Fält scholarship for 2007: The Armed Forces’ first military mountain guide

Mikael Amlert from Kiruna, a military mountain guide, alpine rescuer and home defence platoon commander, is the Fält Scholarship recipient for 2007.

The Home Guard in Kiruna organizes alpine rescue in the area together with the local police and also trains parachute rangers from K3 in Karlsborg. Photo: FBB/Ulf Petersson

Lieutenant Mikael Amlert provides a considerable contrast from last year’s Fält Scholarship recipient from the Swedish Association for the Promotion of Outdoor Life’s pre-school unit “In Rain and Shine.”

“Not at all, actually,” says Jury Chairman Tor Cavalli Björkman. “In both cases, the award is about spreading knowledge about nature and having respect for the environment around us in all of its forms. You can never start too early.”

Mikael Amlert also sets an example. As the first Swede, he completed training as a military mountain guide at Gebirgs- und Winterkampfschule in the village of Mittenwald in Bayern, Germany during the years 1997-1998. But what does a military guide do?

“We try to make things as safe as possible for those who follow behind us by marking roads, putting up ropes and avalanche control blasting, as well as acting as a one-man scout patrol,” relates Mikael Amlert.
And who follows behind?

“Army rangers who themselves have excellent knowledge of mountain conditions,” says Mikael.

Alpine mountain rescue
When the Lapland Army Rangers (I22 in Kiruna) were disbanded in 2000, Lieutenant Mikael Amlert transferred to the Home Guard, where he is a platoon commander and trains parachute rangers from K3 in Karlsbrog.

Yes, you read that right. The parachute rangers are one of the units that receive core portions of their winter training via the Home Guard in Kiruna. In addition, there are rumours that SPG, the Special Protection Group, is also trained here to enable them to operate in high alpine mountain terrain.

As if this was not enough, the Home Guard also organizes the alpine mountain rescue service in the area, naturally in close co-operation with the police.
“It’s an excellent organization. As Home Guardsmen, we constantly receive training in coordination services, command and control, liason, leadership and bivouacking,” says Platoon cpCommander Amlert.

Other tasks for the Kiruna Home Guard’s 12-man strong alpine unit are reconnaissance of roads, checking the safety of paths and maintaining fixed climbing walls for conscripts training in mountain terrain.

Survival scholarship
Mikael Amlert received the Survival Scholarship awarded by the Armed Forces and the Survival School at the Home Guard’s annual meeting, which is its governing body and met in Bålsta on a weekend in November. A giant symbolic check in the amount of SEK 15,000 was presented by the National Home Guard Commander Roland Ekenberg and Major Tor Cavalli-Björkman, head of the Survival School. Brigadier General Ekenberg cited the jury’s motivation:

“By setting a personal example, Mikael Amlert promotes awareness that careful preparations are essential for being able to operate in extreme situations, regardless of whether it is a question of personal performance in climbing the mountains and alps of the world or as a member of a mountain rescue team saving human life under the most perilous conditions.

“As the Armed Forces first military mountain guide, Amlert has contributed knowledge that is used in the training of the Swedish Armed Forces’ special units and in international exercises in alpine environments.”

Antarctic expedition
The participants at the Home Guard’s annual meeting also learned that Mikael Amlert has other accomplishments on his merit list. He trains scientific expeditions to the polar regions, and specifically to the Antarctic, on behalf of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.

“My task is to prepare the researchers for the special external conditions prevailing in the Antarctic and then to lead a group on location across terrain in which the treacherous fissure areas are a constant threat,” says Mikael.

Footnote: The Fält Scholarship is named after the founder of the Swedish Armed Forces’ Survival School Lars Fält and is to be awarded for “own education and/or dissemination of knowledge in the broad area of survival.”

Previous Fält Scholarship recipients

2006 Harriet W. Guter – pioneer in the Swedish Association for the Promotion of Outdoor Life’s pre-school unit “In Rain and Shine.”
2005 Kent Härstedt – promoter of knowledge “The prepared survive.”
2004 Robert Nyhlén – Air Force officer, rescue of military personnel in war zone
2003 Lars Fält – founder of the Survival School, author
2002 Maria Ingemarsson – instructor in the Mountain Rescue Service
2001 Per Anders Hurri – Reindeer-owning Lapplander, living with nature
2000 Ola Rignell – test pilot, initiator of survival training for pilots
1999 Dan Persson – police chief, searches for missing persons
1998 Stefan Borg – war correspondent with survival skills
1997 Lars Wallgren – Marine officer, ancient navigation skills
1996 Lars Persson – Army officer, clearing of personnel mines
1995 Harry Sepp – educator, children’s project Hitta Vilse
1994 John Jouper – physiologist, natural pain relief with long ancestry
1993 Ken Fjällborg – dog team leader, work in arctic climate

Jury for the Fält Scholarship
The jury consists of the head of the Armed Forces Survival School, Major Tor Cavalli-Björkman and the editors Ulf Petersson and Sven-Åke Haglund (Information Staff at Defence Headquarters). Honorary jury member: Lars Fält, founder of the Survival School.

Text: Sven-Åke Haglund