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The Netherlands Engineering Challenge

By Maj. Marie Richter
First published in
SFOR Informer#118, July 25, 2001

Engineers from all over Multinational Division Southwest (MND SW) gathered together for an arduous day of training and competitions in order to meet their colleagues, learn from each other and discuss possible future joint projects.

Bugojno - Every month one of the battle groups of MND-SW organises a training activity for their colleagues. This month it was the turn of the Dutch Engineers from 11 (NL) MECHBAT RHvS who are part of 13 (NL/BUL) GNCIE SFOR based in Bugojno camp. Participants from forces of Canada, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Great Britain and Bulgaria all on operational tour in SFOR travelled from far and wide in BiH for a busy day of activities.
Quality training
The morning was spent with the Dutch Engineers demonstrating with their latest equipment including two cranes, front-loaders, bridge laying vehicles and heavy drilling equipment. They showed how they could clear derelict buildings, lay and repair roads and build bridges. The visiting Engineers were able to practise under supervision how to operate the cranes and front-loaders and a demonstration of how they could lay an emergency heavy load carrying bridge in less than five minutes. This was the first time many of the men had been given the opportunity to train with the Dutch equipment. Cpl. Derek Hamilton from the New Zealand Engineers said, “At home we do not see such equipment so it has been invaluable training for us. Now we can work alongside our Dutch peers on projects and be familiar with the equipment and its usage.” They all had an opportunity to look around an Armoured Personnel Carrier (YCR 765) which is adapted to hold all the drilling, sawing and cutting equipment that a section of Engineers may need. This vehicle carries all the men, their personal kit and provisions as well as the equipment they may need and they travel as a mobile independent team. This is why they are nicknamed the “Gypsies."
In the last 18 months the equipment has already been used on many occasions in support of CIMIC and many other agencies’ projects in the community. In Prodvidja, Engineers have cleared the sites of several derelict houses to make way for rebuilding programmes, and in Travnik they have helped in road repairs and provided assistance to the community by establishing essential water supplies to the town.
Battle of the Engineers
After a morning of intensive training the Dutch introduced a “fun” element to the programme. Dressed in their fatigues and prepared to battle it out to the end for the winner, all the participating forces entered a team into an engineering competition. The contest involved a series of command tasks and assault courses with a wheelbarrow race and simulated river crossing. This tested their fitness, skills, stamina, teamwork and command element in an arduous series of stands with, in good old army tradition, plenty of 'marching' from one stand to another.
As the scorching sun came down and the afternoon temperature rose, the teams gave their best effort to represent their country against the other nations. Once the competition was over and the men had all taken lots of much needed water on board, they rested and awaited the results of the competition. Lt. Mark Douin from the Dutch Engineers, who participated in the team with his soldiers, spoke about the day: “We wanted to take the opportunity on the day to thank all the Engineers who work in MND-SW for their support to the Battle Group and to SFOR and give them a day not only for training but for enjoyment."
The Dutch Engineers were also saying good-bye to their Bulgarian colleagues, whom they have worked alongside in Bugojno camp, as they are soon leaving SFOR and returning home for the last time. The day ended with an evening of festivities including a Dutch version of “Gladiators” which of course was 'rigged' so that the Dutch Engineer won!

Related links: Nations of SFOR: Netherland
Training and Exercises