In uniform at the office

Shirt, trousers and sweater are standard work outfit for Gard Brandsæter in Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace. On 4 December, however, he put on a military uniform, to participate in the Norwegian Home Guard's campaign "Uniform at work"

  • Text:Anne Cecilie Lund-Andersen

    Photo:Ove Ronny Haraldsen

Gard Brandsæter fills his working days with customer dialogue and sales meetings for Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, one of the business areas in the Kongsberg Group. There is less business travels than before, but still hectic days as a full-time employee in the technology company.

Gard is Head of Marketing and Sales, Northern Europe, for the Land Systems Division within Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

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However, in addition to his day job, Brandsæter has another position – as area manager in the Norwegian Home Guard. On December 4, he marked the “Uniform at work day”, together with several other colleagues, who are also enrolled in the home guard.

EVERYWHERE – ALWAYS

Brandsæter does not think that others are being upset by seeing their otherwise civilly dressed KONGSBERG colleagues wearing uniform at the workplace.

“In Scandinavia, trust in the authorities and people in uniform is generally high, and the company has communicated broadly about the campaign,” says Brandsæter, and continues:

“It helps to promote the Home Guard. Normally, we are not visible, but part of the ordinary workforce, counting about 40,000 people. We're right around you, it's your neighbour, your colleague. We want to further strengthen the Home Guards standing and show that we are an essential part of the Norwegian preparedness”, says Brandsæter.

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He refers to the Home Guard’s role in crisis and conflict, with guard and security as primary tasks, but also with a significant contribution to society in other situations.

“The Home Guard can be first at the scene with many people, across the country. We can observe and prevent sabotage, as well as secure vital objects and road junctions. But we also deal with search and rescue missions, natural disasters and more. The Home Guard soldier is in service in the local community where he or she lives”, Brandsæter explains.

DIGITAL EVENT

Many KONGSBERG employees are working remotely these days. Therefore, the company has chosen to mark the campaign day with a digital event, which is also open to colleagues who are not in the Home Guard. Here, Brandsæter talked about both the Home Guard’s organization, exercises and the role as area manager.

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“A Home Guard area commander must ensure a meaningful service for the soldiers. There is no longer any hold in old myths about exercises consisting of what we call “waiting service” or sleeping in the swamp. We utilize every hour of the day. One week a year you leave work to do Home Guard service, and that week should be effective, motivating and educational, so that we come out as better soldiers at the other end”, says Brandsæter.

BOTH CIVILIAN AND MILITARY

The Home Guard is combining the personnel’s military and civilian competence. This ensures a diverse experience base. In addition, the Home Guard soldier uses his local knowledge when solving missions.

“A good Home Guard soldier participates in the exercise with commitment and an open mind. He or she doesn’t think of the service as a disadvantage to the employer or oneself but is positive about solving the task. In a well-functioning Home Guard organization, you manage to reach an acceptable level of readiness during this week each year”, Brandsæter explains, and adds that there are clear requirements for what a Home Guard soldier should achieve.

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In recent years, the HV force's preparedness has been tested in several sharp assignments.

“The response time is good; people are willing to show; be it to deal with floods or carry out border controls as they have done during the pandemic. The Home Guard has an obvious impact on the safety of society. It is an incredibly cost-effective way to have 40,000 soldiers and officers available at any given time, being able to come to some form of rescue if the alarm goes off locally”, he says.

INCREASED OPENNESS AND TRUST

The Home Guard’s “Uniform at work” campaign follows a trend which the Armed Forces has followed in recent years, with more openness and transparency. It is practised from the intelligence service all the way up to the Norwegian Chief of Defence, Erik Kristoffersen, who also lead the Home Guard for a period. This helps to strengthen trust”, Brandsæter believes.

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“The Chief of Defence gave a strong impression of being a "doer" and helped to increase momentum in the Home Guard. This has been continued by the current Home Guard Chief, Major General Elisabeth Michelsen. She is tough and dedicated and follows up on Kristoffersen’s good intentions by the adding of competent personnel and renewal of the Home Guard”, says Brandsæter.

He thinks it is positive that KONGSBERG as an employer, actively supports the Home Guard campaign, and hopes that this will apply to the majority of employers in Norway.