For the first time since 1997, some Swedish vehicle owners will be receiving letters from the armed forces informing them that their vehicles will be drafted by the military, in a move echoing an old Cold War-era policy. The Swedish Armed Forces writes that the vehicles will be enlisted in the event of a war or if war readiness is raised. This comes amidst an ongoing effort to rebuild Sweden's comprehensive defense capabilities, including civilian contributions.
"The draft decisions should not be taken as a sign that Sweden is mobilizing. The security situation can change rapidly — we have clear examples of that in our geographic proximity. It is the responsibility of the armed forces to be able to handle such a situation if it were to occur," Johan Svensson, the armed forces' chief of production management, said on the armed forces' website.
In December of 2015, the Swedish government decided to reintroduce its comprehensive defense planning, citing the "deteriorated" security situation. The decision gave the Armed Forces and Civil Contingencies Agency until June 10, 2017 to evaluate how much support the armed forces needs from other authorities and agencies, as well as their capacities to deliver.
While the military says that which and how many vehicles are included in the draft decisions is classified, those that are will be integrated into one of the armed forces' military units if and when needed. Owners will be required to store their letters with the draft decision in secure locations, as well as to keep the armed forces updated about the state of their vehicles.
The scare of a "Russian invasion" is frequently brought up in Swedish mainstream media. One of the biggest fears is that if Moscow were to launch an attack on the Baltic States, then Sweden's island of Gotland would be a high priority target — which led to the island's remilitarization last year.
Fears were made worse by a recent report by the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences, which according to Dagens Nyheter states that in the event of a war with a modern, qualified adversary, Sweden wouldn't stand a chance.
Rather, according to the report, cyberattacks would knock out the electrical grid and computer networks, and within a week Swedes would be starving and panic-stricken. The report cites the lack of civil defense capabilities and that the armed forces aren't up to the task of fighting a serious opponent.
In this scenario, Russia is again portrayed as the giant terrifying and threatening neighbor to the east. And so, using fear of the Russian bear, some car owners may well stand to lose their vehicles to the armed forces.