Swedish Armed Forces

Swedish Armed Forces
Swedish Armed Forces
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Armed Forces
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Armed Forces
Service branches Coat of Arms of the Swedish Army Swedish Army
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Air Force Swedish Air Force
Coat of Arms of the Swedish Navy Swedish Navy
Headquarters Stockholm
Minister for Defence Sten Tolgfors
Supreme Commander General Sverker Göranson
Director General Ulf Bengtsson
Military age 16-70 years old[1]
Conscription No
Available for
military service
2,065,782 males, age 18-47 (2010 est.),
1,995,451 females, age 18-47 (2010 est.)
Fit for
military service
1,709,592 males, age 18-47 (2010 est.),
1,649,875 females, age 18-47 (2010 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
58,937 males (2010 est.),
56,225 females (2010 est.)
Active personnel 25,000[2]
Reserve personnel 22,988 reserves and 38,000 militias[2][3]
Budget SEK 37.7 billion (USD ~5.5 billion) (2009)[4]
Percent of GDP 1.35% (2009)[5]
Related articles
History Military history of Sweden
Ranks Military ranks of the Swedish Armed Forces

The Swedish Armed Forces (Swedish: Försvarsmakten) is a Swedish Government Agency (Swedish: Myndighet) responsible for the operation of the armed forces of the Realm. The primary task of the agency is to train, organize and to deploy military forces, domestically and abroad, while maintaining the long-term ability to defend the Realm in the event of war. The Supreme Commander (Swedish: Överbefälhavaren), a four-star general or flag officer is also the head of said agency, and he is the highest ranking professional officer on active duty. The Supreme Commander in turn reports to the Minister for Defence.

There are three service branches: the Army (Swedish: Armén), the Air Force (Swedish: Flygvapnet) and the Navy (Swedish: Marinen), all of whom are since 1994 part of the same agency.

Sweden's military forces was for over a century built upon the concepts of conscription and territorial defence, supporting the longstanding national policy of non-alignment. Until the end of the Cold War nearly all men reaching the age of military service were conscripted. In summer 2010 peacetime conscription ceased, to be replaced with contracted personnel altogether. The transfer to the new system will be fully completed in 2018.

Units from the Swedish Armed Forces are currently on deployment in Afghanistan (ISAF) and Kosovo. Moreover, Sweden contributes with military observers in various countries and serve as the lead nation for an EU Battle Group approximately once every three years.



The Armed Forces have four main tasks[6]:

  1. To assert the territorial integrity of Sweden.
  2. To defend the country if attacked by a foreign nation.
  3. To support the civil community in case of disasters (e.g. flooding).
  4. To deploy forces to international peace support operations.

Sweden aims to have the option of remaining neutral in case of proximate war.[7] However, Sweden cooperates with a number of foreign countries. As a member of the European Union, Sweden is acting as the lead nation for EU Battlegroups[8] and also has a close cooperation, including joint exercises, with NATO through its membership in Partnership for Peace and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.[9] In 2008 a partnership was initiated between the nordic countries to, among other things, increase the capability of joint action.[10][11] As a response to the expanded military cooperation the defence proposition of 2009 stated that Sweden will not remain passive if a nordic country or a member of the European Union is attacked.[12]

Recent political decisions have strongly emphasized the will to participate in international operations, to the point where this has become the main short-term goal of training and equipment acquisition.[13][14][15] However, after the 2008 South Ossetia war the territorial defense was once again emphasized. Until then most units could not be mobilized within one year, should the need arise. In 2009 the minister of defense stated that in the future all of the armed forces must be fully mobilized within one week.[16]



In 1975 the total number of conscripts was 45,000. By 2003 it was down to 15,000. After the Defence Proposition 2004, the number of troops in training will decrease even further to between 5,000 and 10,000 each year, which emphasizes the need to recruit only the soldiers later prepared to volunteer for international service. On June 16, 2009, the Parliament of Sweden passed a law dropping the peace time draft.[17]

Today, the total number of troops available to the Swedish Army after 90 days of full mobilization is about two battalions (600 troops each) and eight companies (120 troops each), totalling 2,160 soldiers and 37,000 Home Guard/Defense.[citation needed]. This stands in sharp contrast to the 1980s, before the fall of the Soviet Union, when Sweden could gather up to 800,000 men when total mobilization had been declared; but the importance placed on defensive spending during the Cold War is perhaps best reflected by the fact that Sweden in the late 1950s ran the world's fourth-largest air force. This is now far from being the case.

