OPRES on tour
By Maj. Marie Richter
The Operational Reserve (OPRES), made up of the Portuguese task force, left its own barracks in Visoko for a familiarization exercise with other SFOR troops. One company (13 Coy) went to Doboj to the Danish Battalion in the Nordic-Polish Battle Group (NPBG) and one company (11 Coy) to Tuzla to the American Commanche Base.
Doboj - The Estonian Army, part of the Danish battalion, organised a joint patrol between themselves and the Portuguese as part of a whole week of joint training activities. The purpose of this patrol was to familiarize the Portuguese with their Area of Responsibility (AoR), the local people and the organisations. During the patrol they were able to travel to several villages and find out for themselves the problems that the villagers encounter in everyday life. Their first port of call was Piliuzic, a small village with access problems, no water supply system and a high unemployment rate. Here the soldiers conducted a low profile foot patrol to ensure a safe and secure environment and then talked with a spokesman from the village. 1st Sgt. Hillar Pliiats led the patrol from the Estonian Scout Squadron. He spoke to the locals about their problems: "This is a peaceful village but life is difficult because of unemployment. They have some help from Red Cross parcels."
The patrol then went on to Rosulije where similar problems were encountered. They also had no medical facility nearby and very little transport. The families recognised the Estonians, greeted them as friends and invited them into their homes.
The last duty of the patrol was the checking of a barracks of the Bosnian Croat component of the Federation Army (VF-H) in Omerbasicka, to ensure the sentry was armed and the other weapons were locked in a metal container. The VF-H were surprised to see the Portuguese on patrol but welcomed them as well.
- At the same time the Americans briefed the Portuguese company
commander, Capt. Joao Bernardino, on their mission for the day.
Bernardino passed the details on to the patrol commander, 2nd
Lt. Goncalves. Goncalves said: "We have been given a map
and plotted the towns we must visit and where to conduct our foot
patrol. This is not our usual role, or a familiar area, but this
is not a problem to us."