Seminar for platoon commanders breaks down barriers

Peter Norén from F 17 in Såtenäs and Christoffer Lennings from Amf 1, Berga, were two of the platoon commanders at this year's conference in Vellinge, located to the south of Stockholm. They went home with shared experiences, broken barriers and good ideas.

Peter Norén from F 17 in Såtenäs and Christoffer Lennings from Amf 1, Berga. Photo: Swedish Armed Forces

“Absolutely, I had great use of the conference. The best aspect is that officers at this level ,from different parts of the Armed Forces, have the opportunity to meet and exchange experiences. It breaks down barriers and dispels misleading preconceptions at the same time as one can learn from how others have undertaken work with core values. What works, and what does not”, says Captain Christoffer Lennings from Amf 1.

Captain Peter Norén also found the conference valuable.
“Firstly because of being able to see that other units and branches of the Armed Forces have the same sort of problems that we are trying to resolve back home. Both were met with a great openness for good ideas from the other units, but also some divided opinions on how core values, and attitude surveys, should be looked upon.
 I think it often depends on what you've done previously, for example if you have been on international service or if there is a gender mix in the platoon. . Those missing that experience can often let fall remarks that are a little narrow-minded, and that's down to ignorance or fear of the unknown”, according to Peter Norén.

At Company level

Not much has happened in regard to working with core values at F 17 after the conference, but there has been a lot of activity at Amf 1.Each company has, among other measures taken, undertaken discussion seminars as a starting point and set up a common course in the new firing regulations for all soldiers and officers up to the level of captain. exercises have been performed with the 4th Naval Warfare Flotilla for the first time.
“We can accomplish a greater effect when we are on manoeuvres together, we can draw upon "lessons learned" and jointly develop our operational capabilities. The previously watertight divide between the marines and the navy has been erased with this development”, says Christoffer Lennings.

What would you do?

Lennings comments on how he likes to make use of different values based case studies during "Platoon Hour", in which various scenarios are presented with the question "what would you do?". 
“It is a good way of taking up concrete situations in which there is no self-evident right or wrong thing to do, simply different ways of dealing with the issue. It gets you thinking.”

The complaint that work with core values is an extra chore is not one that Lennings or Norén recognise.
“I think that's based on a false perception, for example the media's slant on the matter, reducing the Armed Forces core values project to a simple questionnaire that is supposed to cost 101 million kronor. But it's so much more than that, even if it isn't something that's a drag and takes up too much time. It's more of a way of looking at our surroundings and colleagues”, according to Peter Norén.

Fact file: Core values and the platoon commander's conference

  • This year's conference involved themed discussions on the 2007 attitudes survey and "National Service soldier meets National Service soldier", the significance of leadership for operations and safety culture.
  • As way of rounding off the conference each unit was invited to present the three most important ideas or proposals for action that they would take home with them from the conference.
  • Included among the conclusions that were presented can the following be mentioned: the significance of organising own local platoon commander seminars and using the attitudes survey as a basis for further development, of developing leadership through courses on developmental leadership and guidance training in the basics of educational theory and the importance of support from unit commanders.
  • 69 people participated from units of the Armed Forces: 47 platoon commanders, 16 of those responsible for managing training as well as six instructors/ administrators.
  • 11 participants came from Headquarters, the council for National Service personnel, the National Service Administration, Armed Forces Recruitment Centre and the National Defence College.