As of 2006, wartime placement had been resumed, after being scrapped in 2003. Full mobilization is assumed to take one year (although no mobilization readiness exists), and the formations assumed are of battalion level size. It is assumed the Home Guard would be available within 12–72 hours.

Transition from conscription to fully contracted/employed personnel system

With the conscript based system during mid 1995, Sweden consisted of 15 maneuver brigades and, in addition, 100 battalions of various sorts (artillery, engineers, rangers, air defense, amphibious, security, surveillance etc.) with readies between one to two days. Serving in the forces from 1995 up to 2010 gradually became more volunteered due to a near total disarmament, which resulted in Sweden ending up having only two battalions at readiness 90 days as of 2010. With a fully contracted/employed personnel system by 2019, the force will consists of 7 maneuver battalions and 14 battalions of various sorts (artillery, engineers, rangers, air defense, amphibious, security, surveillance etc.) with a readiness of one week. The Home Guard will reduce in size to 22 000 troops.[18]

Conscripted force 1995 Volunteered force 2010 Salaried force 2019
Maneuver units 15 brigades 2 battalions 7 battalions
Other auxiliary units 100 battalions 4 companies 14 battalions
Readiness 1 to 2 days 90 days 7 days

Criticism and research

In a 2008 article based on his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Karl Ydén of the University of Göteborg described the Swedish Armed Forces as foremost a peacetime career system for desk officers, while questioning its drive to let actual military operations guide organizational development and use of resources.[19][20]

Distribution of personnel

This is the distribution of personnel vs rank as reported by the Swedish Armed Forces in their annual report 2009-01-01 and 2010-02-19: The mean average age for employed officers and NCO equivalents is 42.2 and for reserve officers 47.7. Ref:[21]

Officers, including reserve officers 2009[21] 2010[22]
OF-9 General / Admiral 2 2
OF-7 - OF-8 Maj, General / Rear Admiral, Lt. General / Vice Admiral 40 43
OF-6 Brigadier General / Rear Admiral LH 85 86
OF-5 Colonel / Captain (N) 268 263
OF-4 Lieutenant Colonel / Commander 1,174 1,217
OF-3 Major / Lieutenant Commander 3,053 2,891
OF-2 Captain / Lieutenant (N) 7,586 7,433
OF-1 Lieutenant / Sub Lieutenant 5,652 5,428
OF-1 Second Lieutenant / Acting Sub Lieutenant 571 749
OR-9 Regimental Sergeant Major / Command Master Chief Petty Officer 0 0
OR-8 Sergeant Major / Master Chief Petty Officer ' 0 0
OR-7 Colour Sergeant 21 8
OR-6 First Sergeant 260 89+(427)
Total number of officers 18,712 18,636
Soldiers, seamen, specialists and squad leaders, not including conscripts
OR-5 Sergeant 770 909
OR-4 Corporal
OR-3 Lance Corporal
OR-2 Private 1st class
OR-1 Private
Total number of soldiers, seamen, specialists and squad leaders 770[not in citation given] 909[not in citation given]
Officer candidates[21][22]
Officer candidates who graduated as Fanrik 2010 107
Officer candidates who graduated as Fanrik 2011 117
Officer candidates who graduated as Fanrik 2012 163
S-Officer candidates who graduated as First Sergeant 2010 317
Total officer candidates 704


Officers are trained in the different combat schools and also at the Military Academy Karlberg which has establishments at Karlberg Palace in Stockholm, and in Halmstad. Conscripts are trained at the different units of the three branches.

