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International Cooperation Is Our Only option

International Cooperation Is Our Only option

Speech by the Swedish minister of defence, Dr Björn von Sydow, at the Federation of the Electronics Industry, FEI. Stockholm, March 3, 2002. Source: MoD.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour and indeed a pleasure to have the opportunity to be here with you today. Today I have had some very substantial talks with my British colleague and friend Geoff Hoon. I think it’s fair to say that the lasting impression from these talks is their proof of the good relations between our countries. In fact, I would argue that the relations between Sweden and UK have not been better since the days of ABBA and Björn Borg.

Since those days, the world has changed in so many ways. We are now looking towards a future that holds the promise of a Europe united in it’s strive for democracy and good neighbourly cooperation. This development is central to Sweden’s own perception of our security environment. This is also one of the basic prerequisites for our review and new formulation of our security policy stance.

On February 11, the Government and three parliamentary parties agreed on a new formulation of Sweden's security policy line. It contains the following wording: "The aims of Sweden’s security policy are to preserve our country’s peace and independence, contribute to stability and security in our vicinity and strengthen international peace and security. Sweden pursues a policy of non-participation in military alliances. This security policy, making it possible for our country to remain neutral in the event of conflicts in our vicinity, has served us well. Looking to the future, it is more apparent than ever that security is more than the absence of military conflict. Threats to peace and our security is best averted by acting concertedly and in cooperation with other countries. The primary expression of this conviction at global level is our support for the United Nations. As a member of the European Union, we are part of a community based on solidarity, whose primary purpose is to prevent war on the European continent." This means that Sweden shall pursue a policy of non-participation in military alliances. Sweden has chosen to play an active role as mediator, bridge-builder and cooperation partner within the framework of the UN in connection with international conflicts. Sweden has also committed itself to the development of a strong and vital European Union. The work underway within the EU as regards the Union’s ability to participate in crisis management operations, through the establishment of the EU Headline Goal, will prove to be the most important contribution to peace and stability in the beginning of the 21st century. This is my firm conviction.The emergence of new threats, as well as receding old threats. The continued development of international cooperation, as well as the continued emergence of crises all point to the need for change also in our own thinking on security and in our efforts to reach security.In short: We have been forced to rethink our way of defending ourselves and the way we structure our defence.*

The Swedish army no longer needs to be able to mobilise a total of nearly 800 000 men, or educate 25 000 officers and some 40 000 conscripts each year.

  • Our needs are different.

We have created a concept for the development of our forces up til the year 2010. Both the political and military levels have recognised that major changes are necessary in a number of areas. Our surrounding world has changed, society has changed and last but not least, the technological preconditions have changed.

Other types of threat have become more significant. Information warfare, terrorism, NBC weapons all make it important to extend the concept of "threat". At the same time, the technological development continues to open up new possibilities for developing our defence forces and doctrines.

This also means that the protection of vital societal infrastructure will be more and more important to national security as infrastructure gets more and more technically sophisticated.

The defence resolution of March 2000 set the starting point for a thorough reformation of Swedish defence. Modern and flexible contingency forces will replace the large territorial forces. We will leave the large wartime organisation and the mobilisation system. In their place we put joint, modular high-tech forces and national protection forces.

After the end of the cold war we have defined four main tasks for the Armed Forces:

  • Defend Sweden against armed attack
  • Uphold our territorial integrity
  • Contribute to international peace and security
  • Strengthen Swedish society in the event of severe peacetime emergencies

Large reductions are necessary to make room for new capabilities and functions.

In the year 2004 the organisation will include:

Army division command with associated units, six army brigade commands with associated units, including a NBC task force and some forty ground force battalions. The naval forces will include two surface attack flotillas with a total of 12 surface attack vessels, one submarine flotilla with five submarines, one mine warfare flotilla, one amphibious brigade command and three amphibious battalions.

The Air Force will see eight JAS-39 Gripen squadrons and two helicopter battalions.

In addition we will have national protection forces including 12 ground defence battalions and a home guard. Establishing this force, we will put emphasis on:

  • Increased international capacity and interoperability Command and Control
  • Defensive Information Warfare-capacity
  • NBC-defence capability
  • Air Mobility
  • Long-range weapons
  • New logistics organisation

The technological development and the demands from more and more complex operations requires us to utilize our forces in new ways. We can no longer afford to build separate systems for separate branches. We can no longer afford to let the branches of our armed forces to operate separately. The concept of joint operations need to be taken further. We need to develop a capability to conduct network centric warfare. This amounts to nothing short of a revolution in military affairs.

