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Espen Schiager, 2008-04-18

Weeks 11-16: New capacity

The three Norwegian Bell helicopters started operations in Meymaneh in Afghanistan on 1 April. They are there to ensure quick evacuation of injured soldiers.

CHALLENGING CONDITIONS: There are many differences between flying in Norway and Afghanistan, especially considering the temperature and amount of sand and dust. (Photo by Rune Thomas Ege)

After two weeks of training and testing, the three Norwegian Bell 412 helicopters landed in the Norwegian camp in Meymaneh at the beginning of April. They will stay here for the next 18 months.

“Up until now, we have relied on German helicopters stationed one and a half hours away for medical evacuation. Now that we have our own helicopters here in Meymaneh, we will be able to operate more safely than before, says Lieutenant Colonel Espen Arntzen, commander of the Norwegian Provincial Reconstruction Team in Meymaneh.

The helicopter detachment has been named Norwegian Aeromedical Detachment (NAD), and will be a part of PRT Meymaneh. Arntzen underlines the need for such a contribution to the PRT.

Iceland strengthens PRT Meymaneh
Iceland is contributing to the Norwegian-led PRT Meymaneh with two civilian development consultants and one engineer.

New long term plan for the Armed Forces
The government has put forth a new long term plan for the Norwegian Force for the period 2008-2012.

The plan increases the defence budget by 800 million kroners and involves structure changes that affect twelve bases. More information is found on the Ministry of Defence’s pages.

Norwegian soldiers guarded Karzai
When the Afghan president Hamid Karzai visited Mazar-e Sharif on 31 March, Norwegian soldiers from the Telemark battalion stepped in as bodyguards.

HIGH SECURITY: Norwegian soldiers surveyed every move of the Afghan president from the background. (Photo by Rune Thomas Ege)

“We were responsible for the safety around where the president met with the province governor, older and important people and several ministers. We cooperated closely with Afghan security forces, and we were to support them if they needed that. We were also to help with the evacuation of the president and other VIPs if that should become necessary,” says Major Jan Helge Dale.


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