Harmonization with other countries

Sweden has adjusted its rank system through a series of reforms. The 1983 NBO reform saw employed personnel such as NCOs, WOs, and regular officers merged into a single corps called professional officers (YO). In a 2009 reversal of this reform, officers will be split into a NCO corps (called "specialistofficerare") and an officers corps respectively.

With the new system, the traditional name Furir has been changed to Sergeant and Sergeant is now Förste Sergeant.

HKV-PERS of the Swedish Armed Forces have adopted a STANAG perspective, and attempted to use a terminology as close to other European nations as possible, mainly that of the United Kingdom. Inevitably, this has led to certain confusion. As an example, the United Kingdom does not have other ranks at level OR-5, but many other countries do, such as the United States where an OR-5 is a Sergeant. In Canada an OR-5 is a Master Corporal.


For details regarding ranks: Military ranks of the Swedish armed forces.

Military units

The table describes briefly what Sweden currently has deployed abroad and may mobilize within one year. Ready-within-one-year means that there is equipment but no currently contracted personnel. Mobilizing units outside of the R10-R90 readiness range will entail placing units on a wartime footing, wherein officers would have to leave their current assignments in order to command their units.

Unit Current Ready 30 days Ready 90 days Ready within one year Readiness not set
Ntl. (O)HQ 1
(F)HQ 1
Battle Group HQ 1 1
Signal battalion 1/3 1
IT-defence unit 1
EW battalion 1
PSYOPS unit 1
HQ battalion 1
Technical Support battalion 1/3 1
Heavy Transport company 1 platoon 1
MOVCON Command 1
MOVCON platoons 1 3
Hospital company 3
Hospital Support company 3
Logistics battalion 1/6 2
ISTAR battalion 1
Special Forces Units 1 1
Ranger battalion 1 platoon 1
Security battalion 1
Pioneer battalion 1 company 2
MP company 1 1
CBRN company part 2
Home Guard battalions 60
Mechanised battalion 1 company 1 + tank company 5
Light mechanised battalion 1 1
Artillery battalion part 2
Airmobile battalion 1/5 1
Airdefense battalion part 2
Maritime surveillance and information battalion 1
Flottila Command units 2
Corvette divisions* 2 ships 2
Mine warfare divisions* 2 ships 2
Submarine flotilla 1 submarine 1
Amphibious battalion 1 company (+) 1
Amphibious surveillance company 1
Maritime base battalion 1 company 1
Helicopter battalion 1
Air command and control battalion 1
Air command group 1
Air combat divisions* 1 1 2
Air transport division part 1
Central air transport division 1
SIGINT division 1 unit 1
Air base battalion 1 unit 2
Afghanistan (ISAF) mechanised rifle company(++) 500 men
Kosovo (KFOR) mechanised company 252 troops
Gulf of Aden (Operation Atalanta) 3 ships 160 men
  • Please note that the term division in Swedish parlance varies widely. 8 aircraft make up the combat component of an Air Force division, 6 ships a naval division

References: [1] International troops

Nordic Battle Group

Nordic Battle Group is a temporary formation of the Swedish Armed Forces, tasked as one of the EU Battle Groups. The next period in which Sweden will be lead nation for a Battle Group is during the first half of 2011.

International units/deployments

Currently, Sweden has deployed military forces in Afghanistan with the International Security Assistance Force and in Kosovo as a part of the multi-national Kosovo Force as well as a naval force deployed to the gulf of Aden as a part of Operation Atalanta . Military observers from Sweden have been sent to a large number of countries, including Georgia, North Korea, Lebanon, Israel and Sri Lanka and Sweden also participates with staff officers to missions in Sudan and Chad


The Swedish multirole fighter, the Saab 39 Gripen.
The Infantry fighting vehicle Strf 90 produced and used by Sweden.
NH90 of the Swedish Armed Forces
The Swedish Visby class corvette.

