Development of modern total defence

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The 2015 defence bill stated that the single most important issue to address in the period of 2016–2020 was to increase the operational warfighting capability of the Swedish Armed Forces and to ensure the overall capability of Swedish total defence. The total defence includes all activities preparing the society for war and consists of both civil and military defence.

When the Government has declared raised or highest level of alert, the total defence includes all societal activities. Vital societal functions include the Riksdag (the Swedish parliament), the Government, government agencies, municipalities, private enterprises, voluntary defence organisations as well as individuals.

Coordinated development of total defence

In line with the defence bill from 2015, the Government submitted planning directions and instructions to relevant governmental agencies. In December 2015, the Government tasked the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency to submit a total defence proposal. They were also tasked to jointly develop and promote a coherent planning for total defence.

In May 2017, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and the Swedish Armed Forces were given a follow-up task by the Government to support relevant actors in a coherent planning. The task prioritised support with the wartime posting of personnel, support to the Armed Forces, secure and robust communications and the support of alternate and/or protected command post.

The focus was on supporting the Swedish Armed Forces during periods of raised alert within the areas of supply of critical provisions, properties and services. On the island of Gotland, the Swedish Armed Forces and the county administrative board created an organisation dedicated to coordination related to total defence.

In accordance with the Defence Commission's report from December 2017, work is underway to set up a new agency for psychological defence and another on command, coordination and responsibility in civil defence, as well as coordination between civil and military defence. Furthermore, preparation is ongoing concerning regulations of private companies' role in total defence as well as identification of and war posting in these companies. The work to rebuild Swedish total defence will continue for many years, involving extensive challenges. 

Development of military defence

The Swedish Armed Forces is responsible for defending Swedish territorial integrity and security as well as maintaining and developing Swedish military defence with capabilities.

Development of civil defence

The objective of civil defence is to protect the civilian population, safeguard the most important public services and contribute to the Swedish Armed Forces' capabilities in the event of an armed attack or war. In December 2015, the Government adopted planning directions for civil defence.

These instructions represent the joint direction for agencies with special responsibilities for contingency matters and require an annual report on measures and results achieved. As a result of an agreement between the government parties, the Moderate Party and the Centre Party, civil defence was strengthened by a total of approximately SEK 1.3 billion up to and including 2020. This was the largest investment since the 1990s.

To maintain the pace of development, the Government took a range of measures to strengthen the build-up of civil defence. In the appropriation directions for 2018, agencies with special responsibilities for civil defence were tasked with giving wartime postings to the personnel needed for activities during a heightened state of alert. Moreover, the appropriation directions provided a precise focus for civil defence work. Priority was given to support the Swedish Armed Forces and secure robust communication.

To further develop support and coordination, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and the Swedish Armed Forces were tasked with specifying scalable starting points for the planning of civil defence. As instructed by the Government, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency also developed an information brochure and sent it to all households in the country. The purpose was to increase people's knowledge about preparations for crises and heightened states of alert. In late May 2018, almost five million brochures were distributed.

Since the Defence Resolution of 2015, a range of measures have been taken to build a new total defence.

  • A national security strategy that highlights total defence has been presented
  • The Government has given instructions/planning directions to military and civil agencies
  • The Government has also tasked the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency to assist with the development of a coherent total defence planning
  • The Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency have submitted a total defence approach
  • Regional approaches have been drawn up by county administrative boards and regional military staffs
  • Government assignment to agencies requiring wartime postings, defence supply concepts, etc.
  • Information to county councils and municipalities and a review of their role
  • Information and training initiatives have been planned and conducted to increase knowledge about total defence
  • Government task on information material for the general public
  • Review of the Protective Security Act
  • Appointed a parliamentary committee with the task of reviewing certain issues in the regulatory framework aimed at protecting Sweden's total defence
  • National strategy for information and cyber security
  • Bilateral and multilateral dialogues
  • Political agreements, including budget consolidation
  • The assessments and recommendations in the Defence Commission's total defence report being prepared at the Government Offices