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Emergency response

By Maj. Juan A. Pina
First published in
SFOR Informer #81, February 16, 2000


Sarajevo - An emergency response training exercise was conducted Jan. 21 by the HQ Commandant Operations Officer, Maj. (US) Christopher Dare, at the Butmir 2000 SFOR HQ compound . The aim of the exercise was testing the emergency response procedures in accordance with SFOR standard operational procedures by utilising scenario-driven, realistic training. Sarajevo's area of responsibility (AOR) is covered by Multinational Division South East (MND-SE), which has its HQ in Mostar. However, HQ SFOR maintains its own security and guard forces.

The Butmir compound perimeter security force is comprised of a company from the Turkish Army, with small arms and two armoured personnel carriers, and the International Military Police (IMP) force, who provide internal security. The Emergency Response Team (ERT) is compromised of personnel residing and working in the Butmir compound. The scenario focussed on an hypothetical Orangeland Extremist Group (OEG) which had become increasingly aggressive in its approach to what it perceived as injustices by SFOR. The OEG had conducted violent demonstrations against SFOR facilities, and an increased level of surveillance on SFOR installations was implemented. The OEG members were former military and had explosive expertise. Current intelligence reports saw a growing number of sympathisers in the area and indicators suggested they might commit isolated acts of violence against SFOR.

The operations started at approximately 1500 when a group of demonstrators arrived at the back gate of Butmir. Immediately the Turkish guard closed the main door and restricted all movement on the compound, while traffic was directed away from the incident area. The guard force QRF (Quick Reaction Force) and the MSU (Multinational Specialised Unit) were alerted.

The most difficult moment in this kind of operation is when you transfer the responsibility from one unit to the other, said Maj. Roque Esteban, chief of the Argentinean MSU. "I'm very impressed with the dependability and professionalism carried out by the Turkish guard. They transferred the responsibility without any mistake and with complete co-ordination." The MSU unit which acted in this exercise was the 2nd Mobile Detachment from Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. The unit which has been deployed as a whole into the scenario.

Led by Capt. Silvino Contreras, the MSU unit attempted to persuade the demonstrators, with polite words, to leave the area. Not only did they refuse, but they proceeded to charge the camp in an attempt to gain access. "We are mentally prepared to do our job and we do not care about the risks," said Contreras. The compound alarm sounded at 3:30 p.m., alerting everyone of a threat inside, and a booby trap was detected inside a car. While all personnel moved to the meeting point with their protective gear on, the IMP cordoned off the area and assumed tactical command for the IED (improvised explosive device) incident. The EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team responded to the incident and cleared the area, allowing the emergency siren to sound again ending the exercise.

MSU increases role

By Chief Tim Adams

Butmir - Like most elements of SFOR undergoing restructuring this year, the Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU) is changing as well. But unlike many other units, MSU is taking on an increased role and will be actually growing in size. Italian Maj. Leonardo Rotondi, chief of the MSU G-2 department, said the ability to deploy specially trained personnel to any part of Bosnia and Hercegovina within an hour has made them the unit of choice for a wide range of tasks. Currently the MSU has approximately 530 men and is supported by 60 civilians. The future MSU could include another two companies with an increase in analysts, investigators, communications, and administration. "MSU will continue to deploy in very much the same way as it does now," said Rotondi, "with a permanently based operations centre and headquarters from Butmir which is maintained under a centralised command."