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Military service is “converted” between 1997 and 2001. Prompted partly by two defence reductions in 1997 and 1998 and partly by the unsustain-able policy of universal military service in the light of this, and the new focus on expeditionary missions, the SAP government stakes out that the time had come to modernise the Armed Forces. One part of the modernisation entailed redesigning military service so that it catered the needs of the expeditionary missions. In the 1994 and 1996 Defence Decisions the New Wars paradigm had grown in importance, backed by a series of reports from the SDC. Although this development was criticised by the Supreme Commander and the Moderate Party, the government in the 2000 bill took the final step and decided that in the future, building an expeditionary capability would be just as important


as the national (territorial) defence. The new direction raised a difficult problem for the SAP because giving priority to expeditionary missions was what had led many European states to swap to a professional army.

The problem for the SAP was that a similar policy was impossible in Sweden. Both because military service was an appreciated institutional feature of society, closely associated to the SAP. Doing away with milit-ary service was therefore not on the policy makers’ menu of choice. To make matters more complicated, the SAP had initiated and committed itself to a heavy reduction of the defence budget. The Armed Forces would thus have to build an expeditionary capability at the same time as the organisation had to be reduced. This was a problem because the prevailing method until then was that the number of soldiers that could be recruited to the expeditionary stood in relation to how many servicemen the Armed Forces conscripted on a given year. Experience told that around ten to twelve percent of the conscripts could after ba-sic training be recruited for deployment. Given that the expeditionary capability was about to swell to 1,000 soldiers, to begin with, this meant that the Armed Forces had to conscript 100,000 servicemen.

What was needed was a “conversion” of military service so that it could be preserved but serve new ends. To this end, the SAP-government redraws the organisational design of military service to pro-duce higher efficiency in the actual output per conscript. It, in other words, takes up on the redefinition of the policy on military service that the Moderate Party initiated in the early 1990s, but adds several new dimensions to it. It can do this without being penalised by the elect-orate because the SAP “owns” the issue of universality, which is now being abandoned. It is highly unlikely that the Moderate Party could have done the same, without also risking difficult accountability pres-sures. The share of conscripts that moved on to deployment from basic training had to swell from ten to at least thirty per cent. It is against this background that the SAP-government abandons the universality policy and redraws the formal rules of military service. The duty to service is replaced by interest and motivation for going on deployments.

Only servicemen that have sufficiently high scores on the enlistment tests are conscripted. By removing the duty to serve the penalty for not serving is also removed and the Armed Forces must become better at attracting qualified servicemen. The conscripts are therefore finan-cially compensated with an increase in their daily allowance and end of service bonus, and the basic training changes to focus on expeditionary missions. The decision to convert was strategically important because it helped the SAP develop its New Wars perspective without doing away with military service. With the decision the purpose of Sweden’s re-cruitment policy shifted from enacting equality, solidarity and doing


one’s part to instead creating deployable soldiers. With these changes, the policies on military service changed from putting equal weight on the means and the outcome of the policy. Before, the means was just as important as the outcome — it was even part of the outcome —, now, however, the efforts are directed toward the outcome of producing deployable soldiers and adjusting the means for this purpose.

Whereas the disruptive period was the combined result of policies from the Moderate Party and the SAP, conversion is only the result of SAP-policy. Conversion is an example of a substantial policy reversal that is born out of two earlier strategic adjustments in the SAP: a) the movement from neutrality to being an active member of the EU; b) and associated with this the selective emphasis on expeditionary units and New Wars. With this change, the SAP disassociates itself from the universality policy and also the values it had enacted. In the early 2000s, the SAP has therefore transformed the foundational principles of Swedish defence policy: from universality to selective service in the organisational design (from “institutional” to “occupational”), and from territorial defence to expeditionary missions in organisational purpose (from Realism to New Wars). Given the change in organisational pur-pose, the ensuing change in organisational design was not surprising.

Not primarily because the change was needed from a military point of view, but it was also expected from a political point of view. Without the conversion in organisational design military service would risk stand-ing against legitimacy problems, the way it had in the late 1990s. These were risks that the SAP wanted to prevent since with such a develop-ment it could lose a for them important institutional weapon, since problems of this sort could raise the need for a professional army. The SAP was well placed for reversing the universality policy. As the Nixon-goes-to-China logic suggests, parties that own an issue-reputation are also best suited to reverse a policy.

In the disruptive period the SAP elevates its issue-reputation in international solidarity by giving selective emphasis on New Wars. In the period of conversion it adopts the issue-reputation of the Moderate Party by disassociating its issue-reputation to the universality policy and by arguing that the organisational purpose of Armed Forces should govern Sweden’s defence policies. It moves from prioritising means, process, tradition and ideology to prioritising (efficient) outcome, which is what the 2001 bill was all about.