Reina camp is overcrowded, and course participants sleep in huge tents for weeks

Reina camp is overcrowded, and course participants sleep in huge tents for weeks

Inside the huge gray tents that make up Camp Rhodesmon in Reina, field beds are lined. Some are on a concrete floor, others directly on gravel.

The ventilation system is working hard on an above-average warm day in May, but the air is dense and full of dust and sand.

Outside there are six toilets and six showers: three for men and one woman.

The tent camp, which came into use this year, houses more than a hundred students from the Army Weapons School.

One student told the Defense Forum that Camp Rødsmoen is nice to put their equipment in, the kitchen is good and they are close to the training range.

However, there are some things that could be better.

– There are six pieces, three for boys and three for girls, divided into 110-120 pieces. it's so bad. In addition, there is all sand and poor ventilation. The air is very bad, so people cough a lot.

Another student says that many people had nosebleeds and suffered from obstructed airways due to the sand.

None of the students wish to provide their name and photo for fear of limited career opportunities in the armed forces in the future.

BEDROOM: Sand and dust get on the wrong side of the cover under camp beds, much to the students' frustration.

Dirty laundry on the evening train

Camp beds that don't fit on the concrete that covers half the sleeping hall are placed on tarpaulins. However, large amounts of sand end up on the wrong side of the tire and thus on clothing and equipment.

In fact, pupils have the opportunity to change their clothes in the warehouse once a week. But with the intensive course, which often lasts until 8pm, time is short.

They do not have access to a washing machine. With over 20 degrees Celsius in May, you can imagine what clothes will eventually look and smell like.

One student told the Defense Forum that there is a group from Trondheim who gets together and drives four and a half hours to Trøndelag every Friday and returns the same distance on Sunday to wash their clothes at home.

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Another says there are more people spending Friday evenings and nights on the train from Reina to Bergen delivering laundry to their parents.

Lunch: A student's lunch is ready, with some sand on the outside of the bag.

The employees were transferred

Students at the Norwegian Armed Forces School are a mix of conscripts and permanent employees of the armed forces. There are several courses of different lengths running at the same time, so people are coming and going all the time.

Initially, everyone was placed in Camp Rhodesmon. In principle, all personnel in the armed forces should have satisfactory accommodation during training courses.

Since Camp Rødsmoen is a field transfer and not a sick quarter, the permanently employed students were transferred to Terningmoen after the union representative at the Staff Organization (BFO) took the matter further.

The others stayed.

Monster: Clothes, energy drinks, and military equipment are kept on the students' personal tarpaulin.

Main protection representative on a visit

Students' experiences were sent up the system.

During the visit: The Army's chief store steward, Torgrim Voshog, discovered several aberrations at Camp Rhodesmon.

On 14 May, Torgrim Foschog, the army's chief security officer, visited Camp Rudsmon to investigate.

Voshog would not go into detail regarding his findings, because he believes the military as an employer should be given the opportunity to correct problems before they appear in the media.

However, he says it is mainly about management, organization, fire protection, sanitation, hygiene and cleaning.

– Croatian Defense Council The Army as an employer is very keen to close identified deviations, many of which were carried out on the same day of the visit, he says.

Just like the students, Foshaug also takes pride in the kitchen.

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– Everything is paid to Reina's camp

According to Foshaug, the reason the Army Weapons School uses the Rødsmoen temporary camp is that there is very little EBA in the Østerdalen garrison, in relation to the tasks undertaken by the Army.

Justin Vestle, union representative of the BFO branch in the Reina camp, agrees.

-Everything is growing and everything is being pushed into Reyna's camp, but there is no increase in other resources. It's a team that connects to making it work, he says, and despite the many assumptions we make it works.

Vestley draws the metaphor where a 16-person minibus is supposed to transport 28 people somewhere in 25 minutes while the journey takes 30 minutes – each way.

We want more from EBA: Justin Vestle, management representative at Reina Camp, believes that they do not have the basic requirements to do everything they need to do, but they manage to do it anyway.

Pupils and officers get to stay in hotels, motels and whatever is available when they can, says a BFO representative.

Routines: EBA officer Eirik Svee believes that you should follow routines within Camp Rødsmoen.

When told of the chief safety officer's comments, Vestle said it would not be better for the dust to bother the students.

When it comes to cleanliness, the store manager says a lot of the responsibility falls on the individual student, but the Army must follow up, monitor and communicate more.

It's fire code violations that worry him most.

– It's not good. Fire regulations must be followed. He says that if there are errors or deviations, they must be addressed.

Concrete on the road

Camp Rhodesmon was established for NATO's Trident Juncture exercise in 2018 to house 6,000 men and women from several countries.

After the exercise, all above-ground infrastructure was removed. Access to water and electricity will be available if the area is used for something similar again.

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The tents were then set up again ahead of NATO's Cold Response exercise in 2022, says Eric Svey, an EBA official at Camp Reina. It was then used as a mess tent for the Allies.

It was then left standing and rented by a contractor. Forsvarsbygg then bought the tent so that the armed forces could use it.

In 2023, Camp Rhodesmon was left empty. In April this year, it was used by the Army Weapons School.

Safi believes the camp represents a solid solution and must be improved now.

Three new toilets and showers are likely to be on the way, either by the Norwegian Armed Forces Logistics Organization or by private hire.

In addition, the process of covering the entire dormitory floor with concrete is also underway.

– It's almost funded, so we hope it will come to fruition during 2024, says Svi.

Field camp: The tents at Camp Rødsmoen have been in place since 2022. The nearest tent on the right has a student toilet and shower.

Lack of capacity

In the same week in May that the Army's Chief Security Representative and Defense Forum visited Camp Rhodesmon, Camp Reina had a new garrison commander: Bard Thodesen.

He brags about Foshaug's protection tour and believes it proves that systems in the armed forces work.

– He says: – We see how quickly we can move, take action and make the necessary improvements.

Thodesen also directs the conversation toward the fact that there is very little space for people in the Rena camp.

The government is expected to give them what they need if the armed forces and the army are to grow, as stipulated in the long-term plan.

– Functional areas such as good infrastructure, accommodation, educational facilities, food, sports, health services and other matters that the training regiment is responsible for are important for us to succeed in developing the army, says the garrison commander.

Newly Recruited: Garrison Commander Bard Thodesen says that although he started his job a few days before the Defense Forum visit, as a commander he must stand up when there is a need to do so.

Significant resources are used

Army spokesman Bragg Stenson Wik-Hansen responds on behalf of the Army and Forsvarsbj that the training regiment in Reina, Forsvarsbj, and the Army have done a lot of work to address the problems found by Voschog.

“Recently, several measures have been implemented to enhance fire safety, and a number of health measures and a robust sanitary solution have been put in place to ensure the operation of the camp in the future,” he says.

In addition, they are looking at how to improve the tents, including by laying a temporary floor until they have a concrete floor in the entire sleeping area. They believe it will be implemented in the fall of 2024.

Wick-Hansen says there are demands on how people live and that everyone benefits from highlighting situations where life is not good enough.

– Protection service protects and works. This case is a good example of that. That's why significant resources are now being used to make Camp Rhodesmon a satisfactory place to stay during training courses that are critical to the Army, he says.

FIELD TENTS: Army spokesman Bragg Stinson Wick Hansen says Camp Rhodesmon is a field site and that the requirements then depend on the needs of the department and the mission they have to solve.

Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

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