The Swedish government plans to reintroduce civilian conscription in the country, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson announced during a press conference on Monday, adding that the Swedish Agency for Community Safety and Preparedness (MSB) will be tasked with preparing the measure later this week.
According to Civil Defense Minister Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the first step will be to send people with appropriate skills to the municipal rescue service to perform civil service there. He noted that as many as 3,000 recruits could be part of this first wave, but stressed during an MSB meeting last week that the details have yet to be worked out.
“We don’t know exactly how many people can be covered by the service. We see that the municipal rescue service today is not designed for the demands of high readiness and ultimately an armed attack,” explained Bohlin.
“The experience from Ukraine is clear – when it comes to protecting the civilian population, the emergency services are under very heavy pressure,” he added.
Compulsory civil service was originally abandoned in Sweden in 2008. MSB has until March 1 to prepare for the activation of civil service, the minister said.
He added that the Swedish government hopes to recreate it on a much larger scale than before and stated that those conscripted will undergo further training in conducting rescue operations under military conditions.
Civil service is the civilian equivalent of conscription, where citizens are called up to carry out missions that are crucial to a country’s defense capability. This includes adding positions in healthcare, child care, fire protection and other essential services.
Sweden revived its military conscription in 2017, citing Russian military activity as one of the reasons. The policy requires people to serve between nine and 12 months.