HELSINKI — A sharp increase in Sweden’s defense budget allocation will enable its military to move forward with implementing all core parts of the government’s “Total Defence 2021-2025″ plan.
The plan, which projects annual spending on defense to increase by $3.17 billion to $10.45 billion by 2025, is also buttressed by a parallel strategy to deepen the country’s pan-Nordic defense cooperation in partnership with Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Sweden spent (in current figures) about $5.43 billion on its military in 2016; $5.53 billion in 2017; $5.73 billion in 2018; $5.84 billion in 2019; and $6.45 billion in 2020.
The Total Defence concept was enabled when Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, passed the namesake bill in December 2020, bringing the annual defense budget up to the $10.45 billion mark by 2025.
The bill laid down key objectives to achieving enhanced military capabilities through force reorganization, manpower strengthening and the procurement of big-ticket items such as modern weaponry that would add greater deterrent firepower to the military’s arsenal.
The Total Defence plan also incorporates goals to mobilize a rapid, resolute and sustained national defense response should Sweden’s territories come under threat or an attack. The concept is intended to deter any swift and aggressive armed attack against Sweden.
The plan acknowledges that in the event of an attack by a “major power,” the military’s land, air and naval forces will consolidate to launch intense defensive and offensive campaigns against enemy forces to both “buy time” and protect the country’s independence until military assistance arrives from regional and international partners.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s closer defense partnerships with neighboring Nordic states was reinforced Sept. 15 when the country signed a joint declaration on defense cooperation with Iceland. The joint declaration called for collaboration in countering new threats, such as those in cyberspace, and joint measures to combat hybrid threats.
The cooperation pact with Iceland forms an integral part of the solidarity-based security policy that Sweden will use to build defense partnerships with its neighbors, Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said during a virtual signing of the Sweden-Iceland declaration. “The joint declaration underlines the shared intent of both countries to strengthen our defense cooperation on matters of mutual interest so that we can better respond to the evolving security environment,” Hultqvist said.
Defense cooperation between Sweden and its immediate neighbors is largely routed through the Nordic Defense Cooperation structure, which serves as a collaborative platform for common military and regional security-based initiatives.
Gerard O'Dwyer is the Scandinavian affairs correspondent for Defense News.