Defense minister Sten Tolgfors

Armed Forces Jump the Gun in Spending Plans

Saturday's reports that Sweden's Armed Forces were planning on a series of further spending cuts, the government's defence minister Sten Tolgfors has responded by stating that no budgetary decisions will be made until 2012.

Swedish Radio News Ekot reported that the military were planning on saving 800 million kronor(112 million US dollars) by cutting one troop regiment, at least one air force base with added cuts to the training budget.

Tolgfors told Ekot, "This proposal, if it comes from the armed forces, then it will be handled in 18 month's time when a decision will then be made. Then we can also see how the armed forces economy has developed. As it is, the military made a suplus of several billion kronor in the last 12 months."

However, Ekot reports that it's the costs involved in future systematic changes which the armed forces is looking to meet by making cuts. In the summer, Sweden's system of national conscription will disappear to be replaced by voluntary recruits.

In recent years, a number of army and aircraft bases have closed to save money and reshape Sweden's defence outlook to a more rapid "professional " reaction force. Sweden at present has no professional standing army.

However the leader of the Liberal party and government education minister Jan Björklund told Ekot that he was wholly against any further cuts and in fact wanted to strengthen Sweden's defence capabilities.

"Against the background of developments in Russia, it's my belief that we in Sweden, in our next decision about the defence of our country, should seek to strengthen it."

Sweden's prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and foreign minister Carl Bildt have a state visit to Moscow next Tuesday.

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