Welcome to another issue of Life in the Swedish Army, the weekly dump of entries from my diary, being written as I go through national service in the armed forces of Sweden. See my wu in this node if this is the first of the LitSA write-ups you've seen. It contains some background info which will be expanded later when I get to writing a proper LitSA metanode.

This week came with a full package of pain and suffering, for this was the week when I and my fellow soldiers embarked on what would be the end of our period of basic training - the first two out of ten months have passed, and we will now be moving from the basics to slightly more advanced things, such as learning how to drive large armoured vehicles. First, however, a few weeks will be spent on what is known as "högvakt", or "high guard" - a better translation would probably be royal guard, because that's what it's all about - we will be standing guard outside the royal castles in Stockholm and Drottningholm. More about that in future LitSA nodes, however.

A little about what we actually did this week (I didn't cover it very well in my diary): The exercise spanned three days, during which we had to survive on a minimum of food and sleep (the only real meal we got was one can of white beans in tomato sauce, which we had to eat on the first day), while travelling a distance of approximately 45 kilometers. On foot. In full combat gear, carrying everything we needed in (or strapped to the outside of) our backpacks. To top it off, the weather was gorgeous all three days, with air temperatures well in excess of 25 degrees C and the sun constantly shining. Just the kind of weather you'd like to go to the beach in. NOT the kind of weather you want to go on a three-day march in.

Here follows the diary entries for this week, covering days 43-49, or June 29 - August 4th.

29th of July, 2002 - 08:37
Something is starting to feel very wrong about this. After hurrying through the standard morning routine, we were told to prepare all of our equipment for the march ahead, with no further instructions on when or how we were going to leave. For more than an hour, we have been sitting here doing NOTHING. Our CO's are nowhere to be found. I wonder if they have some devilish plan in store for us...

29th of July, 2002 - 10:30
Urgh. Yep, still sitting here doing nothing in particular.

30th of July, 2002 - 06:14
After the somewhat slow morning we finally started our march of death, bringing us at least 24 kilometers in 10 hours' time. The second day has just begun, and the march is set to continue. Not good. One of us has already been forced to break off the exercise and I am guessing that more will follow him. Personally, I feel like I would have given up long ago, given an appropriate opportunity to do so. I take some comfort in the fact that we'll probably go home tomorrow ...

Note: I did not actually know at this point that we were indeed going to go home on the 31st. It was just my hunch.

31st of July, 2002 - 07:35
As through some heavenly miracle I am finding the strength to write today as well, day three of what has to be the worst exercise we've done so far. Urgh. We have finally come back to S1, but so far we're not "home". Instead, some practice at the shooting range awaits, and fuck knows what will come after that. I'm really tired, really hungry, I have blisters on my feet and a toothache. Not pleasant at all. However, I am reasonably sure they won't keep this madness up for much longer.

1st of August, 2002 - 06:40
It is yet again morning. The exercise, which I hoped would end yesterday afternoon, did indeed end, and so all that's left is recovering from the experience. For me this means having to deal with all the mosquito bites I've accumulated. I've also still got the remains of a huge blister on my right foot, causing me to limp like some 80-year old. Apart from this however, there isn't much wrong with me. Today it's thursday and I'm hoping for a relatively calm day.

2nd of August, 2002 - 15:52
On my way home. The week ended, as I had hoped, without any further events of substance. Now the GSU (Basic soldier training) is over, and we move on to slightly more interesting matters. Next week we will start preparing for standing guard at the royal castle in Stockholm, though right now, I'm looking forward to the weekend most of all.

<-- day 36-42 | day 50-56 -->