A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Rear Admiral Jan Thornqvist
The past year’s global financial strain has for many countries also had an impact on national defense budgets. Budget cuts have had a negative impact on navies’ ability to maintain and develop different capabilities. At the same time different technologies are rapidly developing, leading to a need for modifications, and costs are in most cases also rising. You might say that the situation is challenging for the world’s fleets.
The Swedish government has managed to maintain funding levels for the armed forces, which are continuing a transformation aimed at improving the availability, flexibility, and usability of operational units. At the same time, Sweden has ended conscription and introduced a system of voluntarily recruitment, the aim being an increase in the number of service personnel ready and available to take part in national and international operations.
A central task of the Royal Swedish Navy’s mission is to defend Sweden and its interests both in and outside the Baltic region. The task is assigned with a long perspective, thus providing a solid base for the operational, tactical, and technical demands of developing for the future.
Thus we continue development of standing naval units having high availability, a high degree of readiness, and full interoperability with forces from NATO and the EU. Already our interoperability has been tested during both international exercises and more than half-a-dozen years participating in international operations such as UNIFIL (Lebanon) and EUNAVFOR (Horn of Africa). In 2010 our navy served well as EUNAVFOR force commander in Operation Atalanta, conducting operations from the HSwMS Carlskrona. I would also note that in northern Afghanistan one of our naval explosive ordnance disposal teams deployed on a regular basis.
What does the future hold? Per our mission, the navy will maintain high readiness to respond to any multinational operation as ordered by the Swedish government. We will continue to develop our different capabilities, such as the Visby-class corvettes, the Koster-class mine countermeasures vessels, the amphibious battalion, and our submarines. The next- generation Swedish submarine, the Kockums A26, is scheduled to be operative in 2018-20. Our plans also call for a new signals intelligence ship and new support vessels.
The Royal Swedish Navy will continue to protect Swedish interests and international shipping in and outside the Baltic region in close cooperation with other navies, thus being a useful and active implement in the Swedish government’s security-policy toolbox.