Swedish troops prepare to conduct a perimiter patrol during Exercise Winter Sun in Boden, Sweden on 15th March 2018Since the end of the Cold War, Sweden’s defence has gone from being a formidable force meant to withstand a foreign invasion to a shadow of its former self focused on international partnership, as units were disbanded and heavy hardware decommissioned. Only now, are belated efforts being undertaken to reverse this trend.Swedish defence expert Magnus Christiansson has blasted the country’s level of military preparedness despite a recent buildup that involved the re-militarisation of Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea and the re-establishment of the previously dismantled Cold War-era regiments across the country.
"The Swedish defence today is not made for stormy weather. It is made for beautiful weather, for military operations that Sweden itself chooses to participate in", Magnus Christiansson, a senior lecturer at the Swedish National Defence College, told national broadcaster SVT, venturing that more resources are needed.
About 30 years ago, when the Cold War ended, Sweden’s defence, then a formidable force designed to tackle an invasion, was gradually dismantled, with units disbanded and heavy hardware decommissioned. In the 1990s, the threats disappeared, as did the idea that there could ever be a war, Christiansson explained.Ever since, he ventured, the underlying idea behind the Swedish military has long been to be able to persevere until Sweden receives help, rather than being able to defend the country alone against an invasion – a concept increasingly being challenged by both politicians and members of the top brass.”It is only in recent defence decisions that they have tried to do something about this, but it will take a very long time”, Christiansson said.In 2025, the Swedish state plans to invest almost SEK 90 billion ($9.5 billion) in its military, which indicates more than a doubling in a matter of a decade.Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist emphasised that while the threat level against all of Europe has increased, it is not possible to develop the armed forces quicker, even if a lot of money is invested.
"We should not give the impression that we are about to do things that dramatically change the situation. We must be honest enough to describe the facts: building military capability takes time. Demolishing it is very fast", Hultqvist told SVT.
Over the past decade, massive military allocations and buildups have been adopted in a bid to bolster the country’s defence capabilities, often using “the Russian threat” as the motive for doing so. In addition to a plethora of Cold War-era units being re-established, preparedness level has been elevated, whereas joint drills with strategic partners are being held more frequently.Sweden Re-Establishes Yet Another Cold War-Era Regiment18 January, 06:46 GMTDebates on the so-called “NATO option” for historically non-aligned Sweden have flared up anew, with numerous parties and pundits pushing for membership in the alliance amid a swing in popular opinion. The ruling Social Democrats, however, remain firm that Sweden has benefited from formally staying outside NATO despite broadening cooperation and will continue to do so.