Air Support Changes to MND-SW
Capt. Rhoda Frampton
First published in
SFOR Informer#143, July 18, 2002
On July 1 all of Multinational Division Southwest (MND-SW)
underwent a change to the current system of air support and
responsibility. This change significantly impacted the Netherlands
and United Kingdom Battle Groups.
Banja Luka - "Originally the Netherlands agreed to provide
support for a year and a half," said Lt. Col. Robert
Meijer, Deputy Chief of Staff of the NL Contingent. "The
British are all over the world and there was not enough capacity
to provide, so we agreed to continue the Immediate Response
Team (IRT) task."
From Dutch to British
The 1 (NL) Helidet SFOR formerly stationed at Divulje Barracks,
a Croatian Air Force Base in the vicinity of Split, headed
back to 298 Squadron Airbase Soesterberg at the end of June.
Two Cougar A-533 from 300 Squadron, Airbase Soesterberg and
three Sea Kings from 846 Naval Air Squadron, Yeovilton, UK,
"For people it is sad to leave a place like Split and
go to Bugojno," said Lt. Col. Remco van Ravenzwaaij,
Detachment Commander of 1 (NL) Helidet. "But for the
whole reduction of numbers in SFOR and for the amount of work
that Soesterberg has to put in to continue helicopter support
I think it is a good thing."
Fourth (NL) Helidet is the new detachment within MND-SW from
the Netherlands based in Bugojno. The role of the 50-person
detachment is to provide IRT support only. Being based in
Bugojno saves on manpower as it already has an infrastructure
in place such as the guard platoon, kitchen staff, internal
affairs as well as the reduction in aircrew as there will
now only be the two helicopters; one each in one in Bugojno
In order to prepare for these changes in Bugojno construction
of a clam shelter, enlarging the helicopter pad and more accommodations
The change for the UK Battle Group is the approximate 50 personnel
from 846 Naval Air Squadron, Yeovilton in Somerset, UK. They
arrived at Banja Luka on June 25 and will stay until November
when the RAF will replace them.
This group will consist of nine officers, headquarters and
training staff, pilots, engineers, aircraft handlers and administrative
staff, all directly supporting the three Sea King Helicopters
fulfilling the UK's role of providing general transport.
The Sea Kings operationally seat 16, but these numbers will
be reduced given the current heat conditions in Bosnia and
Herzegovina. The three Sea Kings are back up to the IRT if
required. They have day and night capability as well as having
proven themselves in all types of environments ranging from
desert to arctic conditions.
"The Squadron is very keen on coming in, the sister squadron
845 used to work out of Split, they were here for ten years,"
said Lt. (RN) David Brewin, a pilot with the 846 Naval Air
Squadron. "Eight hundred forty six are here now in a
different location, very keen to fly the environment and get
the experience and be part of the NATO environment,
In order to accommodate this change, Banja Luka staff had
to make modifications, such as developing flight co-ordination,
improvments to the operations complex, refurbishment of the
fire station to include Rapid Intervention Vehicles and the
provision of accommodations.
"It was a very immense undertaking in a very short period
of time, bearing in mind that construction didn't begin until
April," said Lt. Col. Russ Britfor, Deputy Commander.
"I think that we have achieved a huge amount in a very
short space of time."
Nations of SFOR: UK,