Network centric warfare is a way to:

  • Make the best use of our joint forces in all types of conflict,
  • Allow the right force to be in the right place at the right time,
  • Ensure that the right political and military decision-makers get the relevant information at the right time, and to
  • Make use of modern assets in the forces such as the Gripen-system, radar surveillance, stealth-corvettes, amphibious battalions, mechanised units and connect them together in an information network.

We have already started on this road with goals for each year to 2010.

At the same time, doctrine, training and exercises, language training, organisation and routines, as well as materiel and procurement, must all be compatible with the requirement of the capability to conduct international operations.

It is a general aim in the framework of internationalisation to make all our forces capable of acting internationally. In the short run, however, priority has been given to units reported to the EU Headline Goal and the Planning And Review Process within the PfP.

The continuing development of our armed forces, both with regard to the concept of network centric warfare and internationalisation, represents an extremely demanding task for any country. Especially when it comes to procurement and research & development.

Sweden cannot on it’s own sustain a defence industry with the ability to deliver the defence materiel needed for this task. International cooperation is our only option.

You know it. I know it. And that’s why we are here today.

The Ministry of Defence is in the process of drawing up a cohesive strategy for materiel supply and research in the defence sector, to be presented to Parliament.

The point of departure in this work should be the need for creating a clear link between desired development of the operational capability and the need for research and development. In order to improve our understanding of this link, we aim at dividing the entire process into functions on the operative level.

As an example of this, the armed forces have started an air defence study to identify the future needs for anti-aircraft missiles and the possible need of enhancing the capabilities of the Gripen system.

The anti-aircraft capability could be integrated in the new corvettes of the Visby-class. There’s a need for mechanized anti-aircraft missile systems as well as systems for the amphibious corps. The development of air defence systems will be an important part of the defence resolution of 2004.

Another important function will be the ability to attack ground targets. Indirect fire capability should be developed. We are now conducting an artillery demonstrator project in order to find the best ways of developing this ability. In the same area, we are planning to procure an attack missile for Gripen, and we are already investing in laser-guided bombs. Other air-to-ground weapons could be of interest for the future.

Through increased spending on research, several demonstrator projects will be carried out. I will give you some examples:

Together with Germany, demonstrating a "hyper-velocity-missile".

Demonstration of a new extremely short-ranged air-defence rocket, Abraham, which could be used for protection of point-targets.

Demonstration of a new motor-technique for missiles based on pulse-detonation, which could provide higher speed and longer range than is possible today.

Sweden is also aiming at a demonstration of the technical possibilities of information networking and the ability of precision engagement.

Secure materiel supply is largely dependent on the industry maintaining and developing skills that are in demand internationally. This creates interdependence and trust between participating nations, which leads to greater security of supply in times of war and crisis.

Sweden is currently engaged in a number of international projects. For instance, we have recently signed an MoU for the Meteor project. This is a very important project for the continued development of the Gripen system as well as for our industrial competence.

Other ongoing projects include

The advanced artillery mortar project, AMOS, in co-operation with Finland

The IRIS-T missile for Gripen together with several European countries

A new light anti-armour weapon, NLAW, hopefully together with the UK.

Future projects could include

The CARABAS radar system

New light armoured vehicle, where Sweden and UK have a mutual interest

New artillery long range grenade

Air-defence missile systems

Sweden will continue to strive for long-term international cooperation. This will be facilitated if the regulatory framework of countries is sufficiently harmonised. These issues have been successfully discussed in such forums as the Six Nations Cooperation and within the framework of Nordic cooperation.

Within the EU, a discussion has also been initiated on the ways in which defence materiel cooperation could support the development of ESDP. As you know, a challenging task remains for the Union's member states to make good the shortfalls still existing regarding the capability requirements established for the Headline Goal. Sweden will be taking an active part in this stimulating discussion on the basis of our overall policy.

In our endeavours to secure a supply of modern defence materiel, Sweden has committed itself to increased international cooperation, including joint ownership of our defence industry. Thus, Alvis and Bae are now major owners of Swedish defence industry. We view this as a natural way forward and beneficial to both Sweden and UK.

Joint efforts provide increased gains for all concerned.

This is rather like Sweden playing England in the World Cup. Through exchange of personnel and experiences, we have created a true win-win situation!

Thank you.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).