Building searched in response to threats
Master Sgt. Jörg Wagner
First published in
SFOR Informer#159, March 6, 2003
An apartment building on an SFOR route. Nothing unusual
- at first sight. But things are not quiet as they seem. The
fact is that SFOR soldiers on patrol have been shot at several
times from this building, most recently on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
Since this poses a definite threat to SFOR personnel, orders
were issued for the building to be searched. The apartment
in question is on the second floor, and this complicates matters.
But the operation has been meticulously planned.
Rajlovac - It is Wednesday, Feb. 12. Vehicles roll up at
the helipad. A convoy is formed, headed by two 'Fuchs' (Armoured
Transport Vehicle) and a 'Luchs' (Armoured Reconnaissance
Vehicle) from 1.3 Patrol of the German Task Force Company.
Behind them, two Volkswagen Synchro 4WD, the EOD (Explosive
Ordnance Disposal) team and an MMT (Mobile Medical Team).
Local police and European Union Police Mission (EUPM) personnel
are also there. The force commander then issues his orders
to co-ordinate the action to be taken by the elements assigned
to conduct the search operation.
The forces quickly approach the house. The armoured vehicles
manoeuver into their fixed positions in the security disposition.
The patrol leader, Staff Sgt. Volker Wenzel orders his 'Fuchs'
crew to dismount - each member knowing exactly what he has
to do. Immediately after leaving their vehicle, the men take
up their ordered security positions. Wenzel reports back to
the officer in charge of Military Police operations and the
Officer in Command: "Interior cover in place, ready for
action." The search can start.
Six military policemen, accompanied by four soldiers covering
them as well as local policemen and EUPM officers, dashed
to the entrance of the building. While the men from the Task
Force Company cover the staircase and the apartment door,
the MPs ask the occupants to open the door. Voices can be
heard from inside, then someone asks: "What do you want?"
Again, the people are asked to open the door. A man finally
opens it and is told that, since SFOR personnel have been
fired at from this apartment several times, most recently
on Tuesday, a search would now be conducted in order to rule
out any further threat to SFOR.
Escalation of violence
Once they have received permission to enter the apartment,
MPs move like lightning to check that the rooms are all clear.
While they systematically search room after room, shouting
can be heard on the stairs. From the apartment on the ground
floor, angry relatives of the family try to disrupt the search.
They insult the soldiers and even threaten to hit them. But
the men calm them down and the operation can be continued
The suspect, visibly irritated by the rumpus on the stairs,
goes on and on at the MPs. Since they are unable to calm him
down with words, they are forced to arrest him, causing his
wife to suffer a collapse. The husband is immediately led
out of the apartment, while his wife is given first aid. The
doctor with the MMT is alerted and takes over shortly afterwards.
As the woman is being treated (her fainting fit was only faked),
the situation takes a critical turn. The MPs discover four
automatic weapons and a hand grenade, its clip secured only
by a piece of wire. The apartment is cleared immediately and
everyone is moved out of the danger zone. The EOD team takes
charge of matters and the patrol reports the find to the Officer
in Command. The arrested man is handed over to the local police
for further questioning.
This marked the end of the exercise. Its aim was to improve
interaction between the elements employed in searching buildings
and to harmonise their operational doctrines.
Nations of SFOR: Germany
Training and Exercises