IBG climbs together with the Federation Army

Lt. Antonio Ruiz González
First published in
SFOR Informer#141, June 20, 2002

On June 3, the Italian Battle Group (IBG) conducted climbing and mountaineering exercises in Dariva (west Sarajevo) to the soldiers of the Federation Army. The training was carried out by highly trained men from the Reconnaissance Platoon (Alpieri).

Dariva - The Recon Platoon belongs to the 14th Alpini Regiment, which forms the base of the IBG. It is posted in Venzone, in the North of Italy, near Udine. The Regiment is one of the Julia Mountain Brigade.
The exercises
"The exercise will consist of three sections; first a river crossing with a rope, pretending that the bridge is destroyed, second, climbing a rock wall, and lastly, the de-mining of the bridge by a team hanging from ropes," said Lt. Col. Enrico Mattina, IBG, Task Force Commander.
A platoon of the Federation Army took part in the lessons. Helmets and ropes received a thorough safety check from the teachers, and later by the pupils.
Some of the local troops were newcomers to the mountain, and did their best during their first time attempt. Feet, hands and all five senses helped students get over the rock. The work was hard but with little risk because the instructors are experts in this field. Instructor, Capt. Antonio Scarano, won a gold medal last year in the European Cambrian Patrol in Wales. This is a military sporting event which consists of climbing and shooting activities.
The first exercise went quickly. A squad of men could be seen sliding with their safety hooks fastened over the ropes, manoeuvring from one riverbank to the other while the protection team covered the zone.
The second event was climbing up a cliff. The Federation Army soldiers followed the advice given to them by the Italian instructors with the help of the translators. The men, both Italian and Federation, slowly and safely crawled up the side of the cliff without hesitation.
The last exercise took place on an abandoned bridge; three teams carried this out. One group was located at the top of the bridge, the second group placed at the bottom of the bridge protecting the area, with the last group comprised of two Italian Alpieri, who were rappelling from ropes. Each one of the men was hanging over a different side of the bridge. Adding to the excitement of the exercise was a box placed on one of the bridge pillar's that simulated an explosive device. The troops carefully checked the box before they defused it. Once this was done they passed the box down to the other team.
Very important mission
Maj. Gen. Anthony Palmer, SFOR Deputy Commander for Operations was present at the exercise. He spoke to the Federation Army soldiers, and asked them about their job and their lives in the Army.
"I think it is extremely important we develop the best possible relationship with the armies of Bosnia and Herzegovina," said Palmer. "We show them the advantages of joining NATO in whatever capacity. They will have access to better training and they will become more professional."
According to Alpieri Platoon Leader, Sgt. Maj. Roberto Giuliattini, "We use this place for climbing because of its capabilities. We are looking for another cliff in the Republika Srpska to use for training. It is a good opportunity for us to be in contact with the armies of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are teaching, and of course, doing part of our daily training. To climb together with people of other countries is exciting," remarked Giuliattini.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy
SFOR at Work

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Photos: PO Susan Rose

Ropes, safety hooks, helmets and harnesses are the typical pieces of equipment used by the regiment. But the key to success lies in the soldier.


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WO2 Roberto Pettirossi conducts an equipment safety inspection of a Federation Army soldier.


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Cpl. Antimo Degennaro, Alpieri Platoon, demonstrates the proper way to scale a cliff.


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Cpl. M. Quaggiotto, a course instructor, speaks with a student as he starts his ascent up the cliff.