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Ex Joint Resolve

By Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#128, December 12, 2001

Nov. 26-29, many units from SFOR took part in the 24th Exercise Joint Resolve. This was a landmark occasion as it saw both Republika Srpska (RS) and Federation (Fed) police forces involved and working together in this event for the first time.

Tuzla - Eagle Base in Multinational Division North was the location for Joint Resolve. The exercise trained and rehearsed SFOR's ability to respond to civilian unrest, utilising co-operative efforts across civilian and military lines. It consisted of two main areas of training: on the ground with soldiers and a tactical exercise without troops on a battle board.
American Brig. Gen. Daniel E. Long Jr., assistant to the divisional commander (manoeuvre), said the exercise "exceeded expectations," adding that he was impressed with the spirit of co-operation among people in continuing "the great progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)."
On the ground
American Maj. Pete Yankowski, one of the exercise planners, explained that the key objectives were to update SFOR's standard operating procedures on civil disturbance, to understand how the local police special units work, and to improve co-operation between SFOR and local forces.
The exercise took place in a training area known to the troops as "The Pig Farm," on account of its very muddy nature. Streets and houses had been imitated through the use of ISO containers and hardboard. This was the battleground and arena for the practising forces. RS and Fed special police marched alongside each other during the event and also worked closely with other forces, too.
"I'm really glad to take part with my unit…it shows we can work together for the same cause," stated Rade Kandic, RS special police team leader. Similar sentiments were expressed by Ebubekir Alibasic, tactics instructor for the Fed police unit. "We can take the knowledge we knew before and learn with new forces," he said. "We learn how to work together for the cause and how to solve problems together."
Pitted against them were carefully controlled "rioters."
"We are acting as civilian population…we give a bit of abuse and throw bits of wood. We get the guys…into a situation resembling a real one. But we are just rehearsing and we are all on the same side. So there is noise and aggression but no violence. We get the adrenaline going," commented British Cpl. Adam Ridley, from the 110 Provost Company Royal Military Police.
The actions of the rioters lead to more realistic and exciting training for those troops carrying out their policing role.
"Crowd control…is most exciting, especially when in a snatch squad, and when there is movement, including vehicles and troops," said Nepalese Sgt. Grajen Augdembe of the 2nd Royal Gurkha Rifles (2 RGR), part of the United Kingdom Battle Group. "As platoon sergeant I command half the platoon, which is physically demanding and mentally challenging."
Battle board
A converted gym housed the battle board and command elements of the units attending. Also present were the representatives of those agencies that could be embroiled in civil unrest. These included CJ9, non-governmental and other international organisations.
"The scenario is read and it is discussed how to solve the problem…the leaders present solutions. After there is a discussion, everyone can give their opinion," said Polish Maj. Marian Kowalczuk, G3 planning.
"The area depicted is 'Any-town' in BiH, and the opposing forces are known as brown and orange. They both play good and bad parts to therefore avoid any ethnicity," explained American Master Sgt. Gregory Hurlburt.
On the last day the local media had an opportunity to see the effectiveness of the exercise for themselves. They were fully briefed on the exercise's aims and then watched two demonstrations of the troops involved from the safety of an elevated platform.
"(On the exercise) there were so many people doing exciting things that the media wanted to be here…We want to be open with what's going on here to emphasise the co-operation between SFOR and the local police," said Yankowski.
During the first demonstration they witnessed many units who had to deal with a variety of scenarios. The RS special police dealt with the initial riot, with aid from the Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU). When shots were fired and a suspected explosive device found, more elements were tasked. The American Quick Reaction Force moved in, using non-lethal weapons such as baton guns. Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams neutralised the devices, while medical units dealt with the wounded. On the flanks Polish and Turkish troops secured the area, allowing the other elements to work unhindered.
The last demonstration was given by 2 RGR. They illustrated how soldiers could escalate and scale down their actions in response to how violent the crowd was. Initially they deployed without shields and in a non-threatening posture. This escalated to the use of shields and armoured personnel carriers as the increasingly hostile crowd pelted them with wooden blocks and petrol bombs.
Despite the aggression on display, the spirit of co-operation continued to be expressed by those involved at all levels. The importance of this was highlighted by Long at the closing press conference: "The local authorities would rather solve their own problems than (have SFOR solve them)…this exercise begins this process."

Related link: Training and Exercises