Swedish soldiers to be trained in climbing trees

A Swedish airborne unit has decided to let soldiers take part in a course in advanced tree climbing, saying that the need to salvage unmanned drones from treetops requires them to be skilled climbers.

Swedish soldiers to be trained in climbing trees

”We have come to the conclusion that we have a responsibility as an employer. You don’t just send anyone up a tree. You want them to have the right equipment and knowledge, it is a question of personal safety,” Per Ingemarson, a spokesperson with the K3 airborne unit in Karlsborg in central Sweden, to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

As the unit operates the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) ”Falcon”, which is used among other places in Afghanistan, officials have decided to train some of the soldiers to scale a tree the right way, according to Ingemarson.

Sometimes these UAVs malfunction, either because they lose radio contact or due to a strong gust of wind, causing them to get stuck in the top branches of a tree.

When having to salvage a drone, it is crucial that the soldiers are properly skilled at climbing trees in a safe and secure manner, the regiment wrote in their request to Stockholm headquarters.

However, the need to climb a trees doesn’t actually occur that often, even while operating the drone aircraft.

Ingemarson is only aware of one instance in the last two years that a UAV has got caught in a tree out of hundreds of sorties, but he stressed that there may be more.

To begin with, three soldiers from the unit will undergo the advanced tree climbing training. The course will be conducted by military climbing experts, who usually teach soldiers how to scale rock walls safely.

”I can’t say that this is prioritized before other training, but I feel that it is a wise move. When people are injured everyone always says ‘Why didn’t you think of that before?’ In this case someone has been clever in advance,” said Ingemarson to DN.

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Hunger complaints from Swedish soldiers in Mali

Swedish soldiers in Mali have slammed small food rations, saying they are often forced to go to bed hungry, according to newspaper Dagens Nyheter. But the head of the Swedish forces of the United Nations-led operation has hit back: “It's a luxury problem."

Hunger complaints from Swedish soldiers in Mali
Swedish troops have complained about hunger. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/SCANPIX

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The Mali troops receive UN rations of 1,800 kilocalories per person and day. But some have told Swedish Dagens Nyheter daily that this is not enough.

“It's insane that in 2015 we should not be getting enough food. It affects the mood. People get cranky and angry when they can't eat until they get full,” one soldier told the newspaper.

“1,800 calories is perhaps enough for the UN soldiers from Burkina Faso and Bangladesh who are often smaller built, but not for us,” said one Swede, according to Dagens Nyheter.

Head of the Swedish Mali troops, lieutenant colonel Carl-Magnus Svensson, confirmed that they have experienced issues with the food rations, but says that expecting to eat the same food as back home in Sweden is a “luxury problem” and adds that the Swedish forces cannot demand more food than other UN units in Timbuktu.

“If you work out like an elite athlete and carry out the tasks here and expect to eat the way you do at home, you will be hungry. A unit's capability will go down during the operation,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

Meanwhile, the Swedish government announced plans on Thursday to send 35 Swedish troops to Iraq to help fight terror organization Isis. Politics and humanitarian support is no longer enough, said Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.

“Increased military support is actually required now,” she told news agency TT.

The Swedish troops are part of an international operation to train Iraqi and Kurdish security forces. The government discussed the plans earlier this year, and is now set to present a formal request to parliament, proposing that the armed forces should be extended to 120 soldiers if necessary.

If approved by parliament, the first troops could leave Sweden in June.

“It's a response to the Iraqi government's request and we want to help with education and advice to the peshmerga units in particular,” Wallström told TT and added they would be working in cooperation with the US, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Finland.