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Patrolling SFOR's routes

By 1st Lt. Luis Sánchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#123, October 3, 2001

To keep the mission going, it is vital to secure the movement of SFOR's logistic convoys in order to provide supplies to units throughout the theatre. Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE) has a specialised unit to perform this task, the Circulation Control Unit.

Mostar-Ortijes - To drive a heavy lorry across Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) roads is not as easy as it seems. There are a lot of obstacles: bad weather conditions, the poor state of the roads and unpredictable traffic among others. In any event, drivers in MND-SE know their job is easier thanks to the Spanish Circulation Control Unit (CCU).
The goal
This company-sized unit has two main missions: to check and report on the viability of routes, and to guide and facilitate road movement. However, they do not provide security. The unit from the Spanish contingent is under the direct command of G4, logistic branch of MND-SE. It comprised of one command team and two platoons, each of them divided into four six-person teams.
Capt. Jose Luis Garcia Hernando, company commander, stated: "Our mission is very dynamic. We stay on the road all day to make the movement of convoys easier without disturbing the civilian traffic." In fact, they have authority only over military traffic, not civilian and they try to disturb it as little as possible.
To perform their duties, they have divided the MND-SE area into two parts. The company is also split in two different places: one army platoon in Rajlovac, and the other in Mostar-Ortijes.
This last platoon consists of Military Police (Guardia Civil), a corps well experienced in traffic control, anti-riot and authority protection missions. The platoon commander, 1st Lt. Jose Borrego Garcia, commented: "Most of the traffic we guide is composed of freight trucks. The roads' conditions are not good enough and the circulation is difficult."
All the routes are monitored from time to time. Equipped with armoured cars and motorbikes, they meticulously check anything that affects normal driving: route conditions, traffic density, temperature and climatic conditions. The unit also checks to see what kind of vehicles the routes are opened to and if special equipment is needed. Big convoys, over 15 vehicles, are divided into parts to improve their movement.
The Pacman route
They really focus on Pacman route, a south-north road (Metkovic - Mostar - Jablanica - Konjic - Sarajevo). It is one of the busiest in BiH and the main route for supplies from the Croatian coast and Ploce harbour, the logistic gate of all units in MND-SE. A steady stream of SFOR convoys, escorted by CCU staff, roam the route. Most of them consist of cargo trucks carrying other vehicles, especially engineer machines.
Every day, two patrols depart from Mostar and Rajlovac, respectively, to check and report if the Pacman route is operational. The information is needed before the convoys start to move.
There are difficult points to focus on, such as narrow sections, crossroads or junctions, where it may be necessary to stop civilian traffic. A difficult one is the border crossing with Croatia in Metkovic, where a huge amount of lorries wait for crossing. "This is a critical point, the convoys cannot stop or separate and we facilitate the pass," commented Borrego.
The task is not an easy one, MP Pfc. Antonio Rodriguez Guijarro said, "Here, people drive in a different way. The roads haven't got berms, even some secondary roads are difficult to drive on. We must be cautious when driving."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Spain