The total defence concept and the development of civil defence 2021-2025
The Swedish Defence Commission secretariat – inofficial summary
The total defence concept and the development of civil defence 2021-2025
In this report the Swedish Defence Commission presents a number of proposals
regarding the Swedish total defence concept and the future development of
Sweden’s civil defence for the next defence bill period 2021-2025. In a future
report to be presented no later than May 14, 2019, the commission will provide
a comprehensive assessment of the security situation and its consequences for
Swedish defence and security policy. That report will include suggestions
concerning Swedish security policy and the consequences and ambitions
regarding military capability in the period 2021-2025.
According to Swedish law, total defence is defined as the preparations and
planning required to prepare Sweden for war. When the government has
declared highest alert all societal functions are defined as total defence, which
consists of military defence and civil defence. In accordance, the Parliament, the
Government, government authorities, municipalities, private enterprises,
voluntary defence organizations as well as individuals are all part of the total
The Swedish Defence Commission finds that the global security situation is
characterized by instability and unpredictability. What the future may bring is
hard to foresee and transformation may come quickly.
Sweden will not remain passive if another EU Member State or Nordic
country suffers a disaster or an attack. We expect these countries to take similar
action if Sweden is affected. Sweden should therefore be in a position to both
give and receive civil and military support.
An armed attack on Sweden cannot be excluded, nor can the use of military
measures against Sweden or threats thereof. A security crisis or an armed
conflict in our neighbourhood would inevitably also have an impact on Sweden.
The total defence concept will be developed and formed in order to meet armed
attack against Sweden including acts of war on Swedish territory.
If Sweden is attacked the Swedish Armed Forces, supported by the rest of
our total defence, will defend Sweden to win time and create room for
manoeuvre and options in order to secure Sweden’s independence. A resolute
and perseverant resistance will be mobilised.
According to the commission, armed attack against Sweden prior to or
during a war in our neighbourhood, could have the goal of seizing Swedish
territory in order to support military efforts or deny another actor access to
Swedish territory to stage countermeasures. A larger European conflict could
start with an attack on Sweden. If Sweden is attacked and at war, the
commission’s assessment is that parts of Swedish territory will see intensive
combat with severe consequences locally and regionally. Overall, the
commission finds the greater Stockholm area, Gotland, the Öresund region, the
west coast around Gothenburg, western Svealand, and the counties of Jämtland
and Norrbotten are geographic areas of strategic importance in a crisis or war.
The Defence Commission suggests that the aim for the total defence is to,
alone or in cooperation with others, on Swedish territory or abroad, defend
Sweden in case of armed attack and to protect and promote our security,
freedom, and autonomy.
By clarifying that an attack against Sweden will be costly, the total defence
concept together with diplomatic, political and economic measures will deter an
aggressor from attacking Sweden or exerting influence by military means. In the
extreme situation, the total defence must have a credible war fighting capability
with both a military and civil defence.
In a severe security crisis, it is the assessment of the commission that it will
take a relatively long time before the necessary decisions on international
support of Sweden have been made. It will take even longer for the international
support to make a practical difference. Meanwhile, Sweden must have the
capability to defend itself and endure the hardships unaided.
The basis for total defence planning and the foundation of the Swedish total
defence concept will be a capability to resist serious disturbances in the
functionality of Swedish society for three months, where there will be war part
of this time. In a situation of war or when there is a risk of war, the total defence
efforts will be focused on military defence. The commission underlines the
necessity of transforming society to manage warlike conditions, mobilise society
and the military and civil resources to strengthen the defence efforts. This will
take up to a week.
Individual responsibility is an important part of the aggregated capability in
society to withstand and mitigate the consequences of serious disturbances in
the functionality of society. The commission underlines that the individual has
a responsibility given the circumstances in a crisis or war and suggests that each
individual should have a preparedness to manage his or her basic provisions and
care for a week without public support.
Willingness to defend the country and support from the people in the
defence efforts are key factors in mounting a credible defence. Residents and
decision makers alike have to be aware of what wartime conditions requires of
them. Awareness of crisis and war is necessary to withstand the initial shock and
resist an attack.
In the beginning of this century Sweden ended most of its planning for raised
alert and war. As a consequence, large parts of the previous total defence was
decommissioned, not least on the civilian side. For many years, there has been
no systematic planning or preparation for a decision of raised alert or wartime
conditions. With the defence bill of 2015, this type of total defence planning
resumed. However, up until now there has been limited strategic direction or
defined ambitions in these planning efforts.
Over the last few decades, Sweden has gone through considerable societal
change. For example, society is dependent on electricity, information
technology, communications, transportation, fuel and financial services.
