The MN MP Coy in Mostar

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

The Multinational Military Police Company in Mostar is a small unit that only a few people in the theatre know about. Belonging to Multinational Division Southeast, they work in the southern zone of the Area of Responsibility of the division where French and Spanish Battle Groups operate.

Mostar - The organisation at division level is co-ordinated by a French Gendarmerie Lt. Col., who is the Provost Marshal. There are two different branches under his command. One is Military Police and the other is the Multinational Military Police Company.
Organisation
The mission of the first branch is strictly related to soldier issues. It is carried out by German Feldjaëger (MP), French Gendarmes, Italian Carabinieri and Spanish Guardia Civil, all of them in every Battle Group (BG) of the MND-SE. They are also present in the Moroccan Battalion and the Ploce Detachment.
The second branch is a Multinational Company commanded by a French Gendarmerie Capt. in Mostar. It is made up of a platoon in Rajlovac, that is entirely national (French), and also has an officer and 13 Gendarmes non-commissioned officers.
The company deploys its largest group in Mostar, with three platoons. One from every country; French Gendarmerie, Italian Carabinieri and Spanish Guardia Civil.
There is something different with other MPs of other countries. In their own countries, they are civilian police as well. That is, they are responsible to both Department of Defence, and the Department of Internal Affairs.
The company
Because of this capability the company works 90 percent of the time outside the base collecting intelligence. French Gendarmerie Lt. Col. Didier de Bonneval, Provost Marshal, explains the situation: "Our main mission is to get information from all of the AORs of the MND-SE with small patrols. It's just a car with one person from each platoon and a translator. The teams search even the smallest areas where there is only one house. They speak with the town's people, authorities and local police. They go to places where no other soldier might ever go."
The main topics collected are about the situation of political parties, the activities of hard-liners, the socio-economic situation, the activities of military units, the inter-ethnicity tensions and public order. They also deal with local police and mafia organisations, weapons seizure, Displaced Persons and Persons Indicted for War Crimes (PIFWC).
A team made up of a Frenchman, an Italian, a Spaniard and a local translator carry out these missions.
The Patrol
The area of work for these patrols is divided into sectors within the AORs of the French and Spanish BGs. There are three sectors of responsibility around Mostar involved in this multinational work. They include a Bosnian-Croat sector located in the west, a Bosnian-Serb sector in the east, and a Bosniac sector in the north-central portion of the city and surrounding area.
The members of the patrols in each sector are always the same people. This works to their advantage making it easier to gain the knowledge of the people, their problems and their capabilities.
Potoci
Potoci is a small village 20-km north of Mostar. It is an example of the work this kind of patrol does. The usual patrol arrives at the local police station where the three chiefs wait for them. There is a police chief for each ethnicity. After greetings are given, the local police and members of the patrol gather in a meeting room. There is a mural of the Stari Most (old bridge) in Mostar displayed on the wall. The three chiefs, a translator and members of the MN MP Coy begin a long conversation. There is coffee for all, good words, and an excellent atmosphere.
The relations among the local people and the Coy are so good that last month they played a football match. The local team wore Real Madrid uniforms donated by the football team from Spain. Members of the three countries, France, Italy and Spain were playing football with members of the three ethnicities.
"It was very good, because we tried to improve the integration of the 25 members of the local police station, and it was an opportunity to reach it," said 1st Lt. Francisco Rodriguez Palma, platoon leader, Spanish Guardia Civil.
They also visited a house in the country that had had its roof blown up during the war. It has been rebuilt with the aid of the Dutch Government. The occupants were very pleased to speak with the patrol.
Other missions
As a Military Police Company the MND-SE has a lot of soldiers to take care of. The Coy has others missions that include; money escort, Very Important Persons' escort, road patrolling and accidents, checkpoints, customs, contacts with the International Police Task Force (IPTF), and various division military exercises.
However, for many of the troops it is their first experience working with soldiers from other countries.
The commander of the Coy is French Gendarmerie Capt. Philippe Cavalier. "It is very interesting (commanding this unit) because we are not very far apart. We have similar duties in our countries as well. The Gendarmes, Carabinieri and Guardia Civil have a lot of contact with the population as administrative and judicial police. The goal for obtaining information is very near for all of us," said Cavalier.
"It is a great experience because there are possibilities to work together in order to learn new procedures. We are very similar, even though we all belong to a military corps we are used to working with the civilian population," said WO2 Simone Carlini, Carabinieri Parachutisti.
Members of the Coy come from a variety of military bacgrounds. These include; paratroopers, divers, weaponry, road patrolling, dog trainers, judicial police, criminal investigation, signals and communications. This is necessary in order to cover all the possible scenarios.
French Gendarmerie WO1 Gildas Gallen, is the platoon leader. He likes to remind you what the main mission is here. Gathering information and keeping open communication with the population -- the same mission as it is in France.
"We are always looking for information -- picking up information. I like to work with the Carabinieri and Guardia Civil, I think we are going to work together a lot because we are in the European Union," said French Gendarmerie Staff Sgt. Georges Perez.
The Company's work, that is day to day contact with the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina is not well known by other members of the division, but the divisional headquarters knows the value of this important work.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: France, Italy, Spain
SFOR at Work

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Photos: PO Susan Rose

Members of the Military Police work together at a checkpoint outside of Mostar.


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WO2 Simone Carlini, Italian Carabinieri, is part of a security force that is responsible for escorting an armoured vehicle.


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A member of the MN MP Coy carries out traffic regulations.


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WO1 Gildas Gallen, and WO2 Simone Carlini provide security during a money escort.


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Three police chiefs from the Potoci Police Station take part in a morning meeting.


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Money escort duty requires careful planning from the Coy.


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Sgt. Paolo Bosco, Italian Carabineri, and 1st Lt. Francisco Palma, Spanish Guardia Civil, listen to a popular song played by a local man.


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Members of the Coy, a translator, local police and the inhabitants of a house talk about the neighbourhood.