“We are well-advised to prepare for conflicts, crises and disasters”

“We are well-advised to prepare for conflicts, crises and disasters”

by Lieutenant General André Blattmann, Chief of the Swiss Armed Forces

Terroris, Brussels, Paris. These three terms sum up a very large part of what has kept the world public busy during the last few days of the months of November and of December 2015. However, there is more behind it. It is about the security of our democratic, modern, interconnected society. And it is about the question, how and by what means our country and its people can be protected these days.
We all need security. Economy, education, research and even culture and sports require security. A look at the world is enough to have this statement confirmed. In the Arctic, several states are claiming possible mineral deposits for themselves, in the South China Sea territorial claims are leading to tensions, wars are going on in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East a terrorist group has declared itself a state power, in the middle of Africa – barely noticed by the international media – women and children are being kidnapped, raped and killed.
So we would be well-advised to constantly review the security situation and to take the necessary actions. This is true for the individual as well as for enterprises or the state: Are security measures at home appropriate, are health and retirement plans still adequate? Are IT network and data centre of our companies protected against cyberattacks and our employees informed. How can I protect assets against exchange losses? What risks and threats will Switzerland have to face in the years to come?
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Western States in particular have begun to distribute peace dividends. At the same time, the substance of defense (in the broadest sense) has been reduced. Other areas in the state are claiming reputed (or opportunistic) larger and more important needs. We know the result. The events concerning safety have gone head over heels in the past two years.
Meanwhile, military manoeuvres have been performed again on either side. Military potentials are built up in a hurry. What is being acquired today with peaceful intentions – namely for defense – may be used for new purposes tomorrow, if those in power so decide. It can be compared to a community of storey owners in a house. If one owner does not abide by the rules, the union is over and they are taking to court, and then what… If you look at it this way, the community of states must rely on compliance with the international rules. If necessary, solutions have to be negotiated.  However, what is going to happen if one party does not participate?
Switzerland looks back on a period of over 160 years without any war – a real privilege. However, the Balkan wars were waged only about 15 years ago. Experiences are very different. Even if we are (still) not directly concerned by the warlike events in the world at present, the impact of the situation outlined at the beginning have already reached our country:
•    Terrorist threat increased; hybrid wars are being fought around the globe.
•    Economic prospects look dim; important motors are sputtering.
•    The resulting migration floods (war-displaced persons and economic migrants) have already reached undreamt dimensions. He who has been watching the situation cannot be surprised.
Thus, risks are increasing twofold: the competition on the labour market adds to the weaker economic development; in addition there are the persons who need support. Social unrest cannot be excluded; the vocabulary becomes dangerously aggressive. Our precarious infrastructure gets in the focus of the opposite side. Due to  differences in dealing with these problems, solidarity is at risk even within state communities.
The mixture is getting increasingly gross. The fundamentals of our prosperity are challenged for the first time in many years. Experiences of 1870/71, 1914–1918 and 1939–1945 should teach us: “Seule la catastrophe est mobilisatrice” is a bad advisor.
So we are well-advised to prepare for conflicts, crises and disasters. The remedy for modern risks and threats – so to speak the safety reserve in our country – is the Swiss militia army. This army is on its way to further development, so that it can fight for land and people, can protect and help them. The tasks are clearly described in the 2010 army report.
In addition to the financial resources this requires in particular our proven Swiss soldiers – autonomous citizens who stand up with their lives for freedom and security.     •

Source: Schweiz am Sonntag from 27 December 2015

(Translation Current Concerns)

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