Army

The long and hard road to become a UNUnited Nations military observer

The long and hard road to become a UNUnited Nations military observer

  • Training
  • Army
Date:
Place:
Hammelburg
Reading time:
4 MIN

Soldiers and civilian employees are trained to become UNUnited Nations military observers at the Bundeswehr United Nations Training Centre. Although the coronavirus conditions may be demanding, the United Nations Military Observer (UNMOC) training course takes place nonetheless. This pre-deployment training offers a broad range of extremely challenging training scenarios.

A blue helmet soldiers is putting out a fire on the ground floor of a house.

Operational scenarios for the deployment of military observers are manifold. The Bundeswehr United Nations Training Centre prepares its course participants in the best possible way for as many scenarios as possible.

Bundeswehr/Christian Pape

The air is cold and dry, the sandy soil dusty and soft. The boots don’t get a grip and walking is difficult. The atmosphere is tense and everyone aroung feels that there is something about to happen on the market square. All of a sudden, there is a detonation. Smoke rises from a corner and a baby is crying loudly. Everyone ducks, seeking shelter behind walls, market stalls or vehicles. In the resulting chaos, the UNMOC students first try to get an idea of what happened in order to apply in this exceptional situation the patterns of behaviour that they have learnt so far. All of this does not happen in a remote country of deployment but in the Bavarian town of Hammelburg. In a training hangar, a market square has been set up and fully equipped to represent, as accurately as possible, a typical market in a country of deployment. The crowd on the “market square” is composed of soldiers from the Bundeswehr UNUnited Nations Training Centre support company. The injuries caused by the detonation have been artificially modeled by specialists and look impressively realistic. Depending on the scenario, medical evacuation may also be exercised with an old, decommissioned helicopter. Training course participants have twelve days to learn how to organise themselves and their team and provide professional care to injured civilians in different situations. Besides showing the right behaviour in hostilities, the prospective UNUnited Nations military observers are also trained to perform obstetric care. They learn to treat snakebites or provide emergency dental care.

A broad training spectrum

Two blue helmets and two other soldiers are taking care of an injured individual lying on the ground.

The soon-to-be military observers are taking care of an injured person. Training is manifold: From snakebites to the emergency treatment of a tooth: They must know exactly what they are doing. Initial treatment is exercised time and again.

Bundeswehr/Christian Pape

The situations that military observers can get into during operational deployments are extremely varied, and this is exactly what they are prepared for in Hammelburg. They learn to provide themselves with comprehensive medical care because during patrols the nearest medical support facility can often be hundreds of kilometres away. The training of soldiers from Germany and abroad to become military observers has been one of the main missions of the Bundeswehr UNUnited Nations Training Centre since 1999. In addition, the training centre prepares personnel of the Joint Support and Enabling Service for their operational deployments abroad. Bundeswehr civilian personnel, too, is trained in Hammelburg for operations abroad where they support the troops on the ground with their expertise. In addition, the centre offers Hostile Environment Awareness Training courses (HEAT) to personnel from civilian agencies and international relief organisations where they learn to act appropriately under fire and in complex attack scenarios. The range of courses is rounded off by training in the areas of mobile surveillance technology and languages. All of these training courses are indispensable to enable the Bundeswehr to meet its operational commitments.

Successful in spite of coronavirus restrictions

One soldiers pulls a drowning man along in the water while another on land hands him a pole.

Like rescuing and resuscitating a drowning person, patrol training with helicopter and speedboat is also part of the military observer training course.

Bundeswehr/Alex Rettner

Training under coronavirus conditions presents new challenges to the United Nations Training Centre because training has to go on nonetheless. Training courses need to be adapted so as to retain their contents while complying with all safety requirements. Obviously, this has a massive impact on the UNMOC training course. As agreed with our contractual partners in Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands, the final exercise of the training course no longer takes place in the Lake Constance region but on the Hammelburg training area. The training programme has been adapted to the local conditions, but participants are still confronted with major challenges: on patrols with helicopters and with speedboats on the river Main. They have to mediate between two unforgiving warring factions and de-escalate numerous emotionally charged situations. In spite of all the coronavirus restrictions, the training course is supported by Federal Police forces. By participating, the police officers contribute their policing expertise and operational experience.

In 2020, 17 male and 4 female officers were trained to become military observers. Some of them have already been earmarked for taking part in a concrete UNUnited Nations mission in 2021. The changes to the training in response to the coronavirus situation have had another positive effect: All those involved were forced to leave the beaten track behind and try and find new ways. This change has strengthened the team spirit among all participants. Successful training is guaranteed thanks to personal commitment, creative thinking and diligence.

by Charlene Becker

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