Military Wiki
Lennart Ljung
Birth name Karl Hilmer Lennart Ljung
Born (1921-03-13)13 March 1921
Died 19 November 1990(1990-11-19) (aged 69)
Place of birth Sollefteå, Sweden
Place of death Stockholm, Sweden
Service/branch Swedish Army
Years of service 1944–1986
Rank General
Commands held Chief of Army Staff (1972–74)
Chief of Defence Staff (1976–78)
Supreme Commander (1978–1986)
Battles/wars Soviet submarine U 137
Awards Order of the Sword
Other work His Majesty the King's staff

Karl Hilmer Lennart Ljung (13 March 1921 – 19 November 1990) was a Swedish Army general and Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces from 1978 to 1986. During Ljung's eight years as Supreme Commander many events of importance for Swedish security and defense policy occurred. Sweden had five different governments under four prime ministers from different political sides. Olof Palme was murdered, the submarine incidents culminated with the Soviet submarine U 137 running aground in Karlskrona and the decision of developing a new fighter aircraft came through.[1]


Ljung was born in Sollefteå, Sweden and was the son of captain Hilmer Ljung and Greta (née Gustafsson).[2] He passed his studentexamen in Gävle in 1941 and his officers exam in 1944.[3] He became a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps in 1944[2] and attended the Royal School of Signals in 1950 and Krigshögskolan from 1952 to 1954. Ljung was promoted to captain in the Signal Corps in 1953 and attended the Command and General Staff College from 1956 to 1957 when he became captain of the General Staff.[3] Ljung served at the Northern Scanian Infantry Regiment (I 6) from 1960 to 1961 when he became major of the General Staff. Ljung was teacher of strategy at Militärhögskolan from 1962 to 1963 and attended the Swedish Defence University in 1963.[3] He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1964 and served at the Gotland Regiment (P 18) from 1965 to 1966. He was promoted to colonel in 1966 and was head of the operation management 2 of the Defence Staff in 1966.[2] He was after that commander of the Uppland Signal Regiment (S 1) from 1968 to 1971, section chief of the Military Area Staff of the Eastern Military Area from 1971 to 1972 and was promoted to major general in 1972. The same year he became chief of the Army Staff and acting military commander of the Western Military Area in 1974. Ljung was promoted to lieutenant general in 1976 and was chief of the Defence Staff from 1976 to 1978.[2]

Time as Supreme Commander[]

In 1978 he was promoted to general and appointed Supreme Commander.[2] Ljung's time as Supreme Commander was marked by major transformations in the Swedish Armed Forces and by the constant financial pressure.[4] It also consisted of renewal of the war planning, major military equipment projects, such as the Saab JAS 39 Gripen, a new kind of armed forces training and reorganization of both the leadership and the command organization. The handling of the submarine incidents and the systematic continuing submarine incursions also caused great strain on him.[4]

Ljung was Supreme Commander during the submarine incident in Karlskrona when the Soviet submarine U 137 in October 1981 ran aground in Blekinge archipelago. By then he had a close collaboration with Prime Minister Thorbjörn Fälldin and was very prominent throughout the incident. His report on the whole situation excluded the possibility that the submarine accidentally ended up in Swedish territory, and he pursue in the coming years the issue of higher allocations to the military to fight the submarine intrusions which was considered coming from the Soviet Union.

According to Robert Dalsjö's doctoral thesis, Ljung was the last Supreme Commander who knew the secret peacetime cooperation with NATO, and also the one who discontinued the cooperation.[5] In 1986, Ljung left the position of Supreme Commander and retired from military service and became head of His Majesty the King's staff.[4]

Other work[]

Ljung became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences in 1967 and honorary member of the Royal Swedish Society of Naval Sciences in 1980.[2]

Personal life[]

In 1947, Ljung married Gertrud Öhman (1922–2005), the daughter of furrier August Öhman and Anna (née Nilsson). They had two children, Lars (born 1948),[3] a retired colonel and senior adviser of the Folke Bernadotte Academy[6] and Ann-Marie (born 1953).[3] Lennart Ljung died in 1990 and was buried in Söderhamn cemetery.[7]

Awards and decorations[]


  1. Santesson, Olof (2010). "I huvudet på en ÖB. Ljungs tjänstedagböcker är en guldgruva" (in sv). Stockholm: Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences. p. 154. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 (in Swedish) Vem är det: svensk biografisk handbok. 1985. Stockholm: Norstedt. 1984. p. 701. ISBN 91-1-843222-0. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Davidsson, Åke, ed (1968) (in Swedish). Vem är vem?. 5, Norrland : supplement, register (2nd ed.). Stockholm: Vem är vem. p. 790. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lindgren, Lennart (1991). "Minnesteckningar Lennart Ljung" (in sv) (PDF). Carlskrona: Kungl Örlogsmannasällskapet. p. 217. 
  5. Dalsjö, Robert (24 July 2006). "Sveriges samarbete med Nato viktigare än hittills känt" (in sv). 
  6. "Crisis Information Management (CIM) Course" (PDF). International Peace Support Training Center. p. 12. 
  7. "Karl Hilmer Lennart Ljung" (in sv). 

Further reading[]

  • Ljung, Lennart; Wallberg, Evabritta (2010) (in sv). Överbefälhavare Lennart Ljungs tjänstedagböcker. 1978-1983. Handlingar / Kungl. Samfundet för utgivande av handskrifter rörande Skandinaviens historia, 0347-8505 ; 31. Stockholm: Kungl. Samfundet för utgivande av handskrifter rörande Skandinaviens historia. ISBN 978-91-85104-35-2. 
  • Ljung, Lennart; Wallberg, Evabritta (2010) (in sv). Överbefälhavare Lennart Ljungs tjänstedagböcker. 1984-1986. Handlingar / Kungl. Samfundet för utgivande av handskrifter rörande Skandinaviens historia, 0347-8505 ; 32. Stockholm: Kungl. Samfundet för utgivande av handskrifter rörande Skandinaviens historia. ISBN 978-91-85104-36-9. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Karl Eric Holm
Chief of Army Staff
Succeeded by
Gösta Hökmark
Preceded by
Gunnar Eklund
Chief of Defence Staff
Succeeded by
Bengt Schuback
Preceded by
Stig Synnergren
Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces
Succeeded by
Bengt Gustafsson

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