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    Military Cuts Gone 'Too Far': Double Defense Budget, Swedish Conservatives Say

    CC BY 2.0 / Håkan Dahlström / Swedish soldiers
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    The Swedish Conservatives Party wants to see more battleships, submarines, fighter jets and another army brigade, coupled with a dramatic hike in defense expenditure.

    Sweden's Conservatives wants to gradually build up the nation's defense and eventually double Stockholm's defense budget. The party is proposing an extra SEK 18 billion ($2 billion) for defense in the years 2019-2021. In the long run, the ambition is to raise the defense budget to two percent of the nation's GDP, which means a doubling compared with today, national broadcaster SVT reported.

    Conservative leader Ulf Kristersson has argued that the defense cuts of the past 20 years have gone "too far."

    According to Conservative defense policy spokesman Hans Wallmark, the most important thing at the moment is to see to that the defense agreement passed by the Swedish parliament in 2015 is implemented. The 2015 cross-party defense agreement stated that Sweden's security situation has worsened and demanded an additional SEK 13.7 billion ($1.54 billion) in defense allocations during the period 2016-2020. At the same time, Wallmark argued that a long-term plan is needed.

    ​"The Conservatives want to strengthen Sweden's defense capabilities in an increasingly uncertain world. We have therefore announced that Sweden's defense budget should be raised to two percent of GDP," the party tweeted.

    Within the current defense period until 2020, the Conservatives propose the establishment of a special total defense department. Furthermore, a number of older Jas Gripen C/D fighter jets should be retained via an upgrade of their lifespan and Sweden should commence the acquisition of next-generation surface combat vessels.

    In the defense period 2021-2025, the Conservatives would like to start the creation of a third Army Brigade in Sweden's southernmost Skåne County, equip corvettes with missile defense and see to it that Sweden's artillery gets at least 48 Archer self-propelled gun systems. In addition, the number of conscripts will be increased, should the Conservatives have their way. According to the plan, the Home Guard will become a defense branch of its own with 25,000 soldiers.

    READ MORE: Sweden to Issue 'If Crisis or War Comes' Booklet For First Time in Decades

    In the defense period 2026-2030, the Conservatives want to train 8,000 conscripts annually, increase the number of submarines from five to seven, expand the number of combat vessels and further beef up artillery.

    In 2017, the Swedish government reintroduced conscription after a brief seven-year attempt to build the Armed Forces on a strictly professional basis resulted in dramatic staff shortages. In 2016 before reintroducing conscription, Sweden's Armed Forces, which number fewer than 20,000 soldiers in peace time, was reportedly lacking 1,000 squad leaders, soldiers and sailors, not to mention 7,000 reservists.

    READ MORE: Sweden to Issue 'If Crisis or War Comes' Booklet For First Time in Decades

    This is a far cry from the 1980s when the Swedish Armed Forces numbered a solid 180,000 soldiers. The same tendency has manifested itself in defense spending, which dropped from 3.1 percent during the late stages of the Cold War to a mere 1.1 percent today.

    The Conservatives, who are sometimes referred to by their Swedish name of Moderates, are a major player in Swedish politics. Having led the Swedish government for several stretches in the 1990s and the 2000s, the Conservatives are currently part of the "blue" Alliance challenging the "red-green" government. The four Alliance parties (the Conservatives, the Liberals, the Christian Democrats and the Center Party) would also like to see Sweden as a NATO member.


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    military budget, Conservative Party (Sweden), Ulf Kristersson, Scandinavia, Sweden
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