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Swedish force to Mali – the realities of defence logistics transformation

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The Swedish contribution to the UN operation in Mali will be FMV’s first major task in its new role. Sweden will contribute a force of around 250 personnel and, for the first time, FMV will set up, operate and eventually dismantle the Swedish camp.

Unlike previous operations, FMV has complete responsibility for the provision of equipment and logistic support. You could compare the situation with building a house. Previously the Armed Forces built the house; FMV provided the building materials – and then the wherewithal to live in it. Nowadays, the Armed Forces tell FMV who is going to live in the house and what they are going to do there; then, based on this requirement, FMV builds a house.

Early involvement

One requirement in fulfilling these broader responsibilities is early involvement at the planning stage.

– We have been involved since it became clear that there would be a Swedish contribution. This has given us a great opportunity to influence the operational design from our perspective and that of the logistic realities. Cooperation with the Armed Forces has been very good from the outset, says Mats Ström, who is responsible for coordinating FMV’s participation in the operation.

One of the advantages of taking the logistic perspective into account early in the planning stage is that it makes it easier to set a realistic timetable. Certain equipment needs to be adapted for international operations and this can take time. For example, for UN operations all vehicles must be repainted and marked appropriately.

Mats StrömTesting time for the new order system

The new order system and other aspects of defence logistics, developed jointly by FMV and the Armed Forces, will be put to the test during the Mali operation.

Instead of receiving 10-15 different orders, as would have happened in the past, FMV has been given two major tasks; one is planning and the other is setting up the camp (author’s note – at the time of writing it was still unclear how the task of maintenance would be dealt with and discussions were ongoing between FMV and the Armed Forces).

– This means that there is less micro-management and FMV has more room for negotiation, which in turn allows us to be clearer and more effective in placing orders with our suppliers, says Mats Ström.

– I would also like to see us get a blanket order for maintenance, so that people don’t have to order item by item.

UN standards

At the beginning of April FMV began work on the technical design, which is based on the requirements stated by the Armed Forces and an analysis of what the unit will look like, its equipment and the systems that the personnel will be required to use.

The Swedish contribution will be included in a camp being built by the UN and it could be said that the UN will act as FMV’s sub-contractor as far as the Swedish camp is concerned. However, UN camps are largely standardised and the Swedes must adapt. FMV’s task is to ensure that the camp meets UN standards, whilst being acceptable and functional for the Swedish force.

Big steps in new shoes

– Sure, we’ve got a daunting task in front of us, says Mats Ström. We’re trying to take very big steps in new shoes and there’s no certainty that we’ll always step in the right place, but we will definitely have taken steps in the right direction. The important thing is that FMV takes full responsibility for its task and in my opinion, because we’ve been involved at an early stage, we will be able to deliver the agreed capabilities on schedule.

Facts about the Mali operation

  • The Swedish Parliament has decided that Sweden will take part in the UN operation, Minusma, in Mali.
  • Minusma stands for ”La Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation au Mali”, or – The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
  • The UN camp where the Swedish force will be based will accommodate approximately 2700 personnel.
  • Sweden’s task is to provide an intelligence unit – a so-called ISR unit (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance)
  • The Swedish force contribution consists of 249 personnel.

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Published: 2014-05-21 08:30. Changed: 2014-08-13 08:35. Responsible: Show e-mail address.