The Swiss government has announced it is to take a knife to its army and slash its numbers by as much as a third over the next ten to twelve years.
Defence Minister Ueli Maurer also gave the green light for the country’s soldiers to serve in humanitarian missions overseas. At the moment the Swiss are only present in Kososvo as part of the KFOR detachment. Currently 120,000 serve in the army that will be reduced to 80,000 by the next decade 80,000 reservists will be halved to 40,000. Politicians are divided on the wisdom of the move Social Democrat, Evi Alleman said: “ The reduction is a step closer to today’s reality. The defence minister had to face facts. Our present army can no longer be financed and its no longer appropriate.” However, the debate is still raging within Maure’s own right-wing Swiss People’s Party. His colleague Ulrich Schlüer said: “ This is the bottom line, 80,000 soldiers for widespread missions are not enough. If for example the Swiss army has to guard the railway line between Zurich and Lausanne. It wouldn’t be possible.” Those in the firing line are the heavy weapons divisions which Maurer believes are no longer relevant to contemporary warfare. However, he insisted that the new look Swiss Army will be modern, well trained and well equipped.