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June 21, 2017

The Swiss Report, by Gen. Walt USMC (Ret) & Gen. Patton USA (Ret) (1983)[nc]

Filed under: Political Commentary — justplainbill @ 12:53 pm

A special study for Western Goals Foundation
by General Lewis W. Walt, U.S.M.C. (Ret.) and
General George S. Patton, U.S.A. (Ret.)
309-A Cameron Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 (703) 549-6688
Congressman Lawrence P. McDonald, Chairman
Western Goals
Advisory Board
Rep. Jean Ashbrook
Mrs. Walter Brennan
Taylor Caldwell
Roy M. Cohn, Esq.
Rep. Philip M. Crane
Gen. Raymond G. Davis
Henry Hazlitt
Dr. Mildred F. Jefferson
Dr. Anthony Kubek
Roger Milliken
Adm. Thomas Moorer
E.A. Morris
Vice Adm. Lloyd M. Mustin
Mrs. John C. Newington
Gen. George S. Patton
Dr. Hans Sennholz
Gen. John Singlaub
Dan Smoot
Robert Stoddard
Rep. Bob Stump
Mrs. Helen Marie Taylor
Dr. Edward Teller
Gen. Lewis Walt
Dr. Eugene Wigner
Western Goals
Executive Staff
Linda Guell, Director
John Rees, Editor
Julia Ferguson, Research
Design/Type: Ellis Graphics
March 1983
Dear Reader:
In the contemporary arena of political chicanery, reality
counts for little and illusion is frequently king, but in the
struggle for the survival of Western Civilization, it will be
the real world, not illusions or delusions, that will determine
which way the future will go. This basic truth is
especially the case in areas of national defense. Politicians
may play politics as usual right up to the time of actual
conflict; after that point, only the mislabeled fool or
dedicated traitor would continue the deception.
National defense matters present many real problems
at both the policymaking and electorate levels. One such
case may be found in the question of a draft as a means of
supplying the necessary military manpower. A military
service draft causes apprehension to eligible teenage
males, and this is especially the case when the inequitable
draft of the Vietnam War era is remembered.
The all-volunteer military force is an alternative to a
draft, but it is an expensive way to go as illustrated by the
fact that approximately 60 percent of the defense dollar
goes to personnel and personnel related costs (by way of
comparison, in the Soviet Union the comparable figure is
22 percent, thus leaving the lion’s share for weapons
development and production). Too, historically, there are
serious questions as to whether a paycheck is an adequate
substitute for patriotic fervor.
While Americans wrestle with the defense matters of
growing costs, manpower needs, volunteerism vs. the
draft, and even the matter of a national will, it is refreshing
to note that there is one country that has adopted a formula
that has resolved those same vexations. That country
is Switzerland, and amazingly, the Swiss have successfully
applied this national defense formula for centuries
without the problems of popular division. To the
(continued on inside back cover)
Published by WESTERN GOALS, 309-A Cameron Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. (703)
549-6688. Additional copies of this publication are available from the foundation at $4.00 per copy.
This study should not be interpreted as an effort to influence any legislative program of the U.S.
Congress. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and contributors and do
not necessarily represent the position of WESTERN GOALS.
WESTERN GOALS is a Virginia Corporation and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service to
be an organization described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Copyright © 1983-Western Goals
A special study for Western Goals Foundation
by General Lewis W. Walt, U.S.M.C. (Ret.) and
General George S. Patton, U.S.A. (Ret.)
The Authors
General Lewis W. Walt,
USMC (Ret.)
General Lewis William Walt, who has seen more combat
on the battlefield than any other living Marine, led
combat troops in three wars, was a U.S. Marine Platoon
Leader in the defense of the International Settlement in
Shanghai, China in 1938-39, and retired from active service
in the Corps on February 1, 1971.
During his active military career of nearly 35 years,
General Walt was awarded 19 personal decorations for
combat, including two Navy Crosses, our Nation’s second
highest combat award. He was also awarded two
Distinguished Service Medals—one as Commander of
the Marines and other combat troops in Vietnam, and one as Assistant Commandant of
the Marine Corps.
Following his retirement, the 4-star General served as Director of the United States
Marines Youth Foundation and subsequently he headed up the U.S. Senate Investigation
on International Drug Traffic. From September 1974 to September 1975, General Walt
served as the senior military member of President Ford’s Clemency Board, followed by his
service as Consultant to the Department of Defense in the areas of weapons development
and combat training.
General Walt, one of 12 children who worked his way through college, was born on a
farm near Harveyville, Kansas on February 16, 1913. He graduated with honors from the
Military Department at Colorado State University with a degree in Chemistry. His
authored works include Strange War, Strange Strategy (1970); America Faces Defeat
(1971); and The Eleventh Hour (1979).
The General currently resides in Orlando, Florida with his wife, the former Mrs. June
Burkett Jacobsen.
