Contingents > Switzerland
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Upon request of our Chief of General Staff I extended my stay in Western Sahara from 6 to 9 months. I have never had any regret in doing so since I received the rare opportunity to aquaint myself with the country and people of both sides. "The desert lives" is a statement I can only confirm! The strength of nature becomes evident in many ways and gives you the impression of living in a total different dimension.From a military point of view I have come to following conclusions: Autonomy and high priority for Logistics, special knowledge and teamwork are the priorities for a well operating Contingent. All technical means, such as communications and Air Transport are most important and have to be fully used. Without Farner Air Transport our operation would not have been a success. Next to diplomatic skills one needs to retain himself towards the civilian population and their organisations. Let us be frank, even our best try, will never make us understand fully, what impact and consequences local history and traditions have on the developement of the way of life in certain foreign countries humanitarian missions are necessary, important and instructive for all involved personnel, be it civilian or military. Working with different Nations, speaking different languages is impressive and promotes the understanding for other Cultures and people who happen to think differently.
17 years have passed since I was in the mission area and right now I enjoy retirement. MINURSO is still running. However, Switzerland, like other countries, is not part of the mission anymore.
Yes., well, Was this mission any good? someone may ask him/herself.
A clear answer to that is very difficult to give. I believe our mission has been a real contribution to good medical care.
We had the opportunity to treat many Observers, Peace Keepers, Civilian UN Personnel, ID Commission Staff and a few locals. We are confident that we were able to easen at least a bit of suffering.
I am sure our army was able to profit from this experience. The pioneers from yesterday have brought back a lot of experience and knowledge from all these missions such as Bosnia-Herzogowina and Kosovo, where they still serve nowadays.
I admit, I am proud to have served in a mission and I would not like to miss a single day of this adventure. I would like to thank all Swiss Medical Personnel for giving me the opportunity to work and serve with them.
This was an experience for Life. I would like to thank my wife and my children for these - not always easy times.
See you all, Col (ret) Ulrich Kägi