Sweden has had peace for some 200 years, escaping the ravages of both world wars despite being in the midst of the action on all sides. This is due to about equal parts dumb luck and the policy of armed neutrality.
In modern times up until recently, army service was compulsary for all males. Serving your year in the armed forces was just a part of growing up, helping shape up and instill discipline into all 18-19 year olds (which I can say, in hindsight, probably did me and many others good!)
While the country had a respectable air force and other rather advanced weaponry, the core of it all during the cold war was that every little podunk town had it’s defenders. Even if Russian elite commandos managed to cripple all the modern equipment. In the event of an invasion, every grown man would simply go to the designated weapons depot in the woods, get a machinegun, grenades and survival gear.
In a scenario with the civilian and military leadership eliminated, an invader would still be faced with a million man strong guerilla force fighting on home turf. As history has showed in Afghanistan, Vietnam and countless other similar situations, it is all but impossible for an invader to come out ahead in the long term.
Unfortunately, in recent decades the Swedish military has been crippled piece by piece, as populistic politicians would finance pet projects by slashing the military budget. In 2010 the compulsory army service was scrapped, and today it seems the only functional parts of the military are small units being sent to Afghanistan and other hotbeds. Since the scope is miniscule it can best be described as a symbolic gesture to have “deployed troops,” which primarily serves to further various politicians’ career in Brussels.
Today, Sweden is essentially defenseless. The country has a number of very advanced JAS fighter planes, but due to budget concerns they rarely ever take off. Not even when Russian bombers practice attacks against Swedish targets.
In spring 2014, two Tu-22M3 heavy bombers with four escorting Su-27 fighter jets did a practice run against the Swedish island Gotland located between the countries. Nearby Lithuania scrambled it’s jets, while the Swedish air force was on coffee break. Oops.
As for the regular forces, they still do their training. With guns, but no ammo. Due to budget cutbacks, they now have to yell “Bang, bang!” as they practice attacks in the woods.
While Putin has invested enormously in beefing up his military presence across the Baltic sea, the Swedish politicians have now scaled back the scope of the military to “hold Stockholm one week”. That is the full and total ambition. To dig in around the capital and hope someone comes to the rescue. Some experts believe even this goal is too lofty.
Who will come to Sweden’s aid? Not NATO, since Sweden stubbornly refuses to join. “Only NATO members can be guaranteed help from the military alliance, and as it is not a member, Sweden should not depend on any such assistance,” NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in 2014.
Some politicians even advocate a total abolishment of the military altogether, suggesting any conflict can be resolved with LGBT-certified dialogue. The idea is to meet the attacking Russian tanks with enlightened talks and make them see the error of their ways. Full of shame and remorse, the embarassed soliders will then turn around and leave Sweden alone.
I am not making this up.
It is a key point of political party FI, which almost made it into parliament and would have become a part of the government coalition efter the sept. 14 election.
A few years from now, the Swedish military should be shriveled up to the point where the Swedish capital can be captured by a pickup truck of drunken, armed Texans in just over two hours.