Major General
George S. Patton, USA (Ret.)
Major General George Smith Patton was born
December 24, 1923, in Boston, Massachusetts, the
youngest of 3 children of Major George S. Patton, Jr. and
Beatrice Ayer Patton.
General Patton graduated from The Hill School, Pottstown,
Pennsylvania, and from the U.S. Military Academy
at West Point. He holds a Masters Degree in International
Affairs from George Washington University. The General
also attended the Armed Forces Staff College, the U.S.
Army Armor School, and the U.S. Army War College.
General Patton served in Korea as Company Commander and volunteered for service
in Vietnam, serving initially as Special Forces Operations Officer concurrently with an
assignment at the American Embassy, Saigon. One of his several other Vietnam
assignments included his service as Commanding Officer, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
Peacetime missions include General Patton’s service as follows: Headquarters and Student
Company Commander and Commanding Officer of the Tank Training Center and
63rd Heavy Tank Battalion, respectively, in Germany (General Patton’s career with the
U.S. Army includes approximately 11 years European service alone); Company Tactical
Officer with the Department of Tactics at West Point and similar duties at the Executive
Department at the U.S. Naval Academy; Assistant Commandant of the U.S.
Army Armor School in Fort Knox; Director, Security Assistance with Headquarters at the
U.S. European Command; and Director of Readiness, HQ DARCOM.
The General’s decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross with one oak leaf
cluster; Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster; Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters;
Distinguished Flying Cross; Meritorious Service Medal; several South Vietnam decorations,
and the Purple Heart.
General Patton is married to the former Joanne Holbrook and they reside on their farm
in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Western Goals wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the following individuals
for their invaluable assistance in the presentation of this study:
1. Divisionnaire (MG) Edmund Muller
Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics
Federal Military Department
Berne, Switzerland
2. Colonel Jean Rossier
Chief of the Territorial Service
Staff Logistics
Federal Military Department
Berne, Switzerland
3. Colonel Philippe Zeller
Chief of Operations, General Staff
Federal Military Department
Berne, Switzerland
4. Hans Mumenthaler, Director
Federal Office of Civil Defense
Berne, Switzerland
5. Honorable G. A. Chevallaz
Minister of Defense
The Federal Council
Berne, Switzerland
6. Brig. General Heinrich Koopman and staff
Office of the Swiss Military Attache
Washington, D.C.
7. Colonel George E. Thompson
The American Embassy
Berne, Switzerland
The Foundation wishes to say a special “thank you” to Charley Reese, Orlando,
Florida, for his editorial assistance and contributions.

The Swiss Report
Switzerland lies landlocked in Western Europe, a small densely populated nation
of nearly seven million people. To the west lies France, to the south Italy
and to the north and east, West Germany and Austria. By modern jet fighter, it
is ten minutes from the Warsaw Pact nations of Eastern Europe. Since 1815
Switzerland has remained an inviolate island of peace in the midst of war. Even
Adolph Hitler’s Wehrmacht, which conquered all of Europe in the early months
of World War II, chose not to attack Switzerland despite the fact that the small
country was in the crossroads of Western Europe.
Switzerland is, of course, neutral, but it was not mere respect for its neutrality
which kept the Nazi armies and others before it out of the tiny country. It was
the determination of the Swiss people to defend their neutrality and the credibility
of their means to do so. That determination remains alive today in the face
of weapons of mass destruction. So, too, does the credibility of the means.
Within 48 hours, the Swiss can field an army of more than 600,000 men,
100,000 more than the present army of West Germany. Today, it can provide
shelter space for 85 percent of its civilian population and by the 1990s intends
to have shelter space for the entire population. War supplies, medical supplies
and food supplies are meticulously stored in more than 100 kilometers of tunnels.
About 4,000 permanent obstacles and barriers and more than 2,000 demolition
devices are in place, ready to hamper and block an aggressor’s progress.
In short, Switzerland is an armed bunker.
Yet, there is no standing Army, no bunker mentality, no enormous drain on
the Swiss economy, no militaristic threat to Europe’s oldest and most fiercely independent
How the Swiss have achieved this credible deterrent to invasion is the subject
of this report. The Swiss security system is unique as well as an example of what
a democratic nation can accomplish by applying reason and logic to problems
which have been realistically and carefully analyzed.
Niccolo Machiavelli, the 15th century Italian student of power, remarked of
the Swiss, “They are the most armed—and most free people in Europe.” Indeed,
Switzerland was born in the 13th century out of a desire to be free of domination
by the Habsburg family. In 1291 three Swiss cantons signed the Perpetual
Covenant which marked the beginning of the Swiss Confederation. In the
1300s, the Swiss fought several wars for independence with Austria and in 1499
Switzerland won its independence from the Holy Roman Empire.
