An officer and a gentleman

Peter Thomsson grew up with sailing and the sea – a keen interest that has shaped his entire professional life.

Thomsson turns out at the Swedish National Defence College in Stockholm in full marine uniform. In everyday life, however, he is dressed more casually. Although employed at Saab, he is also a reserve officer, a lieutenant commander and deputy head of the naval intelligence and security service in the Swedish Armed Forces.

Thomsson recently completed further training in the intelligence services at the Swedish National Defence College and will be leaving Sweden on a mission abroad for the Naval Tactical Staff .

His agenda includes participation in a NATO exercise; he is looking forward to the trip. “In addition to the mutual benefit to both my employers when I return home, I view it as a personal benefit to be part of our defence and contribute to international efforts to reduce want and suffering,”

Thomsson says. “My previous international assignments have been extremely stimulating. They’ve given me greater understanding and a renewed, enriched perspective on an otherwise very distant setting.” Some of his most intense personal memories are from his service periods in Somalia and Afghanistan. From 2009 to 2010 Thomsson was involved in the Swedish contribution to the EU’s Operation Atalanta, which protected the ships of the UN World Food Programme agency. These ships were used to bring food and supplies to Somalia. In Afghanistan the NATO-led mission involved locating roadside bombs. On his trips around the country he saw girls going to school, something that had been opposed by the previous regime.

“I find injustice and oppression intolerable,” he says, “and this showed that the military support to the Afghan security forces had a beneficial effect.”  When his trip abroad is over, Thomsson will return to his post at Saab in Stockholm, his hometown. There his boat and life at sea –his greatest leisure interests – await him.

“I grew up with the sea,” says Thomsson. “Once a year, before the Mailboat [Postrodden] competition across the Åland Sea, I let my beard grow so that I look like a real pirate. My wife, Kajsa, is prone to seasickness, but she battles it out and accompanies us out to sea. This really impresses me.”