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Leading Polish daily brings article on Scandinavian Home Guards

11.12.2019  14:38
Yesterday the Polish daily newspaper "Gazeta Polska - codziennie" brought an interesting article on the Home Guards of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Below is a translation of the original Polish article.


Scandinavian Defence Readiness

Originally published 25/4 2018 by Gazeta Polska - codziennie
Author: Roman Stańczyk     Translation: Vincent Henriksen

The Northern European region is an area that is usually not militarily involved in conflicts. However, this does not mean that Sweden, Norway and Denmark have abandoned their defence policies. Security is achieved there not only with the use of professional armies, but also with the use of territorial formations. 

Today's international environment, contrary to opinions expressed from time to time, is not safe. Individual regions of the world face many threats. Hybrid hazards are a particular challenge. Their changing nature means that conventional means, such as a professional army or specialised artillery equipment, are not sufficient to combat them. Increasingly, in addition to the size of the army, preparation to deal with threats at the local level plays an important role. The people of the Scandinavian countries are well aware of this. For many years now, Swedes, Norwegians and Danes have been training people outside the armed forces to be prepared to defend their small homelands, the areas in which they live. It is worth drawing on these models.

Peace-orientated Swedes
Stockholm decided not to engage in military conflicts as early as the beginning of the 19th century. The policy of so-called non-alignment, i.e. remaining outside any military alliances, has been the basis of the programme of every Swedish government for many years. Today the situation is completely different. In January 2018, the Swedes reactivated the general conscription to the army. The National Guard (Hemvärnet) is part of the Swedish Armed Forces. The formation is led by the Commander, who reports to the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. There are 22 thousand soldiers in the Guard. The country is covered by a network of 40 battalions. In each of them, the duties are performed by at least 300 military personnel. It is important to mention that every battalion has the ability to react quickly in the event of a crisis. There are also 22 training centres for local troops. Hemvärnet focuses on monitoring and observation tasks. Swedish territorials are responsible, among other things, for protecting the military critical infrastructure: airports, warehouses, transport routes. They also intervene in the event of natural disasters. Anyone over the age of 18 can join the ranks of the National Guard. This should include basic military training and positive feedback from military intelligence, the police and other services. Afterwards, an introductory training is conducted. The territory then signs an open-ended contract. He also regularly undergoes training to improve his skills.

Oslo defends territory
Another Scandinavian country, Norway, already in 1949, when it joined NATO as a founding member, decided to build a defence policy in agreement with its allies. The Norwegian National Guard (Heimevernet), as in Sweden, is an integral part of the armed forces. Unlike Sweden, however, it has a part that is constantly on standby, and reservists' formations. Every day 550 soldiers remain under arms. The rest, i.e. about 45 thousand, are trained reserve formations. The Guard is divided into four regions, 11 districts and more than 240 land, sea and air areas. It is worth noting that there are as many as 15 rapid response units (a total of 3.5 thousand military units) in operation. Heimevernet is primarily responsible for ensuring the territorial integrity of the country and supporting the national crisis management system. As in Sweden, the Guard deals with the protection of military facilities and critical infrastructure. There is also scope for Norwegian territories to participate in international activities. Norwegian units receive regular training cycles. There are two training centres in operation.

Young patriots from the islands
The Kingdom of Denmark is another country to use the National Guard (Hjemmeværnet). The Guard is part of the Danish Armed Forces. The formation has about 16 thousand active volunteers and nearly 31 thousand reservists. Regionally, each Danish municipality (98) has at least one Guard company. Formation is divided into three basic parts. The first is the National Guard Army, which is the largest part of the unit. It cooperates with the professional army and the police. In the internal structure there is also the Police National Guard, which performs tasks auxiliary to the police, and the Infrastructure National Guard, responsible for the protection of the telecommunications network, railway lines or postal network. The second part of the Danish territorials, the National Marine Guard, interacts with the navy to patrol the country's territorial waters. Finally, the National Air Guard oversees airports and reports on enemy air activities.
Each member of the Guard must be at least 18 years of age. He shall be required to complete at least 24 hours of training per year.

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