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Defence ministry denied extra funds for army

Military training could undergo changes as part of an army reform Keystone/Gaetan Bally

The cabinet wants to reduce the size of the Swiss armed forces and to limit the annual budget at SFr4.4 billion ($4.5 billion).

The army will consist of 80,000 troops, including 35,000 members of the infantry, from a total of 140,000. The number of troops for international peacekeeping operations is set at 1,000.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said the cabinet had mandated him to seek ways to save SFr1.1 billion through changes in military training, lowering technological standards, the sale of property and a reduction in army staff.

“Of course I will fight for more financial means, this is my duty,” Maurer said, adding that the army report, presented on Friday, was a basis for a political debate. Final decisions would be taken at a later stage.

Maurer said the three pillars of the Swiss army remained the defence of the country, the militia principle and a conscription system.

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party said the report was inacceptable because it undermined the tenets of the defence policy.

The pacifist group, Switzerland Without an Army, criticised the proposals as “sham cuts”.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR