Conspicuous Collection

2Lt. German Francisco Muñoz Rivas
First published June 16, 2003

SFOR trains and exercises regularly to maintain a high level of readiness and to improve its operational procedures. From June 2nd to 6th, 2003, Multinational Brigade Southeast (MNB-SE) conducted the operational rehearsal Joint Resolve XXIX 'Conspicuous Collection', particularly focused on two zones: the triangle Pale - Sokolac - Rogatica and the areas of Ljubuski, Siroki Brijeg and Posusje.

MNBSE - The aim of Conspicuous Collection was to practice the employment of the Tactical Reserve in a series of rapid deployments in a multinational environment, using credible operational scenarios. In this framework, JR XXIX included search and patrolling operations, establishment of Vehicle Check Points by Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU) and Battle Group assigned units, aimed at disrupting illegal trafficking, particularly weapons. As a matter of fact, smuggling in this area poses a direct threat to SFOR forces.
In a short time, Canadian, French, German, Italian, Moroccan, Slovenian, Spanish and US troops were deployed in the field in the Area of Operations, with a wide range of military capabilities. They had to maintain a high level of readiness and the ability to eliminate any threat to a safe and secure environment. SFOR restructuring has created more need for flexibility in the use of the force in order to respond to different types of threats.
Flexibility and quick reaction
The exercise developed in the triangle Pale - Sokolac - Rogatica was carried out by the German Italian Battle Group (GEIT BG) reinforced by an Italian Reserve Company and an MSU sub-unit. "We respond directly to the Brigade Commander, he sends us to the most appropriate place to perform our normal activity: patrolling, gathering information or any other activity he might decide. We are ready at any moment, flexible and ready to react quickly," explained 1Lt. Paolo Signani, platoon commander of the Italian Reserve Company, before his unit is to be re-deployed by helicopter.
Italian and German units together developed several patrols and presence activities in downtown Sokolac, under a hard rain. "Our daily activities included, among other things, patrols and guard duties. Only with our presence can the illegal trafficking of weapons or tobacco be disrupted," stated Italian Sergeant 1st Class Omar Greco, platoon commander of Task Force Coy 1 based in Tito Barracks. "We also conducted intelligence and information gathering and helped at the MSU check points if somebody tried to evade them," added 1Lt. Jörn Radloff, platoon commander of Task Force 47 from Germany based in Rajlovac.
From the air together
Spanish French Battle Group (SPFR BG) developed the exercise in the areas of Ljubuski, Siroki Brijeg and Posusje. The French and Spanish Paratroopers Companies and a Canadian Company belonging to Multinational Brigade Northwest (MNB-NW) were the main units to carry out this mission. First Lt. David Laborie, platoon commander of the French Infantry Para Coy commented: "Presence patrol in towns is very important because people see SFOR force and feel that we are here for helping them. Furthermore, I am very satisfied to work with other countries, and especially with a para unit similar to mine".
"One of the missions of the SPFR BG among others is to maintain a focused military presence on special areas of interest, through day and night patrols. We have the capability to deter hostilities and, if necessary, to respond to all incidents in accordance with our Rules of Engagement," explained Spanish Capt. Jose Antonio Latorre Remon, Coy CSS Commander, who is in his fourth mission in BiH.
Spanish Guardia Civil established checkpoints in several areas with the support of other units. One of those units was a platoon of the Spanish Para Coy, commanded by 1Lt. Francisco Javier Barrero Gutierrez. "Since the beginning of Joint Resolve, we have seen how the strange traffic of too many high mobile vehicle was decreasing near the border," emphasised Barrero.
"The control of illegal trafficking is very complicate, we need the surprise at the first moment, later it's very difficult to catch anybody because they warn each other through cell phones," concluded Spanish Guardia Civil Staff Sgt. Juan Carlos Linares Bermejo.
The hard blue work
Members of SFOR MSU located in Butmir, took part in the exercise Joint Resolve. First with SPFR BG from May 30 to June 2, then later with GEIT BG from June 2 to 5. The MSU unit was formed by Company C, commanded by Italian 1Lt. Gennaro Flauret. They had a large area to perform their job, with several missions as important as search operations and checkpoints. All of them were carried outwith the support of the different units assigned to the area where they performed their operations.
"Together with BG assigned units, our main task with this check points is disrupting and controlling illegal trafficking and smuggling, particularly weapons and drugs. Roads near the borders always are very interesting for such tasks," said Flauret.
With two armoured vehicles 'Fuchs TPZ' and one reconnaissance vehicle 'Luchs', both belonging to the German Task Force II located in Filipovici they provided security to MSU units around the checkpoint in Foca. Platoon commander is 1Lt. Norbert Rittinghaus. He stated: "We not only provide security with our vehicles at this spot; we also check the registration number of the cars."
"As a result of these activities, 54 rifle and pistols, 33 hand grenades, four rifle grenades, two mines, 17,305 ammunitions, 3.4Kg of explosive and 73 different items, like bayonets, home-made grenades, knives, were collected. In one case, a patrol stopped a car whose driver carried drugs. The local police are now in charge of the investigations," said Italian Captain Tommaso Magistretti, MNB SE spokesperson.
At the end of the operation, MNB SE Commander, Italian Brig. Gen. Gian Marco Chiarini expressed his thanks to the population of BiH. He praised the courtesy and co-operation they showed to the troops on the ground and also their understanding of the importance of SFOR's contribution to the security and a better life in this country.

Related link: Training and Exercises

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Photos: Sgt. Toni McDowell

The activity is previously explained to resolve any doubt about it.


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German and Italian soldiers patrol the area together.


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Sgt. 1st Class Greco (l.) and 1Lt. Radloff (r.) discuss the deployment.


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German and Italian soldiers patrol the area together.


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Spanish Para Coy and Spanish Guardia Civil together prepare a checkpoint.


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Italian Reserve Coy re-deployment by helicopter.


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1Lt. Flauret (r.) checks the collected weapons.