Military Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-06-30

The Organization of the Swedish Armed  Forces

during the Conscription Period 1901 - 2010

Introduction

Sweden had a military system entirely based on a Universal National Military Service called Allmän Värnplikt (Universal Conscription) between 1901 and 2010. The term "Allmän Värnplikt" literally means "Universal duty to defend (your country)". [Allmän = universal. Värnplikt is a compound word consisting of "värn" and "plikt". "Värn" is derived from "värna" which means defend and "plikt" means duty.]. The system was a compulsory military service. Each year, a fixed number of new recruits were drafted for military training. When one set of recruits finished their training period a new set of recruits was drafted. Every able-bodied Swede at the age of 18 (first 21, then 20, later 18 years old) were liable to undergo military training (military service). Therefore young men were required to register to be drafted for military service. The year they became of draft age they were called- up for registration (enrollment) in the National Service (mönstring). The image to the right is the All-terrain truck m/42 (terrängbil m/42 M) used by the Swedish Army (mostly the Artillery). It was delivered to the Army in 1943. Museum Arsenalen. Photo: Hans Högman, 2012. The men approved for military service were assigned to a branch of the Army (infantry, cavalry, artillery, fortification etc.), the Air Force or the Navy. Normally a draftee was called up into the military service the same year he was mustered/enrolled. The military service was a military training period which was carried out at the assigned regiment. The military training consisted of a basic training period for about 360 days (the duration depended of the service posting and has varied over the years) followed by three compulsory military refresher courses (repetitionsövning) of 30 days each.

The Conscript System

Sweden had a conscript system until 2010 when it was replaced with an all-volunteer system with soldiers on a contractual employment for shorter or longer terms. During the Conscription period (1901 – 2010) Sweden had two type of military organizations: The peacetime organization (Training) - [Fredsorganisationen] The war organization [Krigsorganisationen] The peacetime organization was small and in numbers only 10 to 15% of the war organization. The peacetime organization’s main purpose was to train new soldiers for the armed forces (the war organization). The war organization was of course the armed forces to be used in war. The war organization was also responsible for the compulsory refresher courses which were warlike exercises with the different units, manned by conscripts. The image to the right is showing conscript soldiers in emergency services during WWII. The soldiers are wearing uniform m/1939. Display at the Army Museum, Stockholm. Photo: Hans Högman, 2003. Not only did the peacetime organization produce rank and file soldiers with the rank of Private, conscript NCOs and Officers were also produced. A conscript Officer could reach the rank of an army Captain. Under the war organization regular NCOs and Officers up to the rank of Captain constituted only about 10% of all NCOs and Officers. Conscript NCOs and Officers accounted for the rest. Every year young man, at the age of 20, was registered for military service and called up for the basic training. Every year an age group was military trained. When they were discharged from the basic training each draftee was assigned a wartime posting (krigsplacering) in the war organization. The annual age group called up for military training also constituted the alert force in case of a military emergency. In case of war the wartime organization was activated by a general mobilization order of all draftee soldiers. The mobilization process was tested every time the draftees were called up for the compulsory refresher courses. They were called up in a wartime manner through a partial mobilization exercise. The mobilization process was very “tuned up” and the war organization was able to be on war foot after only three days. However, the entire armed forces weren’t fully operational until after 14 days.

