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Training for real

By 1Lt. Franois-Xavier Miller
First published in
SFOR Informer#104, January 10, 2001

Camp McGovern - The Portuguese from the 1st Infantry Company, 2nd Mechanised Infantry Battalion, usually based at Visoko, have settled in for a few days.
Demonstrations could degenerate in and around the area - an especially sensitive multi-ethnic one. These scenarios have already been thoroughly studied and that was the exercise purpose. "The Portuguese are our reinforcements, but since we know the situation on the ground, we would intervene in the city," explained Capt.. Sergio Gonzales, 3rd Battalion from the U.S. 15th Mechanised Infantry Regiment. "The Operational Reserve would then control the district," he explained.
The exercise objectives were ambitious but nevertheless realistic: they were to carry out a co-ordinated operation, exercise communications and logistics interoperability, sustain ground presence patrols and command and control combined units. A first phase was to start with area orientation and familiarisation.
On the morning of Jan. 4, the American and Portuguese soldiers got to know each other. It was a sunny day, ideal conditions for a recce. American 'Hummers' were to serve as vehicles for combined patrols. " We'll perform a right seat side and left seat side transfer of authority," explained Capt.. Sergio Gonzales.
But the best laid plans can go wrong and the day’ plans suddenly went awry.
“We are cancelling our patrols because events in the Doboj Area of Responsibility have taken a turn for the worse. Our movement orders are being sent," said Capt.. Eugenio Gil, Portuguese Operations Liaison Officer.
Social unrest caused by more than 70 people has been taking place for the last few days in Donja Bocinja, near Maglaj. These demonstrators are trying to stop the process of returning DPREs to the village - through violence and intimidation - disregarding the Dayton Peace Agreement. Local police have had difficulty stabilising the situation, SFOR has engaged Nordpol elements to stop looting. After an assault against a SFOR military policeman, and vandalism of the cultural centre, SFOR troops moved to protect the building. The call is for the Portuguese company to be put on alert and to move to Doboj.
Portuguese soldiers got their pack ready while an initial briefing was held for officers. In position to go in a few minutes, soldiers awaited orders. Each platoon leader gathered his soldiers to give overall orders. The Portuguese pennant was lowered from the building where the company had settled in.
A forward element was sent to Doboj to coordinate operations and logistics at the Nordpol Headquarters. Then packs were loaded aboard the trucks and everybody got onto the vehicles ready to go. Finally the UMM Jeeps, Chaimites, ambulance, recovery vehicle and transportation trucks were organised into convoy and the SFOR Operational Reserve set off.
Accommodated at Camp Dannevirke, near Doboj, the Portuguese company relieved E-Squadron from Nordpol, the squadron concentrating its effort on the Donja Bocinja area.
Their plans to train in the Camp McGovern area were now a thing of the past but the Portuguese were doing exactly what they were trained for as an Operational Reserve Force - deploying rapidly to help counter anti-Dayton elements.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Portugal
SFOR at Work