The soldiers that will make up CIMIC units in NBG 11 are being trained to become better at making contacts and creating networks with civilians, aid organisations, village elders, the UN, the UNHCR, other organisations and other military personnel. Their task within the unit is to make contacts and collect information for support for decisions made in the NBG headquarters. During the course, the CIMIC teams are being trained in mixed groups with people from Ireland, Finland and Sweden in order to be able to find out about each other’s experiences and knowledge. A Norwegian team will also be included in the NBG’s CIMIC group.
“In the event of a mission, we will find ourselves in a very complex environment with many different parties. We must be able to establish relationships with and exchange information with these parties early on. The CIMIC capabilities are extremely central to ensuring that an operation achieves as quick and as good an effect as possible,” says the Nordic Battlegroup’s Force Commander, Brigadier General Stefan Andersson.
One of the course participants is Major Peter Ingvarsson who otherwise works at the Air Defence Regiment in Halmstad. He has just returned to the classroom at SWEDINT with his CIMIC team in order to write a report about one of the scenarios practised during the day. They have met a rebel group with which they have not previously had contact. The team’s task was to obtain as much information as possible about the group and its leader as well as to create and maintain a good relationship with them.
“It’s been a good day. The writing of the report, which we will start now, is very important. It’s the information that we write that’s passed on within the headquarters to the NBG’s leadership. It’s essential that we write in detail about concrete things, but also about our feelings and about the atmosphere of an encounter where contact is made,” says Peter.
Peter explains that he believes it is important to work actively with CIMIC, something that did not exist within the previous NBG structure.
“I believe that we must approach the local inhabitants and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations, such as aid organisations) and make contacts, but also explain why we are there. We’re the ones that must clear the way for being able to solve the greater military task more easily and try to set up everything for aid organisations that perhaps cannot move within an area unless we, the military, are on hand to stabilise the safety situation.”
Frank Larsson, who is the course leader for CIMIC at SWEDINT, explains that a large part of the course deals with communication and how to make contact with people in different contexts and situations.
“It can very well be that the local population, militia groups or rebels with different causes don’t want to speak to us. It may be dangerous to be seen talking to us for example, and sometimes personal chemistry or our timing can be wrong. These are all things that must be taken into consideration and worked with.”
The Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) is also playing an active part in the course, mainly in the evaluation during and after the course in order to be able to develop it. Large parts of the course are being filmed and photographed in order to facilitate the evaluation of individual exercise phases and the course as a whole.