After working for almost a year as a Financial Analyst for Finnfund (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd.) I was asked to participate in a NATO lead peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, Europe.
After contemplating the option for a few days I decided it was an once in a lifetime opportunity and decided to accept the offer. Especially as I was guaranteed the possibility to return to my civilian job at Finnfund after the mission. The peacekeeping mission is a NATO-led international force called the Kosovo Force (KFOR) which is responsible for establishing and maintaining a safe and secure environment in Kosovo. Finland has been active in Kosovo since 1999 and is one of the total of 36 nations participating in the peacekeeping mission. The Finnish Military Forces operate as part of the Multinational Brigade Centre MNB(C), which is deployed in central Kosovo.
I served for 6 months as a Second Lieutenant (Officer) in the Finnish Peacekeeping Force situated in Camp Ville near the city of Lipljan which lies approximately 18 kilometers south of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. Before leaving I completed three weeks of training in Finland and left for Kosovo on the 9th of May 2005. My position enabled me to participate in a number of different operations and to work together with other peacekeepers of various nationalities. The work was challenging and often implied performing in difficult circumstances and irregular hours. The general working environment was pretty developed, especially within our camp, and our team luckily comprised of many talented people which made work enjoyable. During leaves from duty I also had the opportunity to visit some of the surrounding areas such as Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia and FYROM. In addition, I participated in the Athens Classic Marathon in November 2005 and finished with a time of 3 hours and 45 minutes. All together it was a very educating experience which gave a valuable insight into the rather complex situation in the Balkans. Who knows, maybe someday I'll sign up for another duty somewhere in the world...
For more information on the Finnish Defence Forces and peacekeeping visit their homepage at www.mil.fi