Home Guard (Sweden)
|Home Guard – National Security Forces|
Hemvärnet – Nationella skyddsstyrkorna
Coat of arms of the Home Guard – National Security Forces.
|Founded||May 29, 1940|
|Allegiance||Swedish Armed Forces|
|Type||Motorised light infantry|
Search and rescue
|Size||22,000 end strength; 300 companies in 70 battalions|
(Home Guard March)
|Brigade General Roland Ekenberg|
|Major General Gustaf Petri|
The Home Guard – National Security Forces (Swedish: Hemvärnet – Nationella skyddsstyrkorna) is a military reserve force of the Swedish Armed Forces. It was formally established on May 29, 1940, during World War II upon popular demand. While originally composed of former militia groups, today it comprises half of the Swedish Army, thus constituting the basis of the territorial defence of Sweden.
The Swedish National Home Guard consists mainly of local rapid countermeasure units, numbering 17,000 of the 22,000 total Home Guard strength, organised in 300 companies in 70 battalions, with 23 associated auxiliary defence organisations. The majority of the soldiers maintain a civilian job while serving the army part-time. Contemporary rapid countermeasure units were formed in the early 2000s as a consequence of the Swedish government's abolishment of the conscription to the Swedish Armed Forces.
The Commander, Rikshemvärnschefen, is the head of the Home Guard, representing 40 000 present and veteran soldiers, reporting directly to the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces.
The establishment of the Home Guard was passed into law by the Riksdag on May 29, 1940, after the beginning of World War II, however, units had already been formed by the military before this. Home Guard units were groups of usually eight to 15 men that were to serve as defense units in case of war, located in towns and in both private and state-owned factories, throughout all of Sweden. Members of these small units usually consisted of former professional military men who were equipped with rifles, machine guns, ammunition, medicine, uniforms, and had the option of buying additional materials such as skis, sweaters and marching boots. An additional group, called the Lotta corps (Women's Voluntary Defense Service), helped with additional tasks that the Home Unit was unable to perform themselves. The Lotta corps helped provide the home unit with additional items such as socks, scarves and gloves as well as performing all administrative work that the unit could not afford to do themselves. In case of war, and in case the Home Guard was unable to utilize local hospitals, the Swedish Red Cross was prepared to set up first aid stations for its use.
The Home Guard with the national security forces are part of the Swedish Armed Forces' mission-based organization. The Home Guard is a unit and constitutes the basis for the protection of Sweden. It has the task of operating over the entire conflict scale, from societal support during great strains in peacetime to armed combat in times of war.
The units of the Home Guard have a response capability that is measured in hours, as opposed to days or weeks. The personnel is made up of locally recruited volunteers and consists largely of experienced soldiers and officers with a background in mission-based units.
When the Armed Forces are called in to help with forest fires, flooding or missing person searches, it often falls to Home Guard units to support the police and Rescue Services. Territorial surveillance, base security, escort duties, transport protection, target identification and artillery spotting are other typical Home Guard duties.
In addition to personnel who have completed their national service or Basic Military Training, the Home Guard includes a large proportion of specialists, for example, paramedics, motorcycle orderlies and dog handlers, that are recruited and trained by voluntary defense organizations.
Sweden is divided into four military regions:
- Northern military region (MR N) comprises Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Jämtland and Västernorrland. The regional command is located at Norrbotten Regiment (I 19) headquarters in Boden.
- Eastern military region (MR E ) covers the Stockholm, Gotland, Södermanland, Uppsala, Västmanland, Dalarna and Gävleborg. The regional command is located at the Life Guards (LG) headquarters in Norrköping.
- Western Military Region (MR V) covers the Västra Götaland, Halland, Örebro and Värmland. The regional command is located at Skaraborg Regiment (P 4) headquarters in Skövde.
- Southern military region (MR S) includes Skåne, Blekinge, Kronoberg, Jönköping, Kalmar and Östergötland. The regional command is located at South Scania Regiment (P 7) headquarters Revinge.
Home Guard supported with resources for training and management of 22 education groups, that are geographically distributed all over Sweden. These training teams are in turn subordinated to the heads of twelve different training units . Uniform guidelines and materials for courses are determined centrally by the Home Guard Combat School.
As of 2012, the Home Guard consists of 22,000 soldiers (down from 42,000 in 2001) organized into 40 light infantry battalions (down from 69 in 2001) of 300-700 personnel.
