Swedish Defence Minister: “The army must be bigger”

Speaking at the Folk och Försvars Rikskonferens (People and Defence National Conference) in Sälen this week, the Minister for Defence, Peter Hultqvist (S), emphasised that the Swedish Armed Forces must be expanded in the next governmental decision scheduled for this autumn. The Riksdag will then decide on what direction the Swedish Armed Forces will take between 2021-2025. In just over a month, negotiations will begin between the parties on the Government’s defence policy bill, which is the basis for the parliamentary decision. In his speech, Hultqvist addressed some of the Government’s positions ahead of the negotiations. Among other things, the government would like to see the number of conscripts rise from 5,000 to 8,000 by 2025, and that conscription level command categories be reinstated. SvD reports that Hultqvist also said that the amphibious regiment in Gothenburg should be completed by 2025, and that a new ranger regiment be opened in Arvidsjaur.

Hultqvist also emphasised that investments in the Armed Forces’ presence on Gotland must continue, with reinforced air defence, artillery, maintenance, logistics and management resources being improved. He also suggested that new conscripts be eligible to be trained on the island as well. The Government’s positions are largely based upon those suggestions put forth by the Defence Commissions’ proposal this spring, in which all parliamentary parties are represented. Yet there are still differences between the Government’s stance and the commission’s suggestions, especially in regards to the timeline. This prompted Christian Democrat defence policy spokesman Mikael Oscarsson and Liberal defence policy spokesman Allan Widman to raise objections, as they motioned for the Government to take heed of the commission’s suggestions fully. Furthermore, the Swedish Armed Forces also disagreed with the timeline proposed by the commission, instead stating that a delay to the creation of several new regiments would be likely. Choosing not to talk about the contradictions between what the Armed Forces wish to prioritise in comparison to the politicians and the parties, Hultqvist said to SvD that, “At the end of the day, we are all in the same boat. We have to make sure we go in the same direction.”

Jessica Nilsson Williams is the CEO & Founder of Mundus International. She has a long-standing interest in international affairs, having worked in the field for 20 years. She began her career as the political advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, and then worked in the corporate- and NGOs sectors London and Singapore before returning to Stockholm. Back in Sweden, she headed the business intelligence unit for a risk- and security firm. In 2011 she took up a senior role at the New Zealand Embassy before founding Mundus International in 2012.