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A short conversation with Major Christoph Brunner, Swiss Army spokesman.
Why does Switzerland have an army if it’s neutral?
To defend the nation and protect the people of Switzerland. We also have peacekeeping soldiers, professionals and conscripts, all over the world—two to five people in various missions across the Far East, Africa, and the Middle East. And we have 220 soldiers in Kosovo. There has to be a United Nations mission, otherwise we do not participate.
What is a Swiss soldier’s basic equipment?
Clothes, in different variations, boots, helmet, and many other articles. The most important is the Swiss-made SG 550 assault rifle. All conscripts are also given a Swiss Army knife. It’s a model you can buy in stores.
Are they given any training on the knife?
No. That’s not necessary. The Swiss are used to these knives from very early on. It’s not considered a weapon, but a tool.