Armed Forces Journal’s January 2009 issue has an article entitled “Good business is good policy.” It looks at the US Navy’s growing focus on maritime partnerships, and notes that:
“In terms of volume, more than 90 percent of international spending on U.S. Navy equipment and services is done by just 15 percent of the countries who buy their maritime defense articles from the U.S… As evidenced by the rising prominence of security cooperation programs in U.S. theater engagement efforts, foreign military sales and training are especially well-suited to growing security relationships. They build capacity, improve interoperability and provide a basis for professional relationships which lead to mutual understanding and respect. However, developing security cooperation relationships with nontraditional partners has proved to be challenging. These countries come in two categories: regional powers such as India and Brazil, and strategically significant nations such as Nigeria, Indonesia, Djibouti and Yemen that are limited by resources and equipment.”
In January 2008, current defence minister Sten Tolgfors became embroiled in controversy when he criticized Supreme Commander Hakan Syren’s moves to cut the length of national service and slash flying hours for fighter pilots, in response to an operational budget shortfall of over $200 million. An April 2008 report confirmed that further cuts were on the way, and the minister worked to put a sunny face on the process after his Defence Commission issued a June 2008 report that agreed with his vision. A November 2008 government directive to the Supreme Commander from November confirms that the military budget will be frozen at SKR 38.9 billion (about $4.9 billion) per year through 2014, which means slight cuts over time in inflation-adjusted terms.
Now, The Local reports that the government’s future plans will cut the Swedish Army by 30%, while cutting its number of tanks in half. The number of soldiers and officers deployable for combat will be cut from 20,000 to 12,500. In the end, Sweden’s military will retain 7 tactical land battalions, plus one Marine battalion. Supreme Commander Hakan Syren is expected to make the announcement this Friday, but the plans were leaked to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.
Sweden purchased 280 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany, but only the 160 Strv 122 variants are still operational. The 120 Strv 121/2A4 versions have already been removed from active service.