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The Polish strategic reserve on the field again

By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barbé
First published in
SFOR Informer#113, May 16, 2001

On their way to Kosovo, 127 soldiers of the Polish 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade took part in the Dynamic Response exercise from April 27 to May 10 in Doboj, Multinational Division - North (MND-N). They are part of the NATO strategic reserve.

Doboj - Two BMP-1 APC's drove through the little town of Teslic, southwest of Doboj.
"One has to recognise that it's quite impressive and the people are not used to seeing us. With the noise we're making we can't go unnoticed," said 1st Lt. Michael Rohde, press information officer at the 10th Mechanised Battalion, 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade from Swietoszow, Poland. But that day's purpose was only a routine patrol.
The 107 soldiers of the 2nd Mechanised Company and 20 others from the logistic unit who came to support them are part of the NATO Strategic Reserve Force for the Balkans. They deployed to Doboj from April 27 to May 10 to take part to the Dynamic Response exercise before leading operations in Kosovo.
"The journey lasted almost four days by train from Zagan, Poland, to reach Lukavac on April 27. The day after we arrived, we performed a riot control exercise," indicated Maj. Piotr Zabkowski, battalion commander. "It was a very important exercise because we may face the situation in Kosovo, but fortunately it's not the case here in Bosnia and Herzegovina," said 2nd Lt. Pawel Gutt, second platoon leader.
In BiH, their mission was to take over the duties in the Nordic-Polish Battle Group area of responsibility (AOR) for Bravo Company that took the opportunity to train in another area.
Accurate preparation
"We led joint patrols with the Danes and the Latvians, but also with the Bravo Company. We'll keep the pictures and the friendship with these soldiers," Gutt said. "We even had a ride with the American Blackhawk helicopters to compare the real land with what we could see on the map. The terrain here is similar to Kosovo and my drivers are already used to driving in the mountains," he added proudly.

The Polish 2nd Mechanised Company
Soldiers: 107, among whom 80 percent are professionals
- 7 BMP-1 for patrolling
- 2 ZWD command vehicles
- 4 Honker jeeps
- 1 ambulance
- Many recovery vehicles and troops or material carrier trucks

One must remember that the same company participated in NATO operations in Kosovo for eight months last year, among those, five with the French in Kosovska Mitrovica. After this exercise in Doboj, the company should stay in Kosovo until September. "About 80 percent of the soldiers in the company are professionals. They are all volunteers, and I think that this exercise will be a great experience as much as for the professionals as for the conscripts," Zabkowski affirmed.
But for that time, there were no checkpoints to set up, no car to inspect or weapons to look for inside. It was only a routine patrol in the vicinity of Teslic, an area mostly populated by Bosnian-Serbs, where numerous Bosnian-Croats return.
Close contact
With his interpreter, Mira Ostojic, Gutt got off his Honker that was leading the patrol and walked toward a house in the local community of Gornja Vracica, near the village of Studenci. The conversation began with Jago Mrsic, a Bosnian-Croat who had come back to live in his pre-war village. But many houses are still illegally occupied and their former inhabitants are waiting for evictions to get their houses back. "All this information will be written in our daily report to our headquarters in Doboj," Gutt added.
After four days of such patrols, the Polish 2nd Mechanised Company was ready for its new mission in Kosovo. It will reinforce the Polish-Ukrainian detachment in the town of Kacanik (Camp White Eagle). The company has demonstrated that, as part of the NATO strategic reserve, it can be deployed anywhere and lead all the peacekeeping missions that are required.

Related links: Training and Exercises
Nations of SFOR: Poland
Restructuring and Reserves