UNFICYP bids farewell to Force Commander Major General Ingrid Gjerde

A goodbye selfie. Photo: UNFICYP
A goodbye selfie. Photo: UNFICYP

Force Commander Major General  Ingrid Gjerde has stepped down as Force Commander of  the military component UNFICYP, where she has served for the past two years. On this occasion she was interviewed by Blue Beret, UNFICYP’s in-house journal.

UNFICYP is one of the longest-running UN Peacekeeping missions. It was set up in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island and bring about a return to normal conditions.

A smiling UNFICYP commander Major General Gjerde
A smiling Major General Gjerde. Photo: UNFICYP

Blue Beret: What message you would like to leave to your fellow peacekeepers serving in Cyprus?

“For all peacekeepers: You must be curious, openminded and learn to understand and get even better knowledge. And then you must be willing to change mind and make compromises to achieve our mission and mandate.“

Political science

Ingrid Gjerde’s military career began with officer training in 1987 and she has since held a number of positions in the armed forces, both nationally and in international operations. In addition to extensive military training, she holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Oslo. She had previously been stationed in Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Afghanistan.

Gjerde with UNFICYP colleagues
“I have felt that from the very beginning that I am respected in UNFICYP”. Photo: UNFICYP

On the challenges she has met in her assingment in Cypurs she said:

“We have had many challenging situations and in particular in engaging on difficult matters when there are disputed areas (and disputes that have been challenging) but may be the (most) challenging one, when one of our Slovak patrol officers was shot at on May 21. That was a serious, dangerous, and risky situation, which of course has an impact on me as a commander and how I look at the routine for the future to make sure that our peacekeepers are delivering the mission mandate, however they remain as safe as possible.

Gjerde in the field with UNFICYP

Happy if I can be seen as a role mode

Blue Beret: Did you ever feel it was a challenge being a woman leading the military component?

“No, I have felt that from the very beginning that I am respected in UNFICYP. I felt respected and appreciated by the local population both from sides of the island.“

Gjerde and colleagues in front of a helicopter
Gjerde and colleagues in front of a helicopter. Photo: UNFICYP

Blue Beret: Do you believe you inspired women working under your leadership to deliver better UNFICYP’s mandate?

“I hope so. I think both young men and women need role models to inspire them, and honestly women often need more empowerment to see their options and to really feel appreciated and grab the opportunities. For this reason, as a senior female leader, I want to inspire both men and women, but I do understand that I have to see individuals and may be pushed to support some of the women a little extra step further, therefore, I am really happy if I can be seen as a role model.”