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MSU crowd control and hostage rescue demonstration

By Capt. Vance White
First published in
SFOR Informerr#127, November 28, 2001

The scenario was simple - a group of about 30 protesters was holding one person hostage. The Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU) was tasked to push back the crowd of protesters and rescue a hostage.

Banja Luka - As an SFOR-level organisation, the MSU is called upon from time to time to support divisional level activities in order to let a Multinational Division (MND) return to a normal working environment. The events to which the MSU may be called include crowd control or operations where a SWAT team or paratrooper squads are required.
In all about 100 personnel from the MSU were present to support the exercise. Three platoons from the MSU 1st Battalion were first to arrive on the scene and immediately piled out of their vehicles to form a human wall in front of the demonstrators.

Each member of the MSU was decked out in full Riot Control gear, which included body and leg protection, helmet, shield, and baton.
A brief negotiation between the ringleader of the protesters and the officer in charge of the MSU units did not prove fruitful. The protesters then started to bombard the MSU troops with wooden blocks and filled water bottles.

The MSU wall, two men deep and about 30 men across, shoulder to shoulder, slowly advanced to a roadblock set up by the demonstrators. With the use of the Iveco VM 90, the barrier was easily towed away leaving nothing between the MSU personnel and the protesters. As the wall of MSU personnel pushed steadily forward, the protesters fell back, leaving the hostage location guarded by only a handful of men.

The 4-person SWAT team, part of the MSU's Manoeuvre Unit, stormed to the building from the 'Protected'-variant VM 90. The team quickly moved in a well-choreographed strike to disable the guards and snatched the hostage.
With the hostage rescued, their mission accomplished, the MSU troops strategically withdrew in the Iveco Turbo Daily vehicles under a cover of smoke.

The MSU's troops, mostly coming from the Italian Carabinieri but also augmented by Slovenian soldiers, clearly demonstrated their capability to manage civil disorder and rescue hostages to all in attendance. It is evident the MSU crowd and riot control teams are effective units to have at any Commander's disposal, should the occasion arise.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy
Training and Exercises