Iceland Crisis Response Unit
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|Engagements||Operation Enduring Freedom
|Col. Arnór Sigurjónsson
Col. Halli Sigurðsson
The Iceland Crisis Response Unit (ICRU) or Íslenska Friðargæslan, is an Icelandic non-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. 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 policemen 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,
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.
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
- Humanitarian and Emergency assistance
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, ongoing, as not adhering to these principles. 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.
- & Nissan Patrol armored and modified by Arctic Trucks for driving in mountainous terrain (PRT teams previously deployed in Afghanistan and Syria)
- Santana Anibal
- Iveco Eurocargo
- Hino FM 320 PD FM2PNKD-TGJ
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.
- / Heckler & Koch G3/AG-3 battle rifle
- Glock 17 pistol
- Diemaco C8 assault rifle
- Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun
- FN Minimi light machine guns
- Rheinmetall MG3 general-purpose machine guns
Ranks of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit
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|Flokkstjóri 1.||Flokkstjóri 2.||Korporáll||óbreyttur|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (August 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- ICRU Yearly report for 2007, Page 6
- http://epaper.visir.is/media/200807280000/pdf_online/1_4.pdf Interview with Erlingur Erlingsson, ICRU on amongst other PRT withdrawal
- 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.
- http://www.utanrikisraduneyti.is/frettaefni/frettatilkynningar/nr/4431 Press release on ICRU personnel status
- Þátttaka Íslands í alþjóðlegri friðargæslu (Icelandic)
- Reykjavík Grapevine 2004 issue 8
- Ársskýrsla Íslensku friðargæslunnar 2007 (Icelandic)
- Lög nr. 73 frá 2007 um Íslensku friðargæsluna (Icelandic)
- Ársskýrsla Íslensku friðargæslunnar 2006 (Icelandic)
- Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs website on the ICRU
- ICRU Yearly report for 2007
- Women, peace and security. ICRU and resolution 1325
- ICRU personnel clear cluster bombs and other unexploded ordnance in southern Lebanon
- ICRU in brief
- ICRU contributes to Balkan stability