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Back in Podrasnica

By Cpl. Nicolas Girault
First published in
SFOR Informer#118, July 25, 2001

After the incident which happened on Pelican Route and the disappointing results of Operation Harvest (see SFOR Informer No. 116), the British from the Royal Green Jacket regiment organised a new collection of illegal weapons in Mrkonjic Grad area Tuesday July 17.

Podrasnica, Mrkonjic Grad municipality - A soldier with a green beret on his head knocked on the door. A little woman opened it. 2nd Lt. Ed Poynter asked her through an interpreter if she had any weapons or explosives and if it was possible to check around the garden and within the house. The lady at first said she had no weapons but agreed to let Toby, the cocker spaniel, and his master, Lance Cpl. Dan Gibson, enter her wooden house. After a moment she came back with a ancient holster without a weapon. The soldier examined it, then returned it to the lady who dropped it to the ground and then had a laugh with the British.
Poynter explained that “contrary to the first time, we did not publicise the Operation.” The British are there for the second time in less than two weeks. The first Operation Harvest in the area had not been very fruitful. He added: “We are there to make everything safer, to avoid an accident, like the other day.” Friday 13 July, early in the morning, when crossing an unusually quiet area, a Canadian SFOR truck had been fired upon. Fortunately no one was injured.
No weapons
Cpl. Matt Harris explained: “Firstly, we ask for ammunition and weapons and if it is possible to check with the dog. People sign a 'record of search performed' to recognise that nothing will be damaged and soldiers sign a 'confiscation receipt' if they confiscate any illegal weapons.” In this usually quiet area, not a lot of things were discovered - only one AK 47 magazine, one hand grenade, 10 kg of commercial TNT and several rounds of 7.62 mm and 7.9 mm ammunitions.
Royal Military Policeman Lance Cpl. Mick Abbott said, “(He) explained to the people that (he) watches the soldiers, to ensure there is no damage to the property and if they have no complaints.” Poynter added, “the MP is legal protection both for us and for the local people."
One man invited the Brits to visit his home, the weapons he holds are a 25-year-old shotgun and a Mauser rifle. He has a licence for both. Harris explained that “they seem very happy to prove they have no weapons.” One landlord refused to let soldiers enter, the son who is a policeman said “soldiers with the same dog visited five days ago, there are no weapons in this house. You are allowed to look in the garden but not in the house.” So the soldiers returned.
How can we know if he was sincere or just fed up with soldiers visiting... or perhaps if he wanted to hide illegal weapons?

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK
SFOR at Work, Project Harvest