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Swedish supreme commander looks to Marines for ideas

US Marine Corps News

6/27/2008 By Lance Cpl. B.A. Curtis, 2nd Marine Logistics Group

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Gen. Hakan Syren, the supreme commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, visited 2nd Explosive Ordinance Disposable Company, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and other key locations, here, June 26 while on a tour of Camp Lejeune.

Syren holds particular interests in the Marine Corps EOD program due to the threat of improvised explosive devices encountered by the Swedish Armed Forces.

“The Swedish Army, although it is small, does have some world presence,” explained Col. Juan G. Ayala, the commanding officer of the 2nd MLG.

Ayala hopes that as the Swedish Armed Forces’ EOD program expands in size and operational tempo, they will use the Marine Corps as a model for future developments.

“I think that they were very impressed with the (EOD) Marines,”Ayala said. “As a matter of fact…they said that this was one of the highlights of their trip.”

The visit also included a demonstration of the Humvee Egress Assistance Training Simulator, which is used to practice safe evacuation from a rolled-over Humvee. Humvee roll-overs commonly occur during IED attacks.

Syren said that the simulator showed him the problems that IEDs can cause and expressed his desire to understand them more technically.

“We have troops in Afghanistan and sadly we have losses due to IEDs,” Syren said.

Syren also added that the HEAT simulator showed him the damage an IED can inflict.

The general’s visit comes at a time when the Swedish Armed Forces is in transition from a conscript system to a volunteer system. The Swedish government has relied on conscription to fill their armed forces since the end of the Cold War.

This change has left Syren with serious questions about the future of his forces’ retention.

“I think the personnel manning system is the greatest concern right now,” stated Syren. “We are leaving a conscript system…we our now going to a system which is built on a voluntary basis…we must find new ways to attract young people to recruit them.

While at Camp Lejeune, Syren also observed how the Marine Corps handles family life, a move that he hopes, will help Sweden successfully recruit and retain troops.

“Today I have seen a variety of what’s going on here,” Syren explained. “We have also discussed how to help and handle the families that are home. I have many young officers now doing their third tour, and we have much to learn from you.”

Syren left Camp Lejeune with new knowledge and information that will possibly guide the Swedish Armed Forces toward an increasingly secure future.

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