This coming new year, vice admiral Louise Dedichen takes over as chief of the
Norwegian Military Mission to NATO. Not only is she the first woman to hold
this position, but she is also Norway’s first ever female admiral. And as chief
of the Norwegian Military Mission, she also becomes the first woman in the
Military Committee, NATO's top military
council. Dedichen thinks other countries will respond well to Norway having a female
representative in the Military Committee.
“I expect it to work fine. And I don’t think it will take too long until
there are more women in the Military Committee. I really look forward to that, because
being one and being more women in the committee, makes a big difference”,
Dedichen says in a recent interview with the Norwegian Armed Forces.
|en_240_norwegianofficermake||en_240_norwegianofficermake||http://forsvaret.no/en/Lists/RelatedMedia/DispForm.aspx?ID=588||In June 2019, Dedichen was appointed vice admiral. Here together with the Norwegian Chief of Defence, admiral Haakon Bruun-Hanssen. Photo by Martin Giskegjerde||/media/PubImages/20190621MG-6297.jpg|
This is not the first time she paves the way for a more gender-balanced military,
however. The 55-year-old is used to being the “first ever woman” in different
positions and appointments. In 2008, she was appointed rear admiral and took
over as chief for the Norwegian Defence University College. This summer, she
was appointed vice admiral and is looking forward to starting her new job at
the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
“My most important task is to promote Norway's views in NATO, and contribute
to creating a good dialogue between the nations. In many ways this is a military
diplomatic position, where I maintain good contact between the representatives
and promote Norwegian features and views.”
“What will be important to you in the new position?”
“To me it is important to try to see the big picture. That is essential
in a large and powerful organisation like NATO. The world situation is not identical
to everyone”, she says, and elaborates:
“In Italy, for example, we see that the main challenges are dealing with
boat refugees and high government debt – in contrast to the situation in
Norway. Without realising or showing that we take other countries' challenges
seriously, we also cannot expect them to understand that the Artic is important
to us in Norway. We need to be united on the real threat picture. In any
important decision, it is important to ask questions that extend beyond the
boundaries of a given topic, and to keep in mind what we really need to achieve.”
When asked what things worry her, the Vice Admiral says that she thinks people
generally stress and worry too much.
Vice admiral Louise Dedichen.
“When we are stressed and anxious, it can be difficult to address the things
that need to be addressed. In addition, we see increased polarisation and a
more unhealthy debate climate. I think that is partly because the digital
revolution has put an enormous pressure on people. There is a lot of
information coming from everywhere, so taking a time-out from time to time and
relaxing is essential to being able to see things in perspective.”
Her two daughters are full-time environmental activists. Dedichen thinks
that everyone – including the military – needs to be aware of one's own
footsteps on the environment.
“Climate challenges will somehow set the agenda in the future, also
for the Armed Forces. Today, the Norwegian Armed Forces solve several extra
tasks on behalf of the civil society, and these national extra tasks may also
apply to other countries in the future”.
Dedichen has NATO experience from before, serving as deputy for the chief
for the Norwegian Military Mission in 1995–1998.
“So I know the dynamics and atmosphere of the NATO system. From my other
jobs, I have learned the importance of using the diversity that exists in any organisation. I
need to get to know the people around me to understand what they are good at.
You also need to see each individual, because in a big puzzle every piece is
just as important. If the smallest pieces do not work, it will affect the