By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#120, August 22, 2001
The Spanish Battle Group has performed a series of joint activities
with platoons of the Moroccan Contingent aimed to show them how
the Spanish force works and trains to be ready to fulfil its mission.
The co-operating activities took place from Aug. 13 to 17 in different
zones of the Spanish Area of Responsibility.
- To know about other SFOR troops, their procedures and their
weapons is always an interesting and rewarding activity for military
staff who want to improve their professional knowledge. For a
whole week the Spanish Battle Group (SPAGT XVI) comprised of soldiers
of the Castilla 16 Regiment, based in Badajoz (Western
Spain), prepared some joint exercises.
|Technical Data BMR-600
Six-wheeled Amoured Personnel Carrier (APC)
Combat weight: 14 tonne
Dimensions: 6.15 x 2.50 x 2 m
Armament: 1x 12,70-mm machine gun, 1x120-mm mortar (optional)
Engine: Pegaso - 306 hp or Scania - 310 hp
Maximum speed: 100 km/h
Autonomy: 1,000 km
Within this framework one Spanish Infantry Company
and one Moroccan Platoon trained together in the exercise Palmera
The training started in the morning with a briefing by the Acting
Company Commander, 1st Lt. Angel Luis Gutierrez Crespo, who explained
the made-up scenario and assigned missions to his three platoons
and the Moroccan unit integrated in the Sub-tactical Group Palmera.
action dealt with two supposed cases in which SFOR would be involved.
The first was a civil riot, supposedly taking place in Neum, the
area where a platoon was deployed. The second was the first stone
laying ceremony at a religious site by an important authority.
A Spanish platoon, reinforced with the Moroccan component, was
deployed to the area to provide security for the event. Two teams
of these forces acted as Quick Reaction Forces (QRF). Their mission
was to evacuate authorities if necessary. In addition, the third
Coy-element was in reserve.
key point was the co-ordination among the different units
elements. Gutierrez also insisted on SFOR traffic exercise rules.
Outside, in the garrison parking lot, infantrymen were preparing
their equipment, weapons and their BMRs (a Spanish-made Armoured
Personnel Carried, APC). The language was not a problem thanks
to 1st Lt. Jose Enrique Talavan Presa, commander of the joint
platoon who also acted as translator: This kind of exercise
is essential to maintain military skills and be ready in case
of a real need. It also relieves the monotony of barracks life.
Getting into action
the briefing was over the Sub-tactical Group left the garrison
for the training area. The stage for the cornerstone ceremony
was the garrison buildings ruins, where a Spanish detachment
was based near Stolac.
Once on the site, the squads deployed a safety box consisting
of several rings surrounding the place, providing security against
any disturbing element (such as rioters, demonstrators or saboteurs),
monitoring and making a zone impossible to cross without being
noticed. But that day the real foe was the sun, with temperatures
at about 40 degrees centigrade.
soldiers showed great training in the manner that the orders were
carried out. Cpl. Jose Collazo Cruz is in his fourth tour in the
theatre: This is a common exercise for us and in all missions
there are some Rules of Engagement (ROEs) which are compulsory
to follow. What we are looking for is the mobility and the knowledge
of the area to favour later actions.
Finally the exercise ended with the evacuation of the authorities
to a secure place.
The operation was over, but the activities went on with a packet
lunch in the field and a live-fire shooting exercise in Zelic,
(an area near to the previous one) where troops had the opportunity
to show and improve their shooting skills, finishing the shared
day we change soldiers in order to expose as many as possible
to the learning procedures. Spanish procedures are very similar
to ours...only the weapons are different. One thing I think is
interesting is that the Spanish APC has (a version) one 120-mm
mortar and this has great possibilities, commented 1st Lt.
Fouad Nassihi, Moroccan Platoon Commander.
Operation Palm was the main exercise in those combined activities,
but not the only one. They started with weapon exhibitions (one
for each contingent), one daily tactical exercise involving a
platoon of each nationality, providing experiences which are highly
is a good time to meet people, to change ideas and to improve
our skills, said Nassihi. This is a good chance to
see how the Spanish Task Force works, also commented Moroccan
Chief Master Sgt. Mohamed Karim, translator.
Apart from the tactical issue, two typical lunches, one in each
contingents barracks, took place. It was a leisure activity
useful in creating partnership and interchange experiences.
Nations of SFOR: Spain,
Training and Exercises