Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces

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Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces
Command sign of the Swedish supreme commander.png
Command flag of the Supreme Commander
General Micael Bydén.jpg
General Micael Bydén

since 1 October 2015[1]
Swedish Armed Forces
Reports toThe Government
(in practice through the Minister for Defence)
ResidenceKarlberg Palace
SeatLidingövägen 24, Stockholm, Sweden
NominatorMinister for Defence
AppointerThe Government
Constituting instrumentFörordning (2007:1266) med instruktion för Försvarsmakten
(current ordinance)
Formation8 December 1939
First holderOlof Thörnell
DeputyThe Director-General
WebsiteOfficial website

The Supreme Commander (Swedish: Överbefälhavaren; acronym: ÖB) is the highest ranked professional military officer in the Swedish Armed Forces, and is by NATO terminology the Swedish chief of defence equivalent. The Supreme Commander is the agency head of the Swedish Armed Forces and formally reports to the Government of Sweden, though normally through the Minister for Defence.[2][b] The primary responsibilities and duties of the Supreme Commander (and the charter for the Armed Forces) are prescribed in an ordinance issued by the Government.[3]

The Supreme Commander is, apart from the honorary ranks held by the King of Sweden and in the past other members of the Swedish Royal Family, by unwritten convention normally the only professional military officer on active duty to hold the highest rank (a four-star General or Admiral).[4] An exception was made 2009-2014 when Håkan Syrén was chairman of the European Union Military Committee.

The present Supreme Commander, General Micael Bydén, took office on 1 October 2015.[1]

Historical background[edit]

Before the modern era, the King was expected to command the forces himself; not seldom on location during war campaigns as shown by Gustavus Adolphus, Charles X, Charles XI and Charles XII. This remained the case formally until the 20th century. From the late 19th century onwards, there were no service chiefs of the Army or Navy; all senior service commanders reported directly to the King in Council. Apart from a single Minister for Defence created in 1919 by merging the position of ministers of the land forces and naval forces, no joint command structure existed.[4]

In 1936, a Supreme Commander was intended to be appointed in war-time-only, and on 1 December 1939, during World War II, the first Supreme Commander, General Olof Thörnell, was appointed.[4] In 1942 it was decided to keep this office even after the end of the war. The Supreme Commander would in wartime formally report to the King in Council until the enactment of the new Instrument of Government in 1974, and after 1 January 1975 to the Government.[4]


The command flag of the Supreme Commander is drawn by Brita Grep and embroidered by hand by the Kedja studio, Heraldica. Blazon: "Fessed in blue and yellow; on blue three open yellow crowns placed two and one, on yellow two blue batons of command with sets of open yellow crowns placed two and one in saltire."[5]

The coat of arms of the Supreme Commander was used from 1991 to 1993. It has since 1993 been used by the Swedish Armed Forces from was used from 1994 to 2001 by the Swedish Armed Forces Headquarters. Blazon: "Azure, the Swedish minor coat-of-arms, three open crowns or placed two and one. The shield surmounting an erect sword of the last colour".[6]

List of Officeholders[edit]

