Swedish Military Conscription

This has become topical in Sweden. See the Swedish Edition of the Local, 28 October 2014: http://www.thelocal.se/20141028/sweden-could-see-return-to-military-service

I didn’t know that conscription had been abolished by the Alliance Government in 2010. Or that the abolition of conscription had been opposed by the Social Democrats. In the 2010 General Election, the Alliance parties had a Riksdag majority. Yet 4 years after this and before the foreign U-boat incident, 3 of the 4 Alliance Parties had decided to support Sweden joining NATO.

What a coincidence! Even the Moderates were in favour but refused to use their position as the second-largest party to join NATO without the Social Democrats’ support to do so, as it has been a tradition that such a major policy U-turn after 2 centuries of armed neutrality should have broad support by Riksdag.

But given the worsening of East-West relations created by the European Empire wanting to recruit Ukraine as a member state, the Social Democrats are still opposed to the abolition of conscription. Conscription used to involve “refresher exercises (repmånad)” which periodically kept conscripts updated on new weaponry and new tactics in the Swedish forest wilderness, or in the archipelago. The link is to a film, which takes the rise out of refresher exercises “that makes boys out of men” (!) by an implicit comparison with the BBC Series Dad’s Army. If you compare the image in the Wikipedia item on refresher exercises with the image in the BBC page you will see how similar they are.

At the same time, perhaps it is time to investigate and discuss alternative forms of structuring conscription. It has gradually changed from large-scale recruitment of men to a form based on a small proportion of males, so it is also easy to opt out.

I am actually quite surprised it is males only. Is Sweden the only country which does not conscript women? Keeping it easy to opt out of but extending it to include females on the same terms might be one way to improve recruitment.

I am also surprised that those political parties that voted to both abolish conscription and to then join NATO (all during the Ukraine crisis!) have the nerve to want to join NATO. It escapes me how they defend that illogical position.

Link to Related PostSweden’s Armed Neutrality

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