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MSU shows its skill, force during riot training

By Sgt. Kerensa Hardy
First published in
SFOR Informer#115, June 13, 2001

Camp Drvar Disgruntled employees gathered in front of the bank to demand their pay. This relatively calm scenario went from bad to worse in a short period of time as negotiations between the representatives for the employees and local authorities failed repeatedly.
Once it was determined that the local authorities were involved in a situation beyond the scope of their capabilities, the big guns were called in. Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU) to the rescue.
By then a full-scale riot was under way. Some employees held hostages inside the bank while those outside barricaded the doors, set fire to two cars and continued using everything they could find as projectiles.
MSU moved in like a human wall, shoulder-to-shoulder, with plastic shields providing cover for the front line.
The MSU officers cleared the way for armoured vehicles to move in and connect hooks to the cars and other objects used as barricades by the angry mob. Once the fires were out and the vehicles were moved out of the way, they cleared the entrance to the bank so the hostages could be freed.
A few bold rioters tried their hand at going head-to-head with the MSU officers an undertaking for which they were not prepared. MSU immediately took the upper hand and got everything under control, restoring peace to the area.
Almost as quickly as the chaos started, it was over.
In reality, the disgruntled employees were Canadian and Czech soldiers who put on a rather convincing show while yelling, throwing eggs, water balloons, food basically anything within reach, including garbage from nearby trash bins.
A group of Canadians provided outer-cordon security and the MSU troops played themselves.
The main purpose is to see the tactics and techniques that the MSU can provide in the crowd confrontation operation and develop a command and control relationship while were on the ground, said Canadian Maj. David Berry, exercise director. We dont have the opportunity to work that often with MSU and it now gives us the opportunity to practice the skills we both have and the integration of both our forces.
This joint event also gave green troops, normal SFOR organisations in this case it was the Canadians the ability to conduct common training with MSU, said Italian Lt. Matteo Ederle, MSU liaison officer for Multinational Division - Southwest.
When green and blue (MSU) units are deployed there has to be co-ordination, and for the best co-ordination, we have to perform the training together, he added.
Berry said that the Canadians dont routinely practice riot control since thats not one of their tasks.
What well do is crowd confrontation operations, he said. MSU would then be called in to handle actual scenarios like the one for which they trained on May 28. If something like this were to actually happen, Berry said his troops would provide the initial armed response and the MSU would employ the riot-control tactics. We will deal with small problems in self defence in a crowd confrontation but we will not try to do what theyre doing evacuation, dispersing of riots.
Ederle said that the incidents in Banja Luka and Trebinje were not the cause for this training, contrary to what some might believe. There is a link but we have to remember that we are here not to overpass the normal duties of local police and the local authorities.
MSU units only step in if the International Police Task Force asks them to or if there is the possibility of injuries or killing and a situation is out of control. It is important to note, once again, that the main responsibility of handling these types of outbreaks lies with local authorities, not SFOR elements.
This exercise also gave MSU a chance to test a group of new officers who arrived in BiH only 10 days before the training. The MSU hadnt seen the scenario or been trained before it took place. This tested their capabilities to see what they could do.

Related link: Training and Exercises