Swedish armed forces brace for spending cuts
Hakan Syren, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, Thursday warned that requested spending cuts will seriously impair the country's ability to defend itself and also carry out international peacekeeping missions, dpa reported.
The government has ordered Syren to bring "the military budget into balance" by 2010, and in a proposal the armed forces suggested shutting down several training facilities and bases as well as reducing the number of jet fighters deployed by the air force.
Syren said the country's defence capability will be reduced but told reporters that "we have had the courage to take this action" citing a review by a parliamentary-appointed defence commission that Sweden did not face any major military threats in the coming 5, 10 years.
Units facing closure included the Arctic Ranger battalion in Arvidsjaur, northern Sweden as well as naval units in Karlskrona and Malmo in southern Sweden.
The defence commission's assessments made in 2004 were basically shared by Syren, but he said developments in neighbouring Russia was a factor that contributed to greater uncertainty.
Parliament must approve the proposals and possible closures.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told Swedish radio news that his government's stance was that "each tax-financed activity that reports an imbalance or deficit always gets the same reply: suggest how to fix the problem."
Meanwhile, the government Thursday said it would ask parliamentary approval to extend the current term for some 200 peacekeepers in Chad to October.
The peacekeepers were deployed to protect refugees in eastern Chad that had fled from the troubled Darfur region in neighbouring Sudan.