Swedish forces in Afghanistan

Criticism of Military on Service Abroad

The Swedish military has come under strong criticism for new rules forcing officers and civilian employees to serve abroad.

The new regulations were introduced when Sweden switched from conscription to a volunteer military. By the end of September all officers and reservists had to sign an agreement accepting service abroad, or face dismissal.

Both the Officers’ Association and the Association of Reserve Officers have strongly criticised the agreement. The Officers’ Association released an open letter to the Supreme Military Commander calling for more information on what service abroad would entail, and the consequences for military personnel and their families.

The newspaper “Blekinge Läns Tidning” reports the new regulations have contributed to a string of vacancies among military technical staff in the province of Blekinge, site of one of Sweden’s three air force bases and an important naval base.

Veteran Liberal Party member of parliament Allan Widman has described the military’s approach as deficient and says it risks working against Sweden’s ability to take part in international missions.

Sweden has a long history of serving with United Nations peacekeeping missions abroad, and currently has around 500 soldiers with the NATO-led Isaf force in Afghanistan.

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