The policy of neutrality originated in 1515 when the Swiss suffered a stunning
defeat by the French, but that early neutrality did not save it from an invasion
and occupation by the French under Napoleon in 1798. The Congress
of Vienna of 1815 restored Swiss independence and guaranteed its neutrality.
Switzerland adopted a new constitution in 1848, modeled somewhat after
the American constitution and this was amended in 1874 to increase the federal
government’s powers in military and court matters, although the cantons (equivalent
to American states) generally retain considerably more power than American
The Swiss economy today is built around precision manufacturing, chemicals,
banking, and tourism. It has one of the highest standards of living in the world
and the land is criss-crossed by a 3,150-mile railroad network and 30,000
miles of hard-surfaced roads. Three major rivers have their origin in Switzerland—
the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Po. Most of the population and most of
the agriculture are located in the plateau region between the Jura and the
Alps. Swiss agriculture can produce only three-fifths of the nation’s food supply,
a factor carefully weighed in the Swiss security system planning. The nation
is greatly dependent on imports for food and most raw materials for its industry,
including oil, natural gas, and coal.
Since 1815 the Swiss have not fought in a foreign war, yet they have maintained
the tradition of a citizen army and rifle and pistol shooting are among the
nation’s most popular sports with almost every village having a shooting range,
over 3,000 ranges in all.
Today Switzerland maintains its neutrality, but practices what it calls solidarity—
participating in international humanitarian projects, offering its good offices
for the resolution of disputes, and providing technical assistance to Third World
countries. The Swiss participate in those international activities and organizations
which do not require it to violate its policy of neutrality. Neutrality is central
to Swiss thinking and, in fact, is the determining factor in the Swiss security
Swiss Strategic Thinking
Divisionnaire Major General Edmund Muller, deputy chief of staff, logistics,
summarized Swiss strategic thinking this way:
“Historical experience shows that if a nation is not able to defend itself
and to protect its spiritual and material values, it will become, sooner or
later, the target of power politics and force. Efforts to defend ourselves
against force are therefore still necessary. These efforts must be integrated
within a comprehensive security policy expressed in the form of clear guidelines.
Our government is convinced that we can successfully undertake
peace-keeping efforts in the future only if we can ensure at the same time
our own security in a credible way. The security policy of a country is only
credible if a realistic evaluation of the threats and a sober estimation of its
own possibilities lead to the implementation of a concept capable of inspiring
confidence at home and respect abroad.”
The words, “credible”, “respect”, “realistic”, and “planning” occur over and
over in Swiss defense documents and briefings. To a remarkable degree, the
Swiss government has approached its problems in a supremely logical manner,
setting out basic premises and drawing the correct inferences.
The objectives of the security policy are set forth as follows: (1) preservation
of peace in independence; (2) preservation of freedom of action; (3) protection
of the population; and (4) defense of the territory.
Each of these objectives has been carefully analyzed and the choice of words
is not careless. What the Swiss mean by “Peace in independence” is made clear
in the following excerpt from a report of the Federal Council to the Federal
“The preservation of peace—no matter how much we are interested in it—
is not an end in itself. It can neither be separated from the preservation of
self-determination nor can one be played off against the other. Our goal is peace
in independence; both aspects are therefore of equal importance.”
In defining preservation of freedom of action, the Swiss make clear they mean
freedom from foreign pressures, which can be achieved only by having available
a powerful means of resisting them and freedom from internal pressure
generated by illegal means or the use of force.
Having defined their security policy objectives, the Swiss then proceed to examine
the threat. In doing so, they include “the state of relative peace” along
with indirect war, conventional war, war with weapons of mass destruction,
and blackmail.
The following quotations from the same Federal Council report reveal not
only the Swiss view of the present threats but provide an insight in their thinking
“Today, peace does not correspond to the ideal and conditions usually associated
with it. The general situation is characterized by continuous confrontations,
also in those cases where there is no open employment of force.”
“The danger of a breach of international agreement is always present. The
collective security system envisioned by the Charter of the United Nations has
not been allowed to become effective, particularly because of the lack of unanimity
among the permanent members of the security council….today’s state
of relative peace is to a great extent due to the fact that the two superpowers
neutralize each other. The balance of fear, maintained only by the mutual threat
of annihilation, is not stable. It can be jeopardized by the excessive armaments
efforts of one side, by technological breakthroughs as well as by irrational actions….
under the protection of this relative balance of forces, powers and
groups of powers attempt to enlarge their spheres of influence through political,
economical, propagandistic and psychological pressures.”
