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OPRES: all weather, all conditions

By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barbé
First published in
SFOR Informer#110, April 4, 2001

The Portuguese will take over the Dane's daily missions during the next few days. Nothing more than a joint patrol could best help them to dive into reality.
Doboj - A few snowflakes are not going to stop the Danish-Portuguese joint patrol to drive its way. Soldiers make their path through mud, even if they need to go in force.
With Danish 1st Lt. Bjarke Skov, platoon leader in the Nordpol Battle Group tank C-Squadron, Portuguese 2nd Lt. Antonio Marques, mortar platoon leader of the Operational Reserve (OPRES), drives a reconnaissance patrol. He'll soon take over Skov’s area of responsibility for about 10 days. Meantime, the Danes will participate in Baltic Resolve exercise, in Multinational Division - Southwest.
"We're conducting all the missions of the Danes: patrols, weapons storage sites inspections, refugee camps visits. Our goal is to maintain these missions, not to change them. So we need to see what they usually do," said Capt. Filipe Vieira, leader of 76 Portuguese soldiers who arrived in camp Dannevirke, near Doboj, on March 26. A rifle platoon and a mortar platoon will be stationed there for two weeks with their 21 vehicles, among which the Chaimites, their armoured personnel carrier.

Arrived in the theatre at the end of January for a six-month tour, the third rotation of the OPRES is composed of three companies (323 soldiers) based in Visoko. The OPRES is part of mechanised infantry and is divided into:
- an infantry company
- a cavalry company
- a support and services company, including a mortar platoon
- a staff team

Before taking to the road with two Danish vehicles and two Portuguese jeeps, Skov is reparing the patrol in the ops room. Marques and three sergeants get the instructions. A first stop is scheduled in the town of Derventa at an International Police Task Force (IPTF) station.
With Maj. Robby Zocher, the conversation starts. "We had two traffic accidents and a house fire last week, but the area is quite calm. We have a very good relationship with the local police and the population," he stressed. The Portuguese don't miss the opportunity of this first contact. It's also a way of seeing how the Danes work, in order to do the same good job.
Ready to work
A bit further, after the patrol has left the concrete road and the drivers have to seriously deal with their driving skills on very bad soil paths, they stop in a village. Some houses are being reconstructed there. "This house had been blown up about three days ago. The man who was rebuilding it and was living on the first floor was not here the night it happened. IPTF and local police are investigating," specified Skov. "I wanted to see if there had been some changes since our last patrol here," he added.
Back on the concrete road, the patrol heads towards the town of Bosanski Brod/Sprski Brod, on the Croatian border. It will be back to Camp Dannevirke late in the afternoon. Now, the Portuguese are ready to accomplish their mission.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Denmark, Poland
SFOR at Work