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Sweden, Intelligence and Security

Sweden, Intelligence and Security

Sweden established its national intelligence services in 1937, in response to escalating political and military tensions in Europe and the rise of Nazi Germany. While the Swedish military had maintained a unit of trained espionage and counterespionage agents since the early nineteenth century, the nation lacked a modern and specialized intelligence force. The initial intelligence services consisted of a central intelligence agency, a cryptology department, and a signals intelligence department.

Sweden's cryptology department, despite rudimentary equipment, quickly gained fame. In cooperation with the the signals intelligence department and the Navy, Swedish intelligence intercepted and deciphered nearly half of all German radio and wire transmissions in the years immediately preceding World War II. During the War, Nazi Germany considered Sweden's cryptology department on of its primary security threats. Sweden's intelligence services and cryptologists worked closely with some Allied forces, and in the eary war years, provided key information to British cryptologists at Bletchley Park.

After the war, Sweden's geographic location made it a useful station for monitoring Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Today, Sweden is a member of the European Union and contributes signals intelligence, as well as cryptological technology, to European cooperative intelligence operations. Though the country has a stated policy of neutrality, Sweden maintains one of Europe's largest and best-equipped intelligence forces.

The Swedish intelligence community does not use the traditional internal and external intelligence divisions within its various branches. Though operational units may be more specialized, military and civilian intelligence and security forces in Sweden collect both internal and foreign data. Government and military agencies often coordinate operations, especially in the areas of signals and counterintelligence.

The Military Intelligence and Security Directorate (MUST) oversees Swedish military intelligence operations. The agency coordinates intelligence operations with various specialized military units. The Special Protection Group (SSG) is the military's highly trained intelligence and special forces unit. The SSG protects intelligence and military installations. A Military Police division, with a specially trained covert operations unit called the Military Police Rangers (MPJ), is charged with the protection of military property and defense of national security.

The National Security Service (SAPO) is Sweden's primary government intelligence service. SAPO directs maintains several operational branches, including signals intelligence, counterintelligence, and a national police force. The agency oversees and both foreign and domestic surveillance and analyzes intelligence data. The national police force is the main action unit of the SAPO, and maintains important operational divisions of its own, including the ONI, the Swedish national police counterterrorism unit. The unit has special operational and military action powers to seek out and apprehend terrorists inside Sweden's boarders and throughout Europe, with the aid of foreign intelligence agencies.

In response to growing concern about global terrorism, Sweden joined the European Union international task force to combat terrorism.


European Union

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