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The Swedish Armed Forces is responsible for protecting Sweden. The King was the de jure commander-in-chief until 1971, after which command was delegated to the Supreme Commander (Överbefälhavaren, usually abbreviated to ÖB). The King is formally a four-star admiral, and as such equal in rank to ÖB, but has no command. It was understood long before 1971 that the King would not take active part in any military action.

The Swedish Armed Forces are composed of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy, which includes the Amphibious Force or Marines.

Until recently, Sweden relied on conscription of men, due to the need to be able to put together an Army that could hold its own against the USSR, should the Cold War go hot. Women have been able to volunteer since 1980. Recently, conscription has been abolished, due to changes in international politics, and an increasing focus on peacekeeping operations, as opposed to homeland defense.

Sweden avoided both World Wars, mainly due to subservience and sheer dumb luck. (Although being one of Germany's largest suppliers of iron ore certainly didn't hurt.) Considering the crappy state of the Swedish military at the time, this was probably not a bad idea. To give you some idea of the state of Swedish preparations for WWII, men who owned hunting rifles were advised to bring them and ammunition, since they were guaranteed to be better than the standard Army issue rifles.

The Swedes make their own military equipment, and Saab AB (not to be confused with SAAB Automobile that was sold to GM then sold to Spyker in 2009 and now in bankrupcy since 2011) makes veritably cool planes, like the Draken (Dragon), Viggen (Thunderbolt), and Gripen (Gryphon) fighters, all delta-wing, and according to them, will shame the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-22 Raptor of the United States. There is some tradition behind this, with Sweden having managed to do odd things like being the first country outside the Soviet Union, Germany and the USA to develop and mass-produce swept-wing jet-fighters in the wake of WW 2, with the aptly named J 29 Flygande Tunnan (Flying Barrel). In the beginning of the 1950's, Sweden was estimated to have the world's fourth largest air force.

Swedish hand-held weapons of various kinds have a reputation for being durable and reliable, and are used by many armies around the world. Swedish SMGs were used by the U.S. Navy SEALs in Vietnam, Swedish recoilless rifles were used by the British in the Falklands, and are currently used by SOCOM and the U.S Army Rangers, among others, and the AT4 anti-tank weapon currently used by many national armies, including the U.S. Armed Forces, is a Swedish design.

Sweden also had a nuclear weapons program in the 1950s through the 1970s, primarily to maintain an independent deterrent in the Cold War--neutrality did not mean that Sweden had any guarantees it would be kept out of the crossfire should World War III break out, and the Swedes wanted something to back it up. It was scrapped in favor of the aforementioned Viggen, but Sweden's active civilian nuclear program is widely considered to give it breakout capacity (the capability to construct a nuclear weapon at relatively short notice).

And we can't forget the ARCHER artillery system. It's rate of fire is 8-9 rounds per minute and deployment time is 30 seconds. It is capable of firing 155 mm rounds and supports M982 Excalibur, a GPS guided shell. Using Excalibur ARCHER can with a accurately hit targets up to 60 km away.

Interestingly Sweden was once one of the greatest military powers in Europe and it had armies led by Warrior Princes like Gustavus Adolphus and Charles XII. Its domination of the iron cannon industry in the 17th century arguably helped. Also note that in spite of a 200-year old policy of neutrality (now arguably abolished in practice through the Lisbon Treaty, among other things) Sweden has been very active in peacekeeping operations throughout the latter part of the 20th century. Notable contributions include The Congo Crisis in the 60's, Kosovo 90's to present, Sudan/Chad in the early 00's and Afghanistan and anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden today.


In fiction:

  • In the Tom Clancy novel The Cardinal Of The Kremlin the USS Dallas is discovered and hailed by a Swedish patrol craft when entering the Baltic Sea, the whole incident is resolved within half a page. Oh, and the Swedish captain speaks in a Funetik Aksent.
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