On Monday, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden attended the ceremony marking the re-establishing of the Gotland regiment. This is the first time since World War II a new regiment is set up in Sweden. The re-establishment of the regiment occurs as a response to Russian aggression toward the important island of Gotland, located in the Baltic Sea.
Sweden’s Prime Minister was also with the King during the ceremony. King Carl XVI Gustaf held a short speech during the opening ceremony and inspected the forces who are in place on Gotland. Many local people gathered to see the King. During his speech, Prime Minister Löfven said: “We are here to defend our country”.
The ceremony was held at the monument “Oscarsstenen”. This is a memorial stone at Visborg Light in Visby; the monument commemorates 14 June 1854, when King Oscar I handed over three new flags to the Gotland defence forces. King Gustaf VI Adolf wrote his name on the back of the stone in connection with the 150th anniversary of Gotland’s national anniversary on 28 May 1961. The site is a few hundred metres from the new headquarters of Gotland’s regiment.
The Gotland regiment was disbanded in 2005, but now after 13 years without the regiment or any military forces, the Armed Forces are now back on Gotland. The decision to restore the regiment was taken in December 2017, and only two months later the first soldiers were in place.
Later this year, the new regiment will take over the “Hemvärnet-unit” and the education group on Gotland, as well as Tofta shooting field and eventually also the 18th battle group. All forces and all infrastructure will be in place by 2020.
King Carl XVI Gustaf visited Gotland in September last year together with his son, Prince Carl Philip. Then, the two royals attended the military exercise “Aurora 17”. During the exercise, the Swedish Defence tried to defend Gotland from a foreign invasion, as Gotland has a significant strategic importance for all the nations around the Baltic Sea.
Aurora 17 was the largest exercise in Sweden in more than 20 years with more than 19,000 men and women taking part. Also, 2,000 military personnel from the United States, Finland, France, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark and Norway attended. His Majesty said during the military exercise: “I am participating in military exercises every year in different places around Sweden, but this one is bigger than normal, more composite and it is the military of other nations here, too. They practice together, and they are exciting of course”.