By Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#125, October 31, 2001
Usually the small village of Pedize and its resettled
Displaced Persons and Refugees (DPRE) only meet the Italian soldiers
of the 7th Alpine Regiment. Today is different, however, as the
hills reverberate with the sound of armoured vehicles. For patrolling
alongside the Italians are also members of the Spanish 14th Cavalry
Regiment of Madrid.
Pedize - The 7th Alpine Regiment forms the Italian
Battle Group (BG). They patrol within MND-SE and carry out a wide
range of activities. As Capt. Giuseppe Minissale of 65 Coy explains:
"The Italian Battle Group patrols a variety of routes, and
covers much more than just DPREs We also monitor the armed forces
in both entities and patrol zone orange. Zone orange is the battle
group's area of responsibility along the border with Serbia. We
also have a platoon that acts as a quick reaction force."
Cavalry troops from the ELAC "Villaviciosa 14," Madrid,
Spain are part of an exchange scheme between the Italians and
the Spanish Battle Group in Mostar. 1st Lt. Roberto Faravelli
of the Italians explains why this is important: "Such exchanges
allow us to improve the depth of knowledge between the battle
groups. So that when a hot spot occurs it can allow us a tactical
reserve. The main aim is to improve the interoperability between
the forces by improving our knowledge and familiarity in tactics,
reserve support and capabilities." To demonstrate that the
process is profitable for both sides, Faravelli talks through
the extensive four-day package, which includes live firing range
work, joint patrolling and demonstrations of explosive ordnance
disposal (EOD) teams. Thankfully for those involved there will
also be a chance to enjoy a night of Italian hospitality.
patrol consists of a soft-skinned Italian vehicle as well as two
Spanish armoured reconnaissance (VEC) vehicles. The small convoy
skilfully negotiates the steep roads that wend their way into
the hills around Sarajevo. The last three miles to the house of
the DPREs are largely on dirt tracks where the local inhabitants
stare in curiosity at the passing SFOR patrol. Once there, with
a partially built house as a background, 2nd Lt. Augusto Zamero
chats to Sulejnan Bukva, the head of the DPRE family.
"With this kind of patrol we go to the DPREs and find out
what their problems are," Zamero says. "We also provide
security as other people see that we pass."
this case the DPREs seem less worried about hostile neighbours
than the coming winter, as Zamero points out: "There is a
problem in winter, there are worries about food, wood, clothes.
Indeed in other places people are more unlucky as they live in
tents. We ensure that such problems are passed correctly through
the chain of command."
Cpl. Mirko Strioco of the Italians highlights that such patrols
offer the chance for a greater understanding of many of the issues.
"We can see the people on the land, how they live, their
condition of life. We can see what the war has done here. It was
years ago but we can still see the effects. Here I can see what
my grandfather and father meant when they talked to me about the
war in Italy." He remarks fondly that, "the people are
never angry to see us, they are always friendly. The children
are the best thing, when we go into a village they run around
the landscape is a reminder of war, of mistrust, the patrol itself
acts as a symbol of unity. Zamero remarks that "It is interesting
to work with other countries' soldiers with everyone teaching
and everyone learning." Strioco sums up the sentiments of
the Italians: "They are people, soldiers, like us."
The Spanish cavalrymen echo such feelings. Sgt. Jesus Lison Turpin
thinks, "it is important that nothing stands between the
Spanish and Italians, so that we can learn each other's methods."
Once the mission has been completed the patrol remounts its vehicles
and returns to base. As the echoes of the engines fade from Pedize
perhaps this truly international force will act as a reminder
that people from different backgrounds and countries can, and
do work in harmony and unity.
Nations of SFOR: Spain,
Related link: SFOR