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IRE exercise in Nevesinje

by Capt. Halvor Molland

First published in SFOR Informer #27, January 14, 1998

Photo 1T.JPG (11698 bytes)Nevesinje - The Immediate Reaction Element (Element de reaction immediate) of MultinationalPhoto 2T.JPG (9999 bytes) Division South East recently held a live fire exercise on the ranges of Maci Polje, four kilometres from Nevesinje. The French ERI, including a Moroccan infantry company and helicopter support from the Army Light Aviation Corps (BATALAT) in Ploce, Croatia, is the Divisional Reserve for MND SE.

Photo 3T.JPG (6544 bytes)The ERI is under command of French Lt. Col. Jean-Michel Gras, and isPhoto 4T.JPG (10766 bytes) directly under the Division Commander or one of the three brigades. The Battalion consists of one French infantry company, one Moroccan infantry company and one French reconnaissance company. The unit is stationed in Vrapcici, a few kilometres outside Mostar.

Photo 5T.JPG (10238 bytes)The scenario of the exercise was IRE assisting IPTF or UN personnel surrounded and held hostage by hostile persons. The IRE unit on site, a French reconnaissance platoon with four VAB Armoured Personnel Carriers and one Moroccan support section with four VABs with 20 mm guns, are attacked. The captain commanding the operation decided to bring in one section of 81 mm mortars and two sections of infantry as reinforcement.

The 81 mm mortars fired warning rounds, while the two infantry sections, backed up with the VAB’sPhoto 6T.JPG (11802 bytes) 20 mm guns, moved in to block access to the village. When the evacuation of the hostages was finished, the captain received the order to break all contact. The mortars fired to back up the withdrawal of the other sections.The infantry sections and the mortar section withdrew by helicopter, while the reconnaissance platoon and the 20 mm VAB section reached their base by road.

Photo 7T.JPG (10393 bytes)Every week the IRE train in this kind of quick intervention by road or air, with or without the utilisation of its fire power.

"The purpose of this exercise is to train in a joint operation of extracting specialPhoto 8T.JPG (13927 bytes) status persons involved in a hypothetical local crisis in MND-SE," said Gras.

The Moroccan company has approximately the same weapons, vehicles and the same training as the two French companies, and are easy to co-operate with. We also have very good experience with the BATALAT (Army Light Aviation Corps)."

Photo 9T.JPG (9785 bytes)Photo 10T.JPG (10250 bytes)

[French soldier]

[Moroccan soldier]

[Exercises and Training]