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Swedish Armed Forces

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Title: Swedish Armed Forces  
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Subject: Military of the European Union, Swedish Air Force, Government of Sweden, Särskilda operationsgruppen, General (Sweden)
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Swedish Armed Forces

Swedish Armed Forces
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Armed Forces
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Armed Forces
Current form 1975
Service branches

Coat of Arms of the Swedish Army Swedish Army
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Air Force Swedish Air Force
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Navy Swedish Navy
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Home Guard Swedish Home Guard

Coat of Arms of the Swedish Signals Intelligence Service Signals Intelligence Service
Headquarters Stockholm
Command-in-Chief The Govenment
(Löfven Cabinet)
Minister for Defence Peter Hultqvist
Supreme Commander General Sverker Göranson
Military age 16-70 years old[1]
Conscription No
Available for
military service
2,065,782 males, age 18-47 (2010 est.),
1,995,451 females, age 18-47 (2010 est.)
Fit for
military service
1,709,592 males, age 18-47 (2010 est.),
1,649,875 females, age 18-47 (2010 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
58,937 males (2010 est.),
56,225 females (2010 est.)
Active personnel 15,400 Soldiers
22,000 Guardsmen
Reserve personnel 12,000 Reservists
Budget SEK 45.578 billion (USD ~6.46 billion) (2012)[2]
Percent of GDP 1.13% (2012)[3]
Related articles
History Military history of Sweden
Ranks Military ranks of the Swedish Armed Forces

The Swedish Armed Forces (Swedish: Försvarsmakten) is a Swedish Government Agency responsible for the maintenance and operation of the armed forces of Sweden. The primary task of the Swedish Armed Forces is to train, organize and deploy military forces, domestically and abroad, while maintaining the long-term ability to defend the country in the event of war.

The Armed Forces consists of three service branches; the Supreme Commander. However, the services maintain their separate identities through the use of different uniforms, ranks, and other service specific traditions.

Sweden's military forces were for over a century built upon the concepts of conscription and territorial defence, supporting the longstanding national policy of non-alignment. Until the end of the Cold War nearly all men reaching the age of military service were conscripted. In 2010, peacetime conscription was abolished, to be replaced with an all-volunteer force. The transfer to the new system is planned to be fully completed in 2018. Units from the Swedish Armed Forces are currently on deployment in Afghanistan (as part of ISAF) and in Kosovo. Moreover, Sweden contributes military observers to various countries and serve as the lead nation for an EU Battle Group approximately once every three years.

A 2013 report by the Swedish National Audit Office found that the Swedish Armed Forces were incapable of defending the country.[4]



The Swedish Armed Forces have four main tasks:[5]

  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.[6] However, Sweden cooperates militarily with a number of foreign countries. As a member of the European Union, Sweden is acting as the lead nation for EU Battlegroups[7] and also has a close cooperation, including joint exercises, with NATO through its membership in Partnership for Peace and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.[8] 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 NORDEFCO.[9][10] 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 of the European Union were attacked.[11]

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.[12][13][14] However, after the 2008 South Ossetia war territorial defense 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 capable of fully mobilizing within one week.[15]

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.[16]


The Swedish multirole fighter, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen.
The Infantry fighting vehicle Strf 90 produced and used by Sweden.
NH90 of the Swedish Armed Forces
The Swedish Visby class corvette.

The Supreme Commander (Swedish: Överbefälhavaren) is a four-star general or flag officer that is the agency head of the Swedish Armed Forces, and is the highest ranking professional officer on active duty. The Supreme Commander in turn reports, normally through the Minister for Defence, directly to the Government of Sweden, which in turn answers to the Riksdag.

The King of Sweden was, before the enactment of the 1974 Instrument of Government, the de jure commander in chief (Swedish: högste befälhavare), but currently only has a stricly ceremonial and representative role with respect to the Armed Forces.

The Swedish Armed Forces consists of three service branches; the Supreme Commander. However, the services maintain their separate identities through the use of different uniforms, ranks, and other service specific traditions. In addition, there is the Home Guard (Swedish: Hemvärnet).

Armed Forces Headquarters

The Armed Forces Headquarters is the highest level of command in the Swedish Armed Forces.[17] 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 have about 1000 employees, including civilian personnel.[18][19]


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


  • Armed Forces Centre for Defence Medicine (FömedC) located in Gothenburg, with a section in Linköping
  • Armed Forces Logistics (FMLOG) located in Stockholm, Boden, Karlskrona and Arboga
  • Armed Forces Intelligence and Security Centre (FMUndSäkC) located in Uppsala
  • Armed Forces Musical Centre (FöMusC) located in Stockholm/Kungsängen
  • Recruitment Centre (RekryC) located in Stockholm
  • National CBRN Defense Centre (SkyddC) located in Umeå
  • Swedish EOD and Demining Centre (SWEDEC) located in Eksjö
  • Swedish Armed Forces International Center (Swedint) located in Stockholm/Kungsängen

Military units

Deployed units and units ready for or mobilization

The table describes what units Sweden currently has deployed abroad and what units may be mobilized within one year. Ready-within-one-year means that there is equipment but no currently contracted personnel. Mobilizing units outside of the R10-R90 readiness range will entail placing units on a wartime footing, wherein officers would have to leave their current assignments in order to command their units.

