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Spanish Marines & VRS

By 1st Lt. Javier Donesteve
First published in
SFOR Informer#112, May 3, 2001

Trebinje - Joint-shooting activities between the Spanish Marine Company Team based at Trebinje and the Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS) was held April 24 at Bravenik Firing Range.
"The VII Army Corps VRS, based in Bileca, and its two brigades, the 701st and the 715th, are in our area of responsibility. Due to that, we work together very often," explained Marine Capt. Angel Monteagudo, liaison officer for the VRS. "Recently, we supervised the agreed 15 percent reduction of the entity armies, as one of SFOR tasks. In fact, the monitoring of VRS activities is a high percentage of our job, as we are now doing with their shooting exercises in Bravenik or the mine-clearing in Galici and Hum."
April 24 was a very busy day in Bravenik. Since 7:30 a.m., VRS conscripts were shooting for the first time with their Zastava M-70 assault rifles, the local development of the legendary Kalashnikov AK-47. Behind each of them, an instructor patiently supervised to make sure that each step was properly performed. "They are receiving their basic training, and this takes time," said Maj. Jovan Benderac, commanding officer of the training unit.
And, as usual, SFOR monitored this activity. First Lt. Emilio López, with half of his platoon, was there carrying on his task. "The other half is with the platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Jorge Valdés, in the other fire range, in Bileca" he said.
At noon, and presided by Lt. Col. Miroslav Blagojevic, deputy commander, 715th Brigade VRS, and Maj. Andrés Gacio, Marine Company Team commanding officer, the joint shooting exercise took place. The Marines shot with the M-70 assault rifle and the VRS personnel used the German-made Heckler und Koch G-36, recently purchased by the Spanish Armed Forces. VRS officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) also had the occasion to test the Spanish Llama M-82 pistol.
After the exercise, Spanish gastronomy had a space, and everyone there enjoyed a "paella" (a rice and chicken dish) and barbecue prepared by the team of cooks from the Logistics Support Unit (UAL), led by Sgt. 1st Class Ricardo González-Llanos.
During the afternoon, there was also time for the Marines to use the facility for their own training, and the day finished with a hand grenade throwing exercise.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Spain
Training and Exercises