Everything posted here is stricktly the opinion of the poster and shall not be taken to be the official position of UNMIS, UNMISS, UN, the Norwegian Armed Forces or any other organisation whatsoever.

Sunday 13 June 2010

End of initial training - good to be home

Lets face it - cramming three weeks worth of lessons into two weeks are going to leave you winded. I've been home for a couple of days and I'm not sure if I've landed yet or not.

The medical cases on Wedensday was very good. Instead of doing a huge case (which would have meant a few people got any real training, while the rest would be mere spectators), they had us work one on one, complete with make-up, bleeding wounds and some decent acting. Some less decent acting too, off course; we're officers, not actors on the silver screen... thankfully.

As for the IED and mine/UXO awareness... very centred on Afghanistan, less useful for me, but the bits on mines and UXOs was worth sitting through. Off course things are simplified a bit as an observer, since the UNs Standard Operating Procedure for travelling in an area that you suspect is mined simply says "Don't".

Thursday was something of a ragbag of lessons they hadn't had time for earlier - including one on the laws of war - and ending with beer and pizza in the evening, since it was the last night of the course for the UN personnel. The guys heading out for NATO still had another week to go, but not me...

Friday was spend mostly driving.. driving from Terningmoen back down to Sessvollmoen (about one hour) to grab the last odds and ends of our gear, as well as changing anything that didn't fit. Then from Sessvollmoen to Lutvann (another hour) to get the latest intelligence brief on Sudan, before driving home (a bit more than one hour) in time for food.

Overall, a busy two weeks but hopefully productive.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

First part of the second week

As I'm sure y'all can understand, I've been a little too busy to do much blogging - when I get to Sudan things shou slow down a lot... everyone I talk to who has been down there points out the laid back approach to life all the non-europeans have down there. If it don't happen today, it may happpen tomorrow - unless it rains and we can't drive anywhere.

Monday was - apart from driving up here in the morning - more briefs and 'exchange of experience'. A fair bit of the later was very Afganistan spesifi, but still interesting to understand what is going o in that part of the world and to reaffirm my determination no to go there if I can at all avoid it.

Tuesday was a medical day - starting with a brief about the healthrisks in the area of operation (AO), and followng up with a brief on how to cope with stress caused by extreme situations irncluding, but not limited too, the after effects of decades of civil war in Sidan. The cliff notes of the former is "keep your hands clean" and "don't panic, most critters will rather run away", and of the later they read "it helps to talk about it, the sooner the better" as well as "call family daily". The last advice I'll have no trouble following - even less so since the options include the sat-phone (paid by the goverment, but don't abuse it), the UN phone system (cheap as dirt) as well as a - apperantly - well built out cell phone network.

Wedensday is meant to be a pretty 'hot' day - IEDs and mine awareness, complete with a medical excercise. I just hope the weather turns at least decent... tuesday was very wet.

The list of nice-to-bring item keeps growing, yet stays manageble by the simple fact that virtually anything can be bought in the capital before I am deployed to the teamsite. Of the things experienced voices suggests, the top items are a waterboiler, instant soup and oatmeal. Most teamsites offers decent - if somewhat pricey by the local standard - messhalls, which serves big, filling lunches... that means only breakfast and an evening snack needs to be prepared in the container if I don't feel like cooking.

Time to get cracking... only a few more days of training, and the intructors are making sure we dont waste time.

Friday 4 June 2010

Initial weeks, days three through five

One thing is certain - we're not lacking in things to do and stuff to learn. They keep us going from 0730 to 2030 and beyond - every single day. Mostly briefs, but also more hands on work.

Wednesday evening we had the official course opening at Løiten Brenneri - the old, local distillery. A decent enough dinner followed by a reenactment / show / walk through of the actual still. Quite instructive and rather fun, in particular the part covering the prohibition

Thursday was set aside - for the most part - for CAC, or Conduct After Capture. We've come a long way from the name-number-rank I was taught when I first trained... but then the focus has shifted from conventional war to a more, how to put it, fluid situation. Thankfully it wont really apply for me in Sudan - the danger there is crime, not crazy fundies.

Today we're going to have yet more briefs before allowed home for the weekend. I'm looking forward to that.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Initialuker - Initial weeks

I've decided to revive this blog, since I'm once again doing something that is relevant to it – I'm having two weeks of briefs, training and getting loot from the depot. The first day have been okay, with medical check-ups (apparently, I'm in good shape), paper work and drawing equipment from the quartermasters. They given us some neat gear, I'm particularly fascinated by the ceramic filter water pump – it looks simple, foolproof and in theory ever lasting (even if it does come with a go / no go gauge for the filter element). Even so, I think I'll spend the extra money to buy bottled water in Sudan...

The barracks they have put us in is okay – simple, but functional. Even have the luxury of private bathrooms, but no WiFi... so I'll try to post this from the MWR building in the morning after breakfast. I should have a fair bit of time, we don't get cracking until 8am.

Had an early night – it was a long day and a long drive to get here. And remember: If I don't post something every day it's not because something is wrong – I might simply be busy.

Day two was more briefs - lots of talk about money and leave. Needless to say, everybody was paying attention. Will try for another early night - it's hard work to sit in a classroom all day