“Conflicts are increasingly being waged by indirect means, with the goal of
influencing, weakening and finally overcoming the opponent through political,
psychological and terrorist means….this type of warfare takes advantage of the
increasing vulnerability of the modern state with its numerous vital facilities
(such as power utilities, communication, transportation and information facilities)
. Those who resort to this kind of warfare, whether they act in the interest of
a foreign power, a foreign ideology or out of anarchistic motives, take advantage
of the frictions existing within a society, as well as of all forms of political
and social malaise of certain population groups. By attempting to break up the
existing liberal order through the paralysis of the public institutions, facilities
and the democratic processes by way of defamation, intimidation and the employment
of force, they hope to be able to achieve their goals.”
“The possibility of blackmail exists at each level of conflict, taking advantage
of the opponent’s fear of the threatened actions. Blackmail acquires a particular
dimension if it is exercised by nuclear powers. The authorities of the state
against which the blackmail is directed could be put under intense public pressure
and be forced to make decisions of such a magnitude as to be without historical
parallel….the four levels of conflict are characterized by those methods
and means which would, at each level, be predominantly employed. During
large confrontations, the parties to the conflict will try to combine these methods
and means acting simultaneously in a direct and indirect manner.”
Thus, the Swiss take a hard look at the world and indulge in no escapist thinking.
They recognize that they could become the victim of blackmail, of subversion,
of a conventional or a nuclear attack. Yet they also realize that because
of their small size, they are not likely to be a primary target and therefore cannot
justify a continued state of mobilization.
The Swiss see the military as only one component of a spectrum of strategic
means to achieve their security objectives. Their foreign policy initiatives are a
strategic means to defend their policy of armed neutrality, to provide access to
raw materials and markets to exports. Social policy is a strategic means to provide
the stability necessary to withstand threats. Economic policy is a strategic
means of insuring that in times of crisis or war, the Swiss people can continue
to exist. The Swiss Government has actually formed what it calls a war economy
organization with the specific goals of planning for self-sufficiency in time of war.
In this regard, Swiss citizens are required to maintain in their homes a twomonths’
supply of food; industrialists and importers are required to maintain war
stocks of raw materials and food. Civil Defense is seen as the strategic means
of insuring survival of the population. In short, the Swiss approach the problem
of security with a totally integrated methodology that involves the entire nation.
The Militia System
The purpose of the military forces of Switzerland are two-fold: (1) to deter
war by the principle of dissuasion; and (2) if deterrence fails, to defend the
territory and the population.
“Dissuasion is a strategic posture which should persuade a potential aggressor
to avoid an armed conflict, by convincing him of the disproportion existing between
the advantages gained from an attack on the country and the risks entailed.
The risks which a potential aggressor must be made to perceive consists
in the loss of prestige, military forces, war-potential and time, as well as in running
counter to his ideological, political and economic interests.”
The Swiss have no illusions about their ability to defeat a major military
power. They could not have defeated the Nazi army which for a time considered
invading Switzerland. They mobilized, however, and made it clear beyond
a shadow of a doubt that if the Nazi army invaded, it would be fiercely resisted
and that the tunnels and passes into Italy would be destroyed. In a classic
example of dissuasion at work, Hitler’s general staff recommended against an
invasion on the grounds that the costs would be disproportionate to the gains.
The Swiss military forces are composed almost entirely of the militia. Only
800 out of 50,000 officers are professionals. They, and the recruits which happen
to be training at any given time, are the only people in Switzerland on
“active duty”
The Swiss militia system is unique and is not comparable to the present Reserve
and Guard forces in the United States. The basis for conscription is the
constitution, which mandates military service for every Swiss male from age 20
to 50 (55 in the case of officers). There are no exceptions. Conscientious objectors
are given a choice between Army non-combat units and jail. Those physically
unfit for military duty but employable are required to pay a tax. Women
are not included in the compulsory military service system, but small numbers
of them are accepted on a volunteer basis for non-combatant positions.
The universality of the Swiss system provides several advantages. It is fair and
therefore enjoys popular support. In the 1970s a national referendum was held
on the question of providing alternative service to conscientious objectors. The
Swiss people defeated it by an overwhelming majority.
A second advantage is that the Swiss Army does not have to operate a vocational
school system, training unqualified people in special skills which they take,
as soon as their enlistment is completed, into the civilian market. The Swiss system
operates in reverse. The Swiss Army, because everyone is obligated, can
choose those people trained in their civilian roles for the military jobs which
match their specialty. In the Swiss system, the burden of specialized training is
on the civilian sector.
A third advantage is that every male, age 20 to 50, who is an elected official
or civil servant in the government at all levels is also a member of the Swiss
Army. This helps prevent the jealousy and hostility that armies sometimes confront
in competing with other government services for their share of the public
resources. The lack of separation between the army, the people, and the government
is one of the unique and valuable characteristics of the Swiss system.
A fourth advantage is that Switzerland does not have a high proportion of its
defense dollars going to personnel costs. There are no military retirement systems
(the 800 full-time officers are included in the civil service pension system),
no veterans benefits, no massive payroll of a large standing army. There is
a medical insurance program to take care of injuries or death while serving on
active duty. Consequently, 50 percent of all Swiss defense appropriations can
be directed toward the acquisition of weapons and equipment. A comparable
figure is 30 percent in the Republic of West Germany.
