Army XXI

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Memorial plaque for the disbanded army units, Passwang

Army XXI (pronounced as Army 21 ) was a large-scale reform project with which the Swiss Army was supposed to take account of the changed security situation in Central Europe in the 21st century. The underlying military law was adopted by the people and the cantons in a referendum on May 18, 2003 . In particular, it provided for a reduction in the size of the team and increased cooperation with foreign partners. The previous Army 95 structure was replaced by Army XXI.


The Army XXI project was approved by the National Council and the Council of States . The SVP , FDP and CVP spoke out in favor of the reform package, the SP took no position. A citizens' committee around a major a. D. Hans Wächter together with the right-wing conservative youth association and Aktion Volk und Heimat initiated a referendum against the reform. On May 18, 2003, the Swiss people approved the draft “Army XXI - Amendment of the Federal Law on the Army and Military Administration” with 76 percent.


The Army XXI should be an adaptation of the Swiss Army to the changed threat situation in Europe. The cost was not reduced in line with the troop reduction. The funds freed up by the troop reduction should be invested in new technologies.


The reform affected the structure of the army very deeply, the most important changes are listed below:

  • The active force was reduced from 360,000 to 120,000. In an emergency, however, an additional 100,000 men should be able to be activated immediately.
  • The troop associations of the cantons were abolished.
  • The recruitment took three days instead of one day. In addition to the sports exams, there were psychological tests on the basis of which recruits could already receive cadre recommendations.
  • The recruit school (RS) lasted 18 or 21 weeks instead of 15, depending on the type of service. A third RS launch was introduced in the fall.
  • The cadre training for militia officers and NCOs was rebuilt. Cadet candidates only completed part of the RS, after which they switched to the candidate school, where they were trained as group leaders or prepared for an officer career. A large part of the training was based on the new teaching aid FUM (leadership for lower militia cadres). Officer candidates were trained directly to lieutenants and, in contrast to Army 95, skipped service with the troops as non-commissioned officers.
  • The degree structure was adapted to that of the NATO armies in order to avoid complications during multinational missions. Group leaders now served with the grade of sergeant (formerly corporal).
  • The army's logistics base (especially armories) has been streamlined. This led to the closure of armories and, for the first time in the history of the Swiss Army, to the dismissal of professional staff.
  • The Swiss army was now divided into brigades and battalions according to the NATO armies. Army corps and divisions were abolished. They expected greater flexibility from this. It now had four infantry brigades , three mountain infantry brigades , two tank brigades , a command support brigade and a logistics brigade . The territorial regions largely corresponded to the earlier territorial divisions .
  • There are only 3 corps commanders, one of which is the head of the army, one is the army commander and one is the air force commander, instead of the previous 7. The functions of training chief and commanders of the army corps are no longer applicable.


The reform was controversial among professional military personnel in the army and former senior officers. During the renovation phase, it suffered from a lack of information and organizational chaos. The fear for one's own career prospects was also stressful. The new cadre training was also controversial among militia officers. The lack of practical management experience was criticized. Officers receive their first management function in the troops (depending on the type of service) only after approx. 47 weeks of training. In the past, prospective officers served as non-commissioned officers for 15 weeks, mostly in a recruiting school.

Implementation and replacement

According to the army organization (AO SR 513.1, Article 5), the target number of the armed forces was “a maximum of 220,000 conscripts to fulfill their orders” and “the active army had a consignment of no more than 140,000 conscripts”.

The Army XXI introductory project was followed in May 2005 by a new reform package with a planning horizon of 2008–2011. The Swiss Armed Forces should be able to perform more subsidiary security missions and therefore become more infantry-heavy with the same number of troops. Armored troops were dismantled with the aim of being able to carry out new tasks such as property protection better and at the same time to save costs.

The basic model outlined in the 2010 Army Report provided for 80,000 army personnel and, with an expenditure ceiling of CHF 4.4 billion, complied with the Federal Council's financial policy requirements. The association of former and divided members of the Swiss Armed Forces (Pro Militia) relied on the report commissioned by the VBS from the St. Gallen law professor Rainer J. Schweizer and criticized the fact that a credible size of the army for its constitutional task was not determined by the budget ceiling may be.

Army XXI was replaced on January 1, 2018 by the Reform Development of the Army (WEA) with a target population of 100,000 conscripts. The legal basis for the further development of the army (Military Act, 513.1 Ordinance of the Federal Assembly on the Organization of the Army (Army Organization, AO)) was passed by both councils on March 18, 2016. They came into force on March 29, 2017 by the Federal Council.

Structure of the army

The structure of the Swiss Army after the Army Reform XXI

(As of end of 2017)

Army Command (Defense Group)

  • Army Headquarters:
  • Army staff (A staff):
  • Army planning
  • Operational training
  • International Relations Defense (V)
  • Personnel V
  • Finance V
  • Real estate V
  • Information and object security (IOS)
  • Army Command (FST A):


  • Commander Army, KKdt Daniel Baumgartner

air force

  • Air Wing 13
  • Air Wing 11
  • Air Wing 14
  • Lufttransportgeschwader 2 (Super Puma, Cougar, EC635)
  • Air transport squadron 3 (Super Puma, Cougar, EC635) Note: LT squadron 3 is stationed at Dübendorf airfield, but is subordinate to the Alpnach airfield command.

Higher cadre training in the army (HKA)

Army logistics base (LBA)

  • LOGISTIK @ V, logistics management, system management
  • Logistics Brigade 1
  • Systems, material and infrastructure
  • Ambulance / chief medical officer
  • Army pharmacy

Leadership Support Base (FUB)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Dissolution of the 4th Infantry Brigade in Solothurn: 4th Infantry Brigade, 2004–2010
  2. René Zeller : The network of photophobia. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, January 26, 2003, accessed on June 29, 2014 .
  3. NZZ of November 3, 2003: Farewell to the field army corps 4th memorial tape about the Eastern Swiss Army Unit
  4. Swiss time of May 3, 2002: Corps Commander zD Simon Küchler, Steinen SZ: Army XXI needs improvements
  5. 513.1 Ordinance of the Federal Assembly on the Organization of the Army (Army Organization, AO)
  6. Pro Militia judges the content of the Federal Council's Army Report 2010 to be unconstitutional and contrary to international law .
  7. Swiss Armed Forces March 29, 2017: Federal Council finally puts the amendment of March 18, 2016 to the Military Act into force and passes the ordinance on the structures of the armed forces