Operational Rehearsal Dynamic Response 03

Capt. Besnik Cukali
First published in
SFOR Informer#166, October, 2003

From the 26th August to 24th September 2003, NATO and Partner nations deployed Reserve Forces headquarters and troops to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo as part of Operational Rehearsal, Dynamic Response 2003 (DR03). This annual rehearsal, demonstrates NATO's ability, to significantly reinforce its in-theatre forces at short notice.

Sarajevo- NATO and Partner units were involved in real-time Peace Support Operations practicing and validating operational concepts and familiarizing units with the terrain and environment. Their presence also reinforced NATO's and the international community's strong resolve and commitment to maintain peace and stability throughout the Balkans region.
NATO's Reserve Forces
NATO has three different Reserve Forces, all available at short notice: the Tactical Reserve (TACRES) are drawn from the Multinational Brigades under command of Commander SFOR.
The Operational Reserve Force (ORF) and Strategic Reserve Force (SRF) collectively comprise the land element of the Over the Horizon Forces (OTHF). Commander in Chief South (CINCSOUTH), as the Joint Force Commander (JFC), retains the ORF stationed out of theatre and ready for deployment at relatively short notice (4-14 days) to be Mission Ready and on the ground in the designated Area of Responsibility (AOR). At the Strategic Level, Supreme Allied Command Europe (SACEUR) holds a Strategic Reserve Force (SRF), which is also held out of theatre on 15 days notice once SACEUR has received approval from North Atlantic Council.
The OTHF are multinational, professional forces with a wide range of military capabilities, including light and airborne infantry, amphibious, air mobile, armour, artillery and air attack capability able to deal with any military contingency. During DR03 more than 3,000 troops were deployed to BiH and Kosovo. It is important to note that the timing of DR03 was not related to any fears of instability, to any current events or real-world developments. The reduced number of troops in theatre under SFOR has been possible due to the improving security situation within BiH. DR03 demonstrated the capability of OTHF to bring in extra forces to maintain peace and stability in the region if ever required.
The operational rehearsal
The operation rehearsal was coordinated by CINCSOUTH, the JFC within the NATO Headquarters responsible for the Balkan Operations. Units deployed by air, land and sea, arriving in theatre fully mission-capable and logistically self-sustaining. After processing through reception areas, they were integrated into the command and control structures of SFOR, performing duties with the troops in place on a wide variety of missions, from manning checkpoints, to conducting routine patrols. DR03 is an opportunity to integrate and employ the OTHF earmarked for SFOR in a coherent way, within the routine framework of operations.
Distinguished visitors day
On the 2nd September SFOR took the opportunity to demonstrate to the public and local and national leaders how quickly the OTHF forces can be deployed and link up with other troops on the ground to the public. A mixture of distinguished visitors and media gathered at Comanche Base near Tuzla. Lt Gen William E. Ward, (Commander SFOR) emphasied that, "This year, for the first time, members of the Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) will deploy across an international border, into Kosovo, to reinforce KFOR during exercise Dynamic Response. This flexibility adds a potent force multiplier to our presence and enhances our capability to provide a safe and secure environment throughout the larger Balkan theatre." After a short briefing on the OTHF concept, the DR03 demonstration began.
Phase one began with photographs taken from the air by British-French Jaguars being displayed. These would be used to identify the best drop zone. The next phase of the operation was to secure the landing zone, which would normally take place at night and before the main body arrived. Specially trained soldiers known as "Pathfinders" drop in under the cover of darkness, monitor the area, mark the landing zone and provide communications for follow-on forces.
After his drop Capt.Minervini Glauco said, "We conducted a free-fall drop from UH60 Black Hawk helicopters flying as low as 1,500 meters and we were using the MT1XX-type parachute that is standard equipment of the Italian Airborne Brigade. These parachutes allow the Pathfinders to steer with great precision, as you saw. Sometimes, especially during combat operations, we can jump as far as 50km from the drop zone and still reach it by flying and cruising with our parachutes." First out the plane was the commander of the 186th Parachute "Folgore" Regiment of the Italian Army, Col Rosario Castellano. Once the Pathfinders were on the ground, they moved quickly to the four corners of the landing zone to conduct initial security and reconnaissance operations.
Free-fall from 1,500 metres
Italian and Hungarian Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) soldiers of the Italian Carabinieri and the 1st Light Cavalry Regiment (special operations capable) arrived simultaneously in four UH60 Black hawk helicopters to conduct the air-assault operation in order to seize and secure the landing zone.
With phase three complete the airdrop was clear to go ahead. Type-A21 equipment loads and paratroopers were launched from a G222 (Italian aeroplane similar to the C-27 used by US forces). After the demonstration Col. Castellano spoke to the visitors "In recent years the Regiment has deployed on three operational tasks: Bosnia in 1999, Albania in 2000 and on operation "Consistent Effort" in Kosovo in 2000.We are training our forces to re-deploy at short notice. I think we have already proved that we are capable of doing this successfully. I'm having a good time here." Lt Gen Ward added that "This is your country and this is your NATO. Together, we along with our international community partners remain committed to keeping the peace, providing stability, and improving the lives of the people here in BiH and throughout the Balkans."

Related link: Training and Exercises

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Photos: MSgt. Keit Johnson and Sgt. Guy D. Chorte

COMSFOR pushes out ten with a member of the Italian 186th Parachute Regiment.


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The MSU securing the drop zone.


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The pathfinders make their final checks as they walk towards the helicopter.


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Italian and Hungarian MSU soldiers disembark from a UH60 Black Hawk to secure the drop zone.


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Last chance to bottle it!.


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MSU provide security on the ground.


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Photo: courtesy of 186th Parachute Regiment

The exhiliration of free-fall.


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Photo: Capt. Besnik Cukali

Preparing for a safe landing.