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Spanish Marines in Trebinje

By 1Lt. Javier Donesteve
First published in
SFOR Informer#105, January 24, 2001

Trebinje - Major Andrés Gacio, Commanding Officer and his staff are supervising the platoon's tasks in the Operations Room. "We've got five combat platoons, involved in a rotation system: three in an operational role, one on duty, providing security to the detachment, and the fifth as a ready rapid reaction reserve. At present, one is in Mostar for a training exercise with a Cavalry Squadron, a second at Gacko, in the French Battlegroup AOR (Area of Responsibility), training for further joint operations, and the third will be patrolling the border, near Montenegro".
This is the Spanish Camp at Trebinje, where the Battlegroup has a company-size detachment, to control the south-east corner of its AOR. Since 1999, it has been permanently manned by the "Infantería de Marina" (Marines) . Their tasks are the control of the Company AOR, resettlements and especially the border with Croatia and Montenegro, as well as, in accordance with the Dayton Peace Agreement, liaison and control of the activities of the VRS (Army of the Republika Srpska) 7th Corps, located in their area (Bileca and Trebinje), and the Corps’ Firing Range, in Bravenik.
In addition to the combat platoons, the Company Team includes a Headquarters and a UAL (Logistic Support Unit), commanded by the veteran 1Lt. José Botella: "Nearly all the supplies are brought from Mostar by us. Only the bread and some other fresh items are bought in the area from civilian dealers". He is also very proud of his Maintenance Team: "With just a few guys, they manage to maintain more than forty vehicles".
Inside the camp, the 2nd Platoon is getting prepared for departing to the border. Squad leaders are issuing orders. Everything is loaded in their vehicles, the well known American-made "Humvee". "We've got four for each platoon, two armoured, with machine guns on the turret, and two cargo, for dismounted riflemen, among other items" said platoon commander, 1Lt. Emilio López. "Along the Montenegro border, there are about forty five key points in our AOR that we have to check".
The border is quite near. Once they arrive, a dismounted squad, led by SSgt Jorge Valdés, begins a foot patrol. "The vehicles are not far, and always in contact. They would be here in seconds, if needed" he says. A few meters ahead, Cpl. Alejandro Cano, a former paratrooper, opens the way. "Mines are our main enemy. There are hundreds" he affirms. Twovehicles follow the patrol. Meanwhile the others are patrolling a nearby area.
After six hours, the whole Platoon arrives at the Camp with nothing to report. After a break, they will depart again, for a night patrol. "We have always someone outside" stresses Maj. Gacio.


Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Spain