Just like five fingers on a hand
Lt. Philippe Mouret
First published in
SFOR Informer#138, May 9, 2002
Exercise "Joint Resolve XXVI" took place in
Multinational Division South-east (MND-SE) April 22 - 28.
Its aim was to test the inter-operability of the division's
battle groups, amongst themselves and with other SFOR units.
The main event occurred April 26, with an evacuation exercise
of members of the International Community. French, German,
Spanish, Portuguese and US troops were involved.
Bravenik - The scenario was as follows: since the previous
day, a small group of members of an International Organisation
(IO) have taken refuge in an office, surrounded by an angry
crowd. Law and order must prevail, and they must be freed.
The law enforcement teams of the Entities' police forces are
responsible for responding to these types of missions but
if unable to intervene for any reason, SFOR's Multinational
Specialised Unit (MSU) takes the lead. If the unrest continues
to grow, the Portuguese Operational Reserve, Ground, (OPRES,
G) is called in as reinforcement.
The OPRES (G) is based in Visoko. It is a theatre unit, meaning
it is able and ready to intervene in all three MNDs to support
SFOR troops as needed.
The exercise took place on the training range of Bravenik,
near Duzi, in the Spanish area of responsibility. Thus, the
armed intervention must be co-ordinated with the Spanish soldiers,
but also with US helicopters from OPRES (Air), reinforced
with a German helicopter from the Multi-National Army Aviation
Battalion, belonging to MND-SE. One recce squadron of the
French Battle Group was also involved.
Flurry of military activity
The first company of the Spanish Battle Group, from the "La
Reina II" Regiment, starts to deploy in two waves around
the mob. They first establish an external perimeter called
"Green Box." Its aim is to prevent any new demonstrator
from entering the area. Inside this box, they deploy a second
security cordon, called "Blue Box," in order to
hold the crowd in check.
Spanish troops deploy under surveillance of four Kiowa helicopters
from OPRES Air, equipped with machine guns but also with TV
and thermal cameras and one laser. American Capt. Andrew McIntyre
explains: "The cameras allow us to shoot numeric pictures
and transmit them in real time to the Tactical Command Post
(TCP), on the field." The TCP uses the pictures to keep
troops deployed on the ground informed about how the situation
is developing. Two Kiowas keep watch over the demonstrators,
while two others control the approach to the area.
A secured Helicopter Landing Site (HLS) is established by
the Spanish between the inner and outer cordons. Later, three
Black Hawks drop the first group of 30 soldiers from OPRES
Ground followed by 30 more soldiers dropped by the Germans.
The Portuguese wear their anti-riot equipment.
This is also the time when the commanding officer of the Portuguese
troops meets his Spanish counterpart at the Incident Control
Point (ICP) for an evaluation of the situation. "The
most difficult point is to co-ordinate the troop movements
of my unit with the transportation helicopters and the Portuguese
Company," explains Capt. Francisco Paul, commanding the
After unsuccessful negotiations with the demonstrators, the
Portuguese quickly move under the protection of the Armoured
Personnel Carrier (APC), towards the barricade erected by
the rioters. They get over the obstacle by charging it and
are joined by a Portuguese APC. The three sections of law
enforcement are deployed in a triangle formation around the
APC. Arriving close to the place where the members of the
IO have taken refuge, a team launches an attack, climbs up
the stairs and frees the prisoners. They are sheltered in
the APC, which withdraws, always under the protection of the
law enforcement team, towards the "Green Box." "
You must be fast and efficient to ensure that lives are not
endangered," underlines Capt. Luis Escorrega, commanding
the second Company of OPRES Ground.
When the junction is effected, the APC is escorted by Spanish
BMR to the assembly point, Camp Duzi, home to the Spanish
Marines. Two Kiowas continue to monitor them. Immediately
after, Black Hawks and a CH-53 land and pick up OPRES Ground
in an area located between the two 'boxes' and under surveillance
of the two remaining Kiowas.
Once in Duzi, the convoy joins the recce squadron of the FRBG,
comprised of elements of the 1st and 2nd Hunter Regiment.
Capt. Jean-Pascal Griffon commands this squadron. The mission
of the 25 armoured vehicles is to secure about 100 kilometres
of road from Duzi to Mostar Airport, where a plane is waiting
for the rescued hostages.
Nations of SFOR: Spain,
Training and Exercises