This is the first wu containing translated entries from my diary, written as I'm going through national service in the army of Sweden. I can't node from the barracks, but I am able to come home almost every weekend. Thus, future entries will drop in at a rate of about once per week for the next 10 months of so. This is the first entry, covering days 1-7 (of 300), noded on the 7th day.

Before starting, here's a bit of background. The Swedish Army relies heavily on a system of national service, in which tens of thousands of males between 18 and 20 are recruited each year. Service is compulsory on paper, but rather easy to get out of doing. Service is not compulsory for women, but some join anyway. The male-to-female ratio is about 95-5 at present. Still, the Swedish Army is one of the world's foremost in terms of technological advancement, even though we've not been in that many famous wars recently.

I was recruited in autumn 2001 to serve 300 days as a combat vehicle commander at Upplands Regemente (S1) in Enköping, Sweden. The task of a CVC is to command one or more tanks or armoured personel carriers. APC's at S1 are mobile commmunications hubs, the interior decorated with all kinds of computers and cool gizmos for use by the senior officers, while the crew makes sure that they're comfy and that no enemies are allowed near.

Part of the duties of the soldiers at S1 is also to stand guard at the Royal Castle in Stockholm for a couple of weeks, a duty shared by all those doing national service. While standing in front of a castle with a fancy uniform watching people come and go might seem tedious, doing it is considered a great honour by most.

That's enough for background - if you feel anything is missing, msg me and I will add it. The diary starts here.

17th of June, 2002 - 09:40
Arrived very early. I was well greeted and the process of getting me signed in went smoothly. I was assigned to the second company, second platoon, group six. After filling in various sheets on next-of-kin and similar stuff I was taken to my room (to be shared with 15 others) where some miscellaneous equipment, mostly books, was laid out on the bed. Listing follows:
  • One note (self-copying) for filling in information on next-of-kin
  • One envelope for the abovementioned note
  • Three tubes of camouflage paint, type M97. Green, brown, black.
  • One jar of army skin lotion
  • One first aid pack
  • One small notebook
  • One notepad, A4 size
  • One wooden pencil (2½ = HB written on side)
  • One plastic ink pen (blue, very dry)
  • One eraser
  • Various books
18th of June, 2002 - 00:05
After receiving "the rest" of my equipment - including a large amount of clothes and uniform parts - but no weapons - an afternoon of drills, excercise (learning how to stand, walk, etc) followed. All indoors, which was kind of sweaty since it was about 25 degrees Celcius outdoors. We eventually moved outdoors, which was a lot better. We were told we'd be getting our weapons (Ak5 automatic rifles) on wednesday. Getting along well with the other recruits. Appointed group leader by some corporal whose name I can't recall. Seems to mean I get to boss the others around some, which is cool. Spend the afternoon sewing various marks to our uniforms. A relatively calm day. Good food.

18th of June, 2002 - 13:55
Wakeup at 0500 and told to report in full gear outside five minutes later, of course nobody made it in time. Drills all morning, though we didn't have to wear our field jackets so the hot weather wasn't much of a problem. We met the company commander for the first time. Very little time for breakfast and lunch, though the food was very good. At the time of this writing, we're listening to some captain give a speech about all the money and free stuff (like medical care) we'll be getting. Seems we get to travel home for free every time we're on leave. Nice. Also nice is that we get our weapons tomorrow. Was informed that I will not be commanding a tank but an APC, and possibly some mobile communications towers (TeleSystem 9000, very cool stuff). Looking forward to it.

(Notes) Stuff to do until tomorrow: All members of the group I'm commanding must sew their flags, company emblems and such to their uniforms, as previously instructed. This will be checked tomorrow morning. Read up on the Ak5 in SoldR (book about personal equipment we got). Everything must be ready by 0600 hours. Breakfast at 0615.

19th of June, 2002 - 10:10
Didn't have time to write any more yesterday, the afternoon was kind of rough. Our commanding officers got angry at us because we stayed up (sewing) even though we had orders to be in bed by 2230 hours. Reminder to self not to let that happen again. Apart from that, our commanders seem content with our performance so far, and some have told us we've come far considering we've only been here two days. This morning, we marched around the area to see the garages were the combat vehicles were parked, as well as the shooting ranges.

(Notes) One meal: 60% carbohydrates, 25% fat, 15% proteine. Stand guard at royal castle w. 32-34. Field excercises weeks 26, 27, 43, 44, 45, 47. BED BY 2230!

19th of June, 2002 - 23:30
After lunch (we had a barbecue!) we got our weapons, standard model Ak5's with various accessories and parts, including four 30-round magazines (5.56mm NATO caliber). We then learned to assemble and disassemble the Ak5's, and to test fire them after assembly (albeit without ammo). At lunch we managed to accidentally seat ourselves in the officer's mess, which wasn't very appreciated, as we found out later. In the evening, we found out that we had to move to different rooms, due to a reorganization of the groups. As part of the reorganization, I won't be group commander any more this week.

21st of June, 2002 - 11:50
Back home on leave (midsummer) now. Yesterday was pleasant because we had a lot of spare time, yet I didn't have enough time to write here, sadly. We did a lot of new stuff and weapon excercises, and a drill exam after lunch, where some lieutenant ordered us around for a bit to find out how much we'd picked up. All things said and done, he was pleased with our performance, adding that we'd come far after "only" three days. After the exam, we were able to rest our feet for a bit while the captain told us about our future activites. I took the bus home at 1540 hours (service ended at 1515). Told to report back Sunday evening.

This concludes the entries for day 1-7.

day 8-14 -->