I am a soldier and a ranger – a specialist in reconnaissance, intelligence, and covert operations. I never wanted to be a soldier, but I found that I excelled at it. I have fired my weapons in anger, infiltrated terrorist groups, and made and burnt sources. Number 788 is my story.

Being good at doing bad things is not always a blessing. You can’t be the judge, only the executioner. The concept of ‘for the greater good’ always has a flip side. You are moving and living in the shadows. The ones in control grant you the ultimate power of life, but a life lived in the shadows is never your own.

My development was slow and meticulous; it was improvised and innovative. Now, I write about this and what it was like to be pushed past the brink of what I thought was humanly possible. My story may excite some and bore others, but it is not a self-help story for those looking for solutions on paper – I aim to share my flawed path, lessons learned, relationships forged, revelations of self and the workings of others, with the very small hope of inspiring a few new generation warriors.

I was trained at a unique time, as I joined the forces after the Cold War but just before the attacks of 9-11. During my formation, the lack of controls and regulation came with tremendous risks but also significant opportunities – I seized them. I am the product of brave officers who took action with great personal risk to save a regiment without permission and by asking for forgiveness later. Officers who believed in the saying, ‘Who Dares Wins’. I share my small place as a silent mediator between the light and shadows in the long and flawed history of Western and Nordic fighters.

The broader context of this story is that the end of the Cold War and subsequent peacekeeping missions caught the Swedish military flatfooted when the War on Terror came around. The need for special operations forces was in high demand, but for the most part, Sweden lacked this niche capability. While still in its conceptual form, the International Ranger Platoon, an elite force that became a Special Purpose Unit within the Ranger Battalion, was used to fill the gap. Newly recruited, I was drawn to the challenge and adventure of it all; I took on the tough selection course – the reward was to be part of something new – the Special Purpose Units.