A somewhat diplomatic Supreme Commander gave an interesting talk where the Q and A was among the highlights.
Not since the Cold War has Sweden’s surrounding area been this uncertain. There is a belligerent Russia in the East, an ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East spreading into Europe, and the war in Syria has no end in sight?
Monday evening, Sweden’s Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Micael Bydén greeted a packed auditorium in Lund.
Fittingly, he started the talk by showing pictures of previous visitors of Studentafton.
One of these pictures was of Frank Zappa, who Bydén somewhat humorously said was the deciding factor behind his visit. Other than the rock icon, there was also a picture of Bydén’s predecessor Helge Ljung, who visited Studentafton in 1949.
“It was during a time when the Cold War was in full swing and the world was just as bleak and uncertain as it is now”, Bydén points out.
It did not take many minutes before he started talking about Russia. The country’s rearmament is in full motion and the hybrid warfare they have conducted in connection with the annexation of Crimea, where regular soldiers, irregular soldiers and information warfare interplay, puts Nato before major challenges.
When Lundagård after the evening talk interviewed Micael Bydén, the most central of all questions emerged, namely, how dangerous is Putin really!?
“The man is unpredictable, but at the same time energetic. This was not least shown when Russia in very short time transported large quantities of units from eastern Ukraine one day to have them fight in Syria the next”, says Micael Bydén.
But that Russia would be a direct threat to Sweden is something he deems improbable. In the present situation, a direct military attack against Sweden is something that is out of the picture.
However, there were two areas where Bydén dared to stick out his neck.
The first was that, in the long run, more resources are needed for the national defence and that this is something the politicians will automatically come to realise – something a big question mark hangs over.
The second was about how the supply of personnel for the armed forced would be handled. Bydén was critical concerning the decision made in 2010 to abolish military service. The Supreme Commander aired that a possible solution for Sweden would be to adopt a Norwegian model, combining a standing army and military service.
As a whole, the Supreme Commander gave an objective and a stable impression. The fact that he is new on the job was hardly noticeable. The long Q and A following the talk elevated everything as a whole and as a reward, he received a long warm applause from the students of Lund.
Given the grim situation in the world, this was surely needed.
Article: Philip Norrman
Translation: Viktor Jönsson