Swiss Army logo
|Commander in Chief :||
The Federal Council (peace)
A commander-in-chief elected by the Federal Assembly = general (mobilization)
|Defense Minister:||Viola Amherd , Head of VBS|
|Military Commander:||KKdt Thomas Süssli , Chief of the Army|
|Active soldiers:||140,304 (2019)|
|Conscription:||18–23 weeks of basic training, a total of 245 days (for soldiers)|
|Resilient population:||Age 18–49:
|Eligibility for military service:||18–33 years|
|Military budget:||5.12 billion CHF (2020)|
|Share of expenses from tax revenue:||6.4% (2018)|
|Share of gross domestic product :||0.654% (2018)|
The Swiss Army ( French Armée suisse , Italian Esercito svizzero , Romansh , English Swiss Armed Forces ) is the armed force of the Swiss Confederation . As a landlocked country, Switzerland has no navy . The patrol boats on the (border) lakes are subordinate to the engineering troops . A special feature of the Swiss Army is the militia system . Corps Commander Thomas Süssli has been Chief of the Army since January 1, 2020 .
Up until the end of 2003 ( Army 61 and Army 95 ) the Swiss Army was spoken of. The Swiss Army has been the official name ever since . The designation has not changed in the other three national languages. In French it is called Armée suisse , in Italian Esercito svizzero and in Romansh Armada svizra . In English , the army appears as Swiss Armed Forces .
The Swiss Armed Forces are given the following tasks by the Federal Constitution and the Military Act:
The army has the mandate:
- a. to contribute to the prevention of wars and the maintenance of peace;
- b. defend Switzerland and protect its people;
- c. to contribute to peacebuilding in an international context;
- d. to support the civil authorities in the event of serious threats to internal security and, in particular, in dealing with disasters at home and abroad, if their resources are no longer sufficient.
Defense is the army's core mission . The army is supposed to secure and defend the territory of Switzerland . To do this, Switzerland relies on the deterrent effect of the Swiss Army's constant readiness to fight. In this context, the term “high entry price” is used, which a potential attacker would have to pay if he attacked Switzerland, occupied the territory or tried to force a march through.
Support to civil authorities forms the bulk of the army's current operations. In the event of natural disasters , the army can deploy disaster relief battalions. This includes in particular the standing order for embassy and consulate security, as well as deployments in favor of major events such as the G8 summit , the World Economic Forum in Davos , the Expo.02 or various sporting events.
Peacebuilding is a very small area in terms of personnel. Switzerland provides the UN with unarmed military observers (officer rank). In addition, there are currently only two armed units abroad: Swisscoy, which has been subordinate to KFOR since 1999 and has up to 220 members of the armed forces, and since autumn 2004 around 25 members of the armed forces as part of the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina .
Swiss Army soldiers have been part of the Neutral Monitoring Commission in Korea (NNSC) since 1953 . With its presence on the inner-Korean demarcation line , the Commission shows that the ceasefire agreement is still valid and must be respected.
The weighting of these orders is subject to changes resulting from the security situation. In June 2007, for example, the National Council decided to double the size of the peacebuilding team. The competence center Swissint is responsible for the planning, provision and management of the peacebuilding missions abroad .
The Swiss Army is divided into the Operations and Training Commands, the Army Staff, the Army's logistics base and the command support base.
A special feature of the Swiss armed forces is the militia system . There are only about five percent professional and contract soldiers . All other members of the army (AdA) are conscripts between the ages of 18 and 34, in staff and special functions up to 50 years of age, who only serve for the duration of the training service of their division.
Because of the militia system, the Réduit established during World War II and the globally unique form of popular armament in which members of the army keep their uniforms and personal weapons at home, the phrase "Switzerland has no army, Switzerland is an army!" .
After the end of the Cold War , the army reforms gradually reduced the number of crews, but the militia principle and general conscription were retained , in contrast to most of the surrounding European countries, which have created purely professional armies . The majority of the Swiss population is in favor of general conscription, as was most recently made clear by the referendum on September 22, 2013.
A major army reform is under way under the name Army XXI , with which the Swiss armed forces are constantly being adapted to changing security policy conditions. The associated new military law was adopted by the people and the cantons after a referendum on May 18, 2003 .
The team strength was reduced from 400,000 ( Army 95 ) to around 200,000 members of the Army. Of these, 120,000 are divided into active units and 80,000 into reserve units.
The 120,000 active members complete three (for soldiers ) or four (for cadres ) weeks of refresher courses (FDT, training service for the troops) every year . As a rule, the reserve units do not offer any repetition courses, but if the security situation changes, they can be obliged to do so by a Federal Council resolution.
Some of the equipment in these reserve units only exists on paper. Although the Swiss Army has a large number of modern and functional material, such as Pz 87 Leopard 2 battle tanks, due to the halving of its inventory, reserve units are only delayed or not equipped at all when new acquisitions are made. Due to the budget constraints, these reserve units are therefore only partially ready for use.
The Swiss Army currently has 134 Leopard 2 battle tanks (of the 380 tanks originally procured, only 134 were preserved in value in 2006) and 483 armored command, reconnaissance, command, communication and genius vehicles. The vehicles are divided between two tank brigades of 10,000 men each.
In view of the fact that Army 61 still had 625,000 army members, the Army 95 and Army XXI reforms represent a drastic reduction in stocks. This development reflects the changed security situation in Europe after the end of the Cold War. This reduction did not come about by lowering the number of recruits, although these are declining due to more thorough selection, but rather by shortening the duration of compulsory service.
