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Illustration: Nellie Östman

Total defence

Sweden’s total defence involves the whole of society. Total defence is the range of activities required to prepare Sweden for war and consists of two areas of activity – military defence and civil defence.

Responsible ministers
Pål Jonson
Carl-Oskar Bohlin
Responsible ministries
Ministry of Defence

About total defence

  • Deterrence from war and safeguarding freedom

    The objective of total defence is to have the ability to defend Sweden against an armed attack and safeguard our security, freedom, independence and freedom of action.

    Total defence is intended to be a war deterrent. This means that if Sweden has a well-functioning total defence and others are aware of it, the risk of attacks and pressure against Sweden will decrease.

    Preparedness in peacetime – and heightened alert

    Sweden needs to always be prepared to be able to manage various types of threats to our security. This involves preparedness to manage crises during times of peace, such as pandemics, natural disasters, security crises or, ultimately, an armed attack.


The Government is carrying out the biggest upgrade of our total defence since the 1950s. This process of rebuilding has been ongoing since 2015, when the Government and the Riksdag made the assessment that the global security environment had deteriorated.

Heightened alert

A state of heightened alert may be declared to strengthen the country’s defence capabilities. The Government takes decisions on heightened alert. In a state of heightened alert, the whole of society must help defend the country and ensure that the most important functions are working.

The Defence Commission gathered in a room.
The Defence Commission. Photo: Magnus Liljegren/Government Offices

Direction of total defence

The Riksdag decides on the overall direction of Sweden’s total defence. Historically, this has taken place approximately every five years. The current development of total defence builds on the Government Bill Totalförsvaret 2021–2025 (‘Total defence 2021–2025’), which was adopted by the Riksdag in 2020.

The Defence Commission is a forum for consultation between the Government and all political parties in the Riksdag. The Defence Commission is preparing material for the Government ahead of the next Defence Bill.

The Minister for Defence and the Minister for Civil Defence standing together outside.
Minister for Defence Pål Jonson and Minister for Civil Defence Carl-Oskar Bohlin. Photo: Tom Samuelsson/Government Offices

Current security situation

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 means that Sweden now faces its most serious security crisis since the Second World War.

Photo: Niklas Forsström/Government Offices

In crises and heightened alert

In the event of accidents, serious incidents and disruptions in critical infrastructure, as well as in a state of heightened alert, important public announcements are broadcast via radio, television and other channels. In certain cases, text messages and the outdoor warning system may be used.

Illustration: Nellie Östman

This is military defence

Military defence will defend Sweden against an armed attack, assert Sweden’s territorial integrity and prevent and manage conflicts and war. For several years, Sweden’s defence has been growing in areas such as war organisation, volumes of personnel, military equipment and training exercises.

Illustration: Nellie Östman

This is civil defence

Civil defence encompasses the whole of society and comprises the collective resilience in the event of war or danger of war. Sweden’s resilience is strengthened through the preparedness of individuals, government agencies, municipalities, regions, private companies and non-governmental organisations.