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Baltic Resolve: "One mission - one team"

By Cpl. Jean-Philippe Lavigne
First published in
SFOR Informer#124, October 17, 2001

A combined task force from the Nordic-Polish Battle Group (NPBG) supported by aviation elements from Eagle Base, Multinational Division North (MND-N), participated in a five-day exercise called Baltic Resolve. The operation culminated with a combined-arms live fire at Glamoc Range in Multinational Division Southwest (MND-SW).

Glamoc - A cloud of dust moves along at high speed across Glamoc's burnt desert plains. A-Coy four-wheel drive Tarpan Honkers, supported by two APCs, drive along Barbara Road. The convoy abruptly stops. Polish soldiers jump out of their vehicles, deploy and open fire. Two honkers are lost in the battle, A-Coy is in a difficult position and needs help. As soon as the alert is given, C-Squadron Danish Leopard Tanks get into the field and fire on the enemy. Shells hit their targets one by one in an astounding display of firepower. Two Blackhawk troop transport helicopters suddenly appear from behind the hill. Flying close to the ground, two Kiowa helicopters strike down the targets. The chaos and disorder provoked by the incessant firing of NPBG elements allow the helicopters to evacuate the troops. Once the soldiers are safe, tanks start to withdraw as they continue shooting. Orders are given from an APC M113, used as a forward command post. Polish Maj. Porabka Marcin, protocol J1 officer, supervises the operations. Higher in the sky, two Spanish F-18 Fighters fly over the valley. End of the show. Maj. Gen. H. Steven Blum, new MND-N commander, applauds from the guest tent.
This was not a movie but a live fire exercise. SFOR conducts these peace enforcement operations on a regular basis to maintain and enhance its intervention capacity. "The aim of the exercise was to demonstrate NPBG capability to rapidly assemble and deploy military forces when and where needed in BiH," explains NPBG Commander, Polish Col. Franciszek Kochanowski. That's the reason why many different tasks are executed during the exercise, including rapid deployment, patrolling, defensive operations, limited attacks, use of force, support and logistic operations and redeployment.
"This exercise is also the occasion to have real fire and maintain the tanks at an operational level," says Danish 1st Lt. Jesper Bonnelykke, C-SQN team leader. "It's very exciting," comments Pvt. Kristian Rohde Sorensen. "We don't have the occasion to shoot for real so often." However, all participants recognise this exercise as routine compared to their hard training. "We repeated this exercise for months," says Polish Maj. Marek Demczuk, A-Coy commander. "But this time, it had to be perfect, everything has to be in its right place at the right moment. During our training, we can repeat several times the same moves. Here we don't have a second chance."
But co-operation and co-ordination is not a problem for the Nordic-Polish Battle Group. Looking back in the history of this very social battle group, they have learned through years to work together, despite its multinational composition and differences in both language and culture. The legal foundation for NPBG is a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Denmark, Poland, Sweden and Finland.
After the guests' departure, A-Coy and C-SQN took to their positions again. "We have some rounds left," jokes Bonnelykke. "Some of my guys didn't get a chance to shoot. It's their turn now." And they all go together, one more time for their own pleasure. There is no competition between NPBG nations: "One Mission-One Team" is their motto.

Related link: Training and Exercises