forces was preoccupied with administrative tasks instead of training soldiers or partaking in international operations. They claimed that Swedish officers were mainly focused on climbing the ranks and thereby increasing their wages and that the main way of doing this is to take more training courses, which decreases the number of officers that are specialized in their field. Therefore, the authors claimed, the Swedish Armed Forces was poorly prepared for its mission.[45] Major changes have been made to the officer system since then.[citation needed]

The transformation of the old invasion defence-oriented armed forces to the new smaller and more mobile force has also been criticized. According to the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces the present defence budget will not be enough to implement the new defence structure by 2019. And that even when finished the armed forces will only be able to fight for a week at most.[46]

During 2013 several Russian Air Force exercises over the Baltic Sea aimed at Swedish military targets have made the future of the Swedish Armed Forces a hot topic and several political parties now want to increase defence funding.[47][48][49] In August 2019, the government announced a bank tax to fund the military spending.[50]

Ranks

Gen. Micael Bydén, the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces.

Main article: Military ranks of the Swedish Armed Forces

When an army based on national service (conscription) was introduced in 1901 all commissioned officers had ranks that were senior of the warrant officers (underofficerare) and non-commissioned officers (underbefäl). In a reform 1926 the relative rank of the then senior warrant officer, fanjunkare, was increased to be equal with the junior officer rank underlöjtnant and above the most junior officer rank fänrik. In 1960 the relative rank of the warrant officers were elevated further so that

In 1972 the personnel structure changed, reflecting increased responsibilities of warrant and non-commissioned officers, renaming the underofficerare as kompaniofficerare, giving them the same ranks as company grade officers (fänrik, löjtnant, kapten). Underbefäl was renamed plutonsofficerare and given the rank titles of sergeant and fanjunkare, although their relative rank were now placed below fänrik. The commissioned officers were renamed regementsofficerare, beginning with löjtnant. The three-track career system was maintained, as well as three separate messes.

A major change in the personnel structure in 1983 (NBO 1983), merged the three professional corps of platoon officers, company officers, and regimental officers into a one-track career system within a single corps called professional officers (yrkesofficerare). The three messes were also merged to one.

In 2008 the Riksdag decided to create a two-track career system with a category called specialistofficerare. When implementing the parliamentary resolution the Supreme Commander decided that some ranks in this category should, like the old underofficerare ranks in 1960–1972, have a relative rank higher than the most junior officers.

Other government agencies reporting to the Ministry of Defence

Main article: Government agencies in Sweden

Voluntary defence organizations

See also

References

  1. ^ Ministry of Defence (15 December 1994). "SFS 2010:448. Lag (1994:1809) om totalförsvarsplikt" [SFS 2010: 448. Act (1994: 1809) on compulsory military service]. Lagen.nu (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 17 December 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Värnplikten återinförs – tusentals kallas till mönstring" [Conscription is reintroduced - thousands are called up for enlistment]. Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). TT. 2 March 2017. Archived from the original on 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  3. ^ Nilsson, Christoffer (2 March 2017). "Regeringen inför värnplikt i Sverige – beslut i dag" [The government introduces conscription in Sweden - decision today]. Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
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  12. ^ dpeleschuk (18 May 2022). "Sweden would strengthen NATO with fresh thinking and an able force". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 13 December 2023.
  13. ^ "EUR-Lex - mutual_defence - EN - EUR-Lex". eur-lex.europa.eu. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  14. ^ Kauranen, Anne (11 May 2022). "UK strikes new security agreement with Sweden and Finland". Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  15. ^ Chatterjee, Phelan (10 May 2022). "Sweden and Finland's journey from neutral to Nato". BBC.com. BBC News. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
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  36. ^ Ivarsson, Ulf (February 2007). "Pendeln måste slå tillbaka" [The pendulum must swing back]. Hemvärnet (in Swedish) (1): 5.
  37. ^ "Försvarsberedningen föreslår fyra nya regementen och utökad verksamhet på flera platser" [The Defence Committee proposes four new regiments and expanded operations in several places]. Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). 14 May 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  38. ^ a b Persson, Alma; Sundevall, Fia (17 December 2019). "Conscripting women: gender, soldiering, and military service in Sweden 1965–2018". Women's History Review. 28 (7): 1039–1056. doi:10.1080/09612025.2019.1596542. ISSN 0961-2025.
  39. ^ Dickson, Daniel & Rundstrom, Bjorn (2 March 2017). "Sweden returns draft amid security worries and soldier shortage". Reuters.
  40. ^ "Peter Hultqvist (S): Öka antalet värnpliktiga från 5 000 till 8 000". Fokus. 13 January 2020.
  41. ^ "TV4.se".
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  43. ^ "TV4.se".
  44. ^ Jonsson, Ulf; Nordlund, Peter (November 2012). Frivilliga soldater istället för plikt – internationella erfarenheter och ekonomiska konsekvenser [From conscription to an all-volunteer force – international experiences and economic consequences] (PDF) (Report) (in Swedish). The Swedish Defence Research Agency – via Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences.
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  46. ^ Holmström, Mikael (30 December 2012). "Försvar med tidsgräns" [Defence with a time limit]. Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 23 March 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
  47. ^ "Ryska bombflyg övade mot Sverige" [Russian bombers practiced against Sweden]. Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). TT. 6 November 2013. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
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Manpower-numbers are taken from "The World Factbook". 21 June 2022.