Operation Paladin 03
2Lt. Agustín López
First published May 16, 2003
From April 28 to May 1, Multinational Brigade Southeast
(MNB-SE) carried out an operational rehearsal named Paladin
in the area of responsibility of the Spanish French Battle
Group (SPFR BG). Some attached units participated in the exercise:
one Italian Company assigned to the German Italian Battle
Group (GEIT BG), one Canadian Reconnaissance platoon from
Zgon and several US and Canadian helicopters (see next article).
Mostar - The staff of the SPFR BG led and co-ordinated the
operation. Spanish Capt. Pedro Hidalgo Moya, G-3 deputy Plans
Officer explained: "The SPFR BG plus reinforcements conduct
the exercise Paladin 03, developing the process to test Contingency
Plan Pegasus. MNB-SE activated the Tactical Reserve of the
Brigade, one Italian Company from the GEIT BG, which will
reinforce the troops by performing normal framework operations
in Kula valley and Trebinje area.
We will also take profit from reinforcement from MNB-Northwest
(one Canadian platoon) to increase SFOR presence in the Southern-east
part of the Area of Responsibility (AoR). We focus our efforts
against the smuggling operations at the Montenegrin border.
By means of patrols and night flights, we avoid the illegal
traffic of goods and weapons."
After the first airlift, platoon and key leaders arrived in
Kula Valley, Italian troops organised joint patrols with French
soldiers to prepare the relief. Capt. Sandro Iervolino commands
the 2nd Coy 'Beirut', 66 Airmobile Regiment. "I was made
aware by French Capt. Martial Courtot of the situation in
this area. We recognise and are familiar with it, maintaining
day and night patrols in the opstinas (municipalities) of
Nevesinje, Gacko and Berkovici. One Canadian platoon and one
helicopter Bell 412 help us to reconnoitre and check some
Border Crossing Points (BCP) with Montenegro," he stated.
Italian 1Lt Paolo Signani added: "We transfer by helicopter
one platoon plus a signal team to operate in Trebinje area,
for a limited period of approximately 12 hours. Their mission
will be to establish checkpoints and register civilian vehicles.
They look for illegal weapons and control the approved movements
of the Federation Army in the area."
Canadian wandering lords
The Canadian platoon belonged to the 'C Troop', Lord Strathcona's
Horse (Royal Canadians), from Zgon. Lt. Clayton Gardner led
the unit. He commented: "My unit is composed of five
'Coyote' (Reconnaissance Armoured Vehicle) and one 'Nyala'
engineer vehicle. We co-operate with MNB-SE units in their
AoR. The first day, we deployed and performed tasks under
Italian command. Later, we moved to work with the French unit.
Our mission included operations in the area of Gackco and
Trebinje, performing the special surveillance dispositions
on BCPs with Montenegro, obtaining as much as possible information
about the traffic and detecting suspicious smuggling movements
across the border."
Cap. Courtot led the French Infantry Coy. "After establishing
the relief with the Italian Company in Gacko, we patrolled
and familiarised ourselves in the areas of Trebinje, Bileca
and Ljubinje. We worked with one Moroccan and one Canadian
platoon, which helped us to reconnoitre some BCPs. Along with
these activities, I also directed my unit in a convoy escorting
VIP. This was performed with the support of two helicopters
(one 'Blackhawk' and one 'Apache'). In these manoeuvres, the
main action will consist in an operation in the hamlet of
Pitoma Gradina (20km northern of Bileca)," said Courtot.
Lt. Bruno Laporte-Many is the chief of the 3rd platoon. He
explained: "Intelligence unit found some evidences, which
indicate that smuggling activities or weapons storage could
occur in this bordering hamlet. My unit received the order
to check this with the support of two helicopters and a Military
Police unit, to confiscate the possible goods or arrest possible
delinquents. In the early morning of Apr. 30, we deployed
around this small village."
"At 12:30, Courtot briefed Italian Brig. Gen. Gian Marco
Chiarini, MNB-SE commander, and Spanish Col. José Monasterio
Rentería, chief of the SPFR BG. He explained the main
details and features of the action. Later, my unit entered
the hamlet with the air surveillance of two US helicopters.
After inspection, no illegal weapon was found, but the information
we gathered from the local population will help us to manage
Nations of SFOR: France,