Dutch, Italians: together for Joint Resolve

Staff Sgt. Lisa M. Simpson
First published in
SFOR Informer#133, February 28, 2002

Joint Resolve XXV was bigger this year, expanding from Banja Luka into Novi Travnik when an Italian company from Sarajevo augmented the Netherlands soldiers who were attending the training exercise in the North.

Novi Travnik - Flying above the camp at Novi Travnik is the Italian flag - a strange sight to see over the home of the Dutch Battle Group (DBG). But the flag was only a temporary vision, it flew Feb. 19 - 24 when a company from the Italian Battle Group (ITBG) augmented the DBG, while a company of its soldiers participated in a training exercise in Banja Luka.
"The Netherlands flag will be back but having the Italian flag fly seemed a quite natural thing to do. We decided to do that as a symbol since, for now, this is the Italian area of responsibility," said Netherlands Army Maj. Jan H. Vonk, commander of C Team, 42nd (NL) Mechanised Brigade.
Joint Resolve XXV
All a part of Joint Resolve XXV, the DBG was tasked to send more than 75 soldiers to participate in the training exercise in Banja Luka. Filling the task meant that they would be unable to perform their mission of patrolling the forests in their area of responsibility due to lack of personnel, so DBG commanders put in a request to SFOR for mission assistance two months ago.
Answering the call, the ITBG sent a company composed of two rifle platoons of mountain troops and one armoured platoon to maintain the mission. To create a seamless transition, three co-ordination meetings occurred before the ITBG arrived in Novi Travnik - one at the battle group level and two at the company level, and two more meetings took place when the company arrived Feb. 19.
"The Intelligence officer gave us a briefing, explaining the situation in the AOR and he was very clever, presenting the information clearly," said Lt. Francesco Rolando, commander of the Italian company. "After that, the Italian platoon leader and the Dutch platoon leader met for one hour because it was important to allow the decisions to be handled at the level of the person who actually has do the duty."
Into the forest
There are still a few problems in the forest within the Netherlands AOR and the DBG soldiers conduct routine patrols daily, which is why it was crucial that the mission continue despite Joint Resolve. "We do at least three patrols in the morning and three in the evening, sometimes more depending on the guidance of the intelligence officer," said Vonk.
"There are still small problems between the Bosnian Croats and the Muslims and our area has a zone of illegal traffic, which makes it more problematic. We set up a road block in our AOR which we monitor but our job here is not to solve the peoples problems but to work with them to make them resolve their own issues."
Before heading to Banja Luka, the Netherlands company conducted the patrols with the Italian soldiers, showing them exactly what to do. On Feb. 21, the Italians were on their own.
Both sides agreed that the transition went smoothly. "The Italian Company is doing the normal duties that we usually do, in the same way that I do them with my company," commented Vonk.
"This has really worked smoothly for us, from the accommodation, to the training to the mission," said Lt. Mauro DaCorte, liaison officer for the Italian Company.
Vonk agreed, stating that the Netherlands soldiers are enjoying working with the ITBG.
"The guys are really enjoying working with the Italians. When we get to work with people from different countries, it really makes it feel like we are in an international environment."

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy, Netherland
SFOR at Work

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Photos: PO Andy Gedge

Lt. Francesco Rolando, commander of the Italian company and Maj. Jan Vonk, commander of the Dutch company look at a map of the AOR.

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Italian Battle Group soldiers practice their marksmanship on a range in Travnik.

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Working together, a Dutch soldier assists an Italian soldier to perfect his aim.

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Preparing the ammunition.