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How Sweden prepares its army for possible threats from Russia

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar May21,2024

How Sweden prepares its military for possible threats from Russia

As the US and European militaries try to build up their forces to deter Russia, Sweden's response is to call in the army only the most capable.

To counter and contain an expansionist Moscow, the United States and many of Russia's closest neighbors are scrambling to recruit enough recruits to bolster their armed forces. In contrast to Sweden, where the armed forces reject thousands of young men and women from service every year. As NATO's newest member, Sweden is betting that the best way to strengthen its defenses against Russian aggression — is to fill its armed forces with the country's best soldiers, reports The Wall Street Journal.

All young men and women in Sweden must complete military service, but rigorous testing selects the best from among the rest. Military service, which lasts up to 15 months, depending on the position, is considered prestigious, and conscripts compete for places. After that, they become reservists of the country for 10 years, or until they reach the age of 47.

Selection in Sweden is based on physical and mental fitness, IQ tests and motivation to serve. Health problems such as allergies, asthma or eczema can weed out recruits.

Today, Sweden can mobilize around 66,000 military personnel, including around 12,000 reservists and more than 2,000 guards, compared to 850,000 men and women at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s. The goal is to increase the number of active forces to more than 100,000 by 2030.

“Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has suddenly reminded Europe of the need to maintain large combat-ready armies. European intelligence officials say that Russia expects a conflict with NATO within the next decade and aims to create a standing army of 1.5 million people by the end of 2026,” — writes the newspaper.

Ukraine's brutal war of attrition has shown that massive armies still matter, especially in multi-year wars, said Jan Joel Andersson, a senior analyst and rearmament expert at the European Union Institute for Security Studies.  

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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