FOB Connor: Reaching Out
Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#140, June 6, 2002
On May 20, American soldiers conducted a patrol in the
Bratunac area. The patrols originated from Forward Operations
Base (FOB) Connor, where information was gathered on returnees.
Bratunac - Camp Connor sits atop a small hill, on a ridge
that overlooks several valleys in Eastern Republika Srpska.
With its metal gates and featureless concrete walls, it dominates
the area like an old Wild West fort.
"We are here to provide a safe and secure environment,"
said 2nd Lt. William John Hussey, 5th Platoon Leader, Task
Force 1-14. "Our job is to be out here on the edge where
most of the excitement is. The locals get to see that SFOR,
and Americans are present and involved with the International
Life on Camp
The FOB is very small in comparison to other American SFOR
bases in the area. Despite this conditions within the camp
are still good.
"Life on camp is okay, especially when compared to the
conditions that the infantry (soldiers) could be in. We have
television and the Internet," said Hussey.
Even with the comforts of home, the men retain their edge
through the efforts of their noncommissioned officers (NCOs).
"Life on camp is pretty good," said Spec. Mulitauaopele
Amarillo, team leader.
"Our first sergeant has plans to keep our motivation
up - we go out on patrols. The time goes quickly and therefore,
we go home faster." These plans include carrying out
drills, and ensuring that the men make full use of the American
Army's schooling system. The program allows soldiers to study
for academic qualifications while serving overseas.
Out On Patrol
Life within Connor is broken up by the patrols that are carried
out in order to provide a safe and secure environment for
"I think our strength is that we talk to people,"
said Hussey. "We interact with the locals, and with that
we avoid charging around the countryside with our .50 calibre
weapons. We talk about their problems, and are very successful
in passing this on to the relevant international organisations
(who are able to solve the problems)."
With a thorough briefing conducted by Staff Sgt. Steven Crafton,
an infantry squad leader, the fully equipped HUMVEES roared
out from Conner, and into the Bosnian countryside.
The patrol dealt with many issues, including helping co-ordinate
the possible finding of human remains in a returnee village.
At every stage the American soldiers took the chance to chat
with the townsfolk.
"What we mainly do is talk to the local people, often
in outlying villages, and see what their needs are, and issues
- if they have any," said Crafton. "One of the biggest
things is our presence. People thank us. One Bosnian-Serb
family hadn't seen (members of an international task force)
"The people out here respect us, the kids look up to
us," said Pfc. Dennis 'Bart' Bartolome. "In Bratunac
we conducted night patrols, and people welcomed us and we
chatted with them."
Patrols are conducted during the night and day, with varying
objectives. Talking to the local people is one of the more
rewarding experiences for the soldiers.
"The villagers say that they wouldn't be safe if it wasn't
for us. If we left, they would leave," said Crafton.
Nations of SFOR: US
Related link: SFOR