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Armed Forces lack thousands of part-time soldiers

Published måndag 21 december 2015 kl 13.59
"They have trouble reaching their numbers"
(2:33 min)
Bergabasen lastar inför den stora marinövningen Baltops som startar i Östersjön den 5 juni. Arkivfoto: Lars Pehrson/TT.
The Armed Forces need an additional 7,000 part-time soldiers and sailors. Photo: Lars Pehrson/TT.

The Swedish Armed Forces need to employ approximately 9,000 full-time and part-time troops to fill all of the vacant positions in their new organisation. 

In 2010, parliament voted to scrap mandatory conscription, which forced the Swedish Armed Forces to rethink their organisation. Since June that year, Sweden has had an all-professional fighting force with both part-time and full-time troops. The new organisation is scheduled to be operational starting next year, but may not be fully operational due to a shortage of personnel.

The Armed Forces claim that they need to hire another 1,200 troops, but that only covers full-time positions. According to Swedish Radio News, an additional 7,000 part-time soldiers and sailors and about one thousand reserve officers are needed in the event of a major conflict or war.

The Armed Forces have previously estimated that they will not be able to reach their goal of having 10,400 part-time soldiers and sailors by the end of 2016, but Karl Engelbrektson, Director of Training and Education for the military, believes that new training programmes that will start next year will improve the situation.

"We are not quite sure about the long-term effects yet, but our assessment is that we will be able to provide between 8,000 and 10,000 recruits with this new system," Engelbrektson says.

But some units may have difficulties providing personnel even if all recruits who finish their training programs over the next few years seek employment, according to Swedish Radio News. The Armed Forces estimate that they will be able to employ 100 reserve officers each year, but only 61 reserve officers have finished training programs over the past three years and only 20 others are currently enrolled.

Anders Emanuelsson, an ex-colonel and member of The Royal Swedish Academy of War Studies, says that the only way to rid the Armed Forces of staffing problems is to bring back conscription.

"It's my opinion that they have trouble reaching these numbers today, and I believe that we need even more soldiers to be able to defend the country," Emanuelsson says.

The number of troops has gone down steadily since the mandatory draft was replaced by a voluntary 3-11 month training program, the GMU.

To fill the gaps, the Armed Forces have had to call in former conscripts to take part in military exercises.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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