EXTRAORDINARY UNMEM COURSE
The UNMEM course currently running in Niinisalo has a couple of features to make it extraordinary. For the first time in UNMEM history there are more female officers than male. In addition to this UNMEM 2-2017 is also training Military Advisors for high level positions in peacekeeping operations.
"I am very honoured that FINCENT was chosen to be the first training centre to organize the UN Military Observe course with an increased number of female officers", says Commandant of FINCENT, Commander (SG) Jukka-Pekka Schroderus. "We are happy to support the United Nations in their effort to increase the training opportunities for women in military. This course is also a great learning opportunity for us as a UN certified crisis management training centre", continues Schroderus.
The participants on the current course represent 21 nations all around the world and this gives us an possibility to evaluate if our knowledge of the multicultural mission reality is really up to date. FINCENT haven´t had so many nationalities training and working together at the same time before and we are grateful to get this chance.
"I also want to express my gratitude towards the sponsoring countries Australia, Canada, Norway and United Kingdom who made this course possible for the female officers from Africa and Central America", continues Commander Schroderus. FINCENT wants to share best practices with other training centers and actors. FINCENT working as the NATO Military Contribution for Peace Support Department Head creates good opportunities for this.
Strong foundation carries through the decades
FINCENT has organized military observe courses since 1969. The UN Military Experts on Mission course has been conducted in this form for almost 20 times with the majority of the students being male officers. On this particular course the female officers are the majority.
"We decided to change nothing from the course curriculum, and I am very satisfied with the decision", says the Chief Instructor of the UNMEM Course, Lieutenant Colonel Rolf Kullberg. "UN Observes have the same requirements and tasks regardless of the gender. The way this course was once planned, works well for both genders", he continues.
Unique MILAD training at FINCENT
FINCENT is the only UN training centre in the world which offers Military Advisor training for officers. On this specific course the MILAD teams have a mixed composition of both male and female officers.
"I have nothing, but positive things to say about these mixed MILAD teams", says Commander (SG) Kari Mäkinen. Mäkinen is the instructor in charge of the Military Advisor (MILAD) training on the UN Military Experts on Mission course.
During the Basic Exercise week in Niinisalo, Commander (SG) Mäkinen instructed two Military Advisor teams formed with three male and three female officers. The members of the MILAD teams come from Bhutan, Finland, Uganda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Norway. In the exercise scenario the teams have just arrived to the mission area and they are interacting with the local key leaders for the first time. The created situation is a challenging one and the aspiring MILADs have to use their mediation and negotiation skills to reach an acceptable solution for the both parties involved.
"The teams worked together very well", says Commander (SG) Mäkinen." I feel that the presence of female officers balances and harmonizes the group. The female officers are very hard working and willing to fulfill the given tasks. If there´s a lack of some military skills due to their professional background, they are working even harder to compensate it. I think this exercise shows that the mixed MILAD teams can achieve their goals better."
Feedback from the course
"I didn´t have any expectations for this course but I had only heard good things about it from my colleagues", says a female officer from Sweden. "I have never worked with such a multicultural group of officers and this is a great learning opportunity for me", she continues.
"So far this course has been very good", says a female officer from El Salvador. "The theoretical part last week gave us a good foundation to continue the practical training here in Niinisalo", she continues. "We work here in mixed teams and I feel very integrated", she concludes.
During the field exercise the students live their daily lives in the camps, as they would in a real mission and face similar situations and challenges during the training, as they could face in real conflict area.
Team work is a force multiplier
"The atmosphere here is very supportive", comments a female officer from Chad. "If one of our team members is struggling with something he or she can count on the help of the others." According to their background and work experience the students vary in their skills and competencies. They are not only learning from the instructors but also from their team mates.
"They are learning by doing and sometimes learning by making mistakes", says the UNMEM Course Director, Major Kimmo Härkönen. Every exercise and incident is followed by a feedback session, where the teams evaluate their own performance, the students reflect their own actions and the instructor sums up the feedback. This method enables the students to learn a lot in a short period of time. "Sharing your own previous experiences and knowledge is also a big asset in this learning process", says the UNMEM Course Coordinator, Lieutenant (SG) Elena Ojala.
On the top of the day to day feedback, which is shared between the instructors and students, FINCENT gathers an extensive amount of written feedback in the end of the course. The written feedback is collected through an internet survey, which allows us to analyze the feedback in a very short amount of time. Therefore, the students will receive a general summary of their answers before they depart the course. The analysis also enables us to revise and renew the course content and training methods after every course, if necessary.
"Everything has gone according to the plan. The students are ready for the Final Exercise", concludes the Course Director, Major Kimmo Härkönen. Next week in the three day field exercise, the student officers work together with their civilian counterparts, as students of Crisis Management Centre Finland’s EU Concept Core Course joins the exercise.