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Czechs between Una and Sava rivers

By Cpl. Sbastien Pisani
First published in
SFOR Informer#107, February 21, 2001

Bosanska Krupa - "We made 145 patrols last month in our Area of Responsibility (AOR), among these 50% by night." Capt. Miroslav Krulis, commander of the 4th Czech Mechanised Battalion B coy, ran his eyes over the BiH map hanging on a wall of the commander post. "About eight patrols leave each day. Some are motorised, others are done on foot and 10 to 15% by helicopters." The situation is generally rather peaceful in that AOR straddling Republika Srpska and the Federation. But a specific vigilance is necessary, particularly along the natural boundary with Croatia. "Una and Sava rivers can be very easily crossed. Illegal dreaming about an El Dorado in Western Europe or all kinds of traffic use these passing points," said Capt. Krulis.
About fifty kilometres North of Bosanska Krupa camp, Sgt. David Kupec commanded a patrol, which paced down Bosanska Kostajnica streets in Republika Srpska. "Dobar dan," said Czech soldiers to women talking on the doorstep. With a slow tread, the four men walked back up the main road of the town going to the bridge which straddles the Una river. Or at least what is left. "Serbian forces destroyed it during the war to prevent Croatians crossing," said Sgt. Kupec. Today the structure is still impassable. On the Croatian side, buildings still show the marks of violent fights between the two armies. "The people now are accustomed to our visits. They tell us what happened here," said Sgt. Ullrich Vladan.
A Bosnian-Serb policeman is in charge of the bridge surveillance. "When we are patrolling in that town we usually talk to him. This is a good way for gleaning some information, which can be very useful afterwards," said Sgt. Vladan. The recent dismantling in Prijedor of a prostitution network of women from Russia, Bulgaria, Moldavia or Romania owes a lot to these informal talks. "We have a great advantage because the Czech language is very close to the local language. That is helping us hugely in our contact with the population," explained Sgt. Kupec.
Returning to their vehicle, soldiers consulted a municipal notice board. "We have a proximity mission. Several CIMIC operations have arisen from this long job," said Sgt. Kupec. Patrols give rise to meet people again who have got SFOR assistance. The reception is then hearty. A just reward for these men who are travelling the roads to meet the population.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Czech Republic
SFOR at Work