Disturbances or an interruption in the flow of goods and services will quickly
have an impact on large parts of society. Digitalisation has meant considerable
changes to society and impact on our daily lives. Cyber attacks are a real threat
today. Systems for electronic communications are not designed to operate in
war-like conditions. Public services that the government previously operated are
now under private ownership. These changes are important preconditions when
resuming Swedish total defence planning.
Sweden has substantial judicial regulations for how Swedish society should
function in a state of war. This includes planning and preparations for these
situations. The commission notes that the present laws and regulations give a
far-reaching set of legal instruments to mobilise and use societal resources in
order to maximise the defence efforts. The commission means that the present
laws give the government freedom of action and flexibility to decide on
increasing preparedness. Furthermore, the government can also decide on
measures to facilitate the total defence efforts and secure the functionality of
society and its decision-making capabilities. Consequently, the commission
finds that Sweden has the basic legal requirements to manage either a hybrid
situation or a war. At the same time, the commission maintains that some of
our laws will need revisions and new laws may be needed. The commission
underlines the importance of increasing knowledge and understanding of the
legal framework and its implications.
The report presents a number of suggestions that would provide the total
defence with an increased capability and perseverance to manage an armed
attack or war on Swedish territory, as well as a hybrid situation. The suggestions
will also strengthen crisis preparedness efforts in peacetime. The proposals
entail that the present defence bill, that states that civil defence will be built on
the crisis management structures, is complemented with measures required in
The report presents suggestions that clarify mandates and command
structures on central, regional and local levels. Prior to and in a situation of
raised alert, the central government has to decide on a number of strategic
questions and national priorities. The commission argues for the importance of
well-organised Government Offices and prepared staff in order to fulfil these
tasks. The commission further suggests that one ministry in the Government
Offices should be given the overall responsibility for coordinating the total
defence efforts. The commission proposes that the coordination of the total
defence should reside in the Ministry of Defence. At the same time, the
commission recognizes that the organisation of the Government Offices is the
Prime Minister’s prerogative.
In order to create a comprehensive planning process in peacetime and
coordinated action in war, the command structures of civil defence in
government agencies have to be clarified and strengthened. The commission
finds that this calls for a central government agency for planning, command and
coordination of the civil defence efforts. The commission proposes that the
Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) gets a clarified and extended
mandate in this regard. Within every sector a specified agency should get a clear
mandate and resources to coordinate planning, preparations and actions within
The commission also proposes the clustering of the 21 counties into larger
geographic civil defence areas with 3-6 counties in each respective area. Within
every civil defence area, one of the county governors will be the assigned Civil
Defence Commander. In the event of a raised alert, the Civil Defence
Commander will have a mandate to coordinate and direct the civil defence
efforts in the civil defence area. In order to achieve a coordinated geographical
organisation, the commission proposes that the military regions of the Swedish
Armed Forces are adapted according to the civil defence areas.
Manning in the civil defence will to a large extent be based on personnel
working in their regular functions. However, the commission finds that the
wartime organisation of civil activities in the total defence requires the
application of total defence conscription. Personnel working for example for
central government agencies, municipalities, county councils or private
enterprises involved in the total defence efforts will be assigned a role in the war
organisation. After the overall demands for personnel have been identified,
basic training of civil conscripts may be necessary. The commission stresses the
importance of voluntary defence organisations in educating and manning of the
civil defence as well as involving the population in the total defence efforts and
strengthening their willingness to defend the country.
In order to manage and diminish the hardship of civilians in case of armed
attack, the commission deems that plans have to be prepared and resources
committed in peacetime for civil defence. The civil defence will contain
personnel in regional reinforcement pools for the rescue services and a home
protection organisation in the municipalities as well as shelters and plans for
evacuation of particular areas. The voluntary defence organisations will have an
important role in the civil defence organisation.
The Swedish total defence concept rests on the will of the population to
defend the country, their commitment in peacetime, and resilience and
resistance in war. The commission argues that the importance of actively
protecting our open society, the rule of law and our sovereignty has increased.
It is necessary to ensure the resilience and willingness of the population to
defend the country. The commission proposes an inquiry concerning a new
agency with the general responsibility to develop and coordinate the
psychological defence. An inquiry will have to clarify tasks and roles to maintain
and strengthen the psychological defence, propose a suitable structure for the
agency, as well as discuss the research and development requirements.
