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Current Concerns  >  2012  >  No 9, 1 March 2012  >  “Disarmament of Switzerland has happened” [printversion]

“Disarmament of Switzerland has happened”

Hermann Suter, historian and president of the group Giardino, is referring to developments in the Swiss Army, its weakening since the referendum of 2003 and to the incompetence of an Army with a force level of 100,000 men to protect the country. Elvana Indergand spoke with Hermann Suter.

Hermann Suter, you are on an information tour about the Swiss Army, what induced you to do that?

Suter: A majority of votes in the Federal Council decided in September 2011 on an army of 100,000 military personnel and a budget of 5 billion instead 4.4 billion Francs to be in the planning stage. On 18 May 2003 however, the people adopted with a 76 per cent Yes-vote an army of 220,000 men. With a force level of 100,000 members the Army cannot fulfill its constitutional mandate under federal Article 58 any longer. This “new army” degenerates into a torso-surveillance army that does not guarantee the security of the country and its people. I am under the impression that the Swiss people and parts of the Parliament have not yet realized what is going on, how the voting result was bent and our security is treated in a grossly negligent way. That’s why I want to inform.

What has happened to our Army within the last eight years?

The reform called “Army 95” had never been fully completed when Federal Councilor Samuel Schmid and the Chief of the Army, Christophe Keckeis, came up with the noted “Army 21” reform, which was based on a wrong concept. In the course of this misplanning the force levels were divided in half from 450,000 men to about 220,000; the decentralized arsenal infrastructure with its four-figure number of underground storage facilities were destroyed and centralized into five so called Logistic Bases of the Army (LBAs). While doing so thousands of experienced employees of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) lost their jobs. Furthermore the Federal Council decided in a dead of night action to destroy large quantities of heavy Army supplies in November 2008 in Wattenwyl castle. «Giardino», whose foundation president I am, estimates that the DDPS has destroyed supplies at a level of two-digit billions during the past nine years.

Even suitable weapon systems have been destroyed as well?

Yes, exactly, quite a bit of these systems were put into service in the mid-nineties or later, older systems were modified to be state of the art. Nevertheless, state-of-the art armored vehicles like the Leopard tanks were partly sold, artillery armored howitzers were scrapped, obstacles for armored vehicles were “renaturated”, permanent blasting installations were closed down, protected combat positions were given up and numerous government owned properties were sold to a ridiculously low price. It is particularly annoying, that the income was not transferred to the DDPS, but into the public treasury. That money is withheld from the head of Department, Ueli Maurer, which is urgently required for new acquisitions. With the bad planning “Army 21” the Federal Council has seized power over the military organization in total and is now in a position to decide independently without any query to the cantons. I am firmly convinced that the governments of the cantons were led up the garden path too easily. What we have today, is a centralized power and disposal monopoly of the Federal Council, completely ignoring the referendum of 18 May 2003. That is simply unconstitutional.

According to its constitutional task the Army has to be able to defend the entire country. I imagine our entire security reserve of 100,000 soldiers being confronted with one million participants of a street parade.

Is our country able to maintain its sovereignty with these figures on the entire area of the country?

Of course not. The comparison with the street parade visualizes that very well. Actually the 100,000 members of the Army have to be spread all over the country. We are convinced that the capability to actually protect the country is out of question. It is bad enough that the Army does not have any reserves at its disposal. Due to the unsuitable centralization efforts, the five logistics bases can be eliminated more rapidly (by terror attacks etc.) compared with the former decentralized arsenal system with its protected underground supply and ammunition depots.

In 2003, the Federal Council propagated to save money with less members of the Army; this money could be invested in state-of-the-art armament. How much money was saved and did it make the Army more powerful?

Switzerland with its armed neutrality has always pursued the “high admission” strategy of a mere defense army. It had to be clear to any enemy, that an attack against our country would not be child’s play. In the eighties, the US General Clarke was made Commander-in-Chief of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). He was asked how he would assess the military power of the small landlocked country Switzerland. He replied without hesitation: “Switzerland can defend itself”. However, the current destruction process definitively turns this deterrent strategy into an illusion. Foreign countries are not serious about today’s military power of Switzerland; we have become a military vacuum in the strategically important Alps. Returning to your question: The army has not at all become more powerful. Quite the opposite; no money was saved as well. The totally unsuitable marathon project of the Command-Information-System of the Army alone consumed a cool 750 billion Francs.

Before 2003 you could take as granted that Switzerland had an extremely powerful Army, which would tenaciously defend each square meter of the country’s soil. Today we primarily have to do it with asymmetric warfare. That means, you never know, which enemy will attack from which angle and which weapons he will use. I think of al-Qaida or dictatorial regimes. Apart from that, a cyber war attack against the electronic systems is no longer phantasmal.

Switzerland is an economically lucrative target for an attack. However, I must say, it is impressive, what today’s instructional Corps of the Army, militia officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers are able to accomplish. They are doing loyal and committed work and they are inexcusably let down by politics. It is important that the Army will finally be provided with a doctrine and a strategy; and the state government will absolutely back the mandatory military service.

Apropos of organized militia army versus the hyped regular army: the small state Switzerland cannot afford a regular army. If we calculate about 100,000 Francs per man and year for a regular army of 30,000 men, this will sum up to 3 billion Francs for wages and social security benefit costs – without any procurement for the regular army. In everyday life a regular army of 30,000 would be too big and too expensive; in case of action it would definitely be too small. In a direct democracy the regular army creates in fact a dangerous situation, because it can develop quickly into a state within a state and a power-crazed government could use it easily against its own people.

A militia system is umpteen times better than a regular army. Assets in operation can be adjusted according to the situation and the Army is able to fall back on highly specialized civil know-how of its members. Look to Germany, which suspended the mandatory military service in July 2011. The Bundeswehr has enormous difficulties to fill its assets not only with people out of work or unwilling to work. The so-called volunteer army is the worst of all options. Even now one half of the volunteers joining the German Bundeswehr return home after a few weeks.     •

Source: Sarganserländer, of 27.1.2012
(Translation Current Concerns)

“Spin doctors” and “Models of Defence” – 2. public image of the group GIARDINO

To the friends of the group GIARDINO

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Our presentations following the  general assembly of group GIARDINO from
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Dr phil. Judith Barben
«Spin doctors im Bundeshaus»

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