Mobilization

The soldiers in the war organization only existed in “the registers” in peacetime. The war organization was activated via a mobilization and manned by the draftees that had passed the basic training and been given a wartime posting. A mobilization could be triggered at danger of war or a military conflict or by a war exercise (the refresher courses). Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. When the draftees were discharged after the basic training they were, as mentioned above, assigned a wartime posting. This was documented in the “war posting card” (krigsplacering). This card was mailed to each discharged draftee when they had completed their basic training. The card specified where the draftee was to report for duty in case of war. More specifically it indicated which mobilization depot the draftee had to report to – to be equipped with uniform, arms etc. Once equipped, the draftee was to join the unit he was assigned to. The image to the right is showing a WWII mobilization depot. Display at the Army Museum, Stockholm. Photo: Hans Högman, 2003. The armed forces had thousands and thousands of secret mobilization depots (supply depots) [Mobiliseringsförråd] all around the country, mostly in the countryside. These depots were filled with supplies needed for the war organization in case of war. When a draftee received the mobilization order he immediately had to go to “his” mobilization depot to be dressed in uniform and armed and there join his war unit. Once manned each unit were to take up position at a predetermined spot and there wait for further orders. The mobilization was safeguarded by the Swedish National Home Guards (Hemvärnet) since they were operational within hours. The Home Guard soldiers had their military equipment at home. They were therefore able to keep a high military preparedness. The National Home Guards were in charge of the local defence until the regular Army took over. According to the regulations - once a general mobilization order was issued by the Swedish authorities the mobilization could not be terminated. There was a reason for this: Disinformation from an enemy state mustn’t stop a Swedish mobilization. During the Cold War Swedish citizens were drilled with the motto “Every message that the mobilization is terminated is FALSE.” ("Varje meddelande om att mobiliseringen skall avbrytas är FALSKT."). Until the end of the 1980’s the Swedish telephone directory contained a section titled “In Case of War” (Om Kriget Kommer). This section instructed Swedish citizens what to do in case of mobilization and war. In the section it was clearly stated “Every message that the mobilization is terminated is FALSE!”. There was a second slogan too: “Every statement that the resistance has ceased is FALSE!” ("Varje meddelande att motståndet skall uppges är falskt!"). This slogan means that the fighting troops and any resistance movements (in case of enemy occupation) were not to believe such FALSE messages. Troops and members of the Resistance must not cease fire or give up. They must keep on fighting the enemy. During WWII there was a vigilance campaign called “En Svensk Tiger” (A Swedish Tiger). The Swedish word “tiger” has two meanings depending upon context. The first meaning is the big cat Tiger we are all familiar with. The second meaning meant “Keep Silent” to the Swedish people. A picture of a drawn tiger in the Swedish flag colors, yellow and blue, was the symbol of the Swedish vigilance campaign. “En Svensk Tiger” was both the slogan and the image of the Swedish espionage prevention programs by encouraging secrecy. The purpose of the campaign was to get people aware of the risk of unintentionally spreading military information to enemy agents by talking to other Swedes in public places on the topic. So, the message was "keep silent about military information". The poster had the mixed meaning "a Swedish tiger" or "a Swede keeps silent". There was another slogan “Fienden lägger pussel” which literally means “The Enemy Does Jigsaw Puzzles.” The slogan implied that enemy agents would put different small pieces of information together to be able to assemble the big picture. There was a similar campaign in the USA during WWII using the slogan “Loose Lips Sink Ships!

The Peacetime Organization - Barracks

In the 1800s the conscripts were trained during the summer months only. The military training was held on the different regiments' training grounds. Since the training period was during summers the conscripts slept under canvas. At the end of the 1800s simple barracks were built at the training grounds for the lodging of the conscripts. In 1901 when Sweden switched to a Universal Conscription System with an armed force entirely built on draftees the duration of the training period was largely extended. The draftees were to be trained year-round, including winters. The Swedish winters can be very cold with lots of snow which demanded proper barracks. Barracks were built in the garrison towns, a massive building project that took some time to complete.
The image shows a typical troop-room (logement) in a barrack (kasern) from the 1960s - 1970s. Note the bunk beds. Display at the Army Museum, Stockholm.
The image shows a typical troop-room (logement) in a barrack (kasern) from the 1960s - 1970s. Note the bunk beds. Display at the Army Museum, Stockholm.
The image shows some of the Värmland Regiment's barracks, Karlstad city, Värmland, 1920s. Free image Wikipedia.

