Cablegate: New Swedish Defense Priorities: Sweden Puts

DE RUEHSM #0552/01 2381643
P 261643Z AUG 09



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/21/2019


1. (C) Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and
NATO Policy (DASD) James Townsend met with Ministry of
Defense (MoD) Director General for Political Affairs Johan
Raeder for bilateral defense consultations (BDCs) on July
17-18, the first such talks of what is expected to be an
annual event. Townsend also met with Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA) Director for Security Policy Nils Daag and with
MoD State Secretary Hakan Jevrell (the number two at MoD).
The BDCs focused on the new Swedish Defense Bill and explored
the possibility of expanding the level of U.S.-Sweden
defense-to-defense dialogue. The new Defense Bill ends
conscription, changing Swedish contingency planning from a
large force deployable in one to three years to a small
all-volunteer force deployable within a week to six months.
In a significant break with the past, it also changes Swedish
defense priorities, focusing on international threats to
Swedish sovereignty and regional security, not just threats
to its territorial integrity. In addition, Sweden's changing
security policy entails that any attack in the region would
be viewed as affecting Sweden too, and Sweden "will not
remain passive" in such an event. Raeder noted that the new
Defense Bill will be implemented in the 2010-14 time frame
with all changes to be completed by 2017.

2. (C) Daag and DASD Townsend discussed Afghanistan, with
Daag noting that for the foreseeable future most of the
increased EU activity in Afghanistan would be on the
civilian, not the military side. Jevrell expressed a desire
to address NATO-EU relations during the Swedish EU
Presidency, and views Afghanistan as an opportunity to expand
NATO-EU cooperation. Raeder argued for increased U.S.-Sweden
dialogue on Russia, as "one must understand Russia" to
understand defense issues in the Baltic Sea. End Summary.

U.S.-Swedish Defense Dialogue

3. (C) Dialogue between U.S. and Swedish defense ministries
had been at a more strategic level in the 1990s, focusing on
topics like the Balkans and the Baltics, MFA Director Daag
noted. However, in recent years it had become "more
practical," dealing with procurement and defense trade
issues. Strategic talks remain important too, he implied.
While noting the criticism that the EU has not been doing
enough on major challenges like Afghanistan, Daag said that
it is important to remember that the EU,s European Security
and Defense Policy (ESDP) only began eight years ago. Sweden
would work to increase EU participation in Afghanistan during
its Presidency, he stated.

4. (C) MOD Director General Raeder commented that it would be
quite helpful politically if the United States were to
consult with Sweden on issues related to the Baltics,
Afghanistan, and Russia. Such bilateral cooperation
strengthens the legitimacy of GOS policy positions. Sweden
views itself as among the most stable partners in Afghanistan
and needs USG recognition of that to sustain the commitment

New Defense Posture

5. (C) On June 16, Parliament passed the new Defense Bill.
The bill was initially scheduled for Parliamentary action
last year, but it was delayed after the Russian invasion of
Georgia. This extra time allowed security experts to review
the strategic assessments underpinning the conclusions in the
bill and to analyze Swedish needs for future contingencies.
The experts concluded that "a clear ability to rapidly deploy
forces" was essential, and that Sweden's current defense
capabilities--putting tens of thousands of troops into the
field one to three years after a mobilization decision is
made--was "obsolete." Instead, Sweden needs forces readily
available within one week to half a year, Raeder told DASD
Townsend. Due to this new posture, the Government of Sweden
has decided to take the controversial step to end
conscription and move to an all-volunteer force.

6. (C) Regarding Sweden's changing security policy, Raeder
underscored the new declaration of solidarity Sweden has
made: "we cannot foresee that a military attack would be
directed only at Sweden." Rather, aggression in the region
would affect more than one country. Therefore, "we will view
any attack in the region as affecting us too. If Denmark,
for example, were attacked, then Sweden will not remain
passive," he said. Similarly, if Turkey were to join the EU,
Sweden's policy is now that it could not
remain passive if Turkey were attacked; "of course, what we

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can do there is different from what we can do here in our
region," Raeder said. Given these new policies of
solidarity, Sweden must be prepared to give and receive
military assistance.

7. (C) Swedish security experts also concluded that the
military material supply system needs to be more responsive.
Sweden can no longer afford to develop all defense systems by
itself; instead, it will need to buy more products "off the
shelf," including from other countries. "We will develop it
if we cannot find it overseas, but our first priority will be
to look in the international market," Raeder said, in a
marked departure from the postwar symbiosis between defense
industries and the military.

Changing Priorities

8. (C) Sweden's new priorities for the armed forces have not
been discussed publicly, Raeder said. For years, Swedish
military forces were directed to: defend Sweden; uphold
Sweden's territorial integrity; engage in peacekeeping; and
support civil society in times of crisis. Under the new
policy, participation in peacekeeping operations obliges
Swedish forces to be ready to conduct operations in Sweden,
its region, and outside of its region. Protection of Sweden
has been extended beyond defending its territorial integrity,
to encompass national sovereignty as well, which can include
national sovereign rights outside of Swedish territory.
Raeder said "we now understand that our interests do not stop
at our national borders. Instead of protecting our ships
only in our waters, we now must be able to protect sea lines
of communication. We want armed forces that can conduct
operations nationally or internationally in support of our
sovereign rights." Raeder noted that the new Defense Bill
will be implemented in the 2010-14 time frame with all
changes to be completed by 2017.

EU and Afghanistan

9. (C) MFA Director Daag indicated that for the foreseeable
future most of the increased EU activity in Afghanistan would
be in the civilian activities. He noted that it is important
to put the "R" (reconstruction) back into "PRT" (Provincial
Reconstruction Team). Daag also raised the growing
importance of explaining to the Swedish public why Swedish
troops are patrolling in Afghanistan. "It must be clear that
what happens there affects us here," he said. Jevrell noted
that Sweden was "impressed" by the renewed American efforts
in Afghanistan, but conceded that many EU agencies were
skeptical of the ability of the U.S. to do the "civil side"
well. He agreed, however, that Afghanistan is an opportunity
to expand the NATO-EU partnership.


10. (C) Raeder said that "to understand the High North and
issues in the Baltic Sea (the U.S.) has to understand
Russia." He noted that, "for (Sweden), Russia is always
present." Raeder said that Sweden wants expanded dialogue
with the USG on Russia, "to share our views about what's
happening there." Sweden assesses that Russia has lowered
the threshold to use violence, though Moscow understands that
the Caucasus are not the Baltics. Jevrell noted that
different Nordic countries have different views on Russia,
conceding that there is a vigorous debate in Sweden on
Russia's regional role and intentions.

Nordic Solidarity

11. (C) Peter Gothe, MoD Deputy Director-General and Head of
Department for Security and International Affairs, noted that
the Nordic foreign ministers have discussed military
solidarity, but their declaration was weaker than what the
Swedish MoD had hoped for. Denmark and Norway were hesitant
to go further, out of concern for their NATO obligations,
whereas the Finns were more positive. In reply to DASD
Townsend's question about why the Nordic nations felt the
need to issue a solidarity declaration now, Raeder explained
that the Nordic solidarity declaration arose from joint
defense planning, "which shows real intent, even more than
political statements."

12. (U) DASD Townsend has approved this cable.

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