Welsh Guards and VRS

Capt. Rhoda Frampton
First published in
SFOR Informer#141, June 20, 2002

The sight and sounds of small arms weapons, television cameras, and tape recorders were seen and heard at Manjaca Range. 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards and Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) exchanged their weapons for the first time as part of a joint live fire exercise conducted June 3.

Manjaca - "Co-ordination for this event took approximately four to five weeks," said Capt. James Hobrough, training officer 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. "Everyone got to fire the weapon systems, our boys got to fire weapons that they had only heard about, and they (VRS) seemed to like our rifle."
Fire VRS weapons
The soldiers fired in relays and were given the opportunity to fire each of the weapons.
Twenty soldiers from the Welsh Guards were able to fire VRS weapons, specifically, the M84 MG, M86 Sniper Rifle, the M70-A Rifle, the M70 AB2 and the Automatic Pistol 765. In turn, twenty soldiers from the VRS had an opportunity with the SA 80, LSW, GMPG (SF and light role) and L96 sniper rifle.
"It was quite fascinating, it has more kick than our RGGS. The VRS Officer that explained it was really helpful," said Lcpl. Giles Cross, No 3 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, who fired theVRS rifle-launched grenade. This is his first time to Bosnia and Herzegovina. "It was a really good day. Overall we mingled with other forces and learned about their kit."
"It was good to see the British weapons and them to see ours, it is a good system for conversation," said ten-year veteran Lt. Glavic Zoran with the 116th Motorised Brigade. He had never worked alongside any soldiers from the UK. "A soldier is a soldier, anywhere -- everywhere they are the same."
Professionals on both sides
Both commanding officers were present and took the opportunity to observe, fire the weaponry, and to foster relations.
"I think it was a very useful day, its great to do something like this which just builds up a feeling of trust between ourselves and the VRS," said Lt. Col. Robert Talbot Rice, commanding officer, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. "It was good to meet some of their soldiers. They were very professional on the range and I think that our soldiers got something useful out of it as well."
"This is the first time ever that we are actually working together side by side," said Lt. Col. Vulin Dragisa, commander of 116th Motorised Brigade. "This was a wonderful opportunity not just to see which weapons each of us possess, it is also a good opportunity for us to socialise."
"We are here for the same reason, the same aim. We are here in a peacekeeping mission and we are here to support that purpose. The best thing for us is to keep weapons put aside so that we won't see any more wars ever again," said Dragisa.
At the completion of the firing there was a barbecue which gave everyone ample time to mingle and discuss the morning’s events.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: UK
SFOR at Work

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Photos: Cpl. Lee Purvis

A soldier from 116th Motorised Brigade explains the M86 to a member of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.

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Dmr. Alun Reed from 1st Battalion Welsh Guards fires an M84, one of the weapons from the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS).

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A soldier from 116th Motorised Brigade goes through the IA's and stoppages of one of the small arms provided by the VRS.