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
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
Nations of SFOR: France,
SFOR at Work