By Cpl. Sbastien Pisani
First published in
SFOR Informer#107, February 21,
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.
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.
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.
Nations of SFOR: Czech
SFOR at Work