By 1Lt. Franois-Xavier Miller
First published in
SFOR Informer#108, March 7, 2001
Doboj - The Tactical Operations Centre (TOC) of
Nordpol Battlegroup is unique-one of its kind.
First of all, its Area of Responsibility (AOR) has peculiar features.
It is the second largest within SFOR, with a vast buffer zone
due to the 135 km of Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL), with lots
of small roads and very few bridges. But above all, the TOC carries
out at a battlegroup level what is usually done at a divisional
level : co-ordinate joint combined forces from distinctive countries.
Poles, Danes, Swedes, Finns, Lituanians, Latvians and Estonians
are requested to co-operate day after day.
How do so many different nations work together ? Of course, procedures
are the same. And fortunately, everybody speaks English
in the battlegroup, says Polish Capt. Kryzstof Kaminski.
Regarding signals, they must cover the same frequences,
so there is no problem, he mentions. Even the Tactical Operations
Centre itself is manned by a multinational team. A Danish officer,
two Polish, one Lithuanian, one Latvian and one Estonian take
over from one another to provide command. One Latvian, three Poles
and a Dane supply the contingent of assistants.
Work is quite absorbing as much for the duty Captain, who has
a 24 hour tour of duty, as his assistant, who works a twelve-hour
shift. We monitor patrols and rescue operations, explains
Capt. Kaminski. Every day, at the morning briefing, we give
the report on patrols, weapons storage sites inspections and miscellaneous
events for the last twenty four hours, he says, showing
the map that spreads over a whole section of wall. Opposite, three
desks support phones, radios and computers.
Patrols report to their Coy's Command Posts. These Command Posts
keep the TOC informed so that he can directly contact a patrol
should it be needed. We are the ears of the battlegroup,
we know everything. If someone has a question or a problem, first
place they call is the Tactical Operation Centre. First people
who know something in the battlegroup, that's us, explained
Ssgt. Aleksis Girts, from Latvian Army. On the other hand, units
doing their training, or CIMIC activities, which have their own
operations centre, do not report to the Tactical Operations Centre.
But we know which route they are patrolling or what they
are doing,pointed out Capt. Kaminski.
When the situation is out of the ordinary, it is once again from
this place that all operations are monitored. This was the case
with local unrest in Donja Bocinja at the beginning of January.
We have direct communications with units in Donja Bocinja
and the Nordpol commander is always reachable, or the duty officer,
to make decisions and eventually give orders, mentioned
Capt. Kaminski. We can receive lots of calls . Sometimes
you just haven't enough hands to answer all the phones and the
radios. It is just like Murphy's law, all the phones ring suddenly
at the same time, Ssgt. Girts stated.
The TOC manages a vital and yet badly acknowledged task. Which
is confirmed by Capt. Kaminski, We know everything but we
can't see the daylight. A kind of work in the shadow
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