|Active||1 January 1957 – present|
|Branch||Swedish Royal Navy|
|Size||124 active duty/part-time personnel|
|Part of||The Amphibious Corps|
|Motto||Mod, kraft och spänst
("Courage, Strength and Resilience")
War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
Kustjägarna / Coastal Rangers (initials "KJ") is an amphibious special operations unit within the Swedish Amphibious Corps, which is the coastal defence arm of the Swedish Navy. They are considered to be one of Sweden's most elite units.
They are experts in what is known internationally as "brown water" or "green water operations" that can be generally described as operations in areas where the ocean meets land. Archipelagos, river deltas, large rivers, and large lakes are examples of such areas.
The Coastal Rangers was created in 1956 and modeled after the British post–World War II marine commando forces such as the Royal Marine Commandos with the objective to create a highly mobile force which had the flexibility to operate behind enemy lines and conduct raids against an invading force in the littoral areas of Sweden. Within the unit are also the frogmen (Attackdykarna) created 1955 and merged into the Coastal Rangers in 1956. The frogman unit was modeled after first the US Navy UDT in the 1950s and later the US Navy SEALs and British SBS in the 1960s. The Coastal Rangers were during the late parts of the cold war used mainly as a very highly trained light infantry/commando unit whose main tasks were amphibious landings, raids and assaults. Secondary tasks were long range reconnaissance and sabotage. Since the year 2000, however, the unit has been reorganized into its current organisation and is now composed of full-time professional personnel with emphasis on reconnaissance patrols behind enemy lines but still retain the capability to conduct direct action missions.
The Coastal Rangers Company are responsible to provide intelligence to the rest of the Amphibious Regiment. The company is divided into two elements, the Assault/Commando element (Kustjägarna/KJ) and the frogmen Reconnaissance element (Attackdykarna/A-DYK/). While both elements are experts in deep reconnaissance and direct action, the Commando element are more capable than the Reconnaissance element at direct action, but the ability to conduct underwater insertions and the high stealth capability of the Reconnaissance element makes them the favourable choice for certain reconnaissance missions.
After the first two months of training, each individual belonging to the Commando and the Reconnaissance elements get specialized training depending on their assigned tasks in the teams. There are 4–8 members in every team and the different specializations are:
Team Leader: There is also a 2nd-in-command in the team, who assists the TL (Team Leader) and takes over if the commander is killed or injured.
Communications specialist: Responsible for the teams communications equipment and the communication with the higher command. He is also trained in encryption and laser guidance as he is the one that is in charge for guiding airstrikes and artillery to located enemy targets. The extra and heavy radio equipment requires the specialist to have excellent physical stamina, although, the load is normally rotated around the team.
Medic: Responsible for tending to wounds and injuries. He is a combatant and does not carry Red Cross-markings, and is excluded from the protection that article 9 in the First Geneva convention offers to the International Red Cross "or any other impartial humanitarian organization" to provide protection and relief of wounded and sick soldiers. The medic receives 520 hours of emergency medical training and spends three weeks at a civilian hospital emergency room.
Demolitions expert: There are two demolition experts in every team. They are proficient with the use of mines and explosives. The purpose of the demolition experts is to give the teams the ability to conduct ambushes using mines, and to perform sabotage with explosives. They are trained on every mine-system in the Swedish Armed Forces and how to employ them effectively. The demolitions experts also carry the team's main support weapon, the FN MINIMI.
Each company also has support assets, and these are:
Sniper/Spotter: The snipers work in pairs and are available as a company asset as a detachment to the Company HQ. Their job is to provide intelligence through reconnaissance, but can also eliminate high value targets at long ranges.
Fire Support: Soldiers in the Fire Support Team are used to provide heavy-weapon and anti-armour support to the ranger teams when more firepower is needed, such as during deliberate attacks. The Fire Support Team can also be used as a quick reaction force to call in as aid if one of the ranger teams get pinned down in enemy contacts.
