By 1Lt. Javier Donesteve
First published in
SFOR Informer#107, February 21,
Gacko - After a few days of riots, a group of uncontrolled
elements retain three IPTF (International Police Task Force) policemen
in the area of Gacko, near the Montenegro border. Their exact
position has been discovered, and a commando assault for rescuing
the hostages is going to take place.
This is the point of situation from where "Operation Once"
starts, a training field exercise that involved a big part of
the French Battle Group, based since January on 3rd RPIMa (Regiment
Parachutiste d'Infanterie de Marine, Marines Parachute Regiment),
and supported by other units also belonging to11th Parachutist
exercise took place in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) of the
1st Coy, deployed in three detachments in Gacko and surroundings.
Cavalry elements from Parachutist Hussars secured the zone where
hours later the main force was landed, composed by 3rd Coy and
a portable headquarters, heli-transported from Nevesinje in German
and French aircraft.
Lieutenant Fabian Tabarly, 1st RHP (Regiment de Hussards Parachutistes,
Parachutist Hussars Regiment), is patiently waiting in his VBL
(Light Armoured Vehicle) with the rest of his platoon in other
vehicles in the surrounding area, all of them hidden in a forest.
"The helicopters will land in front of us, in that area,"
he says, pointing to a clearing.
goal of this force was to create a "Green Box", a quadrangle
to isolate the area of operations from any undesired entry or
exit before, during and after the assault. Headed by its Commanding
Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Xavier Vandeneste (normally Battle
Group Operations Officer), the force landed at 13:00 and immediately
departed to their posts.
later, with the paratroops deployed, the "Green Box"
established and the area secured, the main action began. Men from
1st Coy, that had been observing the target, an old warehouse,
initiated the discreet and slow movement towards it, protected
by their snipers.
armed men guard the house. The assault team closes in, and then
everything happens in seconds: the warehouse is taken, the kidnappers
neutralised and the hostages rescued and evacuated in two P-4
exercise has finished. The assault team leader is de-briefing
his men, reviewing each detail of the operation. Meanwhile, the
rest of the units have initiated the re-deployment, that will
finish in Mostar Ortijes, the main French Battle Group Base, with
a well-deserved rest. The French war machine is ready for whatever
Nations of SFOR: France
Training and Exercises