At the age of 19, young men are given physical and mental tests in preparation
for military service. By this age, most young men in Switzerland have already
chosen their career paths and so permitting the Army to channel them into
the proper slots. Some consideration is given to the recruit’s preference and to
his locale, but the Army makes the final decision according to its own needs.
At age 20, recruits report for 17 weeks of training. The Swiss do not operate
separate training facilities for recruits and then others for military specialties.
Each training camp handles both the recruit’s basic training and his military
specialty. In other words, a young man destined for the medics reports directly
to a medical training company; an infantryman to an infantry training camp.
At the end of the training cycle, the recruit, now a member of a militia unit
with which he will stay in most cases for the duration of his obligation, returns
home. He carries with him his rifle, an allotment of ammunition, uniforms, military
pack, and CBR mask. He is responsible for the maintenance of this equipment
and is inspected annually. Once a year he is also required to qualify with
his personal weapon on a rifle range or face an additional three days of training.
Once a year, he will report for three weeks of military training in a rugged field
exercise set up as a problem the type of which his particular unit would face.
The Swiss Army is organized into four Army Corps. Each Army Corps controls
three Divisions. The Field Army Corps are composed of two Infantry Divisions
and one Mechanized Division. The Mountain Corps has three Mountain
Divisions. In addition, each Field Army Corps has some separate Border Defense
Brigades and the Mountain Corps, separate Fortress Brigades.
These 12 Divisions plus the Air Defense Command constitute the elite. Young
men aged 20 to 32 serve in these Divisions. Men of the “Landwehr”, 33 to 42
years old, are found in the separate Brigades. Those in the “Landsturm”, 43 to
50 years old, serve in the Territorial Forces. Thus, the duties of the militiamen
are adjusted as his physical capabilities change with age.
These elite field forces with the eight youngest classes of soldiers plus all Commissioned
Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers are mobilized for three
weeks of training each year. “Landwehr” forces train for two weeks every two
years, and “Landsturm” units for one week every four years.
All officers are chosen from the ranks. A young man chosen to become an officer
while he was a private must attend a one-month non-commissioned officers
school. If he is successful, the soldier is promoted to corporal and, to pay
off his new rank, he must serve as a group leader for a period of 17 weeks
immediately following recruit school.
The requisite number of corporals to meet requirements are sent to officer
training schools for four months. After successful completion of this school, he
is promoted to lieutenant. This is followed by service as a platoon leader with another
recruit training unit. After five years in grade, he will be promoted to first
After two years as a first lieutenant, he is eligible for promotion to captain.
To be promoted to captain, a first lieutenant has to attend a three-week
weapons school, a four-week tactical school and serve as company commander
in a recruit training cycle. As a captain, he will command and administer a
After eight years, a captain can get promoted to major, and then, if he completes
successfully special training, he may become a battalion commander.
Subsequent promotions to lieutenant colonel after seven years as major and to
colonel two years later depends upon individual ability and vacancies. The highest
rank a militia officer may attain is that of brigade commander. Divisions and
Army Corps are commanded by professional officers.
A first lieutenant or captain who desires to become a career officer has to attend
a series of branch schools and then attend a one-year course at the Military
Division of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. To be eligible for selection
as a member of the Corps of Instructors, an officer must have a civilian profession.
In peace time, the Swiss Army has no supreme commander. The Federal
Council leads the army. The general chief of staff is the “primus inter pares” of
the army staff. In case of war mobilization, the Parliament would select a fourstar
general as supreme commander.
