Mænd af det rette stof. Selektionspraksis i den arktiske militære eliteenhed. Slædepatruljen Sirius 1950-2015


  • Alice Juel Jacobsen
  • Christian Ydesen


The Right Stuff. Selection practices in The Sirius Dog Sled Patrol, an elite military unit in the Arctic 1950–2015
This article investigates the development of the selection practice for the Danish Army’s Sirius unit. The dog sled patrol protects the sovereignty of the realm and maintains surveillance in Northeast Greenland by patrolling the uninhabited national park. The investigation is primarily based on interviews with former, retired and current managers of the unit, as well as psychologists involved in the selection practice. Four empirically and contextually substantiated chronological intersections of the selection-period of practice are compared: The first intersection covers the establishment of the patrol in the beginning of the 1950s. The second intersection covers the span of years from the 1960s to 1990, during which a basic selection practice was developed and institutionalized. The third intersection covers a ten-year span from 1990 to the millennium. Several noteworthy changes in the selection took place in this period. The forth intersection describes the current selection practice and puts the selection process in perspective. The investigation documents a significant evolution in selection practices over time. What began as an intuitive selection of the first patrol has become a comprehensive and systematic approach, but the basic concern remains the same. Duty in the Arctic is no picnic. A successful recruit must have ‘the right stuff’. From a testing perspective in sociological historical optics, it appears that societal and cultural trends have influenced the selection indicators and goals, and more elements have gradually been added to the testing procedure. A discretionary assessment made on the basis of Sirius participants’ experiences appears always to have been part of the selection. Psychological testing, a significant breakthrough, was added to the selection process in the late 1960s and it has played a prominent role ever since. During the 1990s, physical testing became a third decisive parameter of the selection process. This process is currently terminated with a test that assesses both psychic robustness and physical endurance. On the basis of the testing literature it may be added that measurement indicators and the testing itself have a formative influence on the recruits. Seen in this light, the article concludes that if the men are indeed made of the right stuff, to a certain extent this is so because they are constructed as an elite by the comprehensive selection procedure.





Jacobsen, A. J., & Ydesen, C. (2019). Mænd af det rette stof. Selektionspraksis i den arktiske militære eliteenhed. Slædepatruljen Sirius 1950-2015. Historisk Tidsskrift, 118(2), 118:2, 401–426. Hentet fra https://tidsskrift.dk/historisktidsskrift/article/view/115504