Relations with Sweden
NATO and Sweden actively cooperate in peace and security operations and have developed practical cooperation in many other areas including education and training, and defence reform.
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Nov. 2014)
- Swedish cooperation with NATO is based on a longstanding policy of military non-alignment and a firm national consensus, focusing on areas of common interest.
- Cooperation has been reinforced since Sweden joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace in 1994 and became a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997.
- Sweden is one of NATO's most active partners and a valued contributor to NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS/Daesh – it is one of five countries that has enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with NATO.
- An important priority for cooperation is to develop interoperable capabilities and maintain the ability of the Swedish Armed Forces to work with those of NATO and other partner countries in multinational peace-support operations.
- In the current security context with heightened concerns about Russian military activities, NATO is stepping up cooperation with Sweden and Finland in the Baltic region.
- Sweden actively supports the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and hosts the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations at the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre.
- Sweden’s role in training the forces of NATO partner countries is greatly valued, as is its support for a number of Trust Fund projects in other partner countries focused on issues related to defence reform and capacity-building.
More background information
Sweden is one of five countries (known as ‘Enhanced Opportunity Partners’1) that make particularly significant contributions to NATO operations and other Alliance objectives. As such, the country has enhanced opportunities for dialogue and cooperation with the Allies.
In the current security context with heightened concerns about Russian military and non‑military activities, NATO is stepping up cooperation with Sweden and Finland. This means expanding political dialogue, including at the highest levels, and exchanges of information on hybrid warfare; coordinating training and exercises; and developing better joint situational awareness to address common threats and develop joint actions, if needed. Both partners participate in the enhanced NATO Response Force (NRF) in a supplementary role and subject to national decisions, and also hold regular consultations with NATO on security in the Baltic Sea region.
At NATO’s Wales Summit in September 2014, Sweden and Finland signed a memorandum of understanding on Host Nation Support, which addresses issues related to the provision of civil and military assistance to Allied forces located on, or in transit through, their territory in peacetime, crisis or war. The agreement was ratified by the Swedish parliament on 1 June 2016.
Sweden has been an active contributor to NATO-led operations. Its first contribution dates back to 1995 when it sent a battalion to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sweden has supported the peacekeeping force in Kosovo (KFOR) since 1999.
Swedish personnel worked alongside Allied forces as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan from 2003 to the completion of ISAF’s mission in 2014. They provided specialist units and logistical support and led the multinational Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Mazar-e Sharif from 2006. Sweden is currently supporting the follow-on mission (known as Resolute Support) to further train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces and institutions. Sweden has also contributed USD 13 million to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund.
In April 2011, Sweden contributed to Operation Unified Protector (OUP), NATO’s military operation in Libya under United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973. The Swedish Air Force deployed eight JAS Gripen aircraft to Sigonella Airbase in Sicily, Italy to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya, supported by an air-to-air refuelling capable C-130.
The country participates in numerous Partnership for Peace (PfP) exercises. It makes a number of units available, on a case-by-case basis, for multinational operations, training and exercises, including those led by the European Union (EU) and NATO. The Swedish Armed Forces aim to be able to sustain up to 2,000 personnel continuously deployed on operations, either nationally or internationally. This pool of forces includes significant land, maritime and air assets, including mechanised and armoured units, submarine, corvettes, combat and transport aircraft with a deployable airbase unit, combat and combat service support elements, as well as specialist support.
Sweden’s close ties with its neighbours – Denmark, Finland and Norway – are reflected in its participation in Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), a further practical and efficient way for like-minded states to contribute to regional and international security and to practise cooperation, including pooling and sharing of capabilities. In Sweden’s case, this activity is pursued alongside the Nordic Battlegroup and cooperation with countries around the Baltic Sea and in northern Europe.
The country participates in the Operational Capabilities Concept (OCC), which uses an evaluation and feedback programme to develop and train partner land, maritime, air or Special Operations Forces units that seek to meet NATO standards. Since 2011, Sweden has participated regularly in the Baltic Region Training Event – a series of planning, training and execution events for enhancing interoperability and building capabilities in the Baltic States, which is conducted by Allied Air Command Ramstein, Germany. Sweden has also joined the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Estonia and participated in NATO Cyber Coalition exercises.
Defence and security sector reform
Participating in peacekeeping and peace-support operations alongside NATO Allies has complemented Sweden’s own process of military transformation. Participation in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) influences Swedish planning and activities, aimed at developing the capabilities and enhancing the interoperability of the Swedish Armed Forces.
Sweden is cooperating with Estonia, Finland and Norway, among other countries, in the development of a multinational rapid-reaction force for EU-led peace-support operations. During periods that the Swedish parts of the force are not on stand-by for EU needs, they will be available for operations led by either the UN or NATO.
In the area of strategic airlift, Sweden participates in two initiatives: the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) programme and the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS).
Sweden’s role in training the forces of NATO partner countries is greatly valued by the Allies. In April 1999, NATO formally recognised the military training centre in Almnäs as a PfP Training Centre. In 2004, the Centre moved to new premises in Kungsängen, north of Stockholm. The activities of the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre (SWEDINT) include exercises and training, with a focus on humanitarian assistance, rescue services, peace-support operations, civil emergency planning and the democratic control of the armed forces. The Centre regularly organises courses and training exercises within the PfP. In January 2012 – in support of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and related Resolutions on strengthening the role of women in peace and security – the Nordic countries established a Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations, to make sure that gender perspectives continue to be integrated into military operations.
Sweden continues to support a number of Trust Fund projects and DCB activities conducted in other partner countries, focused on areas such as training and evaluation of military units; medical rehabilitation of injured military personnel; explosive ordnance disposal and countering improvised explosive devices; and professional development of security sector employees.
Civil preparedness continues to be a major area of bilateral cooperation. The baseline requirements for national resilience provide valuable structure for cooperation and form a central part of Sweden’s engagement with NATO and its Civil Emergency Planning Committee. Sweden also cooperates with NATO Allies in the field of regional assessments, critical infrastructure protection, and in providing mutual support in dealing with the consequences of a major accident or disaster in the Euro-Atlantic area.
In line with this, Sweden has participated in numerous NATO crisis management exercises, in addition to several maritime exercises. Additionally, Swedish civil resources hav