February 12, 2014:
Sweden, though neutral since the early 19th century, has occasionally sent some of its troops into combat. This tends to be kept quiet, since the Swedes involved are usually involved in peacekeeping or special operations type missions. Some details were recently revealed when journalists went over the diaries of dead Islamic terrorists and found at least two who were reported to have been killed by Swedes in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. The Swedes involved were probably from the SSG (Special Protection Group). Members of this organization had been in Afghanistan since 2002 to help train Afghan special operations troops and provide security for senior Afghans on special occasions. For example, SSG men were part of the security detail for the visit of the last king of Afghanistan in 2002. Apparently SIG (Special Reconnaissance Group) commandoes were also in Afghanistan to do training and carry out some operations. The Swedes often went on raids with Afghans they had trained as commandos. This is believed to have happened up to a hundred times, or more. This was considered part of their training duties and it was apparently during these operations that Swedes exchanged fire with Taliban gunmen.
The SSG and SIG were merged in 2011 to form SOG (Special Operations Group). That gave Sweden about 120 trained operators (special operations troops) who now learn to handle the specialties each group had developed. The SSG was more the classic commando, handling hostage rescue, high level security and raids. SIG specialized in long range reconnaissance, often deep in hostile territory. Before the merger SSG was believed to have 60-80 operators while SIG had 50-70. SOG operators are believed to be as capable as those in the American Delta Force or SEAL Team 6 and are highly regarded by their peers.
The new SOG recruits from the military and civilians. There is a two week evaluation that is grueling and eliminates most candidates. Those that pass go onto 12 months of training, which also flunks out a lot of the trainees. After that it takes several years of service to become fully operational. SOG men (and apparently a few women) are in big demand for peacekeeping missions, where there are always some situations that require the services of a few highly skilled commandos. It was never officially revealed exactly how much time the Swedes were allowed to go out into the hills. It is known that the Swedes trained with American and other Western special operations troops. U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has long had a program for this kind of joint training so that operators from different countries can learn how each other operates. This comes in handy when operators from several different countries are called on (usually on short notice) to carry out a joint mission.