With the Army XXI it became possible to complete the entire service period in one go. This service as a so-called full servant lasts 300 days for normal soldiers, 430 days for NCOs, 500 days for senior NCOs and 600 days for subordinate officers . During VBA 2, these full-time servants are mainly used on a subsidiary basis, for example for embassy guarding. After the days of service, the soldiers are released into the reserve. For them the annual WK is no longer applicable, they only have to participate in the compulsory shooting until they are finally discharged from the army at the age of 30 (higher for officers).
Swiss women are now allowed to exercise any function in the Swiss Army. In the past it was not possible for them to join combat units. Since 2007 women have had to perform the same physical work as men (unlike in the Austrian Armed Forces ; see military women's service ). The proportion of women (as of 2012) is 0.6 percent.
Other changes affect disciplinary sanctions, ranks, badges, length of service and other areas.
The Ordinance on the Army Organization (AO) defines the following structure for the Swiss Army:
- Army staff (created from the planning staff of the army (PST A), staff CdA and staff Deputy CdA), command staff of the army (FST A) and the army staff units (Astt); Sanitary.
- Command training ( higher cadre training of the army (HKA) , 5 training associations, personnel of the army, training center of the army);
- Operations Command (Army, Air Force, Military Intelligence Service, 4 Territorial Divisions, Military Police, SWISSINT Competence Center, Special Forces Command);
- Army (3 mechanized brigades, competence center for command and control systems);
- Air Force (Air Force Staff, Air Force Education and Training Brigade, Aviation Medical Institute, Aviation Defense Training Association 33, various military airfields):
- Logistics base of the army (LBA) ( logistics brigade 1 (Log Br 1) ; 5 army logistics centers; road traffic and shipping office of the army; center for electronic media);
- Command Support Base (FUB) ( Command Support Brigade (FU Br 41 / SKS) );
- the troops: battalions (Bat), divisions (abbot), grenadier command (Gren Kdo), airfield commandos (Flpl Kdo), squadrons (Fl Geschw, Dro Geschw);
- the troop units: companies (Kp), batteries (Bttr, designation of the Kp in the artillery), squadrons (St, designation of the Kp for the flying parts of the Air Force), columns (Kol, designation of the Kp in the Train).
For training purposes, the troops and units are subordinate to a brigade or a teaching association.
The organization of the Swiss Armed Forces with regard to military types, professional formations and branches of service is based on Article 7 of the Federal Assembly Ordinance on the Organization of the Armed Forces (AO). Military branches are defined there as «elements of the army for whose training recruit schools are held. There are no recruiting schools for the service branches ».
The Swiss Army consists of
- the troops: infantry , armored troops , artillery , air troops , anti-aircraft troops, engineering troops , command support troops , transmission troops , rescue troops , logistics troops, medical troops, troops for military security (formerly called fortress guard corps ) and the NBC defense troops ;
- the professional formations: parts of the KSK ( army reconnaissance detachment and MP Spez Det ), as well as parts of the air force and military security formations;
- the branches of service: general staff service , military intelligence service , military justice , army pastoral care , territorial service and standby service.
All male Swiss citizens living in Switzerland are required to do military service . In principle, dual citizens are required to serve in the military. Swiss citizens who can prove, however, that they are citizens of another country and that they are fulfilling their military obligations there, have performed civilian service or have rendered alternative services, are not required to do military service in Switzerland. On the other hand, they are subject to the obligation to report and the obligation to pay compensation in accordance with the provisions of the compulsory military service . They are called up for military recruitment at the earliest at the age of 18 and at the latest at 25 years of age (mandatory position). For women and Swiss abroad, this is done on a voluntary basis. Around 60 percent pass the military recruitment and are fit for duty and therefore compulsory military service. Unfit for service are written for those who are not fit for service if they are physically or psychologically insufficient for military service. Unfit for duty can be classified as fit for protection duty and serve in civil defense . Around half of those unfit for service are provided by civil protection, whose service time is offset against the compulsory military service levy. Because anyone who does not do military service, with the exception of disabled people, has to pay an annual compulsory military service contribution of three percent of taxable income.
Military service providers who do not want to do military service can apply for admission to alternative civilian service at any time, and those required to provide service after attending the orientation event of the military authority. This constitutionally guaranteed right has only existed since 1992; before that, military service could only be refused (which inevitably led to a conviction). If the application is accepted, civilian service is to be performed, which takes half longer than the military service. If the request is not granted and the person obliged to do military service refuses to serve in the military, a judgment is made by a military court, which can impose a prison sentence.
Alternatives are unarmed service in the army or retirement from the blue route due to unfit for service (see above).
The basic training in the Swiss Army is known as the recruit school ( RS for short ). It is completed by all service providers and takes 18 weeks. It takes much longer for special functions, e.g. B. Grenadiers 23 weeks.
The RS is generally divided into three phases. The general basic training lasts three to seven weeks, the function-related basic training two to three weeks and the association training five to eight weeks.
General basic training
In the general basic training (AGA), the recruits are taught basic skills in matters of service , personal weapons, etc. a. the assault rifle 90 , medical service / comrade help , NBC protection , combat technology are taught and their physical condition is strengthened. The general basic training lasts depending on the branch of service from three to seven weeks and will - also depending on the training unit - by time and professional soldiers guided and supported. In principle, however, the principle «militia trains militia» applies.
Function-related basic training
In the function-related basic training (FGA), the recruits are familiarized with the main task of their function. Here z. B. the infantryman with the bazooka , with the light machine gun or with explosives, the gunner to operate his artillery , the medical soldier to rescue and care for the injured, the directional beam and transmission pioneer to set up the directional beam or radio antennas and to configure the devices etc. etc.
The function-related basic training lasts seven to ten weeks, is led by militia cadres and, as in the previous phase, is supported by temporary and professional soldiers . At the end of this phase, the remaining recruits are promoted to soldiers . At the end of the FGA, the militia cadres are promoted to their effective cadre level (Wachtmeister / Hauptfeldweibel / Fourier / Leutnant).
The recruits who have been promoted to soldiers usually spend the period from the 13th week to the end of the RS (18th week) at a different location than in the previous phase. In these last few weeks it is a matter of performing services at company and battalion level with all soldiers , NCOs and officers . Realistic exercises are in the foreground.
The final week of each RS consists of handing over the infrastructure, training material and vehicles and getting them ready for the next school.
At the end of the recruiting school, the trained soldiers are divided into their units. There they will hold their advanced training courses together with soldiers of all ages.
Forces Training Services (FDT)
Every member of the Swiss Armed Forces (AdA) has to work a certain number of days of work after the recruiting school. They generally do this in annual courses, which are now known as FDT (training service for the troops), but mostly called WK (repetition courses) according to the earlier term . FDT is the generic term for training services for formations (ADF), special services (Beso DL) and additional training services (ZAD). The team and cadre usually complete their refresher courses with their unit, into which they were divided according to the recruit school. Personal postponements are possible, but the annual courses are usually completed with the same unit.
For members of the team (soldier to corporal), the WK takes three weeks according to the Army XXI model . For NCOs, the duration depends on their function and rank. Members of the company cadre ( group leader, Feldweibel, Fourier, platoon leader and the company commander himself) move in up to a week before the start of the regular WK and perform the so-called cadre preliminary course (KVK). Members of the team who are transferred to the staff of a department or to other management support functions can also be called up for the KVK of their superiors. This will be counted towards their compulsory service.
In Formation Training Services (ADF), the focus of training is on repetition and consolidation of general basic training in association training. Hence the name «Association training 2», which is partly supported by the professional military.
In retraining courses (UK; count as ZAD), units can also be retrained on new equipment or vehicles if necessary. In addition, the FDT weeks also serve for subsidiary missions, such as B. for embassy guarding. Often, however, troops are also used to support civil organizations. Examples of this are the Federal Yodelling Festival , the Lauberhorn race or in disaster situations at the request of the cantons and municipalities .
Every soldier is equipped with the assault rifle 90 ( SIG SG550 ) as a personal weapon. The exceptions are the grenadiers of the military police, hospital soldiers, dog handlers, airfield security soldiers and the secretary soldiers of the command support, who receive a pistol 75 ( SIG SAUER P220 ) of 9 mm caliber. Officers and senior non-commissioned officers are also equipped with the 75 pistol. At the KSK , training on the 04/07 assault rifle ( SIG SG553 ) and the 2012/2015 pistol ( GLOCK 17 ) takes place.
Army members can take home their personal weapon between services. From 1952 on, everyone also took so-called pocket ammunition . This was intended to enable the individual soldier to fight his way to his place of entry in the event of a mobilization . In 2007 it was decided to withdraw the pocket ammunition and leave it only for the alarm formations ( above all military security). The personal weapon can still be taken home. Since 2010, military personnel can use their service weapon free in the armory store. Anyone who wants to keep the weapon after the service, requires a weapon acquisition license.
The possibility that retired soldiers can take over their personal weapon in their property has resulted in Switzerland having a high density of firearms. According to the army logistics base, there were a total of 654,562 army weapons at home with the men and women on November 30, 2010.
Abuse of these personal weapons is relatively rare in relation to the large number of weapons available (with an estimated 2.3 to 4.5 million weapons in private hands). The most common use is in the case of suicide. In the period between 1996 and 2005, 3,410 suicides were committed using firearms in Switzerland. According to various studies, over 40 percent of these gun suicides were perpetrated with army weapons. The Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) came in the "Fact Sheet Suizide" based on the evaluation of four scientific studies on a value of 49 percent. Shortly afterwards, the FOPH removed the “Suizide fact sheet” from the website. The Federal Statistical Office states on its website that in 2009 only 9 percent of all firearms suicides were perpetrated with army weapons (assault rifles and army pistols). A controversy arose around this information, as the assignment of the weapons to the various categories does not seem conclusive, and the Federal Statistical Office itself also points to problems with the completeness and quality of the information.
In 2004 the Swiss Army procured 20 PGM Hécate II . These are called the precision rifle 04 ( 12.7 mm PGw 04). The LTE J10 F1 8-10x from Scrome is used as a rifle scope. The precision rifle 04 is used by the special forces command . In 2004 the Swiss Army procured 196 TRG-42 rifles. These are called sniper rifles 04 (SSGw 04) and the ammunition is called Gw Pat 04. The 3-12x50 PMII from Schmidt & Bender is used as a telescopic sight. The sniper rifle 04 is used in the support companies of the infantry battalions and by the special forces command. The Panzerfaust 3 is used as an anti-tank weapon . The FN Minimi is used in the Swiss Army as the Light Machine Gun 05.
The uniform and equipment show a high degree of uniformity across all branches of service and ranks. From the recruits to the corps commanders, all AdA generally wear the same uniform. Only in the case of specialists and in special missions are parts of the uniform adapted to the intended use.
Most soldiers on duty wear camouflage suits ("TAZ 90"), which are trousers and jackets with a camouflage print. Mechanized troops wear a one-piece suit (Combinaison) with a sewn-in harness, which makes it easier to rescue them from vehicles. In addition, there is a hat or helmet (with camouflage cover) or the beret , the color of which depends on the type of military , as headgear .
The name tag as well as the rank and function badges on the combat suit are made of fabric with an olive base color. They are attached with Velcro in the designated places on the collar or on the left chest. The badge , the association badge (usually of the battalion level), is worn on the right sleeve, the badge of the large association on the béret.
The starting uniform 95 ("Ausganger") consists of a light gray shirt combined with a dark gray jacket and light gray trousers with a black seam strip on the side about 3 mm wide. In the case of general staff officers , this strip is about 5 cm wide. Senior staff officers (from “1-star general” / brigadier ) wear two such wide black stripes, one on the left and one on the right of the trouser seam.
Swiss Army tanks
This is a list of tanks (types) that are or have been in service in the Swiss Army or have been evaluated for it.
|Renault FT||France||Light tank||II||5||1921||1944|
|Vickers Carden Loyd||United Kingdom||tank||I, 33, 34, 35||8th||1931||1948|
|Tank 39||Czech Republic||tank||LTL-H||24||1939||1950|
|Renault R-35||France||Light tank||12||1940||?||test|
|Melee cannon 1||Switzerland||Tank destroyer||1||1944||1947||test|
|Melee cannon 2 Gustav||Switzerland||Tank destroyer||1||1946||1947||test|
|Cruiser tank||United Kingdom||tank||RAM Mk.II||2||1947||1968||test|
|Tank destroyer G13||Czech Republic||Tank destroyer||G13||158||1947||1973|
|M47 Patton||United States||Medium tank||M Pz M47||2||1952||1954||test|
|55 Centurion tank||United Kingdom||tank||Pz 55 Mk3||100||1955||1991|
|tank||Pz 55 Mk5||100||1955||1991||from South Africa|
|tank||Pz 57 Mk7||100||1957||1991|
|tank||Pz 67 Mk12||12||1975||1991||from Canada|
|Relaxation tank 56||United Kingdom||Relaxation tanks||Entp Pz 56||30th||1956||1991||19 sold to Sweden in 1991.|
|Bridge armor 55 Centurion||United Kingdom||Bridge armor||Bru Pz||2||1963||1966||test|
|Medium tank 1958||Switzerland||Medium tank||MPz 58||12||1958||1964|
|Tank 61||Switzerland||Medium tank||Pz 61||150||1964||1994|
|Tank 68||Switzerland||tank||Pz 68
|170||1971||1999||all modernized to AA3.|
|tank||Pz 68 AA2||50||1974||2003|
|tank||Pz 68 AA5||220||1988||1999|
|Relaxation tank 65||Switzerland||Relaxation tanks||Entp Pz 65||69||1970||2008|
|Bridge armor 68||Switzerland||Bridge armor||Brü Pz 68||30th||1974||2005|
|Panzerkanon 68||Switzerland||artillery||Pz Kan 68||4th||1972||1975||test|
|35 mm Flab tank B22L||Switzerland||AA||B22L||2||1979||1980||test|
|Target tank 68||Switzerland||Target tank||10||1974||2007|
|Mowag Shark||Switzerland||various||3||1981||1981||Test: APC, Tank, AAA, Anti Tank|
|Mowag Piranha IIIC 10 × 10||Switzerland||various||IIC 10 × 10||1||1994||1994||test|
|M109 self-propelled howitzer 66||United States||howitzer||M109 KAWEST||577||1974|
|Leopard 2 Panzer 87, Pz 87 WE||Germany||tank||A4||380||1987||Reduced to 224, 134 modernized Pz 87 WE.|
|Leopard 2 driving school tank||Germany||Trainer||3||1988||2002|
|Armored recovery vehicle Buffalo||Germany||Relaxation tanks||BPz3||25th||2004|
Germany / Switzerland
|Armored Rapid Bridge Iguana||Germany||Bridge armor||12||Existing, surplus Leopard 2s are to serve as the carrier vehicle|
Lightly armored vehicles
|M113||United States||In use|
|M548||United States||In use|
|Mowag Piranha 8x8||Switzerland||In use|
|Mowag Piranha IB 6 × 6||Switzerland||In use|
|Mowag Eagle||Switzerland||In use|
|DURO GMTF||Switzerland||220 in RP 2008
70 in RP 2010
130 in RP 2013
|CV9030CH||Sweden||186 in RP 2000||In use|
- The Swiss Army is currently using a Mowag Eagle IV 6x6 with the car number M21763 for experiments with the "Tactical Reconnaissance System" (TASYS).
|Universal carrier||United Kingdom||Was in use|
|Mowag Pirate infantry fighting vehicle||Switzerland||Document M113|
|Sour tartaruga||Switzerland||Document M113|
|Mowag tank dummy||Switzerland||Was in use|
|Mowag Puma 6 × 6||Switzerland||Tested|
|Mowag Piranha IIIC 10 × 10||Switzerland||Tested|
|Mowag Trojan||Switzerland||Canceled after order delay|
Air Force vehicles
The list includes aircraft in the true sense of the word and ground-based vehicles for air defense and air surveillance.
The Air Force has u. a. currently about the following aircraft types, helicopters and air defense.
- 25 McDonnell Douglas F / A-18 C multi- role combat aircraft
- 5 McDonnell Douglas F / A-18 D multi- role combat aircraft
- 41 Northrop F-5 type F5E * interceptors
- 12 Northrop F-5 type F5F * interceptors
- 15 Pilatus PC-6 transport aircraft
- 27 Pilatus PC-7 training aircraft
- 5 Pilatus PC-9 training aircraft
- 8 Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft
- 1 VIP transport aircraft Beechcraft 1900
- 1 VIP Cessna Citation Excel transport aircraft
- 1 VIP transport aircraft Dassault Falcon 900
- 2 VIP / SAR transport aircraft CL-604
- 1 VIP Pilatus PC-24 transport aircraft
- 1 Beechcraft King Air cartography / transport aircraft
- 1 cartography / transport aircraft DHC-6
- 6 ADS-15 Hermes reconnaissance drones
- 30 target drones KZD 85
- * Of these, 27 were decommissioned from 2019.
Helicopter as of December 31, 2019:
- 15 medium-weight helicopters Aérospatiale AS 332 M1 Super Puma
- 10 medium-weight helicopters Aérospatiale AS 532 UL Cougar
- 20 transporters / training helicopters and VIP transporter Eurocopter EC 635
Air defense as of December 31, 2019:
- 27 medium-caliber anti-aircraft fire units (M Flab) with Skyguard fire control unit and two Flab cannons 63/90 Oerlikon 35 mm each
- 96 fire units MANPAD with 288 guided missiles (L Flab Lwf) STINGER and 24 tactical radar ALERT
- 60 fire units of the guided missile anti-aircraft system (Mob Flab Lwf) RAPIER
In addition, every soldier's equipment includes:
- the basic carrying unit , a kind of belt with ammunition pockets and a large pocket for
- the protective mask .
- small pockets for hearing protection (Pamir), torch, compass etc.
- a bayonet if the soldier is equipped with an assault rifle.
- the identification tag («tombstone»)
- a Swiss Army Knife . Every soldier receives the same model; there is no special officer's knife. Since March 2009 the recruits have been given a new soldier's knife. It is a so-called one-hand knife, i. H. it has a special hole on the top of the blade near the handle so that it can be opened with the thumb. In addition, the handle scales have got an olive green color.
Helvetic and mediation
The first federal army was founded in the Helvetic Republic in 1798 . On the basis of general conscription it was divided into a standing army, the "Helvetic Legion", and a militia army. In addition, the Helvetic Republic was obliged by an alliance treaty with France to provide the republic with around 18,000 men as mercenaries (33 battalions of infantry, 3 squadrons of cavalry, 1 battery). The army was deployed within the country several times, for example in 1802 against rebellious cantons under General Joseph Leonz Andermatt .
The Helvetic Military Organization was repealed by the act of mediation in 1803. The only permanent central authority was now the Federal General Staff , which was supposed to coordinate and manage the contingents provided by the cantons in the event of an exit. In 1805, the first federal service regulations were issued, which were intended to improve cooperation between the cantonal troops through a certain standardization of service operations. Even during the mediation period, Switzerland remained linked to France through an alliance treaty and placed four regiments in French service, which suffered heavy losses, especially in Spain and Russia , during the Napoleonic Wars . During the reign of the Hundred Days , Switzerland took part in the war against France and the federal army under General Niklaus Franz von Bachmann advanced into the Free County. The campaign failed, however, due to the poor organization and coordination of the cantonal troops.
Military regulations from 1817
With the second Peace of Paris in 1815, Swiss neutrality was recognized by the great powers. The federal treaty of 1815, which replaced the mediation act, also did not provide for a federal army, but left military sovereignty with the cantons. In 1817, the Federal Diet decided to create a federal army with joint military regulations. The militia principle was established, only the instructors were professional soldiers. The federal army was set at 32,886 men. The army units were recruited in the cantons, whose contingents were set out in Section 2 of the federal treaty. In principle it was intended that two men should be placed for every 100 inhabitants. The recruits were determined in different ways, mostly through a lottery procedure, whereby the men could buy themselves out or provide a substitute. A general as high commander was only elected by the daily statute in the event of a mobilization of the federal army.
As the first permanent military authority, the Tagsatzung created the Military Supervision Authority in 1817 under the chairmanship of the suburb , which consisted of the Oberstquartiermeister, the Oberstarterillerieinspektor and the Oberstkriegskommissär. When the troops were mobilized, this authority formed the so-called council of war. While initially only the armband with the Swiss cross was set as a binding identification element for the cantonal troops, uniforms and equipment became more standardized over time. In 1840 the federal flag replaced the cantonal standard. The Swiss Federal Military School founded in Thun in 1819 , joint training camps, and associations throughout Switzerland (officers' association, founded in 1833) made an important contribution to the development of Swiss national awareness.
In the first half of the 19th century, the Swiss defense system still relied heavily on the experience and training of officers in foreign armies (→ Foreign Services ). Virtually all major senior militia and professional officers during this period had experience abroad, e.g. Sometimes also in wars. The Federal Constitution of 1848, however, forbade the cantons to conclude military surrenders. that is, Swiss regiments could no longer be formed. The last Swiss regiments were used in the Italian Wars of Unification. After the revision of the military criminal law in 1927, entry into "foreign services" was also forbidden for individuals, although the Federal Council can make exceptions (e.g. for the Swiss Guard). Since then, it has no longer been possible for Swiss people to legally gain military experience abroad, although a few soldiers who returned from the French Foreign Legion , the Spanish Civil War or the Waffen-SS made their war experience usable for training the army. There are sometimes special regulations for citizens who have both Swiss and another citizenship.
When, on November 4, 1847, the Diet decided to forcibly dissolve the Sonderbund , Guillaume Henri Dufour was appointed general of the federal troops, while the Sonderbund troops appointed Johann Ulrich von Salis-Soglio as general of their troops. In the short Sonderbund War , the last war on Swiss soil, Dufour retained the upper hand thanks to his rapid and decisive action, so that after a few fighting the Sonderbund surrendered 26 days after the start of the war. Parts of the Sonderbund cantons were briefly occupied by around 16,000 men from the liberal cantons. The war costs of around six million francs had to be borne by the Sonderbund cantons. In 1848 the liberal majority rejected an alliance request from King Karl Albert of Sardinia-Piedmont to take part in the war against the conservative Austrian Empire in Lombardy with an auxiliary army of around 50,000 men . So the Sonderbund War was the last military deployment of the Swiss Army.
Military organization 1850
The federal constitution of 1848 and the military organization of 1850 newly established general conscription and established a certain centralization of the military system. At the same time, the cantons retained important competencies in the defense sector. The military supervisory authority was replaced by the military department and the federal government took over the entire higher education of officers and non-commissioned officers as well as the training of all branches of arms except the infantry, which, however, had the largest inventory. The cantons still had to procure and pay for their soldiers' equipment. Even after 1848, in contravention of the Federal Constitution, recruitment took place through a quota, which was slightly increased compared to 1815, so that the total number of federal troops now amounted to around 100,000 men. Furthermore, the recruitment remained differently regulated in the cantons. In 1862 the federal government founded the Federal Shooting School as another central institution, which was located in Walenstadt in 1875 . In 1857 the position of chief instructor of the infantry was created, who headed the federal staff. In 1865 the Federal Office of Staff was set up. After the border occupation of 1870/71 on the occasion of the Franco-German War , Federal Councilor Emil Welti tried to bring about a complete centralization of the defense system in view of the weakness of the previous organizational form, but his project failed in the referendum in 1872 (→ Switzerland in the Franco-German War ).
Military organization in 1874 and 1907
The revision of the Federal Constitution of 1874 nevertheless brought about a further centralization of the military system while maintaining the militia system. The federal government now had sole authority to enact laws in the military sector, but implementation remained with the cantons. The contingent system was abolished, but infantry and cavalry remained divided into cantonal troops. The new military organization enforced general conscription and ended the practice of placement quotas. Fitness alone now decided on the recruitment of men in the regional divisions. As a result, the army rose to around 215,000 men. However, the military system remained a division of labor and expenditure between the Confederation and the cantons. While military instruction was centralized and armament and equipment of the army became a federal matter, the cantons procured clothes and personal equipment for their soldiers and kept the corps material of the cantonal troops. The army was now divided into eight divisions or 16 brigades or 32 regiments in peacetime. After an extended recruiting school with different duration depending on the type of weapon, repeat courses were held every two years. Financing the army was initially problematic in view of the new federal tasks and was only secured from 1878 through the introduction of a military compulsory replacement tax. Further stages in the modernization of the defense system were the organization of the Landsturm in 1886 and the division of the army into four corps in 1891.
In view of the worldwide military developments, tensions arose in Switzerland at the end of the 19th century within the officer corps and politics over the further development of the army based on the Prussian model. The focus was on professionalising the officer corps and strengthening the education of citizens to become soldiers through drill and discipline. The opponents complained about the undemocratic "Verpreussung" of the army and "soldier drag" in the training. However, the further centralization of the defense system failed again in the referendum in 1895 and the revised military organization of 1907 and the troop order of 1911 were fiercely opposed by the workers' parties, especially because of the increasing use of the army against strikers. Under pressure from the reform-oriented forces, the reforms essentially resulted in an extension of the recruits' and cadre schools and the refresher courses. The cantons continued to provide the companies and battalions of the infantry and the squadrons of the dragoons and appointed their officers. The reorganization of the structure of the army now provided for three army corps with a total of six divisions or 18 brigades or 36 regiments. From the brigade level, the militia principle applied to the officers.
First World War
In 1914, the Swiss "Flugwaffe" and motor vehicle service were improvised under the command of General Ulrich Wille on the occasion of the occupation of the border during World War I. During the war there were also tensions between the army and the workers, especially on the occasion of the national strike in 1918.
Between the wars and the Second World War
In the interwar period , the Swiss army was weakened by insufficient financial resources, its cumbersome organization and political battles between the bourgeois parties and the workers' parties. Only after the deterioration of the international situation in 1936 could these rifts be overcome and the new armament and modernization of the army started. The troop organization of 1938 brought a further extension of the training times and a changed structure. The three army corps were given operational tasks, three independent mountain brigades were formed, eight border brigades and motorized units. Switzerland also invested heavily in permanent fortifications (→ List of fortresses in Switzerland ). On the basis of the three fortresses St-Maurice , Gotthard and Sargans , General Henri Guisan designed the Swiss Réduit as a new defense strategy during the Second World War . In contrast to earlier army deployments on the occasion of wars in neighboring countries of Switzerland, from 1939 to 1945 there was no longer talk of “border occupation” but of “ active service ”.
Post War and Army 61
After the Second World War, the Swiss army was massively upgraded, and strong forces within the army even tried to equip the air force with nuclear weapons . As a further development of Reduit strategy, the Swiss army now relied on deterrence (dissuasion). The troop organization of 1961 ("Army 61") created new army units that were adapted to the operational areas (border divisions, field divisions, mechanized divisions, mountain divisions, border brigades, fortress brigades, reduit brigades). Each three divisions resulted in a field army corps and a mountain army corps. The new operational doctrine of the army, the troop leadership in 1969, provided for a comprehensive all-round defense in the event of war through a combination of defense and counterattack, a compromise between static spatial defense and mobile warfare. The number of the militia army rose to 880,000 men due to the extension of the service period. During the Cold War , the Swiss Army was equipped with state-of-the-art weapons systems (e.g. Bloodhound anti- aircraft guided missiles ) with considerable financial resources . The fortress building activity was also continued. Cost overruns in the procurement of army equipment repeatedly led to political affairs, such as B. the Mirage affair . In addition, there was a renewed «democratization» of the army in the post-war period, turning away from Prussian methods such as drill, step, etc. and the introduction of simplified manners. The uniforms were also adapted to the fashionable and military developments. In 1972 Parliament was the last country in Europe to decide to abolish cavalry .
Army 95 and Army XXI
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 heralded the end of intellectual national defense . A debate began within the army, politics and the public about the orders of the army, as well as the necessary armament and manpower. The approximately 36 percent yes-votes for the army abolition initiative in the referendum of November 26, 1989 strengthened the reform-oriented forces in the army. The "Security Policy Report 1990" established peacebuilding and international cooperation as a new task alongside the traditional army tasks. The army also tried to justify its existence by giving priority to domestic assistance services in the event of disasters. The « Army 95 », introduced on this basis as a compromise between reformers and guardians, set the age limit for conscription at the age of 42 and reduced the army to 400,000 men. By shortening the length of service, the army's grip on the male population eased somewhat. The army adapted its organization to changed tactical conditions and developed a new operational doctrine which, in the event of a war, provided for dynamic instead of comprehensive all-round defense and for this purpose initiated a stronger mechanization of the army. With the Army in 95 the mail pigeon service was given up.
Numerous weaknesses in Army 95 and the lack of political willingness to continue to finance such a large army led to another reform step at the end of the 1990s, which was implemented in the so-called Army XXI after fierce resistance within the army and from conservative political circles . The basis for this was the "Security Policy Report 2000", which stated, among other things, that Switzerland's security can only be guaranteed through international cooperation. From 1989 to 2016, the militia army personnel were disarmed from 625,000 to 148,250 men, the main battle tanks from 860 to 134, the mechanized artillery pieces from 473 to 133 and the combat aircraft from 272 to 86. In 2003 the cycling troops were abolished. The Military Women's Service MFD (formerly: Frauenhilfsdienst FHD) existed until 2005. With the Army Reform XXI, women were given access to all functions. The same length of service and training allowed the same personal armament as the men and the participation in foreign missions with Swisscoy . An important difference remained that the women continue to do voluntary military service and thus general conscription does not apply to them even in the event of a defense .
The development of the Army (WEA) is after the Army 95 and Army XXI another reorganization of the Swiss army, which was initiated with the security policy report of 23 June 2010 and the Army report dated 1 October of 2010. This will reduce the target number of soldiers to 100,000 or 20,000 combat troops. On March 18, 2016, the two councils passed the legal basis for the WEA, including the military law.
Because of COVID-19 pandemic of decided Bundesrat in March 2020 that up to 8,000 members of the Swiss army in the assistance service can be mobilized to support the civil authorities. This is the largest mobilization of Swiss Army troops since the Second World War. (→ COVID-19 pandemic in Switzerland )
Since 1907, the Federal Assembly has been responsible for ordering active service and the mobilization of parts or the entire army for active service. The Federal Council can only order active service in urgent cases. If the contingent exceeds 4,000 members of the army or lasts longer than three weeks, the Federal Assembly must be convened immediately, which will decide whether to maintain active service.
The rank and designation of general (four-star general) in the Swiss Army is only given in the event of a war mobilization. The United Federal Assembly elects a general as commander-in-chief of the army (→ List of Swiss Generals ) from among the members of the army (mostly corps commanders, in principle an ordinary soldier can also be elected ). The Federal Council , however, remains the highest executive and executive authority after the election of the General.
A total of four general mobilizations (GMob; also war mobilization; KMob) took place to protect the integrity and neutrality of Switzerland. The first general mobilization was necessary in 1856 in the Neuchâtel trade due to a direct threat from Prussia . The second general mobilization took place on the occasion of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 under the leadership of General Hans Herzog . As a reaction to the outbreak of the First World War and to prevent a German or French march through Switzerland, the United Federal Assembly decided on August 3, 1914 to renew the general mobilization of the army and elected the German-friendly Oberstkorpsommandant Ulrich Wille as commander in chief and general, see general election of August 3, 1914 . The fourth general mobilization of the army took place on September 1, 1939 in response to the German invasion of Poland . The French-speaking western Switzerland Henri Guisan was elected general and developed during the war years to the main unifying figure of the Axis powers included Confederation.
The Swiss Army was involved in aerial battles with the German Air Force as well as with the US Air Force during World War II , as Switzerland did not want to allow American bombers to fly over from Italy to Germany. Otherwise, the modern Swiss federal state has not been confronted with open attacks by hostile forces terrestrially on its own territory since it was founded in 1848 .
Security service operations in the interior of the country
The Swiss army has repeatedly been used to crush strikes and demonstrations in Switzerland. The best known missions of this type were:
- 1875: Deployment after the unrest in Göschenen in 1875 , in which four workers were shot dead and others seriously injured while the Gotthard tunnel was being built.
- 1918: Action against the Swiss general strike . A total of 3 workers were shot.
- 1932: Used in the 1932 riots in Geneva . 13 demonstrators were shot dead and 65 others injured.
Controversies about the Swiss Army
Post War and Cold War
As early as the late 1950s, opposition to the then planned armament of the Swiss army with nuclear weapons was formed . An initiative from pacifist circles was rejected by the people and the cantons in 1962, and another initiative by the Swiss Social Democratic Party in 1963. The option of a nuclear armament was finally given up only in 1976 with the approval of the Council of States to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty .
At the same time, the Mirage affair caused quite a stir. Due to major cost overruns in the procurement of the Mirage fighter aircraft, the army was forced to reduce the order, which called the entire concept of Army 61 into question. A direct consequence of the Mirage affair was the outsourcing of the war technology department from the army to a departmental group for armaments services (from 1994 armaments group , since 2004 armasuisse ). There were also cost overruns and public controversy with subsequent acquisitions, for example in the case of the Leopard 2 tanks and the new trucks from the Saurer company .
Since 1982 the Group Switzerland Without Armed Forces (GSoA) has been pursuing the goal of abolishing the Swiss army. Following their popular initiatives , the Swiss have already been able to vote twice on the dissolution of the army. In the first vote in 1989, the GSoA achieved a respectable success with 35.6 percent yes votes, which contributed significantly to a rethink within the army leadership. After the reform of Army 95 and the terrorist attacks in New York , the result of the second referendum in 2001 to abolish the army was a clear vote in favor of keeping the army with only 23.2 percent yes votes.
After the cold war
When, in the spring of 1992, both chambers of parliament approved the procurement of 34 F / A-18 combat aircraft , the GSoA, according to its own information, managed to collect almost 500,000 signatures within 32 days for an initiative against this project. Army circles also fought this second GSoA initiative. It was called the army abolition in installments . The second GSoA initiative was rejected on June 6, 1993, but 42.8% of those who voted were in favor of abandoning the aircraft.
Deployments of the Swiss Army abroad are controversial both on the civil and on the left. The right argues with the neutrality of Switzerland, the left with a fundamental pacifism. In 2001, the GSoA and the political association Action for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland represented the no slogan in the referendum vote on the possible arming of troops deployed abroad. The people accepted the Federal Council's proposal with 51 percent yes votes.
Since there has been no direct military threat to Switzerland since the end of the Cold War, it is repeatedly questioned whether Switzerland needs an armed force at all.
Regularly gives military justice open to discussion. Sometimes high, supposedly growing incapacity rates (40% of conscripts according to a report on Tages-Anzeiger -Online from September 12, 2006) are used as arguments. One reason for this may be that, due to the new recruitment process that has been in use since 2004, a higher proportion is declared unfit for military service before the recruiting school (2006: 65%, compared to 2001/2002: 80%). The conclusion that is often drawn from this, that fitness is on the decline, is not correct if the values are included after the recruit school. Here the values are stable (2006: 60%, compared to 2001/2002: 58%). Taking into account those eligible for civil protection (2006: 16%), a good three quarters of a year are still fit for service.
Another controversy concerns military personnel's personal weaponry. After several cases of abuse in the media, left-wing national councils demanded in 2006 that the Weapons Law revision banned military personnel from keeping their personal service weapons at home. The bourgeois majority rejected this motion on the grounds that such a measure would impair the mandate of the army. The canton of Geneva then, in a decision not agreed with the DDPS, allowed the voluntary storage of the orderly weapon in the cantonal armory. Since autumn 2007, based on a compromise in parliament, pocket ammunition has only been given to members of special formations who can be mobilized within hours.
In 2009, the brigadier Hans-Peter Wüthrich was dismissed from his position on December 31, 2009 at the age of 61 after more than 33 years as a career officer and senior staff officer by resolution of the entire Federal Council. Then Mr. Wüthrich founded the company "Hans-Peter Wüthrich Education GmbH" (offers coaching, leadership training, advice and mediation), one of his customers was the Swiss Army. The remuneration for this contract could not exceed 45,000 francs. The consulting mandate had not been advertised and was given to Mr Wüthrich as a direct mandate. Ex- Swisscom CEO Jens Alder receives 200,000 francs as head of the IT steering committee. Among other things, an IT system supplied by SAP is to be made ready for use in warfare. The volume of external consultants from Capgemini , BearingPoint , SAP, Abilita and NOVO Business Consultants amounts to over 100 million Swiss francs for 2010.
Annual IT costs are to be reduced by CHF 20 million by 2012, by CHF 40 million by 2013 and by CHF 60 million by 2014.
Misfortunes, accidents and affairs
- Supreme affair : Before and after the outbreak of World War I supplied two Supreme in the General Staff , the military attaches of Germany and Austria-Hungary with the daily bulletin of the Swiss General Staff and confidential telegrams that the Swiss intelligence agencies had decrypted.
- The bunker trial was the legal processing of a building scandal by the Swiss army in the middle of the 20th century. Serious construction defects were found in bunker systems from the Second World War in 1946.
- On December 19, 1947 at 11:34 p.m., a federal ammunition magazine exploded in Mitholz. Nine people were killed and many buildings were destroyed, including the BLS - Station . The damage totaled 100 million francs (→ Mitholz explosion disaster ). On February 25, 2020, the VBS announced that the around 170 residents of Mitholz would have to leave their home for at least 10 years so that the ammunition still stored in the mountain can be cleared. The actual eviction should begin in 2031. The costs will amount to over 1 billion francs.
- Since 1941 there have been around 400 aircraft accidents in the Swiss Air Force with over 350 fatalities. Up to now, as of September 2016, an F / A-18C , three F / A-18D , ten F-5E Tigers , a BAE Hawk , nine Mirage IIIS , a Mirage IIIBS , two Cougars , and a Pilatus PC-9 have crashed , 28 Hawker Hunter , 29 de Havilland DH.100 Vampires and about 50 de Havilland DH.112 Venom . The accident with the greatest number of victims so far occurred on August 27, 1938. Five Fokker CV-E aircraft flew in formation from the Dübendorf military airfield via Disentis to Bellinzona. In the Hoch-Ybrig region , the pilots were surprised by fog. Four of the two-seat machines crashed. Seven pilots and mechanics died, one survived seriously injured.
- Ammunition sinking in Swiss lakes : In the 1940s to 1960s, the Swiss army sank large amounts of ammunition no longer needed in Lake Thun , Lake Brienz and Lake Lucerne .
- The Mirage affair was a political affair at the beginning of the 1960s, which, based on the cost overruns in the procurement of a combat aircraft, had far-reaching consequences for Swiss defense policy.
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