By 1st Lt. Javier Donesteve
First published in
SFOR Informer#110, April 4, 2001
The SFOR Informer was just notified at press
time, that WO2 Xavier Andréoli sustained fatally injuries
while on a de-mining operation near Prozor. He is a member of
the 17th Paratroop Engineers Regiment (17 RGP). The SFOR Informer
shares the pain of his family, his regiment, French army and all
- Sgt. Laurent Laprade advances very slowly toward the mine, kneeling.
"We can see that one, but we don't know how many more there
could be," he said. Followed by Pvt. 1st Class Frederic Bertolotti,
who holds the mine detector, he sticks the mine-prodder in the
ground once. Then, he marks the one-meter-wide corridor of mine-cleared
land with yellow tape.
watchful eye of the platoon leader, Warrant Officer 2 Frantz Thil,
supervises everything. Meanwhile, another soldier with his weapon
ready to fire looks around. "The sentry checks that no animals
come too near. There are many in the area: dogs, cows, sheeps
any of them could set off a mine and put us in danger.
Security first." said Thil, a 39-year-old veteran soldier
with many years of service in the Paratroops Engineers and Special
Forces, who has cleared many minefields.
is happening in the hills surrounding Konjic. "During the
war, the confrontation line was here and the whole area was mined.
Bosnian-Croat people were on the hills and Bosniacs were downtown.
At present, the French platoon located here patrols these tracks
very often and the mines are a risk for them, as for the population.
That's why we are here: to increase general security," Thil
Stephan Vales, Engineer chief, French Battle Group, added, "We
only carry out demining tasks in the surroundings of SFOR installations,
like what we are doing in the vicinity of Camp Butmir, Sarajevo,
or where SFOR troops can be involved. We also co-operate with
the MAC (Mine Action Centre) and we support local civilians with
technical advice. In fact, we were warned about these mines by
them when two cows activated a mine and died."
Back in France, Vales commands 22nd Coy, 17th RGP (Parachutist
Engineers Regiment), the sappers platoon is included in the French
Battle Group comes from.
teams are working in the area, in different points," Thil
said. "Two PMR-3 fragmentation mines can be seen. The PMR-3
is a tripwire-activated anti-personnel mine. Usually they are
not alone, but protected by pressure-operated mines laid along
the course of the tripwire. We must go very slowly and very carefully."
Thil warned, a few minutes later another mine is discovered near
the first one. It is a PMA-1A. The earth is carefully cleared
around it, and then the mine is deactivated. Nothing else is found.
Then, works begin with the PMR-3. "The fuse is very old and
in very (a) bad state, which increases the danger," he says.
Later on, the fuse was removed, and the rest of the PMR-3 was
also deactivated. A young paratrooper proudly posed for a picture
with the mine, and immediately returns to work. There is still
much to be done.
Nations of SFOR: France
Engineering - Mines