Africa in focus

During its standby period the first six months in 2011, the Nordic Battlegroup may be deployed to almost anywhere in the world. One continent with a great many challenges is Africa. For that reason, a two-week course on Africa is currently taking place for some of the staff at NBG.

Patrick Ryan is the project manager for NBG’s Africa course (here talking to NBG’s Gender Advisor Monica Larsson). The first week was held in Enköping. Around 40 of the participants will attend an additional week of training in Kenya. Photo: Jesper Tengroth/Försvarsmakten

Around 120 people from basically all of the units included in the Nordic Battlegroup are taking part the first week. Amongst other things, lectures from the Swedish Defence Research Agency and the Folke Bernadotte Academy are on the agenda:

‘It is not entirely inconceivable that the European Union believes we should be deployed in the event of a conflict somewhere in Africa,’ says Commandant Patrick Ryan, who is an Irish officer and the project manager for the course. He works at NBG’s headquarters in Enköping.

‘For this reason, it is important that we have sound geopolitical understanding of the region, that we increase our level of knowledge in terms of how Africa looks upon its own problems and that we increase our awareness of how trafficking and other types of sexual assault, for example, are used as weapons of war.’

Patrick Ryan also points out the importance of the members of a battlegroup having sound knowledge in terms of how the climate and lack of functioning infrastructure can impact an operation.

On Tuesday, Dick Clomén from the Red Cross opened with a lecture on public international law. He is positive to the Nordic Battlegroup’s course on Africa:

‘This is one way to start mobilising before possible deployment. My lecture on public international law is only one component of many that need to be taken in – both as a person and from a purely operational point of view,’ he says.

The course will continue next week on site in Africa. Around 30 Swedes and about ten people from the other four participating countries will travel to Nairobi in Kenya to enrich their know-how at the Humanitarian Peace Support School (the Kenyan counterpart to SWEDINT):

‘All of the countries included in NBG have deployed staff to Africa, and we are naturally studying the lessons they have learned, but this cannot be compared to experience gained on location,’ concludes Patrick Ryan.