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“Neutral” Sweden to Host 20,000 NATO Troops

For three weeks in September, Sweden will be turned into a NATO training ground

 

For three weeks in September 2017, Sweden will be turned into a military training ground. A third of the country, especially the capital Stockholm, the second largest city Gothenburg and the island of Gotland will be designated training areas. In total there will be about 20,000 participating soldiers, from the United States, Finland, France, Estonia, Norway and Denmark, in addition to soldiers from the host country.

Historically, Sweden managed to stay out of war for over 180 years, from 1814 against Napoleon, until the the era after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This neutrality policy was, and still is, hugely popular in population and even with many politicians. The same goes for the policy of no nuclear weapons on Swedish soil.

Even though the political establishment had secret and close military cooperation with NATO during the cold war, the establishment decided it was time to come out in the open and formalize it in the 1990s.

Sweden has been member of the NATO-program “Partnership for Peace” since 1994. Since then, it has been one of the most active participants in NATO-missions in Afghanistan, Balkans and the war on Libya. The country reintroduced conscription a few months ago, due to fears the country wouldn’t be able to recruit enough mercenary ‘professional’ forces for every conflict the military wishes to participate in.

Also, since 2009, as part of a commitment to EU, and as another breach of this neutrality, Sweden has pledged itself to the defense of EU-countries. Since EU-membership largely overlaps with NATO-membership, it would be hard to separate these in a war. As foreign minister Margot Wallstrom said in 2015,

“Sweden will not remain passive if another EU country or Nordic country is struck by disaster or comes under attack, and we expect these countries to act in the same way if Sweden is similarly affected.”

In the summer 2016, the country joined Host Country Agreement with NATO, which means that the pact will store equipment in Sweden and be able to use the country for transport and transit of forces if a crisis should occur in the region. The host country agreement does not mention nuclear weapons. Since the NATO nuclear powers as a policy neither confirms or denies if their forces carries nuclear weapons, there are no real guarantees that nuclear weapons will not be brought into Sweden.

Sweden is also a part of NATO’s Rapid Reaction Force, even though it is not formally a member. It participates in the joint NATO air transport fleet, which will automatically be used in any conflicts anywhere in the world where NATO needs rapid deployment. This is part of the Swedish security establishments very determined policy of gradually integrating the country in the nuclear alliance. This air-cooperation consists of 10 NATO-countries, plus Finland and Sweden. It will have Boeing C-17 airplanes which will be able transport 77 tons of weapons and supplies up to 4450 kilometers without refueling. In addition it will get 180 Airbus A400 for troop transports. Swedish troops and equipment have been used in the conflict in Mali.

When these NATO-forces will exercise on Swedish soil in ‘Aurora’, it will be the first time the Host Country Agreement has been used. This NATO-alignment has happened steadily. and always by denying the final goal, which is full participation in the nuclear alliance.

Two senior military officers, Micael Bydén, Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, and Chief of Defence Staff Dennis Gyllensporre, recently gave a recommendation to the Swedish government. They want a change the military stance to a ‘treaty-bound’ defense commitments, in effect meaning NATO.

Chairman of the Swedish parliament’s defense committee, Allan Widman, commented approvingly

“The fact is that Sweden has been on its way to a NATO-membership for 25 years. Everything that has happened the last 25 years, have been in the direction of NATO. This recommendation is just yet another confirmation of where Sweden really belongs.”

Sweden has been courted by a steady stream of dignitaries from the US/NATO military complex over the last few years; amongst them éminence grise of the military-industrial complex, senator John McCain, chairman of NATO military committee Peter Pavel, NATO chairman Jens Stoltenberg and former NATO commander Philip Breedlove.

At the same time there is a massive propaganda offensive for NATO and against Russia in Swedish media. Bought journalists have come back from junket trips paid by NATO gushing with enthusiasm for deployment of missiles and other close cooperation. Editorials in all major newspapers and state TV repeat bold statements from Pentagon and the Swedish army command without ever questioning them, showing that they identify with the same interests. But even with this intense campaign, the majority of the Swedish population is against NATO-membership.

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