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Sweden Cuts, Reshapes Defense

October 21, 1999

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ A government commission on Wednesday proposed sweeping cuts in neutral Sweden’s defenses, saying post-Cold War threats can be met with advanced technology rather than hordes of soldiers.

The commission said Russia no longer poses a threat to the small northern nation, which means Sweden does not have to base its military strategy on repelling attack.

``We have dropped the invasion defense as a planning base,″ Jonas Hjelm, political adviser to Defense Minister Bjoern von Sydow, said after receiving the commission’s proposal. He said that under the proposal ``Sweden’s military capacity becomes more accessible and stronger.″

The government appointed a commission in May to study possible defense cuts that would maintain national security for Sweden, which does not belong to any military alliance.

The proposal, which requires parliament’s approval, would cut as many as 4,500 of 14,000 professional military officers, 2,500 of 9,000 civilian staff, and would close seven of 15 military brigades.

Sweden has steadily reduced defense spending after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In the early 1990s, about 38,000 young Swedes were called to compulsory military service each year. Last year, about 20,000 were drafted, and the plan calls for reducing that number by 2,000 to 3,650 conscripts per year.

Jonas Hjelm, an adviser to von Sydow, said attacks are now more likely to come from terrorist groups than from Russia.

Parliament was expected to consider the proposal in February.

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