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MMU splits Split, forms bridgehead at Ploce

By 1lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer #101, November 22, 2000

Ploce - The Material Management Unit (MMU) has started their move from North Port in Split, to their new facilities at the docks in Ploce. Within the next few weeks, more than 4000 tons of bridges and other engineering equipment will be shipped to the new site by sea and road convoys.
For eight years the MMU has been situated in Split, first as a part of UNPROFOR, then taken over by NATO when IFOR was launched. As a part of the Engineer Support Service (ESS), their mission has been to provide engineering support for all the Theatre engineer units. But times has changed, and Split is no longer the optimal port for SFOR.
"We have been redesignated as the Balkan Bridge Unit, which means looking after all the bridges in BiH, Croatia, and Kosovo. Since Ploce will be the new NATO port for support to the Balkans, we must move there", says MMU director Mr. George Brown.
The need of support is also a keyword concerning the move.
"A secondary reason for the move is that the British Forces (BRITFOR) has moved out of Split, so we don't have the same amount of support there as we used to", he says. This should not be a problem in Ploce, since it is a multinational HQ for the Light Aviation (Helicopters) Battalion (BATALAT), with a detachment of Italian RELOCO providing transport and signalling, and a small detachment from the French Logistic Battalion in Mostar.
By December 20 the MMU is expected to be up and running from their new location. A tight schedule considering the amount of bridges and equipment they bring with them.
That means hard work for Mr. Brown and his crew of seven local civilian employees
"Over 4000 tons of equipment is being moved. About 20 percent by road convoys, and the rest by ship. We have bridges and general engineering stores, although we tend not to store too much", says Mr. Brown.
The HELBA-group from the Multinational Integrated Logistic Unit (MILU) at Visoko is used for transport, with additional support from the German/Austrian transport company at Rajlovac.
"But none of this would be possible without the support of the French here at Ploce", says Mr. Brown, thanking them for stockpiling bridges in their football field.
"Ploce will really become a main spot in the Theatre", smiles Lt. Col. Bertrand Testard de Marans, Chief Ops-centre in Ploce. He is happy to host the MMU, looking forward to the extra activity it will bring to the base.
"Five times a year, engineers from different SFOR-countries will come here to learn about bridge-launching.", he says, not to upset about losing their favourite football field.

Related links:
Engineering - Bridges
Nations of SFOR: France, Germany, UK