Iceland Crisis Response Unit

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Iceland Crisis Response Unit
Íslenska Friðargæslan
Active1990s – present
Country Iceland
  • 200 roster (2007)
  • 30 deployed (2007)
Prime MinisterKatrín Jakobsdóttir
Minister for Foreign AffairsGuðlaugur Þór Þórðarson
Colonel Arnór Sigurjónsson
Colonel Halli Sigurðsson
Col. Gunnar Friðriksson

The Iceland Crisis Response Unit (ICRU; Icelandic: Íslenska Friðargæslan) is an Icelandic para-military unit with a capacity roster of up to 200 people, of whom about 30 are active at any given time. It is operated by the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[1] It is primarily designated for peacekeeping operations and was established in the 1990s to participate in operations and peacekeeping projects, including in support of NATO peacekeeping operations. That role later evolved into providing an appropriate forum for deploying personnel within other organizations such as with OSCE field missions as well as with UN DPKO, and organizations such as UNIFEM, UNRWA and UNICEF.

The ICRU personnel has been deployed to the former territories of Yugoslavia, Kosovo and Afghanistan through NATO missions and UNIFEM and to the Middle East and North Africa with UNICEF, UNRWA and UNHCR. It had a civilian observer mission in Sri Lanka in co-operation with Norway (previously a Nordic mission) and has explosive ordnance disposal personnel from the Icelandic Coast Guard to Lebanon and Iraq.

Iceland deployed its first peacekeepers in 1950, when two Icelandic police officers were sent to Palestine as a part of an UN peacekeeping operation. Though many Icelandic specialists have taken part in various peacekeeping operations since, mostly within the UN and its organizations but also within NATO, it was not until the 1990s that organized participation in peacekeeping operations was initiated, formalized with the establishment of the ICRU in 2001.

In 2008, a portion of uniformed ICRU deployed personnel still armed for self-defense returned their weapons and changed to civilian clothing. The policy since 2008, is that, unless under special circumstances, ICRU personnel do not wear uniforms or carry weapons.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Iceland oversees the roster and deployment of personnel.[2]


The deployed personnel of the ICRU were experts, including Icelandic policemen, Coast Guardsmen and others that had relative training for the concerned institutions. in addition to those mentioned above, these backgrounds range from logistical backgrounds, medical or engineering backgrounds, social sciences and so on. But now, after a law was passed in 2007 the "peacekeepers" need a college degree. In 2014, it's much more of an aid squad rather than peacekeepers.

The previously deployed doctors, nurses, those deployed as Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) as well as those working at Kabul International Airport (KAIA) were trained by the Norwegian Defence Force (previously the United Kingdom Armed Forces as well) as they were expected to merge into a military environment and the PRT's as well as those working at Kabul airport would be armed.[3]

The ICRU roster members receive training and exercise in line with their deployment, but no military training from 2009. The legal basis for the ICRU is set in Icelandic law on ICRU, No. 73/2007


The ICRU classifies its operations in the following manner:

  • Peacekeeping and Crisis management
  • Observer missions
  • Reconstruction
  • Humanitarian and Emergency assistance

Intelligence gathering[edit]

The National Commissioner of Iceland is charged with intelligence gathering for national security purposes as well as expeditionary peacekeeping operations. The Defence Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs oversees military related intelligence and cooperation in that field.


It is often claimed that Iceland has a tradition of non-militarisation and should therefore practice pacifism. The ICRU's existence, among other things, has thus generated much controversy amongst Icelandic socialists, Social Democrats, Left-green and other people on the left-wing in Icelandic politics, with the main focus on ICRU deployments with NATO in Iraq, finalized in 2007, and in Afghanistan, finalized in 2019, as not adhering to these principles.[4] This criticism was particularly fierce when Icelandic peacekeepers were injured in a suicide bombing in Kabul in 2004.

In 2008, some of these concerns were addressed when a portion of ICRU deployed personnel still wearing a uniform and carrying weapons for self-defense, changed to civilian clothing and returned their weapons. According to the then Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, ICRU personnel do not wear uniforms or carry weapons unless under special circumstances and then only those that have had the appropriate training.[5]



Small arms[edit]

PRT teams previously deployed in Afghanistan as well as those previously working in Kabul International Airport were supplied with the weaponry and ammunition the military forces they are cooperating with use. The standard weaponry was in most cases however of Norwegian origin.[6]

Ranks of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit[edit]


NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Iceland Iceland Crisis Response Unit
Iceland OF-5.svg Iceland OF-4.svg Iceland OF-3.svg Iceland OF-2.svg Iceland OF-1b.svg Iceland OF-1a.svg
Ofursti Undirofursti Majór Höfuðsmaður Liðsforingi Undirliðsforingi


NATO code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Iceland Iceland Crisis Response Unit
Iceland OR-6.svg Iceland OR-5.svg Iceland OR-4.svg Iceland OR-1.svg
Flokkstjóri 1. Flokkstjóri 2. Korporáll óbreyttur

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2008). "Iceland Crisis Response Unit: Annual report 2007" (PDF). Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs. ISSN 1670-7974. Retrieved 5 October 2017. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-20. Retrieved 2014-10-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-08-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Interview with Erlingur Erlingsson, ICRU on amongst other PRT withdrawal
  4. ^ Kristín Loftsdóttir and Helga Björnsdóttir, 'The 'Jeep-Gangsters' from Iceland: Local Development Assistance in a Global Perspective', Critique of Anthropology, 30 (2010), 23--39. DOI: 10.1177/0308275X09345423; Kristín Loftsdóttir, 'Whiteness is from Another World: Gender, Icelandic International Development and Multiculturalism', European Journal of Women’s Studies, 19 (2012), 41–54.
  5. ^ Press release on ICRU personnel status[dead link]
  6. ^[dead link]

External links[edit]