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Swiss Army stops sale of old bunkers

Thomas Süssli
“It would be good if Switzerland had a certain autonomy in ammunition,” said Thomas Süssli. © Keystone / Urs Flueeler

The Swiss Army is no longer selling its old bunkers. In response to the war in Ukraine, the army is increasingly decentralising, says army chief Thomas Süssli.

The air force, for example, will train to operate improvised sites, Süssli said in an interview with Tamedia newspapers published on Monday.

Currently, the army is also going through the catalogue of command and combat facilities. This includes bunkers whose locations are already known, he said. “We have to take what we have,” Süssli said. Even already known installations would have a military use if there were many in a certain region. The army should not be put out of action with just a few bombing raids, he said.

+ For sale: a decommissioned military nuclear bunker

The army already communicated in August that it is increasingly focusing on defence. In the wake of the war in Ukraine, it increased self-protection. “We always have to protect our shelters and camps first before we can protect others,” Süssli said. It also strengthened counterintelligence. Further measures would concern supplies and infrastructure. He did not want to give details. Asked in particular about ammunition stocks, Süssli remained coy.

+ Swiss army chief wants to refocus on defence

Spare parts in stock

For about a year now, the ammunition division of the Ruag defence company has belonged to the Italian weapons and binoculars manufacturer Beretta. “It would be good if Switzerland had a certain autonomy in ammunition,” said Süssli.

The sale of the ammunition division was a political decision. In the event of a crisis, even a Swiss company would have problems producing ammunition, according to the army chief. “That is why we are stockpiling more,” he said. As an example, Süssli mentioned spare parts for the F-35 fighter jet.

+ The Swiss army: your questions answered

According to Süssli, the Armed Forces also ensure cooperation with other armed forces. In an emergency, this would not work immediately. The Swiss contribution in Kosovo should not be underestimated for NATO members, he said.

No concrete decisions have been made yet on the extent to which Switzerland will take on additional tasks there, he added. “Switzerland could contribute in the areas of cyber or NBC, nuclear-biological-chemical defence,” Süssli said.

In the summer session, parliament extended Switzerland’s mission in Kosovo until 2026.

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles. You can find them here. 

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