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Ukraine conflict spurs military funeral training by NATO member – media

The mock burials were meant to strengthen soldiers’ psyches for large-scale hostilities, NRK has reported

The Norwegian military is practicing burying soldiers and coping with the loss of life in light of the grim battlefield realities of the Ukraine conflict, local media reported on Thursday.

The macabre training was part of army exercises at the Setermoen firing range in the county of Troms in the northern part of the country, according to an article by Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

While the service members are involved in practicing “sharp acts of war,” they are also paying attention to the “mental” aspect of fighting, which includes field burials.

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As part of the drills, some soldiers also pretend to be wounded and assist their incapacitated comrades. One photo shared by the outlet – apparently taken in the summer – shows a squad of Norwegian soldiers standing over a fresh grave with an improvised wooden cross. Another, taken in the winter – depicts an “injured” service member lying on his back in the snow, apparently waiting to be pulled out.

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Gunner Jens Espeland told the outlet that “we got to think and reflect on what everyday life actually is,” adding that even with such training, “you are never properly prepared for something like that.” Chief Sergeant Stian Mo noted that he used his personal traumatic experience from the war in Afghanistan, where he lost a fellow soldier in a car bombing, in the training.

Albert Vedeler, a deputy battalion commander, noted that “the war in Ukraine has put things into perspective,” describing the deaths of comrades on the battlefield as “a real situation that can happen in Norway.” “Our great enemy in the east can potentially move in, take lives and destroy things we love about the nation of Norway,” he said, apparently referring to Russia.

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Moscow has repeatedly stated that it has no plans to attack NATO. It has, however, long expressed concern about the US-led military bloc’s expansion towards its borders. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Ukraine’s push to join the alliance was one of the key reasons for the conflict.

The funeral training in Norway comes amid Kiev’s much-hyped counteroffensive, which started in early summer but failed to gain any substantial ground, with the Ukrainian army suffering devastating losses, according to Moscow. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that Ukraine has lost more than 125,000 troops in the past six months.

December 08, 2023 at 03:50PM
RT

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