Sweden: An end to conscription?

According to an article in The Local, Swedish Defence Minister Mikael Odenberg questions the need for peacetime conscription in Sweden. Conscription should instead be reserved for times of war, he said in an interview with Svenska Dagbladet.

Wartime conscription should also be applicable for women as well as men, he added. Military service in its current form is only compulsory for men. The length of military service is 7.5 months, between 10 and 15 months for officers, and between 18 and 20 months for those serving in the navy. All men between the ages of 18 and 47 are liable for military service.

Swedish defence policy is based on the concept of total defence, which means that all inhabitants are obliged to participate in national defence in case of emergency or war. Total defence consists of military service, civil defence service and general service. Conscription only takes place into military service and civil defence service. General service does not involve any form of training, but means that one may be called up for service in time of war or emergency. All Swedish citizens (both men and women) and all foreigners living in Sweden are liable for general service between the ages of 16 and 70.

In the interview, Odenberg further stressed that he does not want Sweden to have a professional army. The country should instead retain military service -- which is "a symbol for the army's popular basis" -- even if it is only in use at times of military necessity.

"There are good reasons for trying to see if we can find a solution whereby we have basic conscription legislation that can be activated in turbulent times," said Odenberg.

Source: The Local, 15 May 2007