Unit Current Ready 30 days Ready 90 days Ready within one year Readiness not set
Ntl. (O)HQ 1
(F)HQ 1
Battle Group HQ 1 1
Signal battalion 1/3 1
IT-defence unit 1
EW battalion 1
PSYOPS unit 1
HQ battalion 1
Technical Support battalion 1/3 1
Heavy Transport company 1 platoon 1
MOVCON Command 1
MOVCON platoons 1 3
Hospital company 3
Hospital Support company 3
Logistics battalion 1/6 2
ISTAR battalion 1
Special Forces Units 1 1
Ranger battalion 1 platoon 1
Security battalion 1
Pioneer battalion 1 company 2
MP company 1 1
CBRN company part 2
Home Guard battalions 60
Mechanised battalion 1 company 1 + tank company 5
Light mechanised battalion 1 1
Artillery battalion part 2
Airmobile battalion 1/5 1
Airdefense battalion part 2
Maritime surveillance and information battalion 1
Flottila Command units 2
Corvette squadronsa 2 ships 2
Mine warfare squadrons 2 ships 2
Submarine flotilla 1 submarine 1
Amphibious battalion 1 company (+) 1
Amphibious surveillance company 1
Maritime base battalion 1 company 1
Helicopter battalion 1
Air command and control battalion 1
Air command group 1
Air combat squadronsb 1 1 2
Air transport squadron part 1
Central air transport squadron 1
SIGINT squadron 1 unit 1
Air base battalion 1 unit 2
Afghanistan (ISAF) mechanised rifle company(++) 500 men
Kosovo (KFOR) mechanised company 252 troops
Gulf of Aden (Operation Atalanta) 3 ships 160 men

aSwedish aviation squadrons consist of 8 combat aircraft.
bSwedish naval squadrons consist of 6 ships.
International troops

Nordic Battle Group

The Nordic Battle Group is a temporary formation of the Swedish Armed Forces, tasked as one of the EU Battle Groups. Sweden was lead nation for a Battle Group during the first half of 2011.

International deployment

Currently, Sweden has deployed military forces in North Korea, Lebanon, Israel and Sri Lanka and Sweden also participates with staff officers to missions in Sudan and Chad


From national service to an all-volunteer force

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.

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 defense, 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 has been fully implemented by 2019, the army will consist of 7 maneuver battalions and 14 battalions of various sorts with a readiness of one week. The Home Guard will be reduced in size to 22 000 soldiers.[21]

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

Personnel structure

Military personnel of the Swedish Armed Forces consists of:

  • Officer OFF/K - Regular continuously serving officers (OF1-OF9).
  • Officer OFF/T - Reserve part-time officers (OF1-OF3).
  • Specialistofficer SO/K - Regular continuously serving NCO (OR6-OR9).
  • Specialistofficer SO/T - Reserve part-time serving NCO (OR6-OR7).
  • GSS/K - Regular continuously serving enlisted (OR1-OR5).
  • GSS/T - Reserve part-time serving enlisted (OR1-OR5).

K = Continuously, T = Part-time

Planned size of the Swedish Armed Forces 2011–2020

Category Continuously serving Part-time serving Contracted
OFF 3,900 OFF/K 2,500 OFF/T -
SO 4,900 SO/K included in the above SO/T -
GSS 6,600 GSS/K 9,500 GSS/T -
Swedish Home Guard - - 22,000

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


Criticism and research

In 2008, professor Mats Alvesson of the 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 officer that are specialized in their field. Therefore, the authors claimed, the Swedish Armed Forces were poorly prepared for its mission.[23]

Major changes have been made to the officer system since then.

The transformation of the old invasion 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.[24]

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.[25][26][27]


See: 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

i. The lowest warrant officer, sergeant, had relative rank just below the lowest officer rank, fänrik.

ii. The second warrant officer rank, fanjunkare, had relative rank between fänrik and löjtnant

iii. The highest warrant officer rank, förvaltare, had relative rank between first lieutenant and captain.

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

Voluntary defence organizations

See also


  1. ^ SFS 2010:448. Lag (1994:1809) om totalförsvarsplikt. Stockholm: Department of Justice. "Lag (1994:1809) om totalförsvarsplikt". Retrieved 2010-11-13. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ European Defence Agency,National Defence Data 2012 accessed on March 8, 2013 from
  4. ^ O’DWYER, GERARD (14 January 2014). "Sweden Considers Broader Alliances With NATO, EU". Gannett Government Media Corporation. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Försvarets fyra huvuduppgifter (In Swedish)
  6. ^ "Sverige är militärt alliansfritt. Denna säkerhetspolitiska linje, med möjlighet till neutralitet vid konflikter i vårt närområde, har tjänat oss väl." Sveriges säkerhetspolitik (In Swedish)
  7. ^ "Nordic Battlegroup - Försvarsmakten". 2009-01-19. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  8. ^ Sverige och NATO (In Swedish)
  9. ^ "Nordic defence cooperation - Försvarsmakten". 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  10. ^ "Background to cooperation - Försvarsmakten". 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  11. ^ Ett användbart försvar, last paragraph (In Swedish)
  12. ^ Försvarsreformen (In Swedish)
  13. ^ "Our task - Försvarsmakten". 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  14. ^ "The Swedish military service system - Försvarsmakten". 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  15. ^ Ett användbart försvar
  16. ^ Benitez, Jorge (30 April 2013). "Most Swedes doubt Sweden can defend itself". Atlantic Council. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Armed Forces Headquarters (HKV) - Försvarsmakten". 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  18. ^ (Swedish) [2]
  19. ^ (Swedish) [3]
  20. ^
  21. ^ Ivarsson, Ulf (February 2007). "Pendeln måste slå tillbaka". Hemvärnet (1): 5. 
  22. ^ 8FOI 2010Frivilliga soldater istället för pliktUlf Jonsson & Peter Nordlund, 12/11/2012
  23. ^ "Karriärstyrda officerare skapar inkompetent försvar" (in Svenska). 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^

Manpower-numbers are taken from CIA - The World Factbook

External links

  • Swedish Armed Forces - Official site
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