MSU and GBG keep the peace

Staff Sgt. Lisa M. Simpson
First published in
SFOR Informer#132, February 14, 2002

Who assists the Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU) with crowd control in Multinational Division Southeast? The Rajlovac - based German Battle Group are training with the MSU, learning how to manage hostile situations.

Camp Butmir - A crowd of angry, yelling men blocked the road to town. Cars were parked blocking the road and the men banged on them with sticks. Suddenly, the cars were ablaze and flames shot into the air. The local authorities tried to calm the people but the situation was out of control.
Disperse the crowd
Camp Butmir's Multinational Specialised Unit received the call and arrived on the scene augmented by the German Battle Group (GBG) from Rajlovac. Using a two-colour box method - with the MSU's Italian Carabinieri (Military Police) operating as the blue box and the GBG as the green - the two quickly fell into their respective riot-control roles. Systematically, they worked together to disperse the crowd.
Although the angry mob was actually a team from the MSU, the yelling, the cars and the fire were all real during the joint training exercise conducted at the MSU compound on Camp Butmir Feb. 7.
With helmets on, protective plastic shields raised, the blue box walked down the dirt road, approaching the mob first. "The blue box is trying to speak to the people to get the crowd to disburse," explained Warrant Officer Guiseppe Faddo, MSU's deputy training officer. Leaving peacefully was not the plan for that mob; their chants escalated and they hurled bottles at the MSU, forcing them to crouch under their shields. Behind the blue team, the GBG began lining up two tanks to the rear of an armoured Carabinieri vehicle, ready to provide back up.
Driving slowly, the armoured Carabinieri vehicle moved down the road next. A team got out with a water hose and began spraying the fire. The chemical reaction emitted a thick cloud of white smoke, blanketing the area and providing a screen for the blue box.
Blue and green box
Still angry, someone from the crowd fired a weapon. "When they fire a weapon, that changes the scenario," said Faddo. "That escalates it and we need the GBG to assist us." The major difference between the two boxes is that the blue box does not carry weapons. The green box is armed and employs weapons as the situation dictates.
"The German platoon recently arrived in the theatre and we are training them on how to assist during a real riot situation," said Carabinieri Capt. Claudio Lunardo, the MSU's training officer.
The blue box cleared the road and the GBG entered the engagement area. A crew of soldiers disembarked and began physically securing the area, ending the exercise.
"The training here today was good, though only partially realistic (for us) because we are not allowed to use ammunition here," said GBG Capt. Christian Rink. "But it was a very good experience for the soldiers to learn what the MSU is and how we will work with them."
While SFOR and the International Police Task Force are currently training Bosnia and Herzegovina police units to handle riots, presently, crowd control responsibility still falls on the MSU.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy, Germany
Training and Exercises

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Photos: Staff Sgt. Lisa M. Simpson

Blocking the road into town, the men banged on the burning cars with sticks.


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MSU’s blue box extinguishes the burning cars before dragging them from road.


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The GBG, the green box, begin moving their tanks online.