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Hungarians and Americans
train on Sava

By 2Lt. Alexander Montagna
First published in
SFOR Informer #73


Slavonski Brod - The Hungarian Engineer Contingent (HEC) is based in Okucani in Croatia. The total strength of this battalion is 242 soldiers. They represent one of two HQ SFOR engineering units which work Theatre-wide. For two weeks, Lt. Col. Jozsef Nyers has commanded an Hungarian engineer platoon near Slavonski Brod. "This unit is responsible to the HQ SFOR," said Nyers. They are currently based close to the Sava River where an Hungarian mine clearance team has working all around the area of the camp to allow training to take place in safety.

The camp is used for training on the constructing of pontoon-ferries and traffic control. The current training on the river was to be finished October 20 and was designed to allow newly-arrived personnel to cross-train with a U.S. Engineer Platoon. The latter comes from Eagle Base in Multinational Division North. On October 16, Americans were working side-by-side with the Hungarians for the last on this exercise. The HEC provided all materials such as pontoon elements, lorries and boats needed to get soldiers and trucks across the Sava river.

It was a work of co-operation where everybody needed to show his know-how. The same day, the HEC was going to carry out a demonstration training exercise.

The first maneuver consisted of a reconnaissance on the ferry crossing site plus a reconnaissance of the river to identify access roads for the PTSZM 17-ton, tracked- amphibious vehicles driven by 350cv engines. They can transport 10-tons of equipment or 70 soldiers with here equipment. A diving team was also carrying out a reconnaissance of the characteristics of the river. The second part of the maneuver was transporting U.S. soldiers from the other side of the Sava, in Republika Srpska. The HEC installed a 100-ton pontoon-ferry composed of 4 metal elements and powered by boats. "The main difficulty is assembling the elements of the pontoon-ferry because we must do this with our hands hands" said Lt. Col. Babinecz.

Once the ferry was assembled the engineers began the maneuvers with their boats, while a further two emergency boats stood by to assist.

A second part of the exercise consisted of transporting two Kraz-255B lorries on the pontoon-ferry. These trucks serve to transport the elements that form the pontoon-ferry. This part was carried out in strict co-operation with American engineers.

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