Multinational Exercise 'Diplomatic Warrior'

Capt. Sylvester Mackensen
First published June 9, 2003

Upon reading this heading, one would consider it at first a contradiction in terms. But by interpreting the name of the exercise as meaning 'fighter skilled in negotiation' and taking a look at its aims, the title begins to make sense. German Task Force Company (TF Coy) 2, an Italian platoon from 217th Company based in Rogatica and two platoons, one Slovenian and one Italian from the Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU), plus four German military dog-handlers from Camp Rajlovac trained together.

Filipovici - The focus was on the co-operation between the German and Italian task force elements and the members of the MSU with regard to the handling of demonstrators and hostage-takers.
Unusually hot temperatures in remote Camp Filipovici - the midday sun is burning down on the billeting containers of the task force Company whose soldiers are preparing for Exercise "Diplomatic Warrior": placing equipment on the vehicles, putting on the heavy Bristols and making final arrangements. The dark-brown Italian and green Slovene MSU vehicles stir up a fine dust on the camp road while deploying to their assembly areas. Moving in front of the MWR facility 'Café Drina' there is one 'Luchs' ARV (armoured reconnaissance vehicle) and two 'Fuchs' wheeled APCs (armoured personnel carriers). Company Commander Capt. Herrmann, the officer in charge of the conduct of the exercise, briefs the audience on the initial situation of the exercise: "In nearby Foca, 1,000 individuals are demonstrating against the alleged occupation of their country. At about 11:45 a.m., the leader of Patrol 2.4 reports that approx. Fifty persons are moving by car or on foot in the direction of Gorazde."
Conflict at the East Gate
The reaction to the first group of demonstrators approaching the camp is immediate and reported. Marksmen occupy the observation towers. With nationalist slogans on banners and a loud chorus of "NATO go home", a group of demonstrators reaches the access ramp. "Where is your boss?" the leader of the group shouts at the gate guard. The camp commander comes to the gate and, through his interpreter, explains to the group leader that SFOR is neutral and does not give preferential treatment to any ethnic group in the region.
Suddenly a family appears on the road. The demonstrators hurl insults, because the father allegedly killed the brother of the group's leader during the war. When the camp commander hears this and notices that the family is encircled by the men and barred from continuing on, he employs the Lion platoon and the military dogs to separate the quarrelling groups and allow the family to pass unimpeded.
The deployed soldiers form a cordon behind the camp gate and, weapons pressed against their bodies, pushing the demonstrators away. The crowd reacts wit aggressive choruses, but the situation is cleared up rapidly, and the family can continue its travel without hindrance. The men outside the gate insult the soldiers for this action. The situation comes to a head when further demonstrators start marching towards the camp.
At the same time, the camp commander receives the report that an external camp guard soldier is being harassed by angry individuals and urgently needs reinforcements. The crews of three armoured vehicles mount immediately, are briefed by the patrol leader and drive quickly to the camp exit - every minute counts. At the site the demonstrating crowd of people blocks the road-again the soldiers of the Lion platoon must form a cordon: the men's pulse quickens rapidly, the bullet-proof jackets become heavy, the uniforms are dripping with sweat, and the stirred-up fine dust is burning in the eyes.
Incendiary bottles
And again the large, heavy gate opens. Immediately some demonstrators attempt to penetrate into the camp and it takes all the strength of the cordoning men to push them back. Following closely behind the soldiers are the armoured reconnaissance vehicle and two "Fuchs" APCs, which finally can deploy towards the external guard post. The deployed dogs keep some of the demonstrators at a safe distance, but the situation escalates: aggressive shouts, orders, and suddenly rocks are being thrown.
The soldiers remain calm - no shot is fired at the unarmed crowd. In orderly fashion, they retrograde towards the camp, close the gate and take cover. Some troublemakers try to climb over the fence, kick and drum against the gate. Then a cracking sound and flames burst from a vehicle inside the camp - incendiary bottles! The machine gunner on board the "Fuchs" APC at the entrance fires a burst over the heads of the crowd. The fire fighters quickly have the blaze under control and extinguish fire in the vehicle.
At the same time, the camp commander is informed that an Italian platoon from Rogatica has arrived. He decides to form a second cordon in the back of the demonstrators and thereby clear the road. Two Italian »
'Torpedoes' (non-armoured transports) rush up the access ramp to the camp; the men jump from their vehicles and form a cordon like their German counterparts. Again, the soldiers have to enter into bodily contact with the angry crowd, covered by the soldiers at the camp entrance, the deployed armoured vehicles and the marksmen on the observation towers. The demonstrators realise their opponents' superiority and displace themselves along the northern fence towards the West Gate. An order to interrupt the exercise is given.
Hostage liberation by squad team
Herrmann briefs on the next scenario: hostage-taking and liberation by Special Forces of the MSU. The men of the Lion platoon are at the camp fence. Three fellow soldiers approach the demonstrators - who are now peaceful and calm again - on the jogging path. But suddenly some 20 troublemakers rush upon the soldiers, pummel them and drag them into a house located nearby. Distressed, the soldiers on the observation towers have to look upon the scene helplessly.
The camp commander notifies the Med Cell, and there is a quick succession of events, for every second counts for the imprisoned fellow soldiers: a cordon behind the West Gate, military dogs and the employment of over 60 MSU policemen. The cries of the fellow soldiers can be heard inside the camp. Quickly, the Carabinieri rush out of the camp and immobilise the demonstrators outside the house where the hostages are held. The Slovenian MSU men have pushed away the other elements of the agitated mob to enable the squad team to prepare their operation unhindered. The eight men from the MSU special team approach the house. Black balaclavas, protective goggles, and machine pistols - then several loud cracking noises, diversionary flash grenades set off - the raid has begun. Quick as lightning, the squad team disappears into the house. The hostage-takers are overwhelmed. Albeit injured, the three soldiers are liberated and brought back into the camp.
Impressive and convincing!

Related link: Training and Exercises

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Photos: Capt. Sylvester Mackensen

 


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