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Joint Resolve in the snow

By 1Lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer#108, March 7, 2001

MND SE - Canadian Bison's plough through the snow, followed by their mates the Coyote's and French VAB's and VBL's. The field of Macipolje is covered with over two feet of snow, giving the scenario an arctic touch. No match for the NATO-soldiers though, out to solve the missions of Exercise Joint Resolve XXII.

The scenario for the one-week exercise is an outburst of hot spots in the southern area of MND-SE. Ethnic violence, criminal acts, smuggling, demonstrations, and actions perpetrated by paramilitary groups are some of the ingredients put in the Joint Resolve mixture. To support the French and Spanish units in the area, Italian, German, and Canadian troops are called for.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese soldiers of the Operational Reserves (OPRES) in Visoko, and US troops from the Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) in MND-N are tasked to close the gap left behind in the German and Italian Battle Groups Areas of Responsibility.

At Macipolje French and Canadian soldiers work together, exchanging experience about weapons, vehicles, and snow. Live firing, displays, and instructions are part of the exercise, forming closer bonds between the different armies.

“Our co-operation is very good. The Canadians are used to this climate, and to work in snow. It helps our mission, and us,” said Capt. Paul Duvivier, commander of the 3rd Company from the French Battle Group in Mostar. Their Canadian allies are part of the Canadian Battle Group in Zgon, MND SW.

“This is a good experience, and it is going really well. We were also here with the French two months ago, so we are used working together,” said Canadian Pvt. Michelle Solvberg from C-patrol in B-squadron of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadian) LdSH (RC) Regiment.

“Every day during this exercise, we have done something interesting. It's always good for us to practice in the field. Normally we work inside an hospital in Mostar, and therefore it's important for us to go out in the field, so we stay prepared for real situations,” said Capt. Damien Corberand, doctor of the French medical team holding out in the snow.

Before the French and Canadian soldiers could continue their mission, to re-deploy and secure the area of Gacko, they gave a display of firepower for invited VRS officers. The soldiers showed no mercy to the targets in front of them, not letting a little snow and chill slow them down.

On the other side of Trebinje, besides the permanent camp of the Spanish detachment of Marines, another camp has been settled. Tents houses the soldiers and headquarters of the Italian 12th Company “Terrible” consisting of 116 alpine troops, normally based in Tito Barracks in Sarajevo.

While the soldiers are out on missions and patrols, hectic activity reveals the mess-tent. In just a few hours, hungry soldiers will expect their dinner. Head Chef WO3 Giorgio Giaccari is not too worried. To make 200 meals is a piece of cake for a team of trained field-cooks.
And the main ingredient for this day's dinner is potatoes, meat, salad … and of course pasta.

“The exercise is good for us. By the way, the job is just the same as it would be in our camp, but we get to use our mobile field-kitchen,” says Giaccari.
In the meanwhile, away from the snow, German soldiers have built a solid control-post where route Riesling enters Trebinje. Two FUCHS APC's and several soldiers make sure that SFOR presence is shown to everyone who enters the town. The pouring rain whips through the wind, making the checkpoint a wet one.

“We have two car-teams further up the road. They observe the traffic, write down the details of cars, and alert us when vehicles of special interest comes toward us,” said Ms.Sgt. Uwe Dirlam. With a temporary camp put up in Bravenik, 15 kilometres outside Trebinje, the German 2nd Mixed Reconnaisance and Infantry Company of 128 soldiers carries out patrols and control-posts throughout the area. A difficult job in taking responsibility in a new and unknown landscape.

But with the strength of SFOR soldiers from co-operating nations, a stable and secure environment is finally restored in southern BiH. Due to the snow, this exercise has not just been a test of military skills, but also a victory against the elements.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: France, Germany, Spain, Italy
Training and Exercises