The price of neutrality: Half of Swedish soldiers have back pain over weight of equipment packs, scandal flares after mass groping of cadets by female officer

Sweden claims the most "progressive" army in the world. But it's not always easy to stay on message.

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The Swedish army: Is your package too big?
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The Commentator
On 26 April 2011 11:20

Neutral Sweden has long had something of a credibility problem over the standing of its armed forces. A few years ago a group of female soldiers went to the European Court of Justice to secure the removal of the testicles from the heraldic lion of the country’s rapid reaction force in a move that was widely derided as political correctness gone mad.

Today, Sweden’s English language newspaper, The Local, is reporting that 50 percent of officers complain of back pain due to the increasing weight of their back packs. According a report by the Swedish military some soldiers are now carrying packs of up to 60-80 kilograms.

The paper said the typical back pack in the Second World War was 25 kilos and the load had been increasing ever sense. Andreas Davidsson of the Swedish Air Force Rangers was quoted as saying: “That’s just not possible. Carrying an extra 100 percent of your bodyweight is not progress.”

The “progressive” credentials of the Swedish armed forces were also called into question in another article from The Local late last week.

The paper reported on a scandal in which a female officer at the country's military academy had been accused of groping five of her cadets at a party.

According to the report: “One of the cadets described how he suddenly felt the officer's hands on the inside of his underpants while on the dance floor. Another cadet said that he found the female officer getting a bit too friendly and acting as if she was intoxicated. A while later, she was making out with a third cadet, although [] he later admitted he was acting of his own free will”.

The Swedish armed forces are investigating though, according to The Local, the cadets have said that they “do not feel violated and have no intention of reporting the woman for sexual harassment but that they feel it was inappropriate behaviour by a senior officer”.

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