Defence minister presents new army report

An army of only 60,000 is too small to meet Switzerland’s needs, says a report drawn up by the ministry of defence for the Senate committee on security policy.

This content was published on March 31, 2011 - 18:35 and agencies

It points out that a bigger army can provide more services, and that costs do not rise in proportion to numbers, since whatever its size, it has to provide basic services with large fixed costs.

The report, which examines four possible scenarios for the future Swiss army, was published on Thursday.

The committee had been strongly critical of Maurer’s original report, published last year, and requested a new one.

In his assessment of the report, Defence Minister Ueli Maurer says an army of 120,000 – the largest under consideration – would be the one most capable of reacting. That option, or one with 100,000 men, would be the most efficient in economic terms, according to the ministry.

An army of 80,000 – in the so-called “strong” version where forces are detailed to support the civilian authorities and have the equipment to do so – would be the one best suited to react to rapid changes in the security situation.

All four versions envisage a contingent of 1,000 soldiers available for humanitarian aid and the promotion of peace abroad.

Maurer presented an additional paper on the subject of Switzerland’s international security role.

There are no grounds for Switzerland to join Nato, or to take part in a multinational missile defence system, or to join up with another country to police the air, he told journalists.

However, Switzerland will continue to play a part in peace building, training, weapons procurement and in combating new threats like cyber-attacks.

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