Danish medics for AFG


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Danish medics train with British Army for Afghan deployment

Danish medics have been taking advantage of British military medical expertise and training facilities as they prepare to take over the running of the Camp Bastion field hospital in Afghanistan.
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

Danish military reservist field hospital staff have been training with 2 Medical Brigade at the Army Medical Training Services Centre in Strensall, Yorkshire, ahead of their three-month deployment (beginning on 20 July 2009) to Camp Bastion where they will take over from 202 (Midlands) Field Hospital.

Danish Defence Secretary Søren Gade visited the training centre yesterday, 8 July 2009, to view the facilities used by British medics to prepare them for manning the field hospital at Bastion which sees most of the British troops who require medical treatment in Afghanistan.

The Army Medical Services Training Centre has a mock-up of a field hospital to mirror the facilities in Afghanistan. Training includes dealing with casualties who have lost limbs and learning how to treat civilian casualties who require an Afghan interpreter.

Defence Minister Kevan Jones said:

"We are very pleased that Denmark has agreed to deploy its field hospital staff to Camp Bastion for three months. The Danes are key allies in the ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] mission in Afghanistan and this is an excellent example of collaboration between our two nations, and within the coalition as a whole.

"Their highly skilled medical personnel have undergone the same pre-deployment training as our own medics, ensuring that ISAF troops will enjoy the same level of excellent clinical care they have come to expect."

The Danish Defence Secretary, Søren Gade, said:

"I am very proud of the fact that Denmark is about to relieve British personnel and man the field hospital in Helmand. This is another example of the great co-operation between Denmark and Great Britain that underlines the close relationship and trust between Great Britain and Denmark - both at the political level as well as among the troops on the ground.

"We are about to take on a task which is of huge importance for all contributing countries in Regional Command (South). The safety and care for our troops remains our single highest priority and I have great confidence in the capabilities of our medical personnel."

The field hospital at Camp Bastion provides emergency medicine, primary surgery, an intensive care unit, general care beds, diagnostic support, and a variety of clinical specialities for deployed medical care.

Some UK Defence Medical Services specialists, together with US medical personnel, will remain at the Camp Bastion field hospital during the deployment of the Danish hospital personnel.

The UK is also currently providing a contribution to the NATO multi-national field hospital at Kandahar.

tak Dansk :)

And on a related note about Denmark
Soldiers want shorter tours

The Association of Soldiers and Corporals says foreign tours are such a strain that it wants shorter tours for some.

Tours for soldiers in Afghanistan should be no longer than four months, according to the Chairman of the Association of Privates and Corporals Flemming D. Vinther.

On the other hand he agrees with Colonel Frank Lissner, the Commanding Officer of the seventh group of Danish soldiers in Afghanistan, who says that some personnel should be on tour longer than six months in order to maintain mission coherence.

Vinther says these are personnel involved in intelligence, civilian-military cooperation and senior officers.

“In these positions, the personal function is decisive in getting the best results,” Vinther says.

More often but shorter
“Our position is clear. We want shorter missions, not longer ones. Four months would be good for a mission, but also take the short and long term physical and mental welfare of the soldier and his family into account. You can always carry out theoretical studies into what the best operative conditions are – but there’s a family at the other end,” says Vinther.
Must be nice to have an union on your side.
A short article from today’s WSJ, trying to give a little balance to the US audience concerning European contributions in Afghanistan, especially in light of the difficulties that the Dutch government is currently experiencing.

Wall Street Journal
February 24, 2010
Pg. 12

Danes Buck Broader Antiwar Trend

As Afghan operation's popularity wanes elsewhere, Danes support effort amid high casualties

By Alistair MacDonald

Among allied forces fighting in Afghanistan, few countries have deployed a bigger share of their armed forces than Denmark, and fewer still have taken higher levels of casualties. But the small Scandinavian country is emerging as an unlikely example of how to maintain public support for the war.

The popularity of the international campaign in Afghanistan has fallen across Europe and in the U.S. On Tuesday, the Dutch government set a June 9 date for general elections, nearly one year ahead of schedule. The move followed the unraveling of the Netherlands' coalition government last weekend after it failed win support to extend the mandate of the nation's 1,600 troops in Afghanistan, presaging a likely withdrawal this year.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Tuesday that the NATO military alliance is facing "very serious, long-term, systemic problems" sparked by European nations' unwillingness to adequately fund their militaries.

"I believe we have reached an inflection point, where much of the continent has gone too far in the other direction," Mr. Gates told an audience at Washington's National Defense University.

Amid this shift, the Danes have largely maintained public support for the effort, selling the mission as a humanitarian effort rather than simply protection against a terrorist threat, and building consensus among political parties. They have reaped the benefits of a largely supportive media and the country has, to some degree, rediscovered its pride in an active military.

"The key to sustaining public support is an elite consensus that includes politicians in government and opposition as well as key opinion leaders: influential intellectuals, academics and columnists," says Peter Viggo Jakobsen, a security expert at the University of Copenhagen.

Denmark has paid a high price in Afghanistan. Its 750 troops represent almost 5% of its entire military, including reserves—among the highest in Afghanistan. Of the total, 31 Danish troops have died there, an allied casualty rate behind only Canada and Estonia, which has just 150 soldiers fighting.

Yet throughout a difficult 2009, polls consistently showed around half of Danes surveyed by TNS Gallup believed Danish troops should be in Afghanistan; only one-third said they didn't. In NATO nations such as the U.K., Germany and Netherlands, meanwhile, polls reveal over half wanting troops back home.

"If you can't win the public opinion, you have lost the war," Danish Defense Minister Søren Gade said in a recent interview.

Mr. Gade, who has led Danish efforts to maintain public support, announced Monday he is stepping down. Mr. Gade's ministry has been accused of leaking news of the deployment of Danish special forces to Iraq and he said this was attracting attention away from Afghanistan.

Denmark's forces in Afghanistan—along with Britain, the Netherlands, Estonia and Canada—have formed a rump of non-U.S. allies essential to the U.S.-led war effort that do battle in Helmand province and other Afghanistan hot spots, contributing to high casualty rates for these countries' contingents.

Now some of those nations are growing weary of the effort. The Netherlands and Canada have set pullout dates, and some foreign armies remain reluctant to fight in restive regions like Helmand. British politicians face hostile media that chronicle the return of every dead soldier's coffin.

Mr. Gade, a former Danish army officer, said a key to winning the public was giving reporters deep access to soldiers, who were allowed to talk.

When troops say, " 'We did a job and we did it good, and it is worth doing,' then it is very hard indeed for a lot of people to oppose, because those are the men and women who risk their lives," he said.

That doesn't mean the public doesn't struggle with the country's involvement. Frank Erik Carlsen says that on "down days," he questions why Denmark is in Afghanistan, where his brother Henrik lost his life to a roadside bomb in August 2009. Doubts pass, he says, when he thinks of the terrorist threat from Afghanistan and of Denmark's efforts to build wells and schools there.

"It is too easy to stay at home, and Denmark is doing its part," he said. Next month, Mr. Carlsen begins training for his own deployment to Afghanistan.

Denmark only recently returned to military action following a long stretch of neutrality that followed its 1864 defeat to Prussia, in modern-day Germany. With the end of the Cold War, Danish forces, long tasked with home defense, had little to do.

A stint in NATO's military intervention in Kosovo saw a Danish tank force rout a Serbian attack in 1994. Suddenly Danish politicians found it advantageous for the military to punch above its weight internationally and become a point of national pride, Dr. Jakobsen says.

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