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Norwegians serve OEF, Florida serves heat

by Senior Airman Stephanie Witty
Thunderbolt staff writer

When troops from the country of Norway arrived at MacDill in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, they left an average temperature of 30 F and entered a climate that averages more than twice that at around 68 F.

"Coming to Florida during midwinter in Norway where it was below zero (C) was quite different," said Brig. Gen. Tor Sandli, coalition senior national representative for Norway.

The first Norwegian forces were deployed to the Coalition Village Nov. 15, 2001 and since then have taken OEF very seriously with four personnel working at a time in six-month increments.

"We consider it extremely important and were among some of the first to participate with substantial forces including air transport, fighter support, special operations forces and mine clearing," said General Sandli.

Not only the weather changed for the Norwegian personnel working in the Coalition Village. The types of jobs they perform also are out of the ordinary.

"Job wise it has been completely different," said General Sandli. "Coming to big and powerful Central Command has been a great experience."

Most of the Norwegian representatives worked as staff officers in what is called the Chief of Defense, according to General Sandli. They left their positions to join the coalition and will return to them after their coalition stay.

Norway has a long history of working with international defense operations, such as the United Nations, deploying more than 100,000 defense personnel since the 1950s, said General Sandli.

He stressed the importance of the coalition's role in OEF and praised CENTCOM and its leadership.

"On the war in Afghanistan, we the Norwegians are very grateful for the efforts being made by the military to achieve a better standard of living and way of life," he said. "I am impressed by the CENTCOM leadership, which I think do an excellent job in solving the big challenges and keeping this mighty coalition together, they do a tremendous job."

General Sandli, who back home serves as the Norwegian Joint Staff College Commandant, says he will apply what he has learned working with OEF and CENTCOM.

"Personally I will take back to Staff College a lot of experience and implement it into Staff College exercises," he said. General Sandli said despite the lengthy time requirements for solving terrorism, cooperation and working together is the key. "I am a little bit frustrated because it takes longer than anticipated," he said. "But I feel there is a need for long-term planning on how to share burdens and contribute."

His stay in Florida and at MacDill has been pleasant and he is impressed by the staff here.

"Coming to Florida is interesting; it is a part of America I have never seen," he said. "I have been living on base and would like to give compliments to those serving us, everything was extremely well arranged and I am very grateful to the staff


 

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