Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sweden to revise defence policy

In the aftermath of the Georgia war, a debate is currently taking place in Swedish military and government circles and in Sweden's media on the advisability of changes and modifications to the country's  defence policy. Of particular concern are the defences of the capital, Stockholm, which will need to be rebuilt, and of the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic. Sweden's defence minister Sten Tolgfors confirmed on Tuesday that the government's planned report on the future of the Swedish armed forces will now be delayed until Spring 2009. A Swedish media source notes that 

...the prolonged presence of Russian troops on Georgian territory has caused Tolgfors and others involved in the defence planning process to reassess the future of Sweden’s military.

The defence minister now says that past reports submitted last December and June by the government’s commission on defence will be given a new supplement to be prepared by the government and the Armed Forces.

While Sweden has 30,000 active duty troops, a decision taken earlier in the decade to scrap many of the resources needed for mobilization means that it would currently take one year to mobilize 10,000 Swedish ground troops, according to Svenska Dagbladet.

The speed at which Russia was able to mobilize its troops for the Georgia campaign gave Tolgfors and others in Sweden’s defence establishment pause.

“We saw in Georgia that it wasn’t huge forces, a few tens of thousands of men at its peak on the Russian side. However, it happened very fast – and Sweden’s military hasn’t been under political control in that way previously,” Tolgfors told SvD.

“What we see in Georgia is that speed is a deciding factor. It wasn’t a large force, but rather that Russia has committed to rapidly mobilized and accessible units.”

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