Philippe Rebord, the new head of the Swiss Armed Forces, has been in office for 100 days and has concluded that the army’s CHF5 billion ($4.96 billion) budget is not sufficient.
Speaking at a media conference on Tuesday, Rebord said that the budget set aside by parliament would not be enough in the long term. He cited the army’s ageing artillery, tanks, and wheel guard armour. He said that the army’s performance could be compromised if these armament systems aren’t replaced in a timely fashion. Rebord also made it clear that the future of the Swiss Air Force was also in jeopardy.
The new army head, who took charge on January 1, 2017, said that preparedness was another issue. Switzerland is supposed to be able to deploy 8,000 fully-equipped soldiers within eight days, and 35,000 within ten. Yet this requires 18,000 recruits per year, and “it’s tight” notes Rebord. In 2016, there were 18,109 recruits. Rebord also cited increasing high-level cybercrime as a worry.
Rebord, 60, comes from canton Valais. He joined the Swiss infantry corps in 1985. Upon his appointment as head of the Swiss Army, Defence Minister Guy Parmelin said that Rebord had a “calm and reflective” character.