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Army reform to cut at least 1,000 jobs, according to military chief

Corps Commander Jacques Dousse (left) visiting a canton Ticino firing range

(Keystone)

The planned reform of Switzerland's armed forces will mean the loss of 1,000 jobs in the administration of the land forces alone, according to their commander, Jacques Dousse.

With 8,000 staff (excluding the soldiers themselves), the country's land forces are the largest employer within the Ministry of Defence. Four thousand of them work in the federal office responsible for military depots, bases and firing ranges, and Corps Commander Dousse said the office could stand to lose a quarter of its staff.

He told the French-language daily, Le Temps, it was inevitable that a reduction in the army's size would have a knock-on effect in other fields.

Details of the Army XXI reform of the Swiss military have yet to be finalised, but it is believed the plan will lead to a reduction in the number of soldiers from the current 360,000 to a minimum of 100,000. As Switzerland's army is largely a militia army the reduction will not lead to any job cuts in the armed forces.

Dousse said it seemed logical that a cut in the army's strength would lead to a reduction in the number of maintenance and administrative personnel. However he said that it was a mistake to assume that a radical cut in the army's size should lead to a similar one amongst maintenance and administrative staff.

Dousse said that the land forces had already set in motion a series of reforms, which, since 1995, had reduced the size of their staff by 2,000. Future changes would have to wait until full details of Army XXI were available, he said.

Commenting on plans to give the cantons greater responsibility for the Swiss reserve forces, Dousse said he believed this was essential if the country was to be able to respond effectively to a crisis situation.

swissinfo with agencies

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