Lieutenant General Michael Claesson to Become New Chief of Defence This Autumn

The government today appointed Lieutenant General Michael Claesson to succeed Micael Bydén as Chief of Defence when Bydén steps down from his position on the last day of September this year.

Michael Claesson blir ny ÖB.
Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

“It is an incredibly complex, yet inspiring task. I look forward to working with all personnel, both employees and volunteers, to further enhance our defence capabilities,” says Michael Claesson, current Chief of Defence Staff. It has been nearly 40 years to the day since Michael Claesson enlisted as a conscript in the Norrbotten Armoured Battalion in Boden. However, his first contact with the Armed Forces came even earlier; while still in elementary school in Bankeryd, Småland, he had set his sights on a career in the defence and was engaged in the volunteer
movement's youth activities from the age of 15.

Today, he is the Chief of Defence Staff, but he has held many different roles over the years. Notably, he has been the commander of the Norrbotten Armoured Battalion at I 19 and the Army Tactical Command School, and at various times, a military advisor at the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and Sweden's NATO delegation at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. From 2012 to 2013, Michael Claesson was the contingent commander of the 24th Swedish contingent in the ISAF force in Afghanistan, as well as the tactical commander of the multinational Task Force Northern Lights (Regional Command North), an experience he describes as pivotal to his views on leadership and responsibility.

One of the most prominent roles Michael Claesson has held in the Armed Forces was as Chief of Operations between 2020 and 2023. This period turned out to be some of the most tumultuous years in modern times, with a pandemic, the regression of peace efforts in Afghanistan leading to an evacuation operation, and Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Events that have garnered significant attention worldwide and highlighted the capabilities of the Armed Forces, especially in Swedish media.

“The recent global developments have affected us all in some way. And we continue to live in very serious times. The security challenges for us in Sweden and for our allies are numerous, with several ongoing parallel crises and conflicts,” says Michael Claesson, and continues: “We must continue our integration into NATO and take responsibility for our shared commitments with our allies while simultaneously having the strength to develop, grow, and strengthen the Armed Forces' units and capabilities. These are the most important tasks ahead of us.

This is a trust and mission that I will uphold with the utmost respect and determination,” he concludes. Michael Claesson will assume the position of Chief of Defence on 1 October and will be promoted to General in conjunction with this. Until then, he will continue to lead the Defence Staff and support the current Chief of Defence, Micael Bydén, as his Chief of Staff.