Switzerland plans to start reducing the size of its army in the next five or six years to achieve a total cut of a third by 2019/2020, Defence Minister Ueli Maurer told weekly newspaper SonntagsZeitung.
"Today, we have 120,000 full-time soldiers and 80,000 reservists. In 10 to 12 years, the army will consist of 80,000 full-time and 40,000 reserve soldiers," Maurer said.
Cuts will also be made in the numbers of heavy weapons, artillery and tanks in the Swiss armed forces. "Our army must become the most modern possible and be well-equipped and trained," he said, adding that times had changed and that a war in Europe involving armored vehicles was unlikely.
Switzerland has not been directly involved in an armed conflict since the 19th century. Its most famous soldiers are the papal guards in Vatican City who, to this day, must be of Swiss nationality... and unmarried.
photo credit: Arnaud Gaillard