Soldiers may get shorter foreign missions

The Norwegian Department of Defense will discuss whether or not to shorten the length of foreign missions after receiving reports from Norwegian soldiers in Iraq.

A survey of Norwegian soldiers who served in Iraq revealed that many of the soldiers experienced the mission as a great strain and the deployment of the first batch of troops should have been shorter.

The findings have been noted at the Ministry of Defense.

«These are findings that we will take into account in the further planning,» said Bengt Eidem, political advisor, to TV 2 Nettavisen. «Some operations may be completely unproblematic, while others, we have gotten feedback that the first deployment could have been shorter. This is crystal clear feedback.»

Viewed as occopation forces
The survey was conducted the researchers Lars Wiseth, Terje Olav Rød and Arnfinn Tønnessen at Nasjonalt kunnskapssenter for vold og traumatisk stress (national center for violence and traumatic stress) at Ullevaal University Hospital in Oslo, on behalf of the Norwegian military. Among the Iraq soldiers several mentioned the strain of being viewed as occupations soldiers both in Iraq and in Norway.

«It is a greater threat and risk that something is going to happen, aggression directed against us as a part of the US-directed forces, we are a part of the conflict,» wrote one of the soldiers.

A different view
Capt. Hans Kristian Strand participated in the first batch of Norwegian engineer soldiers in Iraq. He did not partake in the survey, and he said that he is not familiar with the descriptions given.

«It was not common among Iraqis to view us as occupation soldiers,» Strand said to TV 2 Nettavisen. «I did not feel like an occupation soldier.»

«We worked on the ground, the locals recognized us,» Strand continued. «Some threw some stones, but we never felt threatened like it has been described back home.»

He said that he would not mind going back in a year or so, for six months if possible.

Sensational job
Strand states that the engineer soldiers did a sensational job in southern Iraq building roads, repairing power networks and the water supply network for the local inhabitants in the area around Basra.

«But it’s not the type of sensations the media wish to write about,» Strand said.

Strand stated that Norwegian politicians should refrain from arguing about the number of soldiers deployed, when the soldiers already have been deported.

«When there are politicians sitting at home and do not have a clue of what is going on, they should just stand behind the decision, instead of talking about things they do not know anything about,» Strand concluded.

Eidem said he understands that the Iraq soldiers perceive the debate at home as difficult and understand the criticism of the Ministry of Defense.

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