In 2001, the Rapid Response units numbered around 5,000 soldiers of the total of 42,000. Rapid Response units have more combat tasks compared to the rest of the Home Guard, including escort duties. Some battalions located near the coast also have marine companies equipped with Combat Boat 90.
|Unit (Swedish)||Unit (English)||Training Group||Comments|
|10. Lapplandsjägarbataljonen||10. Lapland Rifle Battalion||Lapplandsjägargruppen||Arctic inc. and air section and a logistics section|
|11. Gränsjägarbataljonen||11. Border Rifle Battalion||Lapplandsjägargruppen||Arctic inc. and an air, a logistics sections and an amphibious platoon|
|12. Norrbottensbataljonen||12. North Bothnia Battalion||Norrbottensgruppen||Arctic inc. an air, two reconnaissance companies and a logistics sections and an amphibious platoon|
|13. Västerbottensbataljonen||13. West Bothnia Battalion||Västerbottensgruppen||Arctic inc. an air, a logistics sections and an amphibious and CBRN platoons|
|14. Fältjägarbataljonen||14. Light Infantry Battalion||Fältjägargruppen||Arctic inc. an air and a logistics sections, an amphibious and a CBRN platoon and a reconnaissance company|
|15. Ångermanlandsbataljonen||15. Ångermanland Battalion||Västernorrlandsgruppen||Arctic inc. a logistics section and an amphibious platoon|
|16. Medelpadsbataljonen||16. Medelpad Home Guard Battalion||Västernorrlandsgruppen||Arctic inc. an air and logistics sections and an amphibious platoon|
|17. Dalabataljonen||17. Dalarna Home Guard Battalion||Dalregementsgruppen||Arctic inc. an air section|
|18. Gävleborgsbataljonen||18. Gävleborg Battalion||Gävleborgsgruppen||inc. an air section and an amphibious platoon|
|19. Värmlandsbataljonen||19. Värmland Home Guard Battalion||Örebro och Värmlandsgruppen||inc. an air section|
|20. Sannahedsbataljonen||20. Sannahed Home Guard Battalion||Örebro och Värmlandsgruppen||inc. an air section|
|21. Upplandsbataljonen||21. Uppland Home Guard Battalion||Uppland/Västmanlandsgruppen||inc. a reconnaissance company|
|22. Västmanlandsbataljonen||22. Västmanland Home Guard Battalion||Uppland/Västmanlandsgruppen|
|23. Attundalandsbataljonen||23. Attundaland Home Guard Battalion||Livgardesgruppen||inc. a reconnaissance company|
|24. Stockholmsbataljonen||24. Stockholm Home Guard Battalion||Livgardesgruppen||inc. a traffic platoon|
|25. Taeliehusbataljonen||25. Tæljehus Home Guard Battalion||Livgardesgruppen||inc. an air section|
|26. Järvabataljonen||26. Järva Home Guard Battalion||Livgardesgruppen|
|27. Södermanlandsbataljonen||27. Södermanland Home Guard Battalion||Södermanlandsgruppen||inc. an air section and an amphibious platoon|
|28. Roslagsbataljonen||28. Roslagen Home Guard Battalion||Södertörnsgruppen||inc. an air section|
|29. Södertörnsbataljonen||29. Södertörn Home Guard Battalion||Södertörnsgruppen||inc. an air section, a CBRN platoon and an amphibious company|
|30. (1st) Livgrenadjärbataljonen||30. (1st) Life Grenadier Battalion||Livgrenadjärgruppen||inc. a reconnaissance company|
|31. (2nd) Livgrenadjärbataljonen||31. (2nd) Life Grenadier Battalion||Livgrenadjärgruppen||inc. 2 amphibious platoons|
|32. Gotlandsbataljonen||32. Gotland Battalion||Gotlandsgruppen||inc. an air section and an amphibious platoon|
|33. Norra Smålandsbataljonen||33. North Småland Battalion||Norra Smålandsgruppen||inc. an air section and an engineer platoon|
|34. Kalmarbataljonen||34. Kalmar Battalion||Kalmar och Kronobergsgruppen|
|35. Kronobergsbataljonen||35. Kronoberg Battalion||Kalmar och Kronobergsgruppen||inc. a reconnaissance company|
|36. Blekinge västra bataljon||36. West Blekinge Battalion||Blekingegruppen||inc. an air section|
|37. Blekinge östra bataljon||37. East Blekinge Battalion||Blekingegruppen||inc. an amphibious|
|38. Kinnebataljonen||38. Kinne Home Guard Battalion||Skaraborgsgruppen||inc. a traffic platoon|
|39. Kåkindbataljonen||39. Kåkind Home Guard Battalion||Skaraborgsgruppen||inc. an air section|
|40. Bohusbataljonen||40. Bohusläns Home Guard Battalion||BohusDalgruppen||inc. an air section and an amphibious company|
|41. Göteborgs södra bataljon||41. South Gothenburg Home Guard Battalion||Elfsborgsgruppen||inc. a reconnaissance company with an air section.|
|42. Göteborgs norra bataljon||42. North Gothenburg Home Guard Battalion||Elfsborgsgruppen||inc. a CBRN platoon|
|43. Göteborgs skärgårds bataljon||43. Gothenburg Archipelago Battalion||Elfsborgsgruppen||inc. an amphibious company|
|44. Älvsborgsbataljonen||44. Älvsborg Home Guard Battalion||Elfsborgsgruppen|
|45. Hallandsbataljonen||45. Halland Battalion||Hallandsgruppen||inc. an air section|
|46. Södra skånska bataljonen||46. South Scania Battalion||Skånska gruppen||inc. a CBRN platoon|
|47. Malmöhusbataljonen||47. Malmöhus Battalion||Skånska gruppen||inc. a CBRN platoon|
|48. Skånska dragonbataljonen||48. Scania Dragoon Battalion||Skånska gruppen||inc. a reconnaissance company|
|49. Norra skånska bataljonen||49. North Scania Battalion||Skånska gruppen|
Method of operation
The Home Guard units are trained to be local combat units (primarily infantry but also signal troops). Although current doctrine states that Home Guard units can act anywhere within the country, local knowledge is one of the strengths of the organization. Training focuses on guard duties and weapons proficiency.
