A glimpse of Sweden in NATO: Gotland could be a game-changer for Baltic defense

A picture of a Swedish flag

On April 17, a battalion of seven hundred US soldiers rolled over the Swedish border from Norway, marking the start of the largest Swedish military exercise in over twenty-five years. Aurora 2023 runs until May 11 and consists of more than 26,000 soldiers from fourteen countries. It practices a scenario in which Sweden is subject to influence operations and hybrid attacks that escalate into an armed conflict.

Aurora takes place across all domains and Swedish territory, but it has a particular focus on southern Sweden and the strategically important island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. As Sweden is on the verge of joining NATO, Gotland illustrates Sweden’s key role as a security provider in the region. For the Alliance, the control of Gotland can make a decisive difference in the defense of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, and Poland.

Through Aurora 2023, Sweden is not just practicing how to give and take military support during a war. It is also sending a strong political signal about its importance to NATO, a signal amplified by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin’s multi-day visit to Sweden during the first days of the exercise last week—the first by a Pentagon chief in more than twenty years.


Read the full article by Anna Wieslander and Eric Adamson at Atlantic Council

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