International collaboration

The Italian base 41 STORMO in Sicily lies at the foot of Mount Etna, and there are currently 8 countries based there. It is a wonderful mix of languages and cultures and the exchange is enormously rewarding.

Major Patrik Haraldsson. Photo: Johan Brolin/Swedish Armed Forces

Swedish personnel enjoy day-to-day exchanges foremost with our Italian hosts, but also with personnel from the U.S. Navy, as well as the Danish, Canadian and French air forces. Turkey and the United Arab Emirates share the hangar that the Swedes work in. Of course sometimes there is some language confusion, but all personnel on the base are extremely focused on solving their assignments and with the help of basic ”sign language/gesticulation” most situations can be resolved. The base itself, 41 STORMO, is an Italian base and serves as host for the visiting nations who are there. The general feeling is characterized by warmth and courtesy. It is not always easy to coordinate everyone’s interests when all nations come to the base with their own work methods, practices and cultures.

One way of managing the participating countries is the recurring Base Commander meetings which take place every week. This is when all the countries’ unit commanders meet to discuss any problems that may arise and to inform each other of their own activities which are of interest.
Colonel Fredrik Bergman, commanding officer of FL 02:
”The Italians deal with their role as the host in an exemplary manner. In our meetings, the most diverse of questions you can think of are raised, and ultimately, our hosts take these matters into account in relation to their own regulations. I am impressed with the diplomacy that is provided during our meetings. Getting all these interests to lead to a decision that is acceptable to everyone cannot be easy. ”We from the Swedish side can only conclude that we are well taken care of by our hosts and whatever we require help or support with is resolved without objection.” An example of this is the courtesy that was shown when we had an important visit from the Swedish media in early August.

Major Patrik Haraldsson has had a lot of cooperation with his Italian colleagues:
”I have a lot of contact with our hosts in my role as the person responsible for how we behave and act on the ground inside the base. Of course, the language barrier sometimes causes problems but most things can be resolved. Among other things, I have been on a training course in order to drive vehicles inside the field-practice area.
Patrik is of the opinion that much of what we do at home is good but some aspects of the training he participated in, he will definitely bring to future courses.
”The Italians have a high safety awareness with regard to the field-practice area.”