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.