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
"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
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,"
"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."
Nations of SFOR: Italy,
SFOR at Work