Selection and training
To be accepted to the very demanding basic Coastal Ranger course (about a year long), the candidate must already be a serving serviceman for at least one year, or have completed conscription. Applicants from all branches are accepted and the course is open to both sexes and women must meet the same standards as the men but so far, no women have been accepted into the unit. The course is similar to the British All Arms Commando Course since the candidates are already fully trained soldiers.
The applicant must pass the Coastal Ranger selection course which lasts for approx. two and a half days where the candidates are tested on their fitness, endurance and dedication. They are also put through deep interviews with psychologists and unit officers. If the candidate is deemed fit for service with the unit then he/she may attend the Coastal Ranger basic course and then move on to specialize to a specific role within a patrol. During the course, the candidate will be put through an exercise called Övning Neptun (Eng. Operation Neptune) which culminates in being awarded with the golden trident of Neptune, the unit insignia. Not until the candidate receives it can he call himself a Coastal Ranger. But before the candidate can attempt Operation Neptune he/she must pass the following tests:
- Speed march: A 6.5-kilometer (4.0 mi) run with full webbing, assault pack, weapon, uniform and combat boots (20kg) in formation and a correct pace within 40 minutes. The platoon runs together and if any recruit fails a speed march test then all recruits automatically fail that test. Even after all recruits have passed the test will it be used frequently as a way to keep the recruits in perfect physical condition.
- Obstacle course: A 5.5-kilometer (3.4 mi) obstacle course carrying the same gear as during the speed march test (20kg). The obstacle course must be completed in less than 41 minutes and the recruits run in teams to emphasize teamwork (many of the obstacles are impossible to negotiate on your own). The recruits fail or succeed as a team, which means that all members of the team must complete the obstacle course within the time limit for anyone to pass the test.
- "Kayak Infiltration test and Survival Skill Test": The recruit must pass a 120 nautical miles (220 km / 136.7 miles) kayak race which is done to simulate a long range infiltration with klepper kayaks in less than 48 hours. Right after completion of the race, the recruit must survive several days on a deserted island using the acquired survival skills.
Attrition rates today are unknown, but when the unit was made up from conscripts the most common cause for candidates to drop from the course was injuries.
The Coastal Rangers have been involved in low-intensity conflicts under UN flag, notably Kosovo and Bosnia, where they served as the intelligence platoon to KFOR, primarily working with personal based intelligence gathering. At the KS01 (HUMINT) operation a Coastal Ranger platoon relieved the Swedish Parachute Rangers (“HUMINT”). A substantial part of the Swedish unit deployed to Chad under EUFOR command in 2008 consisted of Coastal Rangers. The Coastal Rangers have also served in Afghanistan.
The unit’s insignia (förbandstecken) is the Neptune Trident, similar to the one worn by the U.S. Navy SEALs. This was worn as a cap badge on the beret, but is now worn as a patch on the M/90 field uniform and as a badge on the M/87 dress uniform. The Neptune Trident can be worn on uniforms in any unit, as it is an award for completed training, whereas the insignia shows affiliation to the particular naval unit.
The commando green beret is a common head wear within the Amphibious Corps and is a heritage from its roots with the Royal Marine Commandos. The beret was for a long time exclusive to the Coastal Rangers and was awarded to the soldiers who passed Operation Neptune, along with the trident as a cap badge, but as the rest of the amphibious battalion personnel were awarded the beret as well, sans trident, the Rangers lost their cap badge in 1994. To qualify for the green beret, both Rangers and Marines had to complete Exercise Amfibie, but now, any personnel attached to the amphibious battalion may wear it.
- "Swedish Coastal Rangers - Kustjägarna". special-ops.org. 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
- "Special Forces in International Operations - Challenge for the Future", Magnus Norell & Karin Ströberg, 2001
- Kustjägarna (costal rangers) - Swedish Navy Website
- (Swedish)Swedish Armed Forces description of the unit
- (Swedish)Kustjägarna Alumni website