Team-building, different mindsets
Lt. Eric Bouysson
First published in
SFOR Informer#133, February 28, 2002
The Italian Battle Group (ITBG) conducted a professionalism
program for both Federation and Republika Srpska armies, Feb
12. Marksmanship, lectures on disposal of explosive ordnance
and communication skills were just a few of the lessons provided,
as twenty soldiers from Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) experienced
an introductory mountain-training course that focused on first
aid and survival skills.
Jahorina - Formerly a site of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games,
this ski resort hosted soldiers of both Entities working side
by side. Eight Mountain Regiment instructors of Task Force
"Gemona" provided both Federation and Republica
Srpska soldiers with a one-day basic course in traversing
snow, first aid and winter survival.
First things first
The day began with instruction on the pieces of equipment
that the Alpini, Italian mountain troops regularly use. Skis,
ski boots, snowshoes, ski poles, backpacks and stretchers.
Though similar to civilian leisure gear, this military equipment
is a result of lessons learned and provides the soldier greater
support, comfort and security.
"Stretchers can be divided into two pieces and used to
carry backpacks. Two ski poles can be assembled to form a
probe, an invaluable tool to rescue fellow patrol members
caught in an avalanche," explained Italian WO Leandro
Salomone. More hi-tech equipment, though similar in deployability,
such as avalanche transceivers, require a lot of training
to be used properly.
The Italians concluded their presentation by transporting
a "victim" on a sledge from an exercise-accident
location to a safe haven. Since weather or terrain may not
always allow a helicopter extraction, three possibilities
were illustrated, allowing the patrol to spend the night,
camouflaged and protected from the biting cold. "We are
demonstrating a classic tent, a snow hole covered by skis
and poles, and one dug into the snow cover," explained
Lt. Alessandro Poli, company commander. "All of them
ensure sub-freezing temperatures will not be reached and provide
enough room for two to three soldiers," continued Poli.
Students listened politely to an abundance of information
and were introduced to expensive equipment that may be out
of reach, for now, but the morning was considered a success.
Time to practise
After a break in the action, practice began on the training
equipment. The bold Bosnians were impressive on the new skis
as they quickly became proficient. Cpl. Nenad Durovic, from
the Republika Srpska Army, admitted that soldiers of his army
practise skiing one or two weeks, annually. "The techniques
shown are interesting and the equipment is really good. Ours
is older." Federation Army Captain Rolando Karadlic was
happy with the day adding, "Practise is always good."
"They are practice-minded people. They are keen on learning
by doing instead of learning by listening," said Italian
WO 1 Christian Zuccarello. "We will adjust next time."
Although a single day of training is not enough for instruction,
or equipment training, it would have to do. "It is a
good opportunity to do an assessment and plan the next lesson"
says Maj. Graziano Scarsini, the Battalion commander. "As
there are some proficient skiers in both groups, a joint patrol
is being considered," concluded Scarsini.
As the teachers and students departed the slopes, the spirit
of international co-operation lives on, one more time.
Nations of SFOR: Italy
SFOR at Work