Armed Forces Headquarters

The Armed Forces Headquarters (Swedish: Försvarsmaktens högkvarter) is the highest level of command in the Swedish Armed Forces.[23] It is led by the Supreme Commander with a civilian Director General as his deputy, with functional directorates having different responsibilities (e.g. the Military Intelligence and Security Service). Overall, the Armed Forces Headquarters have about 1000 employees, including civilian personnel.[24][25]



Some of the schools listed below answer to other units, listed under the various branches of the Armed Forces.


  • Armed Forces Centre for Defence Medicine (FömedC) located in Gothenburg, with a section in Linköping
  • Armed Forces Logistics (FMLOG) located in Stockholm, Boden, Karlskrona and Arboga
  • Armed Forces Intelligence and Security Centre (FMUndSäkC) located in Uppsala
  • Armed Forces Musical Centre (FöMusC) located in Stockholm/Kungsängen
  • Recruitment Centre (RekryC) located in Stockholm
  • National CBRN Defense Centre (SkyddC) located in Umeå
  • Swedish EOD and Demining Centre (SWEDEC) located in Eksjö
  • Swedish Armed Forces International Center (Swedint) located in Stockholm/Kungsängen

Other government agencies reporting to the Ministry of Defence

Voluntary Defence Organizations

See also


  1. ^ SFS 2010:448. Lag (1994:1809) om totalförsvarsplikt. Stockholm: Department of Justice. "Lag (1994:1809) om totalförsvarsplikt". https://lagen.nu/1994:1809. Retrieved 2010-11-13. 
  2. ^ a b Försvarsmaktens årsredovisning 2009. Bilaga 2. pp. 17. Stockholm: Swedish Armed Forces. "Bilaga 2". http://www.forsvarsmakten.se/upload/dokumentfiler/%C3%85rsredovisningar/%C3%85rsredovisning%202009/%C3%85R%2009%20bilaga%202.pdf. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  3. ^ Försvarsmaktens årsredovisning 2009. pp. 11. Stockholm: Swedish Armed Forces. "Årsredovisning". http://www.forsvarsmakten.se/upload/dokumentfiler/%C3%85rsredovisningar/%C3%85rsredovisning%202009/%C3%85R%2009%20.pdf. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  4. ^ Prop 2010/11:1. Budgetpropositionen för 2011. Utgiftsområde 6:Försvar och samhällets krisberedskap. Stockholm: Ministry of Finance, pp. 14. Currency conversion was based on the exchange rate of 2010-11-13.
  5. ^ Based on: International Monetary Fund. World Economic Outlook Database, October 2010. "World Economic Outlook Database, October 2010". http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2010/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2009&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=512%2C941%2C914%2C446%2C612%2C666%2C614%2C668%2C311%2C672%2C213%2C946%2C911%2C137%2C193%2C962%2C122%2C674%2C912%2C676%2C313%2C548%2C419%2C556%2C513%2C678%2C316%2C181%2C913%2C682%2C124%2C684%2C339%2C273%2C638%2C921%2C514%2C948%2C218%2C943%2C963%2C686%2C616%2C688%2C223%2C518%2C516%2C728%2C918%2C558%2C748%2C138%2C618%2C196%2C522%2C278%2C622%2C692%2C156%2C694%2C624%2C142%2C626%2C449%2C628%2C564%2C228%2C283%2C924%2C853%2C233%2C288%2C632%2C293%2C636%2C566%2C634%2C964%2C238%2C182%2C662%2C453%2C960%2C968%2C423%2C922%2C935%2C714%2C128%2C862%2C611%2C716%2C321%2C456%2C243%2C722%2C248%2C942%2C469%2C718%2C253%2C724%2C642%2C576%2C643%2C936%2C939%2C961%2C644%2C813%2C819%2C199%2C172%2C184%2C132%2C524%2C646%2C361%2C648%2C362%2C915%2C364%2C134%2C732%2C652%2C366%2C174%2C734%2C328%2C144%2C258%2C146%2C656%2C463%2C654%2C528%2C336%2C923%2C263%2C738%2C268%2C578%2C532%2C537%2C944%2C742%2C176%2C866%2C534%2C369%2C536%2C744%2C429%2C186%2C433%2C925%2C178%2C746%2C436%2C926%2C136%2C466%2C343%2C112%2C158%2C111%2C439%2C298%2C916%2C927%2C664%2C846%2C826%2C299%2C542%2C582%2C967%2C474%2C443%2C754%2C917%2C698%2C544&s=NGDPD&grp=0&a=&pr.x=48&pr.y=9. Retrieved 2010-11-13.  