Currently, a team of nine officers from Sweden and Finland is in Timbuktu, Mali. The team is called “Nordic Defence Cooperation Mobile Training Team”, NORDEFCO MTT, and their mission is to train other nations’ forces that are part of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA. The training initiative is a pilot project and part of the Nordic Defence Cooperation collaboration.
Officers from the MTT will train just over 400 soldiers and officers from Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Egypt during a five week training period. The purpose of the training is to strengthen their ability as part of their daily work, for example patrols in the area or during camp defence.
“This is a joint effort between Sweden and Finland where we are assisting troop contributing countries to MINUSMA to reach and hold sufficient level of knowledge and military skills. We are training, advising and assisting soldiers to keep their skills up to date,” said Colonel Sven Hansson, head of MTT.
The purpose of the training is to supplement the pre-deployment training of other troop contributing countries and strengthen their abilities, including patrols in the area or in their own camp defence.
“It is very fun and educational to be in Mali and educate soldiers and officers from other countries. My opinion is that they have a good knowledge and that the basics they learn in their home countries are the same as for us. Some details differ, however, so while educating them we draw lessons from their experiences,” said Captain Adam Holmström, training officer.
Some of the soldiers have been serving their countries for several years, while others are relatively new in their positions. In general, the troops show a desire to learn more, NORDEFCO said in a statement.
“The education we get here is very good. We learn simple concepts that facilitate our work in Mali,” said Joshua Andrews, a soldier from Liberia.
The Nordic Defence Cooperation initiative, NORDEFCO, comprises both military and political levels, and includes cooperation in the fields of operations, capabilities, human resources, armaments as well as education, training and exercises. The presidency rotates between the Nordic countries, and for 2019, the presidency is held by Sweden.
NORDEFCO MTT is currently a pilot project and the outcome and experiences will affect how the education will be conducted in the future.
“We make big difference in a short time. Everyone here works towards the same goal and it is very positive to work with officers from Sweden. It strengthens our Nordic defence cooperation and together with the other nations in MINUSMA we work together for peace in Mali,” said Lieutenant Colonel Niko Petteri, deputy commander.