Tours of Duty in Schools
1. RS
2. RS
3. RS
4. RS
5. RS
Shoot =
(Recruits and Superiors)
Private Corp Lt Cap
118 118 118 118
27 27 27
118 118 118
118 118
118 118
118 263 499 664
Noncommissioned officer-School
Tactical School
Shooting-School/ -Course
The Swiss Air Force is composed of one Air Force, one Airbase and one Anti-
Aircraft Brigade. All combat aircraft are ready for use and are stored in rock-covered
underground bases containing fuel, ammunition, spare parts and repair
Equipment (value $2,000.00). Every Swiss militia soldier has the above equipment
ready at his home. (See opposite page for itemized list)
No. Arming and Leathers
1 1 assault-gun with magazine and sling
2 1 cleaning-things for assault-gun
3 1 night-sight
4 1 bayonet with fitting
5 1 knife
6 1 belt
7 1 scabbard for bayonet
8 1 box with pocket-ammunition
9 1 helmet 71
10 1 pass-cup, ord 72
11 1 working-cup, ord 49
12 1 pass-uniform, ord 72
13 1 pass-trousers, ord 72
14 1 working-trousers, ord 49
15 1 coat
16 3 shirts with breast pockets
17 2 jerseys
18 2 black ties
19 1 pass-raincoat
20 1 pass-leather belt
21 1 trousers-belt (elastic)
22 2 pairs of march shoes
23 1 rucksack, mod 58/73
24 2 shoe-bags, grey
25 1 effects-bag, olive
26 1 supplies-bag, white
27 1 effects bag 58
28 1 haversack
29 1 canteen with cup
30 1 mess tin
31 1 spoon and 1 fork
32 1 cleaning things 67
Special Equipment
33 1 ABC (atomic/biological/chemical) protective mask with filter
34 1 bag for ABC-protective mask
35 2 pairs of plugs for hearing protection, in boxes
36 1 service book with identity card
37 1 identification tag
38 3 pairs of epaulettes
39 Miscellaneous
Cyclists — light infantry
Volunteer in Civil Defense telephone exchange
The infantry in action
Farmer on the way to his unit
Mechanized troops
Militia pilots for jet fighters
Dogs for protection and rescue
Repair shop
Sheltered surgery
shops. There is an automatic surveillance and guidance system to help engage
the air defense and ground attack armaments.
The number of main weapons in the Swiss Army is as follows:
350 aircraft
800 tanks
1,200 armored personnel carriers
900 artillery guns (self-propelled or mobile)
300 artillery tubes in fortresses
2,000 mobile anti-tank guns
300 antitank guns in bunkers
2,000 anti-aircraft guns
3,000 anti-tank guided missile systems
20,000 bazookas
Thousands of grenade launchers and millions of mines are also on hand as
well as 30,000 army-owned special vehicles and 50,000 civilian-owned vehicles
tagged for mobilization. Each owner knows precisely where to bring his vehicle
in case of mobilization.
These and other war supplies are stored in arsenals and underground facilities
all over the country. They are stored by unit. A military unit, for example, will
draw the same equipment from the same arsenal each year for its annual training
exercise so that it becomes familiar with it, with its location, and can assist the
civilian maintenance personnel in spotting problems.
The Swiss logistics system is a work of genius and is tailored to the requirements
of a militia army in a neutral country which, if it fights, cannot count on
allies for re-supply or assistance.
Of 17,000 civil servants in the Ministry of Defense, 10,500 are in logistics. In
1981 the budget was 800 million Swiss francs and it maintains 5,500 buildings
and installations, 600 war bases, 170 maintenance facilities, and more than 100
kilometers of underground facilities.
These underground facilities not only contain stores of ammunition and other
war supplies but also underground repair facilities for tanks, artillery pieces, electronics
equipment and vehicles. The value of the Swiss Army inventory is 12.8
billion Swiss francs.
The Swiss Army maintains 40 military hospitals, ten of them underground—
completely equipped, spotless and ready. They are used only for training purposes.
When the Swiss purchase a weapons system from abroad, they purchase
enough spare parts for both the life of the system and for war reserves. This is
to insure continuity of use in a war even though Switzerland is cut off from the
original source of supply.
They also practice the principle of commonality so that military, civil defense,
and civil police equipment are the same. An example of Swiss ingenuity applied
to logistics is the storage of perishable medical supplies for war-time use.
These supplies are obtained from pharmaceutical companies, stored, and then
at the appropriate time, returned to the Pharmaceuticals for sale in exchange for
fresh supplies for storage. By arrangement, the Swiss government would actually
pay for the supplies only in the event of their consumption during a war.
Military Doctrine
Once mobilized, the Swiss Army would fight as a conventional force. Swiss
military doctrine calls for meeting the aggressor at the borders and waging total
war. This is a departure from earlier doctrine which in World War II called for
abandoning the plateau area for the mountain fortresses.
In the event of mobilization, the 4,000 permanent obstacles and barriers
would be activated and the more than 2,000 demolition devices already built
into key bridges and tunnels would be set off. Industrial machines would be disabled;
water levels in the more than 900 dams lowered; fuel tanks burned.
The Swiss terrain—a hilly plateau region between two mountain ranges—
would necessarily channelize the aggressor’s attacks. These obvious avenues
of approach are heavily fortified and would be defended from built-in positions
and by mobile forces of the three Army Corps backed up by the Air Force. The
Swiss plan is to make every inch gained by the enemy a bloody and costly gain.
In the event main units of the Army are destroyed, Swiss doctrine calls for continued
passive and active resistance by means of guerrilla warfare.
This combination of powerful resistance by conventional forces, continued resistance
by guerrillas, and the self-destruction of Switzerland’s industrial, communications,
and transportation networks constitutes the strategy of dissuasion.
The message to the potential aggressor is clear: after a bloody, expensive, timeconsuming
war, he will have gained nothing of value. He will be faced with
occupation of a hostile area, denuded of economic or transportation value, and
continued resistance by a determined and armed population.