Currency conversion was based on the exchange rate of 2010-11-13.
  6. ^ Försvarets fyra huvuduppgifter (In Swedish)
  7. ^ "Sverige är militärt alliansfritt. Denna säkerhetspolitiska linje, med möjlighet till neutralitet vid konflikter i vårt närområde, har tjänat oss väl." Sveriges säkerhetspolitik (In Swedish)
  8. ^ "Nordic Battlegroup - Försvarsmakten". Mil.se. 2009-01-19. http://www.mil.se/en/Organisation/Units-on-standby/Nordic-Battlegroup/. Retrieved 2009-08-05. [dead link]
  9. ^ Sverige och NATO (In Swedish)
  10. ^ "Nordic defence cooperation - Försvarsmakten". Mil.se. 2009-03-06. http://www.mil.se/en/About-the-Armed-Forces/Nordic-defence-cooperation/. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  11. ^ "Background to cooperation - Försvarsmakten". Mil.se. 2009-03-06. http://www.mil.se/en/About-the-Armed-Forces/Nordic-defence-cooperation/Background-to-cooperation/. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  12. ^ Ett användbart försvar, last paragraph (In Swedish)
  13. ^ Försvarsreformen (In Swedish)
  14. ^ "Our task - Försvarsmakten". Mil.se. 2007-09-25. http://www.mil.se/en/About-the-Armed-Forces/Our-task/. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  15. ^ "The Swedish military service system - Försvarsmakten". Mil.se. 2007-09-28. http://www.mil.se/en/About-the-Armed-Forces/The-Swedish-military-service-system/. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  16. ^ Ett användbart försvar
  17. ^ http://svt.se/2.22620/1.1597044/varnplikten_avskaffas&from=rss
  18. ^ Ivarsson, Ulf (February 2007). "Pendeln måste slå tillbaka". Hemvärnet (1): 5. 
  19. ^ Ph.D. thesis in "War and the career system", Dagens Nyheter by professor Mats Alvesson, researcher of military organization at Lunds University, and Karl Ydén at the University of Göteborg.
  20. ^ "Karriärstyrda officerare skapar inkompetent försvar" (in (Swedish)). DN.se. 2008-11-06. http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=572&a=848314. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  21. ^ a b c d http://www.mil.se/upload/dokumentfiler/Årsredovisningar/Årsredovisning%202008/Bilaga%203%20Årsredovisning%202008.pdf
  22. ^ a b c http://www.forsvarsmakten.se/upload/dokumentfiler/%C3%85rsredovisningar/%C3%85rsredovisning%202009/%C3%85R%2009%20bilaga%202.pdf
  23. ^ "Armed Forces Headquarters (HKV) - Försvarsmakten". Mil.se. 2008-12-01. http://www.mil.se/templates/Mil_UnitStartpage.aspx?id=10130&epslanguage=EN. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  24. ^ (In Swedish)
  25. ^ (In Swedish)
  26. ^ http://www2.mil.se/en/About-the-Armed-Forces/Organisation/Address-list/

Manpower-numbers are taken from CIA - The World Factbook

External links

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