In peacetime the Home Guards main task is to help with search and rescue operations, and to provide assistance to civil society in cases of severe emergencies such as natural disasters and the like.
The Home Guard soldier must fulfill the following requirements in order to be object to admittance:
- Swedish citizenship
- Minimum 3 months of basic military training
- Approval of personal appraisal - personal examination by the Military Intelligence and Security department, the police and the municipal authorities - and otherwise be suitable for service
- Availability for duty in the Home Guard
Troops are trained regularly and conditions of suitability abilities tested continually.
Contractually a member of the Home Guard must train 8 days (before 2010 20 hours) per year (4 days for the 5,000 soldiers in the support, non-Rapid Response units) but although the time requirement varies according to role. A prerequisite for joining the Home Guard is to have received at least 85 days of basic military training. The level of training varies widely, from basic military training to Ranger school.
The training is centered around two 4-day-long battalion exercises per year for the Rapid Response units and one 4-day exercise for the support units. These exercises are mandatory for all personnel. Apart from the mandatory training, the companies organize their own exercises, often up to 10 weekend-long exercises a year. Most soldiers do considerably more time per year than the mandatory 8 or 4 days.
The standard armaments are Ak 4B battle rifles, (Swedish version of the German G3), with red dot sights and sometimes with x4 optical sights for squad sharpshooters - or more rarely with a M203 grenade launcher - FN MAG (Ksp 58) machine guns, Carl Gustav recoilless rifles (Grg m/48) and AT4 (Pskott m/86) light anti-tank weapons. The AK4 was the standard weapon of the Swedish Armed Forces until the formers replacement by the AK5 (FN FNC derivative). Psg 90 sniper rifles are also issued to designated snipers and some personnel (usually, but not always, officers and senior non-commissioned officers) are issued with Glock 17 (Pistol 88) pistols. Other equipment include anti-tank mines and manually detonated anti-personnel landmines, explosives and signals equipment. Some first and second generation night vision equipment of Russian manufacture have been issued, but illumination flares are otherwise used. Signals equipment at platoon level include AN/PRC-25 (Ra145), AN/PRC-77 (Ra146) and Ra180 backpack radios. In 2015 some companys were equipt with 120mm mortars.
- Kulspruta 58B (Ksp 58B) (FN MAG)
- Kulspruta 88 (Ksp 88) (M2 Browning)
- Granatgevär m/48 (Grg m/48)
- Pansarskott m/86 (P-skott) (AT4)
- Prickskyttegevär 90 (Psg 90) (Accuracy International Arctic Warfare variant)
- Pistol m/88 (Glock 17)
- Terrängbil 11 (Volvo C303)
- Personbil 8 (Mercedes-Benz Sprinter)
- Motorcykel 258 (by Husqvarna Motorcycles)
- Stridsbåt 90 (CB90-class fast assault craft)
- Various light aircraft e.g. Cessna 172
- Granatkastare m/41
Dogs are also used as sensor systems, usually two for every platoon. The animals are issued and trained by one of the national auxiliary defence organizations.
The rapid response units have thus far been equipped with Volvo C303 cross country vehicles and Bandvagn 206 tracked carriers. Currently the introduction of a modified Mercedes Sprint 316 (Personbil 8) is underway to replace the earlier wheeled vehicles.
Home Guard Bands
Military traditions are strongly connected with military bands and marches, etc. The bands, with diverse military musicians, fulfil the task to replace professional military bands. Throughout Sweden, there are about 32 Home Guard bands which total more than 1 500 members, such as Södertörn Home Guard Band. 17 bands are qualified for performance at state ceremonies, royal visits and festivities.