The armed population is no bluff. Swiss militiamen are not required to turn
in their weapons upon completion of their obligation. It is said that every Swiss
home contains at least three weapons, for not only is there the militia system,
but there is a long tradition of civilian ownership of firearms and, as pointed out
before, rifle and pistol shooting are virtually the national sports of Switzerland.
There are few restrictions on the Swiss purchase, ownership or carrying, of firearms.
An armed occupation force would indeed be literally faced with the prospect
of a Swiss rifleman behind every tree.
The Territorial Service
A unique component of the Swiss Army is the Territorial Service. It has no
equivalent in the United States and so deserves special attention in this report.
Within the army itself, the Territorial Service operates as logistical units, but it
does much more and is the main link between the army and the civilian sector.
It is composed of those men in the “Landsturm” who are 43 to 50 years of age
as well as some younger men assigned to it for Air Raid Rescue Battalions.
The duties of the Territorial Service can be summarized as follows: (1) It has
the mission of providing warning services to both the Army and the civilian population
in case of danger from air, atomic, biological and chemical weapons as
well as dam bursts; (2) it is responsible for coordinating the lowering of the water
level of hydroelectric reservoirs and for other measures concerning the electrical
supply system; (3) it has the mission of caring for internees, prisoners of war and
refugees; (4) it provides military police to assist civil authorities when necessary;
(5) it is responsible for the military economy service—to supply all the
goods needed by the army from the civilian sector and to handle the dismantling
or destruction of civilian economic assets that could be used by the enemy; and
(6) to protect important and vital installations.
This Territorial Service is primarily designed for war, but portions of it can be
mobilized in peacetime to assist civilian authorities with non-military catastrophies.
Structurally, the Territorial Service is designed to parallel the Swiss civil government
structure. The basic civilian unit of the Swiss Confederation is the canton.
Some of the larger cantons are divided into districts. Cantons are grouped
together to form Territorial Zones.
At the level of a district (a portion of a canton) there is a District Civil Staff and
a Territorial Regional Staff; the Territorial Service equivalent of the canton is
called a Territorial Circle. Here again, the military staff works with the civil staff.
At the Territorial Zone level (groups of cantons), there are also parallel civilian
and military staffs.
To make this relationship clearer, we might imagine a United States military
service which had a command structure at the level of the Federal Government,
at the level of the Federal Regions, at the state levels, and at the district
levels within the states with the missions of providing domestic intelligence, security
for key installations, control of the economy in time of war, and assistance
to civilian authorities in handling disasters and civil disturbances. There is,
of course, no such organization in the United States.
The Swiss have not only clearly defined the missions of the Territorial Service
but also the rules under which it operates. For example, the needs of the army
take precedence over the needs of the civil sector. The Territorial Service can
assist the civil sector only on the request of civilian authorities and, even then,
authority and responsibility for civilians remain with the civil authorities. In other
words, in the event of a catastrophe, the Territorial Service is not authorized to
step in and take over operations, but only to provide assistance to civil authorities
under their direction.
On the other hand, in the event of war, the Territorial Service’s first obligation
is to the army and under those circumstances it would override, if necessary,
the civil authorities in the event of a conflict of interests. It is also the Territorial
Service which provides the manpower earmarked for use by civil defense.
Civil Defense
Some critics of the Swiss system have expressed the belief that the possession
of nuclear weapons has made the strategy of dissuasion obsolete. These are, to
be sure, those critics who view nuclear war as an offense for which there is no
The Swiss do not agree. Recalling one of their strategic objectives as protection
of the civilian population, the Swiss government has realistically assessed
that objective in light of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. Their answer
was to embark on an extensive civil defense program with the idea of accomplishing
two of their strategic objectives—protection of the population and maintaining
freedom of action. They reason that an extensive and useable civil defense
program will give the Swiss government the means to withstand nuclear
blackmail, thus preserving freedom of action.
Hans Mumenthaler, director of the Federal Office of Civil Defense, put it this
way: “Lack of protection (for the civilian population) means an impairment of
our freedom of decision and lacking freedom of decision is rightly felt as an unfree
The latest Swiss laws pertaining to civil defense were revised in 1978 and they
have made remarkable progress. To date, the Swiss have shelter space for 85
percent of the population and by 1990 plan to have 100 percent of the population
covered. In many cases, there will be two shelter spaces per person—one
at the place of work and one at home.
Swiss law requires compulsory participation in civil defense for all males aged
20 to 60 with exemption only for military service. Consequently, most of the
civil defense personnel are over 50. There is presently a mandatory five-day introductory
course and two days of annual training. Swiss officials believe this is
not sufficient and, even though supervisors train more extensively, they would
like to see the training schedule expanded for everyone.
