Procurement: Neutral Switzerland Upgrades Its Military


April 17, 2024: While Switzerland has been militarily neutral for over two centuries, it militantly backs that up with a large militia that consists of nearly all military age men. These reserve soldiers have received basic military and weapons training and most keep their assault rifle at home, along with their combat uniform. The Swiss can mobilize several hundred thousand soldiers on short notice. Some have been trained to use heavy weapons like tanks and artillery. These are stored at bases the reservists who operate them visit for training. A small number of active duty Swiss personnel operate and maintain the aircraft of the Swiss Air Force as well as other military activities that must be maintained in times of peace in order for the Swiss to be ready for war.

During each of the World Wars, the Swiss increased their military spending and readiness. This occurred from 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945. Because of the Ukraine War, it is happening again because the Ukraine War is the first major war between European powers since 1945. The neutrality attitude was such that Switzerland did not finally join the UN until 2002. That UN membership enabled the Swiss to better monitor worldwide attitudes towards war. The Swiss consider the current military threat in Europe greater than it has ever been since 1945.

With that in mind, Switzerland is increasing its annual defense spending by 19 percent over the next four years. Swiss military leaders point out that Swiss military capabilities have declined since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and all European nations enjoyed a peace dividend by reducing their armed forces and weakening what was left by not buying many new weapons and spending little on training the troops they had. The Swiss will spend an additional $29.2 billion between 2025 and 2029. This is a 10 percent increase over what was spent in the previous four year period. The additional money will be spent on upgrading radar based warning systems, air defense missile systems, more tanks and short range missiles used by the army. There will also be increased efforts to defend the military and economy from hostile internet based attacks.

To help pay for all this the Swiss have cut spending in non-military areas by 1.4 percent. Switzerland is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with a very high per-capita income level. The Swiss can afford it and are willing to spend heavily to maintain their neutrality. Think of it as a form of militant and heavily armed neutrality.




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