If a soldier on duty is in the gym, taking a sauna bath, relaxing in the TV-room or having his lunch, he still has to drop everything in his hands when he hears the command: “QRF” on the intercom. BarentsObserver got a chance to witness the efficiency of the border guards at Svanvik when they performed an alarm rehearsal this week.
The Norwegian border guards has been restructured to be more effective and more flexible to meet the needs of the future. Six old border stations are being replaced with two brand new €17 million stations. This way the Garrison of Sør-Varanger will have far more flexibility in solving their mission along the Norwegian Russian border. To gather all soldiers in two large stations also gives the officers in command a better overview of their resources, the rotation of soldiers is far better and the equipment is better utilized.
For the soldiers the biggest changes has been to leave the old cold war era barracks and move into a brand new modern building. Some may say they have better facilities than in a five star hotel, with a brand new gym, Northern-Europe´s finest sauna (according to a soldier) and a well-equipped living room with large panoramic windows.
However, what might be the most important change is the kitchen with a professional chef. At the smaller border stations the soldiers had to make their own meal, with variable results depending on who was in charge. Now a professional chef and his staff prepares all meals for the soldiers.