The law requires that communities have full responsibility for enforcing federal
and cantonal civil defense regulations. Each family is required to provide a
shelter at home and all new construction, even of commercial buildings, must
provide shelters built to federal specifications. The confederation subsidizes the
construction of public shelters, but not private ones.
Private shelters are required to withstand one atmosphere of overpressure
while public shelters are built to withstand three atmospheres (one atmosphere
equals ten tons per square meter). In other words, the Swiss opted for blast
shelters that are rather simply shelters adequate for protection against fallout. A
shelter built to withstand three atmospheres of overpressure could theoretically
provide protection for people within nine-tenths of a mile from ground zero
with a one-megaton explosion.
Public shelters are equipped with independent water, air filtration, communications,
food and medical supplies and private citizens are required to stock
food for two week’s duration.
The Swiss have spent, since 1970, 5 billion Swiss francs on civil defense and
are currently spending at the rate of 210 million Swiss francs annually. Mumenthaler
says this is a ratio of about $1 for every $8 spent on defense. He estimates
that for the United States to have reached the same level of protection would
have required the expenditure of $85 billion.
Public support for civil defense is widespread. Mumenthaler explains, “We
are mountain people and we are used to living with danger—but we are also
used to preparing for it.”
Several key decisions were made in approaching the problem of civil defense.
One was to discard the idea of evacuation. Not only are warning times for Switzerland
practically nil, but Swiss authorities reasoned the country is too small for
evacuation to be feasible. Evacuees would hinder other military operations and
would likely be no safer. Therefore, the Swiss opted for “vertical as opposed to
horizontal protection.” This dictated the construction of blast-proof shelters.
Another was the adoption of the principle that every inhabitant must have an
equal chance of survival. The Swiss seem to be meticulous about the principle
of equal sharing of both responsibilities and privileges. The first obligation of
every Swiss citizen is to their country.
Because of the proximity to likely opponents, the Swiss have adopted the
strategy of ordering people into the shelters as soon as political or military tension
reaches a critical level. From that point on, only key workers would leave
the shelters until such time as there was an actual attack or the situation became
less tense.
Finally, the Swiss made a basic decision to separate civil defense from the military
operations. The office of civil defense operates under the Minister of Justice
and Federal police. While some 30,000 troops from the Territorial Service
would be made available to civil defense, primarily for fire-fighting and rescue
work, it is not a fighting organization nor does it replace normal civilian rescue
and emergency aid organizations during peacetime. It can be mobilized for
peacetime rescue work, but this is clearly a secondary mission.
Switzerland, a small country with limited res6urces, has conceptualized,
planned, and implemented a rational security policy which provides maximum
effect with minimum expenditures. The militia system, being both universal and
a part of the constitution, has wide public acceptance. It allows mobilization of
a large army without the draining costs of a large professional army. The personnel
savings have been invested in redoubts, barriers, equipment, storage facilities,
hospitals, and weapons.
To a remarkable degree, the Swiss require private sector participation in the
defense effort. These private contributions are estimated to equal the annual
government expenditures. By integrating their security policy to include foreign
policy, social policy, defense, civil defense and economic measures, the Swiss
have, in effect, oriented their entire public effort toward the end of security for
their nation and their people.
The Swiss General Defense system provides a high dissuasive value and credibility
to this small, neutral country in the heart of Europe. In case of war Switzerland
would not attract the more powerful nations who might consider Switzerland
to be a military vacuum. On the contrary, Switzerland can activate the
densest defense system—on the ground and in the air on short notice—in
Western Europe.
Thanks to Civil Defense as well as intricate economic preparedness, there is
a high degree of survivability even in a modern war of long duration. The most
important factor remains that the overwhelming majority of the Swiss has a
strong will to defend the country against any aggressor. They are prepared to
fight, and will fight whenever and whomever necessary.

On Peace…
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective
means of preserving peace.”
— George Washington
in his first annual address to
Congress on January 8, 1790
On War…
“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest thing. The
decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic
feeling which thinks nothing worth a war is worse. A man
who has nothing which he cares about more than his
personal safety is a miserable creature who has no
chance of being free unless made and kept so by the
exertions of better men than himself.”
— John Stuart Mill
Chairman’s letter, continued
contrary, the Swiss concept has promoted unity among the people of that small but
mature nation.
The people of Switzerland are to be envied for their many achievements, and the policy
achievement of a plan for armed neutrality could be a model either in whole or in part for
those seeking a rational approach to survival problems.
The concept of armed neutrality was a policy favored by our Founding Fathers but the
warnings and advice of Founding Father George Washington has been lost to Twentieth
Century Americans. Perhaps even at this late date, we could find many answers to our
current problems by observing the Swiss way of a total defense concept.
“…to rebuild and strengthen the political, economic, and
social structure of the United States and Western Civilization so as
to make any merger with totalitarians impossible.”
Lawrence P. McDonald
Chairman and President


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