Slang Expressions used by Conscripts

xxxxx Swegen xxxxxxxxxxx

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Military Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-08-20

The Organization of the

Swedish Armed  Forces

during the Conscription

Period 1901 - 2010

Introduction

Sweden had a military system entirely based on a Universal National Military Service called Allmän Värnplikt (Universal Conscription) between 1901 and 2010. The term "Allmän Värnplikt" literally means "Universal duty to defend (your country)". [Allmän = universal. Värnplikt is a compound word consisting of "värn" and "plikt". "Värn" is derived from "värna" which means defend and "plikt" means duty.]. The system was a compulsory military service. Each year, a fixed number of new recruits were drafted for military training. When one set of recruits finished their training period a new set of recruits was drafted. Every able-bodied Swede at the age of 18 (first 21, then 20, later 18 years old) were liable to undergo military training (military service). Therefore young men were required to register to be drafted for military service. The year they became of draft age they were called-up for registration (enrollment) in the National Service (mönstring). The image to the right is the All-terrain truck m/42 (terrängbil m/42 M) used by the Swedish Army (mostly the Artillery). It was delivered to the Army in 1943. Museum Arsenalen. Photo: Hans Högman, 2012. The men approved for military service were assigned to a branch of the Army (infantry, cavalry, artillery, fortification etc.), the Air Force or the Navy. Normally a draftee was called up into the military service the same year he was mustered/enrolled. The military service was a military training period which was carried out at the assigned regiment. The military training consisted of a basic training period for about 360 days (the duration depended of the service posting and has varied over the years) followed by three compulsory military refresher courses (repetitionsövning) of 30 days each.

The Conscript System

Sweden had a conscript system until 2010 when it was replaced with an all-volunteer system with soldiers on a contractual employment for shorter or longer terms. During the Conscription period (1901 – 2010) Sweden had two type of military organizations: The peacetime organization (Training) - [Fredsorganisationen] The war organization [Krigsorganisationen] The peacetime organization was small and in numbers only 10 to 15% of the war organization. The peacetime organization’s main purpose was to train new soldiers for the armed forces (the war organization). The war organization was of course the armed forces to be used in war. The war organization was also responsible for the compulsory refresher courses which were warlike exercises with the different units, manned by conscripts. The image to the right is showing conscript soldiers in emergency services during WWII. The soldiers are wearing uniform m/1939. Display at the Army Museum, Stockholm. Photo: Hans Högman, 2003. Not only did the peacetime organization produce rank and file soldiers with the rank of Private, conscript NCOs and Officers were also produced. A conscript Officer could reach the rank of an army Captain. Under the war organization regular NCOs and Officers up to the rank of Captain constituted only about 10% of all NCOs and Officers. Conscript NCOs and Officers accounted for the rest. Every year young man, at the age of 20, was registered for military service and called up for the basic training. Every year an age group was military trained. When they were discharged from the basic training each draftee was assigned a wartime posting (krigsplacering) in the war organization. The annual age group called up for military training also constituted the alert force in case of a military emergency. In case of war the wartime organization was activated by a general mobilization order of all draftee soldiers. The mobilization process was tested every time the draftees were called up for the compulsory refresher courses. They were called up in a wartime manner through a partial mobilization exercise. The mobilization process was very “tuned up” and the war organization was able to be on war foot after only three days. However, the entire armed forces weren’t fully operational until after 14 days.