Home Guard Cadets
The Home Guard Cadets (hemvärnsungdomar) is a youth section consisting of young girls and boys aged 15–20, typically recruited at age 15-16. The Cadets receive military training that includes base building, L-ABCDE first aid, CPR, communications, physical training, orienteering, defense studies, basic firearms training (with .22 long rifle up to age 16 and AK4 B with red dot sight from age 17) and from age 17 and up also patrolling and leadership training (group and platoon). At 18, a Cadet is allowed to undergo battle training. Despite this they are not officially called soldiers.
Although there is no rank system for Cadets, the training consists of 4 1-year-long blocks named Basic Course, Continuation Course, Leadership Course Level 1 and Leadership Course Level 2 (Grundkurs, GK; Fortsättningskurs, FK; Ledarskapskurs 1, LK1; and Ledarskapskurs 2, LK2. LK1 and LK2 are sometimes called Practical Course, PK, and Instruktörskurs, IK which means Practical Course and Instructor Course). After 4 years as a Cadet, the 19- to 20-year-old has received military training equivalent to 85 days of basic military training, plus basic commander training.
Typically, the Cadets train one day or evening every or every other week, with 10-12 weekends per year spent in the field. The Home Guard Cadets is the "unit" who spend the most time out on the field in the whole Home Guard. During training they wear the same type of uniform and equipment as the regular forces, although it may vary between the sections depending on local budget and resources. From 2008, a Cadet at least 18 years of age who has completed at least the 3 first blocks of training is welcome to take a course to repeat and improve learned skills in order to serve in the regular Home Guard at age 20. This is very valuable to many of them, since many of them won't be needed in the Army, Navy or Air Force but still are eager to do military service.
The Home Guard also includes staff from eight voluntary organisations, so-called contractual organisations:
- Frivilliga Flygkåren (FFK) – Voluntary Air Corps - reconnaissance and transport
- Flygvapenfrivilligas Riksförbund - Air Force Volunteers Association - support for the Swedish Air Force
- Svenska Fallskärmsförbundet (SFF) - Swedish Parachute Association
- Frivilliga Motorcykelkåren (FMCK) – Voluntary Motorcycle Corps - despatch riders and reconnaissance
- Frivilliga radioorganisationen (FRO) – Radio Voluntary Organisation - Radio and telephone connection
- Svenska Brukshundsklubben (SBK) – Swedish Working Dog Association - service dogs, and Crawl, searching
- Sveriges Bilkårers Riksförbund (SBR) – Sweden Drivers Association - Transport and drivers
- Riksförbundet Sveriges lottakårer (SLK) – National Association of Sweden lotta corps (SLK) - rope and staff procedures
- Swedish Naval Volunteers, in Swedish Sjövärnskåren (SVK) – Boat Squadron - Water Transport in and defense of the archipelago
- Civilförsvarsförbundet - Civil Defence League - Educating people on how to handle various crisis situations
- Svenska Pistolskytteförbundet (SPSF) - Swedish Pistol Shooting Federation
- Svenska Skyttesportförbundet (SSSF) - Swedish Shooting Sport Federation
- 1940-07-01 - 1952-03-31 - Gustaf Petri
- 1947-04-01 - 1948-06-30 - Sven-Erik Allstrin
- 1948-07-01 - 1952-03-31 - Sven-Erik Allstrin
- 1952-04-01 - 1955-09-30 - Gunnar Brinck
- 1955-10-01 - 1968-09-30 - Per Kellin
- 1968-10-01 - 1971-09-30 - Karl Gustaf Brandberg
- 1971-10-01 - 1980-12-31 - Fredrik Löwenhielm
- 1981-01-01 - 1983-09-30 - Karl Eric Holm
- 1983-10-01 - 1988-03-01 - Robert Lugn
- 1988-04-01 - 1988-09-30 - Lars-Erik Wahlgren
- 1988-10-01 - 1994-03-31 - Reinhold Lahti
- 1994-04-31 - 1997-09-30 - Jan-Olof Borgén
- 1997-10-01 - 2000-06-30 - Alf Sandqvist
- 2000-07-01 - 2002-09-30 - Mats Welff
- 2002-10-01 - 2005-06-30 - Anders Lindström
- 2005-07-01 - present - Roland Ekenberg
- Åkerstedt 2010, p. 16
- "Rikshemvärnschefens brev till hemvärnspersonalen" [Letter from the Royal Home Guard chief to the Home Guard personnel] (PDF) (Press release) (in Swedish). Hemvärnet. December 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
- "Hemvärnsförbanden 2012" [The Home Guards Battalions 2012] (PDF). Tidningen Hemvärnet (in Swedish). Stockholm: Home Guard (Sweden). 71 (5): 14–15. November 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- Åkerstedt 2010, p. 61
- Åkerstedt, Therese, ed. (2010). Hemvärnet 70 år [Home Guard 70 years] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Balkong. ISBN 9789185581412.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Home Guard (Sweden).|
- Swedish National Home Guard official website (Swedish)
- Swedish Armed Forces official website (English)