Víkingasveitin (English: The Viking Team), or Sérsveit ríkislögreglustjórans (English: Special Unit of the National Police Commissioner) is the Icelandic equivalent to the SWAT teams and FBI – HRT of the United States, OMON and OSNAZ in the Russian Federation, Germany’s GSG 9 and Britain’s SAS, a small, well trained group of operatives specializing in various types of armed and unarmed infantry combat.
-The unit is tasked with several duties, including but not limited to:
-Security of the state and state officials.
-Security of foreign dignitaries.
-Support of local police forces.
Additionally, the unit is designated to protect important installations in wartime and have trained with the US-manned Iceland Defense Force in anti-special forces operations.
The Viking Team has five main squads:
Alpha Squad: A bomb squad specializing in bomb defusal.
Bravo Squad: A boat squad specializing in operations on sea and water, diving and underwater warfare, and boat operations.
Charlie Squad: A sniper squad specializing in sniper warfare, entries, and close target reconnaissance.
Delta Squad: An intelligence squad specializing in anti-terrorism intelligence, surveillance, and infiltration.
Echo Squad: An airborne squad specializing in airplane hijacking operations, skydiving and surprise assault operations, along with port security.
The Special Unit is considered to have been officially founded in 1982, when its first members finished training with Norwegian Special forces. There were many reasons for commissioning the unit, including a hijacked airliner that landed at Keflavík International Airport in 1976, Eco-terrorists who sunk whaling ships in 1986 and a few occasions of criminals using firearms against unarmed policemen. It had become clear that the Icelandic Police needed an effective tool to combat such violent, armed situations.
Members of the unit were deployed in the Balkans as a part of operations lead by NATO, and some members have been deployed to Afghanistan. The unit used to be under the command of the Reykjavík Chief of Police, however, in 1997, a new law was passed that put the unit directly under the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police.
In December of 2003, Minister of Justice, Björn Bjarnason, introduced plans to strengthen the unit in response to the War on Terrorism, and further it’s responsibility in all operational issues covering more than one local jurisdictions. To this effect, members of the unit are now stationed both in Akureyri and at Keflavík International Airport.
As of September 2006, in spite of being heavily trained in it, the use of deadly force has never been required by members of the Viking Team.
Regulation nr. 774/1998 about the National Police Commissioner’s special unit
The National Police Commissioner is responsible for situations that need central command or the collaboration of all police departments. He shall commit a special police unit to handle armed police work and security when needed wherever on land and within the economic area of Iceland.
The National Police Commissioner will have full control over the special police unit. This includes operations, size, equipment, training, management, planning and work ethics. The National Police Commissioner shall create rules about how the unit shall work.
Minister of Justice grants the Commissioner command of the special unit.
It is permissible that only the unit commanders work constantly for the Commissioner, while the others may be under the command of other police chiefs, except during training or missions.
This regulation is made according to 3. mgr. 7. gr. of police laws nr. 90/1996 and will be in force from 1 January 1999.
Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical affairs, 21. December 1998.
Armed Police in Iceland
Before World War II, Icelandic police forces received equipment and training from the Royal Danish Army for situations requiring armed force. Military equipment such as rifles, helmets, bayonets and gas masks were part of the police armories and military fatigues were worn during training, although including the distinct Icelandic Police visor cap. Incidentally, on 10 May 1940, the day Royal Marines invaded Iceland, almost all policemen in Reykjavík were conducting an armed training exercise near Laugarvatn. Only a handful of them met the marines on the pier in Reykjavík’s old harbor. However, they were ordered by a minister not to attempt to arrest the invaders.