Mobilization

The soldiers in the war organization only existed in “the registers” in peacetime. The war organization was activated via a mobilization and manned by the draftees that had passed the basic training and been given a wartime posting. A mobilization could be triggered at danger of war or a military conflict or by a war exercise (the refresher courses). Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. When the draftees were discharged after the basic training they were, as mentioned above, assigned a wartime posting. This was documented in the “war posting card” (krigsplacering). This card was mailed to each discharged draftee when they had completed their basic training. The card specified where the draftee was to report for duty in case of war. More specifically it indicated which mobilization depot the draftee had to report to – to be equipped with uniform, arms etc. Once equipped, the draftee was to join the unit he was assigned to. The image to the right is showing a WWII mobilization depot. Display at the Army Museum, Stockholm. Photo: Hans Högman, 2003. The armed forces had thousands and thousands of secret mobilization depots (supply depots) [Mobiliseringsförråd] all around the country, mostly in the countryside. These depots were filled with supplies needed for the war organization in case of war. When a draftee received the mobilization order he immediately had to go to “his” mobilization depot to be dressed in uniform and armed and there join his war unit. Once manned each unit were to take up position at a predetermined spot and there wait for further orders. The mobilization was safeguarded by the Swedish National Home Guards (Hemvärnet) since they were operational within hours. The Home Guard soldiers had their military equipment at home. They were therefore able to keep a high military preparedness. The National Home Guards were in charge of the local defence until the regular Army took over. According to the regulations - once a general mobilization order was issued by the Swedish authorities the mobilization could not be terminated. There was a reason for this: Disinformation from an enemy state mustn’t stop a Swedish mobilization. During the Cold War Swedish citizens were drilled with the motto “Every message that the mobilization is terminated is FALSE.” ("Varje meddelande om att mobiliseringen skall avbrytas är FALSKT."). Until the end of the 1980’s the Swedish telephone directory contained a section titled “In Case of War (Om Kriget Kommer). This section instructed Swedish citizens what to do in case of mobilization and war. In the section it was clearly stated “Every message that the mobilization is terminated is FALSE!”. There was a second slogan too: “Every statement that the resistance has ceased is FALSE!” ("Varje meddelande att motståndet skall uppges är falskt!"). This slogan means that the fighting troops and any resistance movements (in case of enemy occupation) were not to believe such FALSE messages. Troops and members of the Resistance must not cease fire or give up. They must keep on fighting the enemy. During WWII there was a vigilance campaign called En Svensk Tiger” (A Swedish Tiger). The Swedish word “tiger” has two meanings depending upon context. The first meaning is the big cat Tiger we are all familiar with. The second meaning meant “Keep Silent” to the Swedish people. A picture of a drawn tiger in the Swedish flag colors, yellow and blue, was the symbol of the Swedish vigilance campaign. “En Svensk Tiger” was both the slogan and the image of the Swedish espionage prevention programs by encouraging secrecy. The purpose of the campaign was to get people aware of the risk of unintentionally spreading military information to enemy agents by talking to other Swedes in public places on the topic. So, the message was "keep silent about military information". The poster had the mixed meaning "a Swedish tiger" or "a Swede keeps silent". There was another slogan “Fienden lägger pussel which literally means “The Enemy Does Jigsaw Puzzles.” The slogan implied that enemy agents would put different small pieces of information together to be able to assemble the big picture. There was a similar campaign in the USA during WWII using the slogan “Loose Lips Sink Ships!

The Peacetime Organization -

Barracks

In the 1800s the conscripts were trained during the summer months only. The military training was held on the different regiments' training grounds. Since the training period was during summers the conscripts slept under canvas. At the end of the 1800s simple barracks were built at the training grounds for the lodging of the conscripts. In 1901 when Sweden switched to a Universal Conscription System with an armed force entirely built on draftees the duration of the training period was largely extended. The draftees were to be trained year-round, including winters. The Swedish winters can be very cold with lots of snow which demanded proper barracks. Barracks were built in the garrison towns, a massive building project that took some time to complete.
The image shows a typical troop-room (logement) in a barrack (kasern) from the 1960s - 1970s. Note the bunk beds. Display at the Army Museum, Stockholm.
The image shows a typical troop-room (logement) in a barrack (kasern) from the 1960s - 1970s. Note the bunk beds. Display at the Army Museum, Stockholm.
The image shows some of the Värmland Regiment's barracks, Karlstad city, Värmland, 1920s. Free image Wikipedia.

Slang Expressions used by

Conscripts