Swedish Defence attaché visits no 12

Swedish Defence attaché visits no 12

On Monday 8 November 2010 the Swedish Defence Attaché to Ireland Lt Col Jorgen Forsberg visited the Consulate General in Dublin.

Lt Col Forsberg’s main purpose in visiting Dublin was to attend the 50th anniversary of the Niembi Ambush. In the Niembi Ambush Irish soldiers were killed while serving on the UN mission to the Congo. This was the single greatest loss suffered by the Irish army.

The Congo was the first mission overseas of the Irish army. It was also the first occasion upon which the Irish army worked with the Swedish army. Close ties were forged on that occasion, which have continued during the intervening half century. In Liberia, Sweden and Ireland formed a combined battalion. In Chad, Irish soldiers replaced the Swedish contingent.

Both countries have a similar outlook on foreign policy, in particular in relation to military neutrality.

In the EU, Ireland forms part of the Nordic battle group of which, of course, Sweden is also a very important participant together with Finland, Estonia and Norway. Lt Col Jorgen Forsberg’s role as Defence Attaché is to maintain official contact with relevant Irish officials and to support the Swedish Ambassador.

Lt Col Forsberg is Chief of Staff of the Southern Skåne Regiment. This is a mechanised regiment based in Sandby.

In addition to his military role, Jorgen Forsberg was recently elected Deputy Mayor of Lund. He is a member of the Moderate Party. The notion of a serving military officer being active in politics would be impossible in Ireland but is acceptable in Sweden subject to certain rules.

Jorgen Forsberg is a keen sportsman. He is particularly interested in learning about Gaelic football and hurling. A trip to the Munster Final is promised for next summer!

PAUL KEANE