Fallskärmsjägarna, also formally named Fallskärmsjägarkåren in Swedish (the Parachute Ranger Corps) is located in K3 Karlsborg at Fallskärmsjägarskolan (Parachute Ranger School, commonly known as FJS) and is a Swedish military Special Operations unit. The unit is an airborne commando unit focused on intelligence gathering and forms part of Sweden’s Special Forces.
FJS is organized under Livregementets Husarer at K3 but falls directly under the command of the Swedish Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (Överbefälhavaren). K3 is also the home of the Airborne Battalion (LBB – luftburen bataljon, airmobile infantry similar to the US 101 Air Assault Division) and the Special Protection Group (Särskilda Skyddsgruppen – a.k.a. SSG) but there is no coordination of training or operations between these units. Recent reorganizations within the armed forces have given the unit a more international profile although details of foreign engagements remain classified. Currently, there are only two Special Forces units in Sweden (specialförband); FJS and SSG.
The parachute ranger school was until recently (2006) divided into two parts; the conscripts being trained and the parachute ranger task force, of which only the latter was a special operations force along with the SSG. The ranger task force has been re-named. This has been done to further increase the secrecy around this unit. The new name for this unit is SIG, which stands for Särskilda Inhämtningsgruppen (Special Intelligence gathering group). Very little is known about them. The only information available comes from their official website, which claims that they master every aspect of intelligence gathering.
Operations and Training
The unit’s operational field of expertise is in intelligence gathering deep inside enemy controlled territory and have secondary duties in sabotage and tactical diversion. Main mode of deployment is by parachute but the unit can also be deployed via helicopter, boats and submarine. They operate in small autonomous groups trained for long term independence and autonomy. Each group consists of a group-leader which usually is an officer, sniper, demolitions experts, medic and communications expert. If required for the mission, an interpreter may be assigned to the unit to handle local civilian interaction or interrogations.
The unit consists of conscripts who have all volunteered for the special service, commissioned officers and reserve officers (selected FJS former conscripts). The conscript training program lasted 15 months, but has now been reduced to 11 months. It is considered to be one of the most physically and mentally demanding training programs within the Swedish Armed Forces. Selection to the unit is one of the toughest in the Swedish army, including a pre-selection and four induction weeks in addition to the regular armed forces recruiting process (previously mandatory for all high-school/university leavers, now voluntary). The unit also recruits commissioned officers from other military units which have to undergo a rigorous selection program and training, culminating in the “eagle march”. The Eagle March is a 70 km march in rough terrain which must be completed in 24 hours. All aspiring FSJ candidates (conscripts and officers alike) must complete the march within the prescribed time frame to receive the “Golden Eagle”. Officers from other units who successfully complete the program may receive a position in the unit. Selected conscript soldiers from the unit have the option after having completed the whole program to complete a reserve office program and become officers in the reserve placed with the unit. Failure at any part of the training program (and in particular during the induction weeks) results in the candidate being separated from the unit and sent home. Injuries are common and injured candidates are frequently given the opportunity to come back the following year if desired.
The unit’s insignia (förbandstecken) is a parachute circumscribed by laurel leaves. This is worn in the maroon beret. The maroon beret is common head wear for parachutists in the western world’s armed forces. The individual sign of having passed the unit’s training program which culminates in the “Eagle March” is the golden eagle in metal which is worn on the left hand pocket lid – on the field uniform a textile version is worn on the upper part of the right hand sleeve. The eagle is the “real” insignia of a Fallskärmjägare as it is only given to those who completed the training program whereas the beret with the insignia is worn after having completed the first parachute jump.
“Vilja, mod och uthållighet” – Will, Courage and Endurance