Cyber attacks are a serious threat to the population, the functionality of
society and our capability to maintain our basic values. The commission
underlines the importance of a strong cyber capability paired with a systematic
total defence planning process in case electricity supply or electronic
communications fail. The commission notes that many agencies are involved in
the surveillance of cyber security issues. Therefore, the government needs to
consider how to best coordinate surveillance and monitoring efforts regarding
information and cyber security in all sectors of society. Cyber attacks may have
similar consequences for the operation of society and critical infrastructure as a
conventional kinetic attack and in some circumstances a cyber attack can be
considered to be an armed attack. With an active cyber defence capability,
Sweden can act proactively to identify or gather information on a cyber breach,
different cyber attacks or cyber operations, and gather evidence to attribute the
origins of a cyber operation.
The commission argues that securing necessary and reasonable access to
food, potable water, energy and pharmaceuticals is crucial for the total defence
capability in a severe security crisis situation or war. Sweden has to secure access
to critical resources. Priority has to be given to goods and services necessary for
survival and for the basic functionality of society.
In an armed attack, the supply of electricity will most likely be severely
limited. In order to manage such a situation, there has to be a plan for prioritised
services and rationing. Actors responsible for critical services will be required to
build independent emergency power solutions in order to secure supply of
electricity. In general, the commission argues that switching to renewable energy
sources will have benefits from a total defence perspective.
Storage of fuels for transportation must increase on a regional and local level.
Private businesses will have to meet these requirements and critical actors
dependent on fuel will have to participate in the planning. In peacetime, there
has to be a prepared national system for prioritising fuel. The commission
stresses that peacetime service levels and living standards will not be maintained
The standard and availability of food will be lowered considerably during
wartime, as will the calorie intake. Certain strategic food stuffs will have to be
stored. On a national level, general principles for prioritising and rationing
scarce resources in a war situation will have to be prepared and prescribed.
Methods for prioritisation will have to be developed in most sectors with critical
operations. This is also important in order to apply the laws concerning
The commission finds that the capability of the Swedish health-care system
to transition from regular operations to caring for mass casualties needs to be
strengthened considerably. In wartime, the number of wounded may reach tens
of thousands. Such a situation would severely strain our health-care system.
Requirements for such a situation are resilient staffing, a resilient organisational
structure and a continuing supply of pharmaceuticals, etc. The planning ought
to begin with the principles for health care in crisis and war. Consequently,
health-care operations will focus on sufficient care for maximising survival rates.
This is a departure from regular priorities in our health-care facilities. The
commission proposes that the county councils designate at least one hospital in
every civil defence area as a war hospital, as well as additional war hospitals in
Gotland and northern Norrland for geographical reasons.
Raised alert, war, or a hybrid situation in peacetime all demand substantial
police resources to protect critical infrastructure and other critical functions, but
current police resources are limited for these tasks. The commission proposes a
reinforcement personnel organisation that is designed for and available in
situations of raised alert. The aim should be to have reinforcements comprised
of about 1,000 personnel by 2021. By the end of 2025, police reinforcements
should reach about 3,000.
Many sectors and operations are dependent on the transportation
infrastructure. In peace, raised alert and war, there has to be a relevant and
concrete total defence planning process and preparations for the transportation
sector. The total defence planning in the transportation sector should include
plans to receive international support, both civilian and military. The
commission argues that there also should be an organisation tasked with
building, repairing and rescuing services in the total defence.
Public actors should in close dialogue with private enterprises assess the
necessary preparations for disposition and rationing, as well as other measures
to secure preparedness. Private enterprises have knowledge, organisational
structures and creativity to draw upon in the total defence planning process.
According to Swedish law, there is also a requirement for businesses to
participate in the total defence planning process. Enterprises important for the
war effort should be identified and regulated. The commission proposes a
national business council for total defence in order to establish long-term
cooperation between public and private actors on the central, regional and local
level. This will be important to be able to use business resources in the total
defence effort. The purpose of the council is mutual information sharing to
produce joint direction, plans and requirements for cooperation between public
and private actors on all levels.
The commission highlights that the Swedish population needs to be able to
perform basic economic transactions during war. Consequently, it is necessary
to have access to cash, alternative means of transaction or some sort of credit
to uphold basic economic relations. This is important to maintain the
willingness to defend the country. The commission stresses that the government
has to secure the availability of cash also when there are severe disturbances in
the payment system.
The commission notes that there is a need and opportunity to develop
bilateral cooperation with Finland and Norway regarding civil defence. The
Commission recommends that the government further explore conditions for
trilateral cooperation with Finland and Norway. Such a cooperation could
strengthen preparedness in all three countries.
The commission argues for strengthening the capability to evaluate and
monitor total defence activities. A new independent agency should be tasked to
audit, evaluate and monitor total defence activities in general, including military
and civil defence.
The cost estimate for the commission’s proposals to strengthen civil and total
defence presented in this report is about 4.2 billion krona per year towards the
end of the defence bill period 2021-2025.