Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces

Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces

Command sign of the Supreme Commander
General Micael Bydén

since 1 October 2015[1]
Swedish Armed Forces
Reports to The Government
(in practice through the Minister for Defence)
Residence Karlberg Palace
Seat Lidingövägen 24, Stockholm, Sweden
Nominator Minister for Defence
Appointer The Government
Constituting instrument Förordning (2007:1266) med instruktion för Försvarsmakten
(current ordinance)
Precursor None; there was no single career officer in charge of the all the forces before the creation of this position (all senior service commanders reported directly to the King and his Council).
Formation 8 December 1939
First holder Olof Thörnell
Deputy The Director-General
Website Official website

The Supreme Commander (Swedish: Överbefälhavaren; acronym: ÖB) is the highest ranked professional military officer in the Swedish Armed Forces, and is by NATO terminology the Swedish chief of defence equivalent. The Supreme Commander is the agency head of the Swedish Armed Forces and formally reports to the Government of Sweden, though normally through the Minister for Defence.[2][n 1] The primary responsibilities and duties of the Supreme Commander (and the charter for the Armed Forces) are prescribed in an ordinance issued by the Government.[3]

The Supreme Commander is, apart from the honorary ranks held by the King of Sweden and in the past other members of the Swedish Royal Family, by unwritten convention normally the only professional military officer on active duty to hold the highest rank (a four-star General or Admiral).[4] An exception was made 2009-2014 when Håkan Syrén was chairman of the European Union Military Committee.

The present Supreme Commander, General Micael Bydén, took office on 1 October 2015.[1]

Historical background

Before the modern era, the King was expected to command the forces himself; not seldom on location during war campaigns as shown by Gustavus Adolphus, Charles X, Charles XI and Charles XII. This remained the case formally until the 20th century. From the late 19th century onwards, there were no service chiefs of the Army or Navy; all senior service commanders reported directly to the King in Council. Apart from a single Minister for Defence created in 1919 by merging the position of ministers of the land forces and naval forces, no joint command structure existed.[4]

In 1936, a Supreme Commander was intended to be appointed in war-time-only, and on 1 December 1939, during World War II, the first Supreme Commander, General Olof Thörnell, was appointed.[4] In 1942 it was decided to keep this office even after the end of the war. The Supreme Commander would in wartime formally report to the King in Council until the enactment of the new Instrument of Government in 1974, and after 1 January 1975 to the Government.[4]

List of Officeholders

Name Took office Left office Time in office Defence branch
Thörnell, OlofGeneral Olof Thörnell
8 December 1939[4]31 March 19444 years, 114 daysArmy
Jung, HelgeGeneral Helge Jung
1 April 1944[4]31 March 19516 years, 364 daysArmy
Swedlund, NilsGeneral Nils Swedlund
1 April 1951[4]30 September 196110 years, 182 daysArmy
Rapp, TorstenGeneral Torsten Rapp
1 October 1961[4]30 September 19708 years, 364 daysAir Force
Synnergren, StigGeneral Stig Synnergren
1 October 1970[4]30 September 19787 years, 364 daysArmy
Ljung, LennartGeneral Lennart Ljung
1 October 1978[4]30 September 19867 years, 364 daysArmy
Gustafsson, BengtGeneral Bengt Gustafsson
(born 1933)
1 October 1986[4]30 June 19947 years, 272 daysArmy
Wiktorin, OweGeneral Owe Wiktorin
(born 1940)
1 July 1994[4]30 June 20005 years, 365 daysAir Force
Hederstedt, JohanGeneral Johan Hederstedt
(born 1943)
1 July 2000[4]31 December 20033 years, 184 daysArmy
Syrén, HåkanGeneral Håkan Syrén
(born 1952)
1 January 2004[4]24 March 20095 years, 82 daysNavy
(Amphibious Corps)
Göranson, SverkerGeneral Sverker Göranson
(born 1954)
25 March 2009[5]01 October 20157 years, 257 daysArmy
Bydén, MicaelGeneral Micael Bydén
(born 1964)
1 October 2015[6]Incumbent1 year, 67 daysAir Force


Micael Bydén Sverker Göranson Håkan Syrén Johan Hederstedt Owe Wiktorin Bengt Gustafsson (general) Lennart Ljung (general) Stig Synnergren Torsten Rapp Nils Swedlund Helge Jung Olof Thörnell

Every time a new Supreme Commander is to be appointed, there is some debate between the different services. Some feel that some kind of rotational system would be appropriate. In actuality, most Supreme Commanders have come from the Army, and only one, Håkan Syrén, from the Navy. Because he is a General of the Amphibious Corps, there has to this day not been a single Admiral to hold the office.

See also


  1. Although the Minister for Defence heads the Ministry of Defence, the Minister cannot as a general rule issue directives in his/her own right to the Supreme Commander or any other agency director-general in the defence portfolio due to the Swedish prohibition on ministerial rule, unless such authority is provided for in specific statutory provisions


  1. 1 2 "Överbefälhavaren" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
  2. "Supreme Commander". Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  3. "Förordning (2007:1266) med instruktion för Försvarsmakten" (in Swedish). Swedish Code of Statutes. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 "ÖB i historien" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  5. "Sverker Göranson blir ny överbefälhavare" (in Swedish). Government of Sweden. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  6. "Micael Bydén ny ÖB" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2015-09-11.

External links

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