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French Paratroops in action

By 1Lt. Javier Donesteve
First published in
SFOR Informer#107, February 21, 2001

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 Brigade.
The 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.
First 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.
The 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.
Hours 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.
Three 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 light vehicles.
The 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 is required.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: France
Training and Exercises