Military ranks of the Swedish armed forces

Military ranks of the Swedish armed forces

__NOTOC__Swedish Military Ranks (Army,Airforce,Navy) are currently in a major transition phase with a partial rollback from one officers coprs to a system with two officers corps (specialist officers and officers).


Between 1972 - 1983

Before 1972

Overview Swedish ranks compared to USMC and British Army rank eqvivalents

Current Swedish ranks based on length of service/training, responsibility, educational background and admission requirements as compared to other armies. Since 1972, Swedish ranks and ranking structures have faced major inflation against the USMC ranks as well as diversions from rank structures of other nations.

* (1) First year student at Professional Officers School. The rank is equal to Sergeant
* (2) Second year student at Professional Officers School. The rank is equal to Sergeant
* (3) First year student at Tactical or Specialist Officers School. The rank is below Sergeant
* (4) Second year student at Tactical Officers School. The rank is equal to Sergeant
* (5) Third year student at Tactical Officers School. The rank is equal to Sergeant

The one-carrer path system "enbefälssystemet"

A proposal to this system originates as early as 1947 when a social-democrat argued for a system where all military personnel should be trained “equally” with only one possible career path. The reform was finalized 1983 and is formally known as NBO “Ny Befäls Ordning”. The reform was a social revolution, where all professional military personnel become “Yrkes Officerare” (Professional Officers) with the lowest rank set to Fänrik. All NCOs were promoted to Fänrik or above. For those who desired to enter the profession, a two year degree from a professional officer school was required (OHS).

Admission to the officers school (OHS)

Previously, only platoon grade leader graduates from conscript training were selected. With the NBO system, all conscripts were eligible. The education requirement was lowered from a full senior high school degree to a junior high school equivalent(*). (*) High School Math requirement (Math-B out of A,B,C,D,E where A is the lowest) Level E is the college admission requirement for natural science majors. Math-B is basically at Junior High School level.


Officers start their career by taking up tasks that were previously assigned to corporals and sergeants. As the officer progresses towards higher ranks at or above Kapten level, he/she may also be assigned tasks that corresponds to the levels of comissioned officers of other nations such as the US.


Nevertheless, the system generted a number of serious problems as it neither produced skilled specialists, instructors, commanders at squad and platoon levels nor troop commanding talents at senior levels.

* Reduction of the back-bone The way to gradually gain higher ranks by experience and skills, such as in the USMCs NCO corps, was abolished. As a consequence, the armed forces no longer produced experienced specailists, squad leaders, platoon sergeants or drill sergeants. In effect, the reform purged the back-bone of the armed forces. That is, the NCO corps.

* Incompatible with other nations Also, as can bee seen on the illustration below; a side effect of the NBO reform was an incompatible system with other nations. This led to a great deal of confusion and misunderstandings when Swedish military personnel were sent on international missions. A kapten can be about anything.

* Lowering the status and hence the quality of officers The status of the profession fell consequently degrading the quality of officers. Major factors driving this were: the lowering of admission requirements; corporal level assignments with corporal level salaries, and the uncertainty of the future of the military. Furthermore, a number of junior officers, with higher than average scholastic background, resigned for better opportunities elsewhere. Henceforward, degrading the quality supply of offices even more as well as reducing the corps at large.

* Costly and reduced supply of personnelTo educate personnel for three years is a very expensive and time-consuming way to produce military personnel to take up roles such as instructors of recruits and/or team-leaders. Such roles are usually filled from a pool of NCOs without requiring an explicit institution such as the OHS.

The new two-career path system "tvåbefälssystemet"

The new system is split into two career categories: Specialist Officer with ranks starting at Sergeant and Tactical Officer with ranks starting at Fänrik. To become Specialist Officer requires 11 months of conscript training and 12 months of Specialist Officers School. To become Tactical Officer requires 11 months of conscript training and 3 years of Tactical Officer School. The system is currently being implemented with the first cadre of specialist officers to gradate as Sergeants in June 2008. In order to keep the officers corps young, an officer is expected to get discharged at the age of 35 or 40.


The rationale for the new system is to better standardize Swedish ranks with NATO nations such as Denmark, Netherlands and Briton; ensuring quality supply of professional officers at specialist, squad-leader and instructor levels as well as making the regular officers training more attractive, by awarding students college level credits.


Admission requirements remain the same. The three year program is officially a college grade education. However, considering that admission requirements are as low as the equivalent of a junior high school degree, the three year program should be regarded as a senior high school or vocational school grade education.


*Faster supply of quality specialists, instructors and squad leaders


*The training of tactical officers is very long and costly.
*Officers may lack a solid educational background.
*Difficulties in attracting talents:* It will be difficult to attract talents due to the fact that the career ends in midlife. :* The future of the armed forces is very uncertain. :* The status of the profession is in decline:* Compensations


The ranks of the new system are still in a proposal state and may change until the system is finalized before January, 2009. One suggestion is to include Sergant, Fänrik, Löjtnant, and Kapten as ranks for specialist officers and Fänrik up to General as ranks for tactical officers [Journal of Artillery and Airdefence 2007, Major Henrik Nordberg, ArtSS] .Another suggestion is creating or reintroducing more ranks in the specailist officers category such as Fanjunkare [Officerstidningen 2008-4 -- Colonel Johan Fölstad, Swdedish Armed Forces] . The second alternative would align better with NATO since NCO style ranks denote more experience and specialisation as compred to CO ranks.


* Journal of Artillery and Airdefence 2007, Major Henrik Nordberg, ArtSS.
* Jurnal of professional Swedish Officers "Officerstidningen" 2008-4 -- Colonel Johan Fölstad, Swdedish Armed Forces.
* The implemenation of a two-career-path-system in the Defense Forcen "Införandet av tvåbefälssystem i Försvarsmakten" 2008-01-17 - Liutenant Colonel Matthias Lindström, Swedish Armed Forces

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