By Ltn Franois-Xavier Miller
First published in
SFOR Informer#106, February 7, 2001
Doboj - The weather was bitter and cold. In spite
of the -6°C, Danish and Polish soldiers were sweating. The
Joint Engineers platoon from the LogCoy reinforced Camp Dannevirke
defenses by building another pillbox.
This defensive position provides cover for a sector which defends
the no-man's land between the barbed wire fence and the tactical
vehicle parking lot.
The infrastructure was settled a few weeks ago. Hesco Bastions
formed a man-sized enclosure. These big cylindrical bags 1,50
m. high, 1,25 m. in diameter were wire netted so that they can
be tied together. The Hesco bastions had been filled with a mixture
of stones and clay. If the need arises, they would already be
able to protect a sentry.
that point the sappers made sandbags. A vertical filling gutter
mounted on a trestle was a simple and yet convenient tool. Pvt.
Thomas West and Pfc Lars Poulsen helped Lance Cpl. Frank Ostrop
fill sandbags; the first held the bag beneath the gutter, the
second emptied his shovel in it, and the third closed and piled
it up. One hundred meters away, other Danish and Polish soldiers
did the same from another heap. A forklift truck linked up and
came to deliver its pallet loaded with sandbags on the building
"We will probably need 5,000 sandbags for one pillbox of
this type," explained Pvt. Jakob Ostergaard. "But as
far as other structures are concerned, it can reach an amount
of 8,000 to 10,000 bags." This accounted the week deadline
with an eight-hour daily worktime given for this mission. "We
might have finished earlier," admitted Pvt. Kim Schondoff
Hansen, who did not seem very impressed by weather conditions.
"And even though it is cold, working keeps us warm, and from
time to time we have a coffee break to warm up."
bags will be used for building the roof. A first row on the infrastructure
and half-cylinder shaped corrugated irons were laid. A framework
will prop up the roof, and all of it will be covered by these
sandbags to form a block with a compact and solid aspect. "We
have already tested one of these pillboxes with a hand-grenade.
Should a hand-grenade fall on the roof, the blast would be absorbed
and the soldiers would be safe inside," Hansen said.
The final result will give a defensive position with three protected
holes from which six soldiers could stand shooting. The pillbox
will probably never be used for real, but it will act as a deterrent
by its presence. As for the work done by Nordpol sappers, it reminds
us that keeping a deployed army well protected and comfortable
is a continuous process, sometimes ungrateful, but always necessary.
Nations of SFOR: Denmark,
SFOR at Work