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Hot spots training

By 1st. Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#118, July 25, 2001

Cerberus was the three-headed monstrous dog, guardian of the Greek Underworld. Faithful servant of Hades, the monster permitted all spirits to enter but allowed none to leave.

Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE) trained its forces by performing a three-day long exercise called “Cerberus” from July 18 to 20. It was aimed at dealing with three different kinds of eventualities: a massive re-entry of refugees from a neighbouring country; a sniper ambush; and the action of SFOR if surrounded by hostile elements. The exercise raised expectations in the media, which tried to link it to the pursuit of war criminals.

Bradina - In order to accomplish SFOR's general mission, to create and maintain a secure and safe environment (General Framework Agreement for Peace GFAP, Annex 1A), MND-SE assessed its readiness by means of training. The Cerberus exercise was one of a continuing series of training events to ensure operational capability, and to be ready to respond to three main contingencies. The MND-SE Headquarters G5 Plans and Operations had made up two different scenarios with a total of three hot spots. This was the reason for the name Cerberus (see box).
The forces, about 1,200 soldiers, were divided in two Task Forces (TF1 & TF2) that operated in a Target Operation Zone (TOZ). TF1 consisted of two companies (French and Spanish), TF2 had a battalion (two German companies and one French); two more companies of mechanised infantry stood in reserve. In addition, helicopters from the Multinational Army Aviation Battalion, based in Ploce (Croatia), and the Operational Reserve (Air) were used. All these units were co-ordinated by a Mobile Tactical Command Post, where a Moroccan Platoon was attached.
The first training scenario involved a massive influx of refugees from a neighbouring country. TF1 had to face a possibly large amount of refugees in the direct vicinity of the eastern border (hot spot 2). SFOR's mission was in accordance with its mandate as stated in GFAP Annex 1A, article VI. The manoeuvre was carried out in TOZ1, municipalities of Kalinovik and Nevesinje (both in Republika Srpska - RS).
The second scenario dealt with eventualities happening in a Weapon Storage Site (WSS). The action was performed in two phases, both of them accomplished by TF2. In the first phase, a sniper ambush was aimed against an inspection team inside the site (hot spot 1). Some rebel troops (role-played by other SFOR soldiers) took control of a WSS, blocking the way and capturing the inspection team as hostages.
SFOR's troops arrived and started to negotiate. After some tense moments, the troublemakers finally surrendered and nobody was injured. Then, in the second phase, TF2 had to help another SFOR unit surrounded by hostile elements (hot spot 3). In this stage, the action took place in the municipalities of Fojnica and Jablanica (both in the Federation).
The exercise was planned several weeks in advance as part of the regular training schedule. But due to coincidence, Cerberus raised great expectations among the press that linked the exercise to a PIFWC operation. Journalists from Associated Press (AP), France 2 and Reuters followed the development of events in hot spot 1, where Maj. Gen. Maurice Amarger, MND-SE General Commander, attended the action. In response to media queries he said: “This is a regular exercise, pure inter-operability. In this kind of exercise we train and learn. It is difficult to co-ordinate this kind of action that is going to be repeated in the future to react in real life."

Related link:
Training and Exercises