They are training for war on the island of Gotland.
The Home Guard members lie on the ground firing blanks at an imaginary enemy.
Conscripts can also take part in live fire exercises.
Sweden has begun to build its defenses, and Gotland’s strategic position in the Baltic Sea affords it a crucial role.
The military plans to deploy 4,000 troops to the island during wartime in the next few years and to add anti-ship missiles (along with surface to air missiles) to its arsenal.
While the Gotland regiment was revived in 2018, it was part of the general armoury following Russia’s 2014 annexation Crimea, the war in Ukraine has intensified things.
“Putin has clearly demonstrated his intent and his willingness to use military force to achieve his political goals,” says Colonel Magnus Frykvall of the Gotland regiment, who calls Russia the main threat.
“We had a plan for the island to increase its military capabilities, but we have been trying to get it done much faster since the invasion of Ukraine.”
The invasion of Sweden on 24 February changed Sweden’s security policy. It went from neutral to eager to join NATO.
Prime Minister confirmed that the country would submit its application tomorrow along with Finland.
Many soldiers on Gotland feel it is time to join the alliance, after more than 200 years of military non-alignment.
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“NATO provides high-security measures. It is more likely that we can maintain peace in Europe. Marcus Lagergren, a member the Home Guard, says that Sweden joining NATO is a great thing for Europe and Sweden.
The Russians briefly occupied Gotland in 1808 because they were also proud of its strategic location.
It is now a popular tourist destination, but it was once an important part of Sweden’s defense.
Mikael Norrby is a historian at Uppsala University.
It’s all about the location. Gotland is located in the middle Baltic. It’s less than 100km from the Swedish mainland. 120km to the Baltic States, Finland, and 200km to Kaliningrad. 300km down to Kaliningrad.
Many Swedes feel emotional about the decision to withdraw from NATO, despite being an existing NATO partner.
Goran Hoas, who is located near the military compound and farms nearby, is used to hearing gunfire.
Although he believes that Sweden should join NATO to stop it becoming isolated, he also has some red flags.
He says, “The military okay, but the nuclear no,”
Continue reading: Russia’s War in Ukraine Causes a seismic Shift in Europe’s Security
Magdalena Andersson (the country’s prime Minister) and other leaders of the party have stated that they don’t support nuclear weapons on Swedish soil.
Although the details of membership remain to be worked out, Russian aggression has changed the rules. Neutrality is no longer an option. Instead, Sweden is learning how to be military power.