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A functional defence - with a substantially strengthened defence capability

Sweden's defence must be well-prepared to be able to defend this country and to contribute to stability in the surrounding world. This requires a defence system that is adapted to today's threats and to the rapid sequences of events in which conflicts can arise and be determined. It requires a functional, available and flexible defence. For this reason, the Government is now setting a new direction for the Swedish defence system with a substantially strengthened defence capability.

New supreme commander appointed today

Lieutenant General Sverker Göranson of the Armed Forces was today appointed new Supreme Commander by the Government. He will take up his new position on the 25th of March.

Sweden strengthens its presence in Afghanistan

The Government wants to strengthen Swedish military presence through transport aircraft, ambulance helicopters and more training and coordination groups known as OMLT teams. The Swedish armed force in ISAF is expected to number about 500 people in 2009, compared with the current maximum of 390.

Sweden nominates the Supreme Commander General Håkan Syrén as next Chairman of the EU Military Committee

Sweden has nominated the current Supreme Commander, General Håkan Syrén, as its candidate for the chairmanship of the EU Military Committee (EUMC) after General Henri Bentégeat. The election of the next chairman will take place at the EUMC Chief of Defence meeting in Brussels on 29 October 2008 and the new chairman will take up the office in November 2009.

The EUMC is the EU's highest military body within the Council and consists of the Chiefs of Defence of the Member States or their permanent representatives in Brussels. The defence chiefs meet twice a year, while their permanent representatives meet at least once a week. In the Military Committee the Member States cooperate in the field of conflict prevention, crisis management and capability development. The EUMC provides military advice.

The Chairman of the EUMC is a four star flag officer and the highest-ranking military officer in the EU. The appointment is for three years.

CEUMC represents the common view of the highest military representatives of the EU Member States in the political process in Brussels. CEUMC maintains close contact with the commanders of the EU military crisis management operations and with his NATO counterpart.

The main motives for the nomination of General Syrén are:

" The European Union has a special position in Swedish foreign and security policy and Sweden takes a proactive role in developing the EU as a global actor.

" Sweden contributes to a strong and active European Security and Defence Policy, which can complement the United Nations in promoting peace globally.

" Thanks to his vast experience and competence, General Syrén is well prepared for assuming the role as chairman of the EU Military Committee. He has carried out a thorough transformation of the Swedish Armed Forces and is strongly committed to the development of international defence cooperation. He also has an extensive international network.

Peace of the grave at the Estonia must be respected

In all essential respects, the two studies conducted by the SSPA and HSVA consortia in the spring confirm the sinking sequence established by the international Joint Accident Investigation Commission.

Despite differences of method and approach, the new studies have arrived at very similar results and confirm the course of events that the Joint Accident Investigation Commission (JAIC) found caused the Estonia to sink. The JAIC investigation and the two new studies differ only marginally. According to the experts' assessment, the probability that they have described the course and causes of the sinking correctly is very high.

There are now three mutually independent studies that give essentially the same picture of the causes that led to the accident.

The two new studies, which have been able to use new techniques, have focused on the sinking sequence. The work has been done by teams of international experts using model studies, computer simulations and witness accounts.

One of the studies, from the SSPA Consortium, proposes that new dives be made to achieve an even higher degree of certainty. A slightly higher degree of certainty, however, must be weighed against the peace of the grave at the Estonia. The peace of the grave is an international agreement between Sweden, Finland and Estonia that has also been signed by other countries, including Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. The peace of the grave is also laid down in Swedish law. Ultimately, respect for the peace of the grave is a matter of respect for the victims and their families.

The Estonia was built 28 years ago. Maritime safety regulations have been considerably improved since then. Further dives would therefore not provide better data for increased maritime safety.

In view of this, the Government does not intend to propose any new dives.

Minister for Defence Sten Tolgfors comments on Defence Commission report

"The Defence Commission confirms every single part of the defence policy line pursued by the Government as expressed in speeches and articles from the Sälen meeting onwards, a line that focuses on renewal. It also confirms that 2008 may be the year in which the greatest renewal of defence policy in a decade takes place.

"A flexible operational defence, suitable for use at home and abroad.The key is availability. Recruitment on a voluntary basis, with an element of professional full time soldiers. Broad and deepened Nordic cooperation, joint Baltic surveillance, participation in NATO's air situation picture and collaboration with NATO in international operations. Choice of which capabilities to maintain and which to do without, a structure and organisation that is more effective and efficient. Civil-military collaboration, a long-term and sustainable approach and a focus on international operations. A doubling of the level of ambition for international operations. Emphasis on better financial management and respect for civilian expertise in the Swedish Armed Forces. A new, more effective and efficient equipment supply process, with purchase of off-the-shelf equipment as the main option, support for the European Defence Agency (EDA), pooling of equipment with other countries and support for the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC). All this combined with a reformed agency structure and transfer of resources from peripheral activities to operational advantage.

Sweden makes bid to supply 48 Gripen aircraft to Norway

Today Sweden presented a bid to the Norwegian Ministry of Defence offering joint development, and sale to Norway, of 48 Gripen aircraft. The bid also includes support equipment, support systems and coordinated training, maintenance and support, which would have major advantages for both Sweden and Norway.

Swedish participation in air transport cooperation

Today the Government presented a bill to the Riksdag on multilateral cooperation on strategic air transport (2007/08:56).

The bill has been prepared in light of Sweden's long-term need to ensure access to strategic military air transport capacity, partly due to the increased ambition to participate in international crisis management operations.

Sweden enters into an agreement with Thailand on Gripen

On Thursday 24 January, the Government authorised the Defence Materiel Administration to enter into an agreement with the air force in Thailand on the transfer of an integrated air surveillance system comprising JAS 39 Gripen and the Erieye radar surveillance system.

Summary of report by the Swedish Defence Commission

Security in Cooperation (Ds 2007:46): The Swedish Defence Commission's analysis of challenges and threats.

The Swedish Defence Commission is appointed by the Government to undertake studies on long term developments of Swedish Security and Defence Policy. It consists of one member from each of the seven parties in Parliament and its objective is to achieve political consensus as far as possible. This report is based on a comprehensive and holistic approach to security.