The police dimension

Police officer Håkan Svedberg has served on six missions and is now, with his five colleagues, providing the police dimension for VIKING 08.

Håkan Svedberg. Photo: Hanna Lönn

In real life Håkan works at SWEDINT where he is responsible for preparing police officers for international service abroad. His own most recent service abroad was for the EU in Darfur in 2005-2006. That operation differed from the fictitious Bogaland scenario in that it was the African Union that had invited them in. The mission had no UN mandate and thus had limited powers. The operation in East Timor, where he also took part, was more like Bogaland, he says. 

In that case the UN had to go in and support the whole apparatus of government. Negotiations had collapsed and fighting between militias had broken out, so the UN resolved to send in forces to separate the combatants and protect the inhabitants from violence. Other UN agencies could then come in to help build up the state apparatus. There was no proper structure of government in the area, he adds.

“I was there in a policing role.  I drove a radio car and was called to local disturbances and the like, just as an ordinary police officer would be in Sweden.”

Isn’t it difficult to draw a dividing line between what is a policing and what is a military responsibility? For example in Afghanistan where the Swedish military are supporting the local police?
“No, I don’t think so. It is the security situation that decides whether or not we can mount a purely policing operation. The police always come in at a later stage when the fighting has stopped,” says Håkan. In Afghanistan, however, three Swedish police officers are members of the EU force EUROPOL. Previously there were also Swedish police officers in ISAF but Sweden has since decided to focus on the EU force.

What does the exercise give you?
“We are not here to be trained but rather to provide a police dimension for the military participants. We pilot them through our system so that they can make use of our services when they are out on a mission. But then we also learn a lot from it, for example how we can integrate with the various actors in the conflict areas,” says Håkan Svedberg.