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Experts criticise defence of Gotland

Published måndag 30 maj 2016 kl 14.21
Tofta training field in Gotland. Photo: Daniel Värjö/Sveriges Radio
Tofta training field in Gotland. Photo: Daniel Värjö/Sveriges Radio

Sweden is re-militarising the strategically important island of Gotland, but despite spending SEK 1 billion, only part of the island can be defended.

A dozen security experts that Swedish Radio have spoken to are critical of the defence of the Baltic island. For example, Karlis Neretnieks, former head of the National Defence College, says it is a problem that there are not artillery or anti-aircraft defences based on the island.

"Without those two components the combat group will have a limited effect," he said.

The Swedish island of Gotland occupies a central position in the Baltic, and if captured, it would be an air and sea base from which a military power could dominate the whole sea. Sweden's military has a plan to build up a combat group on the island in order to make it a harder target.

But of the 300-strong forces assigned to defence of the island only 160 are permanent full-time personnel. The others would have to make their way to the island in the event of a crisis. That includes the soldiers who would drive the tanks and any artillery and air defence, which would come from the far south and far north of Sweden, respectively.

Defence minister Peter Hultqvist says the increased defence will already make Gotland harder to capture after the plan is completed in 2018. But he doesn't rule out further investment.

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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