THE MIDDLE EAST SITUATION; A PERSPECTIVE FROM A NORWEGIAN OFFICER WORKING FOR NATO


 

Lieutenant Colonel Tore Bade is a Norwegian officer who currently works for NATO at the NATO headquarters in Turkey (Izmir). He works with Military Cooperation, helping with military training.

He has been working for the Norwegian Armed Forces for more than 32 years, and has participated in missions in such places as Lebanon (1990-91), Iraq (1992-93), Rwanda (1995), Bosnia 1997-98), Kosovo (2002-03), Iraq (2006), Afghanistan (2008), and Egypt (2010-2011 during the revolution.tore nao

Centering ourselves in one of his missions, we could highlight the one in Iraq, between 1992 and 1993, where he also worked for the United Nations with UNICEF and UNHCR, helping the refugees.

Tore spent half of the year in Bagdad and the other half in Kurdistan in the North of Iraq, right after the first gulf war and the invasion of Kuwait. This was the moment when Iraq was settled under the international sanctions.

Some years later he went back to this country (exactly in 2006) this time, helping in the training of Iraqi soldiers.  In this mission, several of his comrades in arms were killed, when their military base was attacked up to fifteen times a day with rockets and mortars.

Tore affirms that probably the most difficult part of a mission is not being contending, but being apart from his wife and his four children;   << When I look back, I think that this is one of the most silly things I ever did. Volunteering to go to on missions means volunteering to be far away from my family >>

When Tore went to Iraq for the first time, the only way of communication with his family was by satellite.  He had to pay ten dollars per minute of call. The second time he was in the country, the army paid the calls, but he could just call home once per week or every ten days.

He reaffirms; << Even sometimes I think I have been selfish and stupid, every time I go back home I try to compensate the time I have been away, and I appreciate it much more>>.

For Tore Bade, frankly speaking, there is not always a great deal of idealism from his point of view in his work. He believes that many military personnel want to “live the experience they have been training for”, therefore, they mostly go to the battlefield to corroborate that they are able to do their work and function when someone is shooting at them or bombs are falling. It is a bit like a fireman, who trains to work in burning houses. You really want to know if you can do the job.

Talking now about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization we should bear in mind that they also work with countries which are not in the NATO, willing to help maintain stability in them, and to encourage democracy, transparency and confidence building.   A great example in this case, is Jordan (one of few stable countries at the moment in the Middle East). NATO has an excellent partnership with Jordan and assists the Jordanian military forces, introducing them to the NATO way of doing business, and therefore, also helping to reinforce the stability of the country. This helps Jordan to maintain security on its borders, and reinforces stability in the region as a whole.

NATO uses its resources many ways, also to encourage transparency in terms of military budgets and tries to help implement democratic values, so it is not just a military labor but they also help the countries to become more open to the international community. Moreover, they teach leadership, showing military officers to “lead by example”.

<< If you want soldiers to respect you and to do things in the right way, you, as their commander, should be the first person to do the difficult and dangerous duties as well.
This does not happen in all countries; instead, officers and non-commissioned officers are afraid themselves. >>

Centering ourselves in the Middle East situation , Tore believes that there is a big problem taking place in the region right now, and that it will have a very big impact not just in the region, but in Europe and in fact, the whole world.  He affirms that problems that exacerbate the situation may be issues like a lack of democracy, or freedom of speech, which unfortunately helps to generate discontent. The problems also relate to Europe and will require many years to fix.

Many influential people say that this is the beginning of the third world war, Tore is optimistic. Even though, he believes that stopping terrorism is not possible over night.

<<One cannot militarily destroy  all of them, even if one could for a while, it will keep coming back, so to win will require a long term approach with a lot more than military resources.
We are unfortunately going to experience terrorism for many years to come. Terrorists serve themselves from the hopelessness of the people.  Life as we know it is going to change. We will need much more security, much more surveillance, and this means that people living in the western countries will have to get used to a very different way of life. We will have television cameras, many police checking, a very different security situation….
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Lucía Rodríguez Lara ; IR Student (Universidad Europea de Madrid)

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