Special forces enquiry

In the wake of the events during Operation Artemis, an enquiry will be held into the leadership and culture prevailing in special forces units. While the enquiry is in progress, changes will also be made in the command arrangements for these units."We have a serious situation here and I fully intend to get to the bottom of it", says Supreme Commander Håkan Syrén.

Operation Artemis in Congo. Photo: Försvarsmakten

The Supreme Commander has decided that the Swedish Armed Forces’ Director of Operations, Anders Lindström, supported by Headquarters staffs and in collaboration with the Department of Leadership and Management at the National Defence College as well as with representatives of the personnel organisations, will examine such areas as leadership, conflict management, matters of confidentiality, culture, management and discipline within, and associated with, special forces units.

The background to this is the debate relating to how Swedish special forces officers, and their local commander, acted in connection with the interrogation by French soldiers of a Congolese man in the French-Swedish camp during Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003. The Swedish enquiry already carried out into the incident itself indicates that the prisoner was in all probability subjected to torture-like methods of interrogation and that the officer in charge of the Swedish contingent did not immediately report the incident back to Armed Forces Headquarters.

Clarification of the situation
"I wish to clarify a number of aspects of the situation existing within special forces units, a matter that has already been the subject of discussion and rumour. We have to get to the bottom of these issues and to ascertain what the situation really is. Actually I believe that we only stand to gain from this enquiry, not least the special forces units who will be able to speak for themselves."

For the duration of the enquiry, Rear Admiral Jörgen Ericsson, who has overall responsibility for special forces and was the senior commander responsible for the Swedish operation in Congo, will attend to other duties. His special forces responsibilities will be temporarily assumed by the Director of Operations, Lieutenant General Anders Lindström.
"If this enquiry is to be credible, it cannot be conducted by those who, rightly or wrongly, have been named in the press. They will therefore temporarily step aside", says the Supreme Commander.

Earlier action
The reason why the initial Swedish enquiry was delayed until 2007 was that, until that time, there had been nothing but rumours, and conflicting rumours at that, about what had happened in Congo in 2003.
"What I have learned personally from this affair is that I must take earlier action, even if only on the basis of rumour", the Supreme Commander adds.

He emphasises the point that the special forces unit made a very valuable contribution in Congo in 2003.

"Artemis was an extremely difficult operation conducted under terrible conditions. Hundreds of thousands of people were persecuted and driven out by militia soldiers. They witnessed some dreadful scenes. Special forces units have been successful and they did a really good job out there. Our special forces are held in high esteem internationally. I also know that they have to face extremely difficult missions. If we are to succeed, we have to earn trust and respect. That is what we now have to re-create", concludes Supreme Commander Håkan Syrén.