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- There is no contradiction between the peace movement, the Home Defense or the Defense

MODERN TIMES is on the scene, asking Home Guard soldiers who participated in the Trident Juncture exercise in Central Norway recently, why they joined the military and their relationship with war.


A crow flies away from the military helicopter flying low through the village. A dog listens attentively, nor is it used to a motor clock right across the house. Three horses grazing on a ground begin to run while violent sounds in the air above them breathe in their necks.
I am in central Norway during NATO Trident Juncture. In the airspace over the animals that are disturbed in what is otherwise a peaceful pasture area, military tactics are now practiced with helicopters such as Danish NH90, Norwegian Bell 412 and US CH-53 and AH-64 Apache.
In October and November, NATO has conducted the largest military exercise in Norway since the 1980 years, where one of the goals is to train to receive Allied forces if Norway needs to be defended. Of just over 50 000 soldiers from 31 countries, the United States with its 14 000 soldiers had the greatest strength in Trident Juncture. Norway posed with 10 800 soldiers.

Builds bridge

'I have chosen this profession, but what are the consequences?' Martin Borg

Three miles south of the extensive helicopter traffic in the air lies Telneset, a branch in Tynset municipality, north of Hedmark county. Here it is practiced to build a new bridge, a so-called floating ferry, after the original bridge has been blown up by the enemy. A mat is laid on the ground from a ground into the water. It protects cultivable land so that it is not damaged by military vehicles. The tanks can weigh up to 62 tons. Four floating bridges hold the motorized iguana bridge up, and thus one can move vehicles from one side of Glomma to the other. The work of laying the new bridge is an assignment that has involved Norwegian, British and German forces. Such a bridge can take up to 12 hours to build in a war situation, depending on whether the area is safe or not.

"Exciting and educational."

Martin Borg is the commander of the Brigade Nord engineering battalion and is responsible for this part of the exercise. Borg has participated in NATO exercises in the past and has thought that such an exercise could be a real war situation:
"What would have happened if we had had an artillery attack here with many wounded?" I have asked myself. It is really difficult to get into it if you have not really experienced it, "he says to Ny Tid. He adds: "I think, 'I have chosen this profession, but what are the consequences?' To take life and lose your own soldiers – that is something you must have a conscious relationship with as a soldier in the Norwegian Armed Forces. "

"There is nowhere else in the Armed Forces where you get more value for money than Home Defense." Andreas Ekanger

Marie Wågheim is here for the first time. She serves at the Skjold camp in Troms and started in the first service in August. She lives at Telne's bridge in a tent with her team, which consists of ten others, and her role is to assist vehicles over the new bridge. So far, the freshman has learned a lot from the exercise: “It started quietly, but has now become much more exciting after the main exercise began. It is educational, "she says. Waegheim says she went into the military to do something different instead of continuing to school. She wanted to learn new things and make new friends. What does she think about this being an exercise where the intention is to be close to a real war situation? Wågheim admits that there is something that makes the impression:
"It stings the heart when it comes to shooting and the enemy arrives, which is perhaps what a war can be like if it becomes a war in the future," she says.

Do not want to kill

"It might be such a war if there is a war in the future." Marie Wågheim

Two days after practicing to get a vehicle over Glomma, we are back at Telneset and meet with troop sergeant Jonas Schøning and troop commander Andreas Ekanger, both from the Heron intervention force from Nordland. Their role, according to the script of the war theater that is taking place, is to protect the new bridge from an enemy. When asked if there is anything peaceable about working in the Home Guard, Schøning replies spontaneously:
"Home Defense is perhaps the most peace-building organization we have in this country ... We protect our homes and families, after all. Nor should we attack anyone – our task is defense. "
The Home Defense has territorial responsibility within the overall defense and consists of 40 men. About 000 Home Guard soldiers from across the country are in action during this year's NATO exercise.
"We are civilians who mobilize to take this responsibility, we are not cowboys who are here because it is cool," says Schøning.
There have been cuts in the Home Guard, but neither Schøning nor Ekanger will criticize their superiors for the priorities made:
"The Home Guard gets three percent of the defense budget," Schøning continues, saying that his personal opinion is that the Home Guard should be focused on in the future as it is "both cheap and effective."
“In my opinion, HV gets the funds we need based on the size of the defense budget. The remaining 97 percent is used where needed. To strengthen the Home Guard, the budget needs to be further strengthened, ”he says.

We do not want to kill, and the peace movement works for exactly the same thing: to preserve
peace. " Jonas Schøning

“We have chosen to focus more on the specialized, professional Defense. And less on quantity – territorial defense, as the Home Guard is. There is nowhere else in the Armed Forces where you get more value for money than the Home Guard, ”says Ekanger.

Schøning adds: “When criticism emerges in the media, home defense soldiers often find it frustrating, for they protect not only their own lives, but also the lives of others. It is typical that we criticize everything that costs money, everything that we think is unnecessary. One should rather look at why we need a defense. There is little nuance in the media: 'No, it costs money,' 'No, it takes life,' 'we have to put down our weapons and make things work.' But we cannot take the cost that the consequence can be, ”he points out.
When asked about Schøning that the peace movement can give positive input to the Defense, Schøning nods affirmatively:
“We don't want to kill, and the peace movement works for exactly the same thing: to keep the peace. But we are not actively going out and working for peace. It is a political question. But there are home defense soldiers who are active members of the peace movement, and we have home defense soldiers from all political parties, ”says Schøning.

No contradiction

Schøning says he welcomes critical questions: "Without critical questions, we can never improve either. At the same time, we must keep our minimum security. Defense, defense budget and NATO cooperation are the nation's insurance against external military influence, ”he continues.
“That we do not pay our insurance can therefore have enormous consequences, although the probability is still small. As I see it, the peace movement acts as one of several preventive measures, which also contribute to stability, but no longer have a function when the worst has happened – just as it is too late to buy new batteries for the smoke detector when the house standing and burning. We must protect what we have and be positive about it. For the Home Guard is very positive – also for the peace movement, ”says Schøning.
"There is no contradiction between the peace movement, the Home Defense or the Defense," adds Ekanger. "We want the same thing. The difference is that we are the safety net: We will be there if peace work does not reach. We hope, after all, that peace work will come. Then there are military considerations about whether an exercise can be daunting. Others with a different focus see the exercise as a provocation. There is a contradiction with regard to a current event, but the core values ​​are the same. It also makes it easier for us to reflect on the choices we have to make. In mine and Jonas' position, we must endure losing lives among our own. "
Although they regard the work of the peace movement as important, none of them would comment on the lack of funds for the peace movement in the draft state budget for 2019, while the defense will increase by 4 billion.
"There will be personal and political conviction, and I have no basis for commenting," replies Ekanger.
"We don't want to say anything about it either, because money deposits are not something we can influence," concludes Schøning.


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Kaisa Ytterhaug
Kaisa Ytterhaug
Ytterhaug is a freelancer in Ny Tid.

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