Defence transformation in Sweden : The strategic governance of pivoting projects 2000-2010

Sammanfattning: The thesis investigates the political control of the Swedish defence transformation in the second decade after the end of the Cold War. It focuses on high-level political and administrative processes and methods used in governing the Swedish Armed Forces. The existing understanding of political control in civil-military relations theory has two main shortcomings: it confuses the unique role of the military as sui generis with an exceptional(ist) theory for higher government, and its view of higher government is limited/partly misleading. The thesis presents a more elaborate conceptual framework -- strategic governance -- based on contemporary governance theory. The latter features two governance dimensions, organizing and microsteering, which are investigated in three within-case studies of “pivoting projects” for defence transformation: 1) the EU’s Nordic Battle Group 08 under Swedish leadership; 2) the development of a market-based acquisition system; and, lastly, 3) the governance of Sweden’s contribution to Afghanistan. An important finding of the thesis is that higher government in Sweden is not a hierarchical “machine” as depicted in civil-military relations research, but that military and civilian officials alike should be viewed as “servants”, or officarius. In fact, military officers and civilians often work under a "hands-off" mandate without direct supervision. Another finding is the ability of the Swedish Armed Forces to act according to the norms of higher government, rather than in conformity with military professional skills. Since neither reliance on military expertise nor active political involvement is a crucial factor for control, the theoretical implication is that other case studies should employ a governance approach rather than civil-military relations theory. The normative challenges that follow from the research include a) the need to develop a skill set adjusted to higher government in the military officer corps; b) the problem of identifying distinct areas of responsibility/accountability in strategic governance; and, ultimately, c) the necessity of improving coordination between different sectors relevant for national security, as the Swedish model for higher government in some respects is incompatible with strict requirements for generating a “grand strategy”.

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