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A gambit (from ancient Italian gambetto, meaning "to trip") is a chess opening in which a player, more often White, sacrifices material, usually a pawn, with the hope of achieving a resulting advantageous position. Although most gambits are said to be unsound against perfect play the queen’s gambit is said to be the exception. Black will have to concede his pawn and focus on counter attacking white’s advances. This is why the queen’s gambit is not considered to be a true gambit. A chess gambit is a exotic way to enjoy a chess game -- there is a touch of recklessness necessarily to become a gambiteer. The term gambit applies to the opening of the game, involving an early sacrifice to achieve later superior attacking chances. The sacrifice is usually speculative, but hard to refuse.

During the Cold War there was speculation that the Soviet Union's war planning included the Hamburg Gambit, in which the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany would seize the port city of Hamburg, and then use this hostage in war-termination negotiations. Now Russian war planning might include the Gotland Gambit, in which Russia would seize Gotland, but make no further territorial demands.

Gotland is often called the Pearl of the Baltic. The old province (landskap) of Gotland [Goths Land] has the same boundaries as Gotlands län. One of the most important geographic attributes of the Baltic Sea is the presence of numerous islands. Several are strategically located and many are capable of providing dispersal sites as well as cover from enemy forces. Through its geographical position in the Baltic Sea, the island of Gotland is of a vital strategic importance for Sweden, as well as for the Baltic Sea region as a whole. Gotland is important for sea lanes and air routes to and from the Baltic States.

Gotland is Sweden's largest island and is a popular holiday spot for both Swedes and foreigners. Its unusual nature, characterised by sea stacks (vertical rock formations shaped by the sea), as well as its long beaches and the medieval town of Visby, help Gotland attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. From Fårö in the north to Hoburgen in the south Gotland measures 176 km in length and at its widest the island is 52 km. The island has just over 57,000 inhabitants, of which 24,000 live in Visby, the largest town on the island.

Elisabeth Braw noted 14 January 2015 " By occupying Gotland, even temporarily, you could prevent NATO from sending reinforcements of troops and equipment to the Baltic states, should you decide to invade them. You’d also prevent NATO air missions in aid of the Baltic states, and the alliance wouldn’t be able to use the island as a base from where to hunt your submarines or interfere with your activities in the air." Frederik Van lokeren noted 28 March 2015 "Gotland only houses a Home Guard battalion backed up by 14 tanks but without crews to operate them. The Swedish military leaders do want to strengthen Gotland and station at least a regiment on the island but budget cuts in military spending prevents this. Sweden plans to fly in troops should the island be attacked thus leaving the initial defence of the island to the Swedish Air Force and Navy. "

Karlis Neretnieks wrote 22 March 2015 that "On Gotland there is no permanent Swedish military presence except for a home guard unit, making it an easy target. There would be no need for Russia to make extensive and revealing preparations to launch an operation aiming at occupying the island. A surprise attack is a very real option. Russian long range systems deployed there would make air and sea operations on and over the Baltic Sea very hazardous for an opponent. "

Thomas Theiner wrote 04 April 2015 "The key to the defense of Sweden is the island of Gotland. If it is well garrisoned and defended, no enemy can attack the Swedish mainland. However, if Gotland falls, an enemy can dominate all of Sweden with anti-air, anti-ship and tactical missiles. If Sweden cannot defend Gotland, it will have to surrender or beg America for help...."

Sweden Deputy Prime Minister Jan Björklund said on 06 March 2014 that Sweden must be able to defend Gotland against Russia in light of fresh fears of Kremlin aggression in ex-Soviet states Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. In an invasion scenario, the minister argued, Russia could move to occupy the strategically located Swedish island in order to cut off a key potential Nato counter-strike base.

Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist suggested in March 2015 that Gotland once again be militarized. The idea is that the island will be the station for a permanently associated company of an eighth maneuver battalion, to be set up by the Life Guards in Kungsängen, north of Stockholm. Such a company could be rifle equipped, with the Finnish-built armored terrain vehicle Patria AMV, as in Sweden goes under the name of the Armoured Off-road Vehicle 360. Gotland already has a tank company, but the vehicles have custodial employees and did not have permanently based personnel.

In an interview with the Daily News, the Defence Minister said that he also wanted to contribute funds to the national security forces on the island. "We are extending also the Home Guard support organization on Gotland personnel and we create a management function on Gotland. We also want to have continual exercises in marine, aviation and army in connection to Gotland".

A permanent infantry on Gotland island would increase the chances of defense against an armed attack considerably. But there is also no guarantee that the possible forces would be sufficient. The Pansarterrängbil 360 ??is a fast moving vehicle and can in a combat situation be used to quickly regroup military personnel, but in a meeting with heavier armored vehicles, its relatively weak armament would force soldiers in the vehicle to dsi-mount in order to beat the enemy.

Another problem that persists for vulnerable Gotland is obviously funding. In the conversation with DN the defense minister mentioned no numbers or plans on how the proposal should be able to go through the purely economic. Already missing full subscription of the existing battalions and the government earmarked 500 million crowns are not even close to cover a new battalion. The ability to ship over reinforcements from the mainland is suffering when the Swedish Visby corvettes lacking air defense systems. The same goes for the Gotland ferries that in a crisis would be assigned the task to manage the transport itself.

Sweden’s Defence Policy 2016 to 2020 stated that "A Battlegroup Gotland will be organised in 2018. The Battlegroup will consist of a standing Mechanised Infantry Company and a reserve Armoured Company. In addition the Light Infantry Battalion will be reorganised to be able to be transported by air, allowing it to rapidly reinforce strategic areas including Gotland. Regional Command and Control assets for Gotland is being organised within existing Command and Control structures. The Home Guard on the island will be reinforced. It is important that frequent exercises with air defence assets on Gotland will be conducted and training and exercises will increase on and around the island."

The Swedish government decided in March 2015 to reestablish a permanent military presence on Gotland, starting with an initial 150 troop garrison, consisting primarily of elements from the Swedish Army. It has been reported that the bulk of this initial garrison will make up a new motorised rifle battalion, alternatively referred to in other reports as a "modular-structured rapid response Army battalion".

Gotland (57°30'N., 18°30'E.), the largest island in the Baltic, is part of Sweden and lies 45 miles off the coast. It consists of a limestone formation and is a popular tourist destination. The major part of the coast of Gotland is wooded, rising steeply from the sea to form a plateau, 26 to 43m high. A few detached hills rise above this plateau. Torsburgen (57°24'N., 18°44'E.), 68m high, is the highest and stands at the East side. A peninsula, 9 miles long, forms the S end of Gotland and is joined to the island by an isthmus, less than 2 miles wide. The coast of Gotland is indented by numerous shallow bights and rocks, reefs, and shoals front the greater part of the shore. Visby and Slite are the two major ports of Gotland.

Gotland has a very temperate climate. Gotland is one of the sunniest places in Sweden. Visby normally tops the Swedish Sun League, which measures the number of sunshine hours at various places around the country. Winds from the N and W prevail along the W coast in the late summer and autumn; winds from the E prevail in spring and late autumn. Winds from the S prevail along the NE coast during the summer. Generally, the harbors of the island are clear of ice during ordinary winters, but some of them may be obstructed between January and March.

There are only weak surface currents around Gotland. The current between the island and the Swedish coast usually sets SW. Off the E coast of the island, the current usually sets S or SW and is weaker than off the W coast. Pilots for harbors and loading places located around Gotland are provided by the main station at Visby.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2016 17:43:55 ZULU