Between the summer of 2009 and 2010, I served my mandatory military service as a guard in The Royal Norwegian Air Force.
In Norway, when I was 19, all young citizens had to spend one year in the military.
There were easy ways to get out of it. From diseases, to ideologies, to responsibilities, to drug-use. So if you wanted to avoid service, you could.
As of March 2016, Norway currently employs a weaker form of mandatory military service for men and women, as now only those who are motivated are selected.
Probably a better systems, so they can avoid people who would rather not be there.
It started with a two-month boot camp in Stavanger. I was assigned to the airforce, but don’t get me wrong, I’m no top-gun. There are a lot of positions in the airforce that don’t require you to ever get in an airplane, and I served my time there as a guard.
Compared to the rest of the year, this period was more like a border-school/summer-camp than a true military experience. At the time I felt it was hard, but later I realised this was a really soft entry, at least for the route I ended up on. I’m sure that for many, this was the hardest part.
There was a lot of focus on learning the basics. Equipment management, neatness, hierarchy, shooting, backpack packing, camp set-up, that sort of thing.
There was also a lot of exercise. In this period I went from the quite pudgy state I mentioned in my glacier hike post, to a relatively healthy individual.
At the end of the period, they split us up and sent us to different stations all across Norway, based on what they had judged would be the positions we would be best suited to.
I, among others, was picked out to guard The Norwegian Joint Headquarters, a base located a long car-drive from Bodø, a small city in the northern parts of Norway.
But before we could begin serving there, we had to have a one-month long guard training-camp at another base, located at the edge of Bodø itself. It felt like a year.
When we arrived in Bodø, by commercial aircraft, we were yelled at for being late. We were then told to grab our mountains of baggage, both personal and equipment, and jog in formation to the camp.
The camp was at the other end of the city.
When we arrived, they continued to make us endure hard physical activities, and it did not stop until very, very late in the evening. This was how the rest of the month went.
I heard rumors about how this camp was not just training for us to be guards, but also training for the sergeants to be assholes. And I swear that more than once, a sergeant would be pulled aside by the lieutenant, then come back, treating us much worse than he had done before being talked to.
There would also be room-checks early each morning, where the sergeants would sneak in some dirt in their pockets. When we failed the check, they would punish us with hard physical training.
If this sort of treatment was used to train us up, it would have been ok. But they only broke us down. Where I left the training in Stavanger as a better soldier, I left the training in Bodø as a worse soldier, caring less about my service.
The people in charge at this camp were not interested in lifting us up to become better soldiers. They were interested in playing American Movie Drill Instructor!
The situation was not improved by the fact that it got colder, and colder, for each day that went by
I was very glad to move on from the training after this point.
The Norwegian Joint Headquarters was, at least back then, located inside a mountain, in the middle of nowhere.
This is where I spent most of my service, but it was so repetitive that it would take up the least of my writing.
If you are a spy who are reading this, don’t bother with me. I knew nothing of any worth about this base, even back then.
The days here would revolve around patrolling, sitting at checkpoints, checking for id, and some additional training in-between.
The time I spent in Bodø was the worst cold I have ever experienced, and I had to be outside for a lot of it.
But at some posts we just had to be available in case something happened, so we could sit inside and watch tv and relax there. I saw all of Tarantino’s films, and the full run of Buffy and Angel, thanks to those posts.
This period of my service was so monotonous that the time just flew by.
And after a year of wishing I could be anywhere else, I decided to go just there. Anywhere.
That is one year of your life you will not get back! I do think you came away will more knowledge about yourself, let alone being stronger physically and mentally. So, you made it and are better for it. Lessons learned the hard way. Interesting insight into your experience. Glad you are doing more things that you want to do. Thank you for sharing with us😊
Whenever I think about some part of my life that I regret or feel was somewhat wasted, I remind myself that I am happy with who/where I am today.
If something about my past changed, that could too.
It is that whole time-travel issue.
So very true 😊
I live in Switzerland where there’s also mandatory military service for the guys (though you can also make up excuses, just like in Norway) and it was really interesting to read how things went for you! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Thank you, for reading 🙂
I was in Switzerland a few years ago (something that I will soon write about in my multiple-part blog-series about my InterRail-trip).
It was really lovely, and felt a bit like some places in Norway in a way.
Compulsory military training is always debatable. One of the most successful countries in implementing is Israel. With a unique political situation, it’s easy for them to justify. Once the young generation is out of compulsory military training, they prefer to take a long holiday to get over the mental trauma.
I think that as military technology improves, we are going to see a decrease in compulsory military training.
Without the increase in drone-warfare, I don’t think Norway would have moved to a voluntary system.
With the tech we have now, we don’t need as many boots on the ground as previously.
I agree. Technology will change the whole military game.
I did my military service in Swedish Air Force, 1984-1985!😊 11 months, one of the best period in my life, I really enjoyed it. In 2010, compulsory military service disappeared, but last year it was reintroduced. Which I think is very good. I was company champion in shooting with submachine gun, the old model -43 which is a melee weapon.
A friend of mine, who was also in the airforce at the same time as me but in another location, really enjoyed it aswell.
But he was a plane-nut 😛
Very interesting that it was reintroduced.
Thanks for the follow of my blog and another thanks for the introduction to Theodor Kittelsen, I was not aware of his work. It looks like boot camp training of the Norwegian military is very similar to that of the US Navy.
Very necessary process I suppose.
No problem 😉
I bet that the similarities depend on where you are assigned to in the Norwegian or US military.