Tramontane joint MSU- FRBG exercise
Capt. Benoit Guilloux
First published in
SFOR Informer#145, August 15, 2002
On August 7, a Multinational Special Unit (MSU) -French
Battle Group (FRBG) joint exercise took place in Vrapicici,
north of Mostar in MND SE (Multinational Division South East).
The main intent was to practice the coordination between company
commanders should a situation of unrest arise and imply the
use of the MSU in support of a BG, in this instance the French.
The FRBG is primarily composed of legionnaires from the Foreign
Legion Armoured Cavalry Regiment (1er REC) and Marines (Troupes
de marine) both Infantry and Artillery.
Vrapicici - Ex 'Tramontane' is to practice and familiarise
on the minimisation of riot-type gatherings of over 20 people.
In this hypothetical case, these hard-liners are protesting
against the return of DPREs (Displaced Persons and Refugees)
in their former area where there is supposedly a tense atmosphere.
The mission of the FR BG is to protect their return. The MSU
comes into action when the rioters are to be arrested. It
was the first live exercise for the MSU Alpha Coy members;
both Hungarians and Italians have been currently certified.
Three platoons made up of two Italian and one Hungarian took
part in the event under the command of lLt. Akos Tajti. The
Italian commanding officer was Capt. Virginio Favente. This
represents approximately 30 percent of the MSU as its personnel
are made up of Hungarians, Romanians and Slovenians along
with the remainder of Italian troops.
Contact with hard-liners
There was to be different phases with interventions, interphase,
redeployment, and interventions again. The exercise was organised
and led by the FRBG, which had authority over the participating
companies. 1st REC Maj. Nicolas Casanova was the Operations
Officer for the event. A Canadian LAV III crew (Light Armoured
Vehicle) and a Spanish platoon were also involved in this
Blue and green boxes
The MSU's intervention is made within an imaginary area called
the 'blue box' whereas the zone handled by the BG is designated
as the 'green box'. The exercise will be done three times
in turn with the three BG companies. Firstly, the green troops
arrive. They close the surrounding area in order to deter
any reinforcements for the hardliners and to isolate them.
Negotiations, a key matter in a real case, are then carried
out with the help of the local police as well as the International
Police Task Force (IPTF). Only then, the MSU, in the minimum
format of a company arrives. The MSU commander will try to
negotiate again at least once if not twice before showing
any force, intervention being the last step. It can be destroying
a barricade, pushing a crowd or, as was the case in this exercise,
arrest every hardliner. Hungarian Capt. Ferenz Pinter, MSU
Liaison Officer, agreed that "the legionnaires did a
very good and realistic job. It seems they can treat and solve
any problem that would arise. The idea of the FRBG to carry
out the exercise in this particular terrain was great."
Equipment varies and men remain
Prior to the exercise, the MSU troops put their equipment
on display to the attention of the French soldiers. French
Foreign Legion gunner on APC, Lance Cpl. X* comments: "The
way they use their shields and batons is interesting really.
I must say I have never fought against a real riot to this
day. I wish to know more on how they handle it," he said.
Marines French Sgt. Frederic Robert from 21st RIMA comments:
"I am coordinating with my platoon using the means of
communication that I have. I have just been following from
a distance how the Italians proceed."
Needless to say that a third half took place in Mostar-Ortijes
camp during the evening.
* The French Foreign Legion has a policy on anonymity for
Nations of SFOR: Italy,
Training and Exercises