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Dutch Recce platoon

By Lt. ystein Paulsen
First published in
SFOR Informer #71, 29 Sept, 1999.

Sisava - The most important task of the Reconnaissance Platoon of the 12th Dutch Mechanised Battalion, Regiment van Heutsz (12 NL Mechbat RvH), based in Sisava in Multinational Division South West (MND-SW) is to gather and collect information in the field. Being attached to an air mobile brigade back home in the Netherlands, the personnel of the Recce Platoon are used to operating by helicopter. In Bosnia- and Hercegovina (BiH) the air mobile unit is re-tasked as a mechanised battalion, and the Recce Platoon operates with Mercedes jeeps. "We conduct patrols several times a day, normally with two vehicles and six men," said Sgt. First Class Mark Overhaart. The three man crew includes a commander, a infantry pioneer driver and a combined gunner and combat life saver.

The Recce Platoon is equipped with advanced night vision equipment, and works as well at night as during the day. "Each man has his own set of night vision goggles, so we see as much at night as we do during the day. We also have night vision equipment for our rifles and our machine gun. When we use our night vision equipment with our thermal imager and distance finder, we actually turn night into day. We like operating at night, because our special equipment gives us a great advantage," SFC. Overhaart said. Both the Platoon Sergeant and his men agree they are having a good time in BiH. "Being here is an extremely good learning process for us all. Back home in the Netherlands, we only train, no real operations. Down here we do it for real. It is pure operational work. Therefore we learn a lot more here than we will ever do through our training at home," SFC. Overhaart added.

The crew of the Recce Platoon carry water and rations for at least 48 hours in their jeeps. The jeeps are equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS), a wire cutter, a mounted 7.62 calibre machine gun and a external basket for rucksacks and other equipment.

"I really enjoy my tour here. It is interesting, and I learn a lot. I wouldn't miss it for anything," said Private 1st Class Timo Agenent, commander of one of the recce crews. He doesn't look forward to the winter. All the Recce jeeps are completely open - all year and under all weather conditions. "When winter comes we will have to put on thermal clothing and face masks to avoid frost bite. But that is going to be a experience too," he added.


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