Name Took office Left office Time in office Defence branch Ref
Olof Thörnell
Thörnell, OlofGeneral
Olof Thörnell
8 December 193931 March 19444 years, 114 daysArmén vapen bra.svg
Helge Jung
Jung, HelgeGeneral
Helge Jung
1 April 194431 March 19516 years, 364 daysArmén vapen bra.svg
Nils Swedlund
Swedlund, NilsGeneral
Nils Swedlund
1 April 195130 September 196110 years, 182 daysArmén vapen bra.svg
Torsten Rapp
Rapp, TorstenGeneral
Torsten Rapp
1 October 196130 September 19708 years, 364 daysFlygvapnet vapen bra.svg
Air Force
Stig Synnergren
Synnergren, StigGeneral
Stig Synnergren
1 October 197030 September 19787 years, 364 daysArmén vapen bra.svg
Lennart Ljung
Ljung, LennartGeneral
Lennart Ljung
1 October 197830 September 19867 years, 364 daysArmén vapen bra.svg
Bengt Gustafsson
Gustafsson, BengtGeneral
Bengt Gustafsson
1 October 198630 June 19947 years, 272 daysArmén vapen bra.svg
Owe Wiktorin
Wiktorin, OweGeneral
Owe Wiktorin
(born 1940)
1 July 199430 June 20005 years, 365 daysFlygvapnet vapen bra.svg
Air Force
Johan Hederstedt
Hederstedt, JohanGeneral
Johan Hederstedt
(born 1943)
1 July 200031 December 20033 years, 184 daysArmén vapen bra.svg
Håkan Syrén
Syrén, HåkanGeneral
Håkan Syrén
(born 1952)
1 January 200424 March 20095 years, 82 daysAmfibiekåren vapen.svg
(Amphibious Corps)
Sverker Göranson
Göranson, SverkerGeneral
Sverker Göranson
(born 1954)
25 March 20091 October 20156 years, 189 daysArmén vapen bra.svg
Micael Bydén
Bydén, MicaelGeneral
Micael Bydén
(born 1964)
1 October 2015Incumbent3 years, 285 daysFlygvapnet vapen bra.svg
Air Force


Micael BydénSverker GöransonHåkan SyrénJohan HederstedtOwe WiktorinBengt Gustafsson (general)Lennart Ljung (general)Stig SynnergrenTorsten RappNils SwedlundHelge JungOlof Thörnell

Every time a new Supreme Commander is to be appointed, there is some debate between the different services. Some feel that some kind of rotational system would be appropriate. In actuality, most Supreme Commanders have come from the Army, and only one, Håkan Syrén, from the Navy. Because he is a General of the Amphibious Corps, there has to this day not been a single Admiral to hold the office.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ There was no single career officer in charge of the all the forces before the creation of this position (all senior service commanders reported directly to the King and his Council).
  2. ^ Although the Minister for Defence heads the Ministry of Defence, the Minister cannot as a general rule issue directives in his/her own right to the Supreme Commander or any other agency director-general in the defence portfolio due to the Swedish prohibition on ministerial rule, unless such authority is provided for in specific statutory provisions.


  1. ^ a b "Överbefälhavaren" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
  2. ^ "Supreme Commander". Swedish Armed Forces. Archived from the original on 2014-10-24. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  3. ^ "Förordning (2007:1266) med instruktion för Försvarsmakten" (in Swedish). Swedish Code of Statutes. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "ÖB i historien" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  5. ^ Braunstein, Christian (2004). Svenska försvarsmaktens fälttecken efter millennieskiftet [The flags and standards of the Swedish Armed Forces after the turn of the millennium] (PDF). Skrift / Statens försvarshistoriska museer, 1101-7023 ; 7 [dvs 8] (in Swedish). Stockholm: Statens försvarshistoriska museer. p. 105. ISBN 91-971584-7-X. LIBRIS 9815350.
  6. ^ Braunstein, Christian (2006). Heraldiska vapen inom det svenska försvaret [Heraldry of the Swedish Armed Forces] (PDF). Skrift / Statens försvarshistoriska museer, 1101-7023 ; 9 (in Swedish). Stockholm: Statens försvarshistoriska museer. p. 13. ISBN 91-971584-9-6. LIBRIS 10099224.
  7. ^ Mortensen, Per (2000-05-06). "DN gratulerar: Stridspilot blir landsvägsriddare". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Johan Hederstedt avgår som ÖB vid årsskiftet". Expressen (in Swedish). TT. 4 November 2003. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Sverker Göranson blir ny överbefälhavare" [Sverker Göranson becomes new Supreme Commander] (Press release) (in Swedish). Government Offices of Sweden. Ministry of Defence. 6 March 2009. p. 615. Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  10. ^ "Micael Bydén ny ÖB" (in Swedish). Swedish Armed Forces. Retrieved 2015-09-11.

External links[edit]