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Cabinet gives green light to army reform

The Swiss Army will be slimmed down to 220,000 troops by 2003 Keystone Archive

The cabinet has given the green light to defence ministry proposals to reform the Swiss Army. The plan envisages a budget of SFr4.3 billion ($2.5 billion) per year, as well as a significant reduction in the number of personnel.

This content was published on May 3, 2001 - 08:54

The cabinet is standing firm on an annual budget of SFr4.3 billion a year from 2003 and has already rejected a less expensive option.

The annual budget marks the government's commitment to the overhaul of Switzerland's militia-based army, with a total investment of SFr29 billion over the next 15 years.

Urban Siegenthaler from the Defence Ministry told swissinfo why the investment was necessary.

"We have to keep up on a technology level which is comparable to other Western European armies, and for that we need a certain amount of investment."

"Secondly, we want to increase the training level of our armed forces and that means some more costs."

The extra spending will be matched with a slimmed down force in a bid to make the army more efficient.

By 2003 the army will have 220,000 active members compared to 360,000 today. The future force will be made up of 140,000 soldiers and 80,000 reserves.

The reduction in troop levels will go hand in hand with changes in structure, training and recruitment.

Siegenthaler points out one of the most pertinent changes outlined in the draft.

"What is most needed are command and control systems, followed later by an integration of sensor systems into these command and control systems."

The draft will go through the formal consultation procedure until July 31 so that political parties and organisations can voice their objections.

It is set to go before parliament in the autumn.

swissinfo with agencies

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