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Sharing knowledge. Italian-Moroccan activities

By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#117, July 11, 2001

One of the most appreciated topics for soldiers serving abroad is to improve their military knowledge, especially about other armies and weapons. Such knowledge is highly regarded back home. From this point of view, SFOR's multinational activities provide an unsurpassable context. This is an opportunity for everybody to share experience on the ground.

Sarajevo - During the first week of July one Moroccan platoon visited the Italian Battle Group, at Tito Barracks in Sarajevo. The exchange activities comprised a joint patrol, as well as an Italian weapons display, July 3.
Activities in Tito Barracks are quite normal. In the main square, one patrol is preparing their vehicles (VM 90) and the Italian soldiers are loading their equipment. Among them, comprising the SFOR patrol, others wear green berets and are dressed in a different uniform.
They are a Moroccan Platoon from the Moroccan contingent, based in Mostar-Ortijes participating in an exchange activity with the Italian Battle Group; both belong to the Multinational Division Southeast. Firstly the Moroccans go to the Italian Camp and later their counterparts return the visit. "This kind of co-operation within a multinational team provides experience and allows us to see how the Italians work. It is very important for us," said 1st Lt. Hicham Elouali, Moroccan Patrol commander, "this is not the first time, we joined German and Italian units before, in joint activities," he added.

CENTAURO
Wheeled armoured vehicle
Combat weight: 27,000 Kg
Width: 3.05 m
Length: 8.27 m
Height: 2.74 m
Power: 382 Kw (520 hp) at 2,300 r.p.m.
Maximum speed: 105 Km/h
Main weapon: 105/52 mm canon
VAB
Armoured Personnel Carrier
Combat weight: 13,000 Kg
Width: 2.09 m
Length: 5.98 m
Height: 2.06 m
Power 220 hp
Maximum speed: 90 Km/h
Weapons: (Moroccan type) 20 mm gun
Other: 2 machine gun (MG 49/52 cal 7.62 NATO)

The convoy crossed the barracks' main gate, led by one VM-90/P in which the Italian platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Carlo Mori manages the mission, with a map in his hand. "When patrolling we make a circuit, checking points, communications and times. Everything is detailed in the mission procedures. Eventually we will set up a monitoring point. In this way, Moroccans will see and know how we work," he explained.
Apart from the lead vehicle, the convoy is comprised of two VAB (Armoured Personnel Carrier) and one Humvee belonging to the Moroccans and another Italian VM-90 at the rear. The patrol reached a cross-road in Semizovac, a village about 20 kilometres north of Sarajevo, and deployed a safety cordon to monitor and report supicious vehicles heading towards Sarajevo.
The time-sharing also included a briefing, in which the tasks and procedures of the Italian Battle Group were explained; furthermore mine equipment and weapons exhibitions took place. Italian Capt. Carmine Marasco, in charge of this part, commented: "this point is valuable for SFOR forces. We work together and it is important to learn how they work for future co-operation. In a short time, we will go to Mostar-Ortijes and learn their procedures."
Moroccan soldiers showed great interest in Italian weapons (individual and weapon systems) presented in the exhibition, where Italian Cpl Paolo Sammartano explained the functions to them. Such as, for instance, the Beretta 92FS pistol, the AR 70/90 rifle and the machine gun MINIMI. But the "star" was the Italian wheeled armoured vehicle armed with a 105-millimetre gun, which performed several movements and ran across Tito Barracks court. "As a gunner I am fond of this kind of weapon and I was impressed by its velocity and brakes. The driver has great experience," commented Moroccan Warrant Officer 1 Abderrahmane Znibel.
Of course, there was time to enjoy an Italian lunch in the dining facility; visiting Sarajevo and other activities organised by the hosts, in which everybody took the opportunity to exchange impressions and memories with their SFOR comrades.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy, Morocco
SFOR at Work