Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer says it will take up to five years to set straight shortcomings from an ongoing major reorganisation of the armed forces.

Maurer said the leadership structure had to be scaled down, and new checks and balances introduced to achieve a more efficient and cheaper army.

He added that he felt well accepted by his colleagues in the seven-member cabinet where he would continue to represent the interests of his rightwing Swiss People’s Party.

Maurer said differences between his party and the cabinet would remain over international cooperation of the Swiss army and the post of head of the armed forces.

The defence minister was speaking three months after taking over from Samuel Schmid, who stepped down under increasing pressure from the People’s Party.

However, Maurer refused to blame Schmid or parliament for perceived deficiencies in the army.

Switzerland’s 220,000-strong armed forces, including reserves, function on a militia principle – not as a fully professional army.