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What life is like in the Russian Battle Group

By 2Lt Alexis Clement
First published in
SFOR Informer #94, August 16, 2000

Ugljevik - The Russian Battle Group is essentially composed of soldiers coming from the 2nd Parachutist Battalion. They are stationed in four camps and four checks points established on the roads within their area of responsibility (AOR). The Headquarters are in Ugljevik, 30 kilometres northeast of Tuzla, in the Multinational Division North (MND-N).
Within its ranks are three Airborne companies, a reconnaissance company, an engineer company, a signal company; an NBC protection company, a support and maintenance unit, a military police company, a command and logistics company and an artillery detachment and a medical team. The battalion has approximately 1,150 men and about 50 women.
Their camp is established on both sides of a small river and connected by a suspended footbridge. Buildings already existed there, and they have only had to be restored. The only building they made themselves is a small wooden Orthodox chapel where the practising soldiers could have a place for worship.
This camp is different from the other SFOR camps in many ways. The work zone is guarded and has restricted access, and the living area doesn't have marked limits. The local inhabitants can enter the camp.
"It is not a problem because relations with the neighbourhood are excellent," explained Maj. Rudenko. One can find in the camp bars run by civilians, and a Russian field hospital as accessible to the population as to soldiers.
Their daily activities vary to include guarding the checkpoints and having some presence patrols. They also assist with UXO destruction when returnees find some. The practice keeps the soldiers' skill level high.
The Russian soldiers also play a lot of sports, and every company fields its own teams. From the soldier to Battle Group commander, everyone is on a team and tournaments are organised regularly. Trophies from the competitions within the Battle Group are displayed near the Battle Flag room where the most experienced soldier, in parade uniform, guards the unit flag 24 hours a day.
Some military exercises are also organised quite often. There are three shooting exercises a week on the neighbouring range of the Republika Srpska Army for example.
The soldiers remain in Bosnia for one year. They appreciate this work and are appreciated a lot by the local population.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Russia
SFOR at Work