New equipment on the way to Afghanistan

Efforts to provide more type RG32 light armoured patrol vehicles to troops in Afghanistan are in full swing right now. A complicated but vital task. Additional night vision equipment and machine guns are also being despatched there.

The RG32. Photo: Mats Carlsson/I 19

The Swedish Armed Forces continuously assess the situation in the mission area to ensure all necessary changes are made in terms of both equipment and personnel.

The planning work on despatching the vehicles began as early as last winter, when the Army Tactical Support Staff (ATS) produced a plan to ensure the equipment would be available as soon as possible in 2009. At present more than 15 RG32s are in service in Afghanistan and an additional 20 are due to arrive in the autumn.

“Naturally we want the equipment in place as soon as possible. But achieving this in the middle of the ongoing mission in Afghanistan is complex and time consuming,” explains Berndt Grundevik, Inspector General of the Swedish Army.

When the Swedish Armed Forces began its mission in Afghanistan in 2002 the security situation was different to what it is today. The type of vehicle and equipment was chosen according to the prevailing circumstances at that time.

“The situation is different today which means we need other vehicles and equipment,” says Grundevik.

As the mission in Afghanistan is a long-term undertaking, further changes can become necessary in the future.

18 RG32s fitted with type 58 machine guns are now due to be sent the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLT) in Afghanistan and these should be available for operational deployment this autumn. It also means troops will be able to fire the machine guns from the vehicles.

“This sounds fantastic. When the new equipment is available we will be properly equipped to perform the tasks facing us,” says Thomas Lindell, Head of the Swedish OMLT group.

During the first half of 2009, the Swedish Armed Forces have also supplied one platoon with the Combat Vehicle 90, several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance tasks and increased medivac teams by 40 percent.

The Swedish OMLT is made up of a group of Swedish officers and soldiers whose task is to act as mentors to the Afghan army. They are currently supporting commanders at corps and brigade level and from November also at battalion level. They are based at Camp Mike Spann, approximately 12 kilometres southwest of Mazar-e-Sharif.