Särskilda Skyddsgruppen (SSG)
Särskilda Skyddsgruppen (Special Protection Group, SSG) is a Swedish military Special Operations unit. It was created sometime in the early 1990s, consisting of 60-80 operators with an average age of 31. The unit's main tasks are in intelligence gathering, reconnaissance, POW rescue missions behind enemy lines, protection of military VIP's and to eliminate terrorist elements, along with protecting strategic military installations of high value.
It is hard to compare different types of military units with each other, but in the case of SSG, the recruitment procedure is very similar to more known units like the US Army's Delta Force (1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta) and British Special Air Service.
The unit is located in the Swedish town of Karlsborg where the Swedish Parachute Ranger School also resides at K 3 - Life Regiment Hussars. The Swedish Parachute Ranger School (Fallskärmsjägarna) is one of the oldest Special Operations forces in the Swedish armed forces (founded in 1952) and is probably the most respected.
Because it is a secret force, the time it takes to train a recruit has not been made public. SSG are Officers that mainly originate from the other elite forces like The Parachute Ranger School, Coastal Rangers, Attack-Divers. Though it is not only special forces members in the teams, they take in people from every part of the Swedish Armed Forces. During the test period before becoming an active member in the SSG, each soldier will receive common training such as parachuting, diving and VIP protection. Members will also receive special training within different areas such as high HAHO/HALO parachuting, explosives, medical, sniping and special weapon training. An SSG operator has the ability to insert and extract by several means such as on foot, parachuting, diving, and by boat and vehicle.
SSG selects its personnel from all three branches of the military. In order to volunteer, one has to be an officer. To become an officer in first place you have fulfilled the military service in Sweden when you was between 19-22 and succeeded with at least 10-7-7 grades. After this an Officer course(3 years) or the reserve-officer course(2 years) is done. The selection is two weeks long. Tests include 10 kilometer runs, 10-25 kilometer road marches, obstacle course, swim test, life-saving test, strength test (consisting of bench presses, dips, pull-ups), and day/night orienteering. A recruit also has to pass interviews with a psychologist and the unit commander.
Some part of the unit is always on a state of alert in case of an urgent situation within Sweden; however lately there have been international assignments in connection with what the Swedish armed forces in general are moving towards; international operations together with the EU and UN.
Since Sweden has not been to war for nearly 200 years, SSG does not operate often. It has done operations including reconnaissance in an undisclosed African nation. The unit also deployed to Afghanistan in support of the UN group ISAF, a task force responsible for security in Kabul and other areas.
SSG has been deployed to Congo under French command, where they engaged enemy forces several times without any losses on their own.
On November 25, 2005, SSG operative Jesper Lindblom was killed and three others were injured during a reconnaissance mission in northern Afghanistan. One of the wounded, Tomas Bergkvist, died on December 9, 2005 due to his injuries.