Norwegian Army spokesperson: ‘A few rotten apples’ / News / The Foreigner

Norwegian Army spokesperson: ‘A few rotten apples’. The furore over comments made yesterday by Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan continues. Whilst the Tabloids focus on bloodthirstiness, the army is trying to cool things down. “We do not want trigger-happy personnel, but those who reflect upon what it means to be a soldier,” John Gystad, the army’s senior communications advisor tells The Foreigner. Enlisted personnel serve for one year. Soldiers who choose to continue undergo a further selection process to join the Telemark Battalion for another 12 months.

aghanistan, soldiers, norway, telemark, battalion, grete, faremo, per, sverre, opedal



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Norwegian Army spokesperson: ‘A few rotten apples’

Published on Tuesday, 28th September, 2010 at 13:37 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 29th September 2010 at 12:30.

The furore over comments made yesterday by Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan continues. Whilst the Tabloids focus on bloodthirstiness, the army is trying to cool things down.

Faremo and military head Per Sunde at yesterday's press conference
Faremo and military head Per Sunde at yesterday's press conference
Photo: Forsvarets mediesenter/Stian Lysber


Rigorous

“We do not want trigger-happy personnel, but those who reflect upon what it means to be a soldier,” John Gystad, the army’s senior communications advisor tells The Foreigner.

Enlisted personnel serve for one year. Soldiers who choose to continue undergo a further selection process to join the Telemark Battalion for another 12 months.

They have to be in good physical shape, possess proper skills, and display the right attitude, according to Gystad. Only about 20 percent who choose to join the battalion are admitted, and there are still no guarantees afterwards.

“If they pass, they can then volunteer for operations in Afghanistan and go through six months of training in weapons systems, the culture, and learning about the conflict in the country,” he says.

Thorough

Gystad claims the military’s training procedures adequately equip its soldiers for operations in Afghanistan as far as possible.

“We have a system for gathering experience and information about the conflict there, and try to train them as realistically as we can. Amongst other situations, they have to practice how to drive through villages without provoking the local inhabitants, deal with riots, as well as how to react under an ambush or attack which requires an instant response time.”

Personnel also undergo psychological training to make them more robust.

“Soldiers have to be mentally-prepared and ready to make decisions about taking life, or what do to when they see their best friend killed,” he says.

A problem

However, counselling after serving in Afghanistan is only available for those who choose to continue in the army.

Gystad admits this is a problem, and says the military is working with veteran societies to provide meeting-places to discuss things.

“We have priests and psychologists for people to talk to. What is challenging is that soldiers who have been in Afghanistan quit afterwards. Ex soldiers have told us they feel the civil counselling system does not understand what they have been through,” he says.

Spoils of war?

Yesterday’s statements by sex-starved soldiers from the Telemark Battalion were an isolated incident, according to Gystad.

“There have been examples of bad behaviour, such as fighting in pubs and being bad to girls, but 98 percent of Norwegian soldiers have a good attitude.

He alleges the media is partly to blame for what has happened.

“There has never been such massive media coverage as there has been recently, and all the bad stuff comes out at once. However, there are always small units and single people who are the rotten apples,” says Gystad.




Published on Tuesday, 28th September, 2010 at 13:37 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 29th September 2010 at 12:30.

This post has the following tags: aghanistan, soldiers, norway, telemark, battalion, grete, faremo, per, sverre, opedal.





  
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