Sweden's Chief of Defense Wants to Strengthen Military Presence in Northern Sweden

Øverstkommanderende for Forsvarsmakten Micael Bydén

General Per Micael Bydèn is the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces. (Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/the Swedish Armed Forces).

The Swedish Armed Forces Supreme Commander Bydén has handed over his military recommendations to the Swedish government. The Swedish Armed Forces give high priority to developing the Nordic cooperation within NATO and wants to establish a new military department outside of Kiruna.

Øverstkommanderende for Försvarsmakten general Micael Bydén

Øverstkommanderende for Försvarsmakten general Micael Bydén. (Foto: Antonia Sehlstedt/Försvarsmakten).

Swedish Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Micael Bydén. (Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/Försvarsmakten).

The Swedish Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Michael Bydén has handed over his military advice to the Swedish government. 

The advice contains a number of recommendations for how the Armed Forces should be developed until 2035 for maximum defense power within the financial framework.

This year's military strategic advice is also, as much as possible, about how Sweden should embrace NATO membership, Bydén said during Tuesday's press conference. 

"Such military advice this fall must be based on the development of the outside world, and just over eight months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it is obvious that it is a very serious security policy situation as well as a serious security situation," said the supreme commander.

"We cannot rule out a more serious development. We are not ruling out anything right now."

Stoltenberg og Bydén

"We see great opportunities to develop the Nordic cooperation within NATO," says Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces Michael Bydén. Here in conversation with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg. (Photo: Joel Thungren/the Swedish Armed Forces).

The Nordics in NATO

"Defense power in alliance", the screen reads when Bydén presents the military recommendations. 

With NATO membership, Sweden will become part of the alliance's deterrence. At the same time, investments must be made in its own military defense as the membership requires defense capability for its own territory, he pointed out.

Furthermore, Bydén emphasizes the opportunities for developing Nordic cooperation within NATO.

Developing a Nordic dimension is especially important because the conditions in Northern Europe require joint and coordinated defense concepts. Sweden must accept a special regional responsibility since NATO's defense concept is based on regionally existing capabilities. The Swedish Armed Forces stipulate that the Nordic countries belong to the same operational area and are led by the same command structure (Joint Forces Command), the recommendations read.

During the press conference, Bydén provided a brief summary of the national advice and what is required of Sweden in the alliance. According to the Swedish Armed Forces, in the continued membership process, Sweden should waive national reservations, offer capacity for emergency preparedness in the air and for the reinforced presence at NATO's eastern border. Participation in NATO's rapid response units should be prioritized and Sweden should establish itself as a base area for allied ground, air, and marine forces.

In some areas, there is an immediate need for action. This applies, for example, to strengthening the capability for integrated air defense as well as developing the capacity for host country support.

Svenske forsvaret trener i Nord-Sverige

Swedish soldiers training for operations and combat in mountainous terrain in Norrbotten. (Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/the Swedish Armed Forces).

New unit in Northern Sweden

According to the military recommendations, there is a need for an increased continuous military presence in upper Norrland in Northern Sweden, among other things to strengthen the capacity for host country support.

Supreme Commander Bydén recommends that the military presence in upper Norrland be strengthened with the establishment of a unit in Kalixfors in Kiruna municipality.

"Supply lines and the need for host country support in the region demands the establishment of infrastructure and logistics. That is why we recommend a detachment [smaller military force, ed.note] in Kalixfors."

One of the largest supply lines in this region is the iron ore line between Kiruna and Narvik. Daily, it transports large amounts of iron from the mines of Kiruna. From Narvik, the iron ore is shipped out to the European market.

As High North News reported last week, the chiefs of defense in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland point out Ofotfjorden and the port of Narvik, among others, as central in securing allied reinforcements in the entire Nordic region.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.