National Defence and International Military Missions – The Swedish Armed Forces at home and abroad 1958–2020


  • Elin Hellquist
  • Kajsa Tidblad Lundholm

Publish date: 2021-03-04

Report number: FOI-R--5060--SE

Pages: 72

Written in: English

Research areas:

  • Säkerhetspolitik
  • Operationsanalys och strategisk planering


  • National defence
  • international military missions
  • Sweden
  • defence policy
  • defence bills


This report investigates ideas about the relationship between national and international military tasks as articulated in all fourteen Swedish defence bills between 1958 and 2020. The analysis reveals patterns of change and continuity, which indicate that the relationship is neither dichotomous nor static. During the Cold War, a foreign policy logic underpinned Swedish participation in international military missions. The foreign policy concept was, however, closely tied to national security concerns. In the Post-Cold War era, national and international tasks became seen as two sides of the same coin. The rationale of dealing with security threats at their origins went together with the decline of traditional military threats, the rise of terrorism, and cuts in national defence budgets. In the emerging Multipolar era (2014- continued), several understandings of the relationship co-exist. Crucially, defence cooperation has become a pillar of Swedish defence policy, bridging the national and international arenas. International mission participation is recognised as a setting for building interoperability with partners, which is considered to be of instrumental value to national defence. The commitment to building security together with others opens up for a give-and-take logic, in which a country would contribute to out-of-area missions expecting support from partners in case of a security crisis at home.