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Sweden: Defending Against Russia

The total defence concept and the development of civil defence 2021-2025—report-summary—20171220ny.pdf

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 sector.

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

in war.

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.


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