For a long time, Sweden practiced a policy of neutrality, through which it successfully avoided to become involved in any major war since 1814, including WWI and WWII. However, as Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the international security order was severely altered, and the Government decided to apply to join the military alliance NATO, together with neighboring Finland. At the end of June 2022, the two countries were formally invited to join the alliance. The Government's decision followed the opinion of the population, where 58 percent were in favor of joining NATO as of May 2022. Even though it has not been a member of the alliance, it has been a close ally and cooperated thoroughly with it. Moreover, it works closely together both with the European Union and the other Nordic countries on defense.
Personnel and international operationsIn 2010, military conscription in Sweden was suspended. However, due to the increasing of Russia’s activities in the Baltic Region and unsuccessful efforts to fill the ranks, Sweden reintroduced conscription for both men and women in 2017. In total, the Swedish Armed Forces’ personnel amounted to nearly 24,000 employees in 2021, of which around 9,400 were officers. The large majority of the personnel is men, but there are differences between the military and civil employees. Moreover, there are also significant age differences between the different ranks, with 50 to 54 years being the most common age of commissioned officers, whereas those of other ranks predominantly were between 25 and 29 years of age.
One of the major targets of the Swedish Armed Forces is to support international peacekeeping, and it has been involved in several international operations throughout history, including in Kosovo (KFOR), Libya (2011), and most recently in Afghanistan (ISAF/RSM). After the mission in Afghanistan ended in 2021, the international operations with the highest number of soldiers from the Swedish Armed Forces are the MINUSMA and Task Force Takuba operations in Mali. In total, the Armed Forces' budget for international operations was 1.2 billion Swedish kronor in 2021.