Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces
|Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces
Command sign of the Supreme Commander
|Swedish Armed Forces|
|Reports to||The Government
(in practice through the Minister for Defence)
|Seat||Lidingövägen 24, Stockholm, Sweden|
|Nominator||Minister for Defence|
|Constituting instrument||Förordning (2007:1266) med instruktion för Försvarsmakten
|Precursor||None; there was no single career officer in charge of the all the forces before the creation of this position (all senior service commanders reported directly to the King and his Council).|
|Formation||8 December 1939|
|First holder||Olof Thörnell|
The Supreme Commander (Swedish: Överbefälhavaren; acronym: ÖB) is the highest ranked professional military officer in the Swedish Armed Forces, and is by NATO terminology the Swedish chief of defence equivalent. The Supreme Commander is the agency head of the Swedish Armed Forces and formally reports to the Government of Sweden, though normally through the Minister for Defence.[n 1] The primary responsibilities and duties of the Supreme Commander (and the charter for the Armed Forces) are prescribed in an ordinance issued by the Government.
The Supreme Commander is, apart from the honorary ranks held by the King of Sweden and in the past other members of the Swedish Royal Family, by unwritten convention normally the only professional military officer on active duty to hold the highest rank (a four-star General or Admiral). An exception was made 2009-2014 when Håkan Syrén was chairman of the European Union Military Committee.
Before the modern era, the King was expected to command the forces himself; not seldom on location during war campaigns as shown by Gustavus Adolphus, Charles X, Charles XI and Charles XII. This remained the case formally until the 20th century. From the late 19th century onwards, there were no service chiefs of the Army or Navy; all senior service commanders reported directly to the King in Council. Apart from a single Minister for Defence created in 1919 by merging the position of ministers of the land forces and naval forces, no joint command structure existed.
In 1936, a Supreme Commander was intended to be appointed in war-time-only, and on 1 December 1939, during World War II, the first Supreme Commander, General Olof Thörnell, was appointed. In 1942 it was decided to keep this office even after the end of the war. The Supreme Commander would in wartime formally report to the King in Council until the enactment of the new Instrument of Government in 1974, and after 1 January 1975 to the Government.
List of Officeholders
|№||Name||Took office||Left office||Time in office||Defence branch|
|8 December 1939||31 March 1944||4 years, 114 days||Army|
|1 April 1944||31 March 1951||6 years, 364 days||Army|
|1 April 1951||30 September 1961||10 years, 182 days||Army|
|1 October 1961||30 September 1970||8 years, 364 days||Air Force|
|1 October 1970||30 September 1978||7 years, 364 days||Army|
|1 October 1978||30 September 1986||7 years, 364 days||Army|
|1 October 1986||30 June 1994||7 years, 272 days||Army|
|1 July 1994||30 June 2000||5 years, 365 days||Air Force|
|1 July 2000||31 December 2003||3 years, 184 days||Army|
|1 January 2004||24 March 2009||5 years, 82 days||Navy
|25 March 2009||01 October 2015||8 years, 1 day||Army|
|1 October 2015||Incumbent||1 year, 176 days||Air Force|
Every time a new Supreme Commander is to be appointed, there is some debate between the different services. Some feel that some kind of rotational system would be appropriate. In actuality, most Supreme Commanders have come from the Army, and only one, Håkan Syrén, from the Navy. Because he is a General of the Amphibious Corps, there has to this day not been a single Admiral to hold the office.
- Lord High Admiral of Sweden (historical antecedent)
- Lord High Constable of Sweden (historical antecedent)
- Although the Minister for Defence heads the Ministry of Defence, the Minister cannot as a general rule issue directives in his/her own right to the Supreme Commander or any other agency director-general in the defence portfolio due to the Swedish prohibition on ministerial rule, unless such authority is provided for in specific statutory provisions
- "Överbefälhavaren" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- "Supreme Commander". Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
- "Förordning (2007:1266) med instruktion för Försvarsmakten" (in Swedish). Swedish Code of Statutes. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
- "ÖB i historien" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
- "Sverker Göranson blir ny överbefälhavare" (in Swedish). Government of Sweden. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
- "Micael Bydén ny ÖB" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2015-09-11.