Relations with Sweden

  • Last updated: 04 Oct. 2018 17:14

NATO and Sweden actively cooperate in peace and security operations, and have developed practical cooperation in many other areas. An important priority 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.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Swedish Defence minister Peter Hultqvist

Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (Nov. 2014)

  • NATO fully respects Sweden’s longstanding policy of military non-alignment.
  • Cooperation began when Sweden joined the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme in 1994 and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (a multilateral forum for dialogue which brings together all Allies and partner countries in the Euro-Atlantic area) in 1997.
  • NATO and Sweden detail areas of cooperation and timelines in Sweden’s Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme (IPCP), which is jointly agreed for a two-year period.
  • Sweden is one of NATO's most active partners and a valued contributor to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
  • Sweden is one of five countries (known as ‘Enhanced Opportunity Partners’¹ under the Partnership Interoperability Initiative) 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 of heightened concerns about Russian military and non‑military activities, NATO is stepping up cooperation with partner countries Sweden and Finland, with a particular focus on ensuring security in the Baltic Sea region. This includes: regular political dialogue and consultations; 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. Additionally, both partners have signed a memorandum of understanding on Host Nation Support which, also following a national decision, allows for logistical support to Allied forces located on, or in transit through, their territory during exercises or in a crisis.

Key areas of cooperation

Sweden’s cooperation with NATO is mutually beneficial and includes:

Building capabilities and interoperability

  • Sweden participates in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP), which helps the country develop its military capabilities and enhance the interoperability of the Swedish Armed Forces with Allies and other partners.
  • Sweden participates in NATO’s 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.
  • Sweden participates in numerous PfP exercises and has also participated in NATO Cyber Coalition exercises.
  • Sweden is cooperating with several other countries to develop a multinational rapid-reaction force for peace-support operations led by the European Union (EU). When the Swedish units are not on stand-by for EU needs, they will be available for operations led by the United Nations (UN) or NATO.
  • Sweden participates in two strategic airlift initiatives: the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) programme and the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS).
  • Sweden’s role in training the forces of other NATO partner countries is greatly valued by the Allies. The Swedish Armed Forces International Centre (SWEDINT) provides exercises and training with a focus on humanitarian assistance, rescue services, peace-support operations, civil preparedness and the democratic control of the armed forces.
  • Sweden has close ties with other Nordic countries and participates in Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), a regional defence initiative that promotes collaboration between Nordic armed forces.

Support for NATO-led operations and missions

  • Sweden first contributed to a NATO-led operation in 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. Sweden is currently supporting the follow-on Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to further train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces and institutions. Sweden has also contributed over 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 UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

Wider cooperation

  • Sweden engages with NATO’s Civil Emergency Planning Committee and cooperates with Allies on regional assessments, critical infrastructure protection, and providing support in dealing with the consequences of a major accident or disaster in the Euro-Atlantic area.
  • Sweden has participated in numerous NATO crisis management exercises, and Swedish civil resources have been listed with the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), including search and rescue teams, medical experts and protection and decontamination units. Sweden regularly conducts major multifunctional civil-military police exercises (the Viking exercises), which involve many other nations as well as participants from international organisations, non-governmental organisations and agencies.
  • Under NATO’s Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, Swedish scientists have participated in numerous advanced research workshops and seminars on a range of topics. Key areas of cooperation include chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defence, energy security, and critical infrastructure protection against hybrid threats.
  • NATO Allies have approved a multi-year project co-led by Sweden and the United States in the field of counter-terrorism. The project aims to create long-term capacity for the evaluation of programmes to counter violent extremism (CVE) and to contribute to overall effectiveness, transparency and accountability of CVE programmes.
  • Sweden actively supports the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS), and since 2012 has hosted the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations at the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre, to make sure that gender perspectives continue to be integrated into military operations.
  • Sweden supports a number of NATO Trust Fund projects 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.

1 Enhanced Opportunity Partners: Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden