Thursday, August 10, 2023

Civil Defense: Sweden's Example / Prepare for War

By Tim Gamble 

America and most other Western nations don't really do much in the way of civil defense anymore, since it is a politically unpopular topic. In the United States, our Cold War civil defense programs were folded into FEMA in 1979, and in 2002 FEMA became part of the Department of Homeland Security. Civil defense is now merely considered a part of overall emergency management (if it is considered at all)

Sweden, however, has gone against the Western trend of downplaying civil defense. According to the Swedish government "For many years, the preparations made in Sweden for the threat of war and war have been very limited. Instead, public authorities and municipalities have focused on building up the level of preparedness for peacetime emergencies such as flooding and IT attacks. However, as the world around us has changed, the Government has decided to strengthen Sweden’s total defence. That is why planning for Sweden’s civil defence has been resumed. It will take time to develop all parts of it again. At the same time, the level of preparedness for peacetime emergencies is an important basis of our resilience in the event of war."

I think it is worth examining what advice the Swedish government is now giving its people.
In 2018, Sweden distributed a "Be Prepared for War" booklet to all 4.8 million Swedish households, urging all Swedes to be prepared for war or other major crisis in the near future. The 20-page booklet, entitled Om krisen eller kriget kommer (English: If Crisis or War Comes), explains how people can secure basic needs such as food, water, heat, and communications, explains what various warning signals mean, when and where to seek bomb shelters, and how to contribute to Sweden’s “total defense," among other topics. You can download a copy of the English version by clicking here (opens as a .pdf).

Included in the booklet are links to several emergency preparedness instructional videos put out by the Swedish government, cover the topics of food, water, communications, and warmth. You can find the videos at the bottom of this article. They are in Swedish, but have English subtitles. 

The booklet consists of three main parts: a) Emergency Preparedness, emphasizing household preparations, b) Total Defense, explaining military and civil defense, including the duty of Swedish citizen's to contribute to the nations defense, and c) Warning Systems, explaining what various warning signals means, and when/where to find bomb shelters and other safe spaces. 

What would you do if your everyday life was turned upside down?  The intro section includes this question, and gives the answer: "In just a short time, your everyday life can become problematic: 
  • The heating stops working. 
  • It becomes difficult to prepare and store food. 
  • The shops may run out of food and other goods. 
  • There is no water coming from the taps or the toilet. 
  • It is not possible to fill up your car. 
  • Payment cards and cash machines do not work. 
  • Mobile networks and the internet do not work. 
  • Public transport and other means of transport are at a standstill. 
  • It becomes difficult to obtain medicines and medical equipment."
Of course, this is only just a short list of the many difficulties that may arise during a war or other major crisis, but the point they are trying to make is that people need to start thinking through the possible ramifications of a societal breakdown for whatever reason. A point that the booklet makes: Think about how you and people around you will be able to cope with a situation in which society’s normal services are not working as they usually do.

Most folks just aren't ready for the conveniences of modern life to disappear. 

Another good bit of advice that the booklet makes is: Think about what risks may affect you and your local area. Do you live in an area that is sensitive to landslides or flooding? Is there some sort of hazardous industry or something else in your area that may be good to know about?

I would add that you should think about your area from the viewpoint of an enemy. Are there import military or political targets near you? Chemical plants or industrial parks that could be sabotaged? Power plants? Transportation hubs? Communication centers? Food processing centers? All these make potential targets for direct military strikes, physical sabotage, or even cyberattacks. 

Be on the lookout for false information. The booklet also expresses concern over false information being spread, either through unfounded rumors or as part of intentional misinformation campaigns. It gives this advice: "The best protection against false information and hostile propaganda is to critically appraise the source:
  • Is this factual information or opinion? 
  • What is the aim of this information? 
  • Who has put this out? 
  • Is the source trustworthy? 
  • Is this information available somewhere else?
  • Is this information new or old and why is it out there at this precise moment?"
A big concern about misinformation is that it's "aim may be to reduce our resilience and willingness to defend ourselves." At one point in the booklet, it states: "If Sweden is attacked by another country, we will never give up. All information to the effect that resistance is to cease is false."

In the event of a terror attack. The booklet gives directions for what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Remember, in this context we are not just talking about Muslim terrorism. Terrorist-style attacks could be used by any number of State enemies, including China, Iran, North Korea or Russia. With the extremely porous nature of the US border currently, it is easy for foreign governments to sneak operatives into the US to undertake such attacks to damage critical infrastructure and cause civil unrest.

Terror attacks may be targeted against individual people or groups, against the general public or against vital societal functions such as the electricity supply or the transport system. Even though there are many different ways to carry out a terrorist attack, there are some pieces of advice that may be applicable in most situations:
  • Move to a safe place and avoid large groups of people.
  • Call the police on 112 and inform them if you see something important. (Note: in the US and Canada, call 911, other countries use your designated emergency number.)
  • Warn those who are in danger and help those who are in need of assistance.
  • Put your mobile on silent and do not call anyone who may be in the danger area. The sound of their phone ringing may reveal the location of someone who is hiding.
  • Do not call anyone with your mobile unless you have to. If the network is overloaded, it may be difficult for vital calls to get through. 
  • Comply with requests from the police, the fire and rescue service and the authorities.
  • Do not share unconfirmed information online or in any other way.
I would add this reminder: Unless you are qualified and able to provide assistance, stay away from the area so that you do not get in the way of first responders or put yourself in danger. Do not rush to the scene to gawk, to shoot a video, or to "check" on family and friends. Let the trained emergency personnel do their job. Stay safe and don't become part of the problem yourself. 

Home Preparedness Tips.  The booklet also gives various tips on home preparedness, mainly regarding food, water, warmth, and communications. "Your prerequisites and needs vary, for example, depending on whether you live in the countryside or in a built-up area, in a ho use or in an apartment. Here are some general home preparedness tips.  Use that which is appropriate for you and those close to you. It is a good idea to share certain things and borrow from one another."  It is interesting to see that they suggest cooperation (community) as a survival tactic. Specific recommendations can be found in the booklet if you download a copy, or in the two illustrations below.

The booklet also gives a website, Dinsä, where folks can get more detailed information.  The website isn't in English, but several videos on the website have English subtitles. I'll include these videos below. 

Emergency Preparedness - Food

Emergency Preparedness - Communications


 Emergency Preparedness - Water

Emergency Preparedness - Warmth

*** You can find Tim Gamble on social media! Follow at Gab (@TimGamble), Instagram (@DystopianSurv), Twitter (@TimGambleSpeaks), and TruthSocial (@TimGambleSpeaks) 

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  1. Thank you, Tim.
    Sweden is very into taking care of it's people and informing them on many fronts to be prepared. Unlike FEMA that can be more of an after thought and like you said if considered at all.
    Sweden's plans to be prepared on all front are excellent for us here in U.S. or anywhere for that matter.
    They cover most bases of being prepared and the people and their country matter. Very, very helpful information.
    Thank you.

    1. I do wish the USA was more like Sweden in this respect.

  2. The scale of Sweden to the USA is like comparing a well built retaining wall to the Hoover Dam. Many difficulties arise simply due to size differences in population and land mass.

    1. I disagree. The majority of what Sweden is doing is providing information and guidance to its populace, something the US is not. Scale is no excuse.


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