While the Swedish Armed Forces’ operations have halved in size over the past three decades, on Monday the military bucked the trend by reopening the P18 regiment on the Baltic island of Gotland, Swedish television reported.
In a speech on Monday, the supreme commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, Micael Byden, said that Gotland has been a strategically important location for Sweden for centuries and that it remains so today.
“From the point of view of security policy, we live in a time of unpredictability and swift turns of events, including in our neighboring region,” Byden said. “In order to respond to every threat and every challenge, we must be present where our capabilities are needed. Gotland is included in that. Keep the banner high,” Byden said.
Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf was also present at the ceremony for the re-opening of the Gotland regiment, which will include around 350 people. However, not all of them will be stationed permanently on the island. Around 150 are employed full time and the rest are temporary employees or enrolled in military service.
The base for the Gotland regiment is expected to be completed by 2020 to the cost of around 780 million SEK (89.5 million U.S. dollars).
In 2015, the Swedish government and parliament decided to introduce a permanent military presence on Gotland due to alleged worsening security situation. The Sweden also recently signed a trilateral deal with Finland and the United States, which will bring a larger American military presence to the Nordics. (1 U.S. dollar=8.71 SEK)