TF Warhawk tightens circle on illegal drug trade
Cpl. Matthew McClelland
First published in
SFOR Informer#146, August 29, 2002
Moments after the sun sets and before the moon rises,
four soldiers climbed out of their tactical vehicles laden
with night vision and surveillance equipment. The troops in
the trucks continued rolling on toward their objectives leaving
their fellow troops to move quietly on foot into their hiding
positions. The Sava River is also a place where many types
of smuggling occur.
Sava River - Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Troop E, 238th Cavalry
Regiment, were conducting an anti-smuggling surveillance operation
along the Sava River. Croatia, just on the other side of the
river, is a short boat ride away. With the hope of identifying
possible smuggling activity, the platoon split up into four
Two mounted teams
The Sava River has a length of 945 kilometres. It springs
up in the Julian Alps (Slovenia), runs through Croatia,
forms the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia
and (on a small distance) between Bosnia and Herzegovina
and Serbia and finally flows into the Danube River in
Belgrade. Its course is approximately oriented from West
Five SFOR Battle Groups are located on the southern bank
of the Sava River. From West to East, are the Canadians,
British, Nordic-Polish (NORDPOL), U.S. and finally Russian.
Two mounted teams stationed their vehicles in different positions
along the river and, with the use of night vision scopes mounted
to their M-240B machine guns, kept "eyes on" their
The cavalry troopers relished the mission as a chance to exercise
their scouting and soldiering skills.
"This was a rare opportunity for us to actually perform
as cavalry soldiers. We haven't had much of a chance to do
that here," said Spc. Braxton Shirar, a driver for one
of the two surveillance vehicles. "It was great to get
back into camo paint and be tactical again."
The four dismounted soldiers made up the other two teams.
Working in pairs, they took advantage of the riverbank's natural
camouflage as they crouched quietly. Using night vision goggles
and binoculars, they kept an eye on the river.
Safe and secure
Troop E's commander established his command center, and as
the moon rose above the horizon and appeared from behind clouds,
all the soldiers were in place watching the river. Their task
was cut and dry: monitor the river traffic to and from the
shore and report any suspicious activity to the command center.
"We gathered a good amount of intelligence that will
facilitate missions in the future. This operation was very
beneficial," said 2nd Lt. Charles Grady, E Troop 2nd
The Troop's leaders said this mission is laying a foundation
for others to follow. They continue to contribute to maintaining
a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina as
it works to rebuild its economic infrastructure.
"I am very proud of my soldiers, they went in there with
the knowledge of the mission and what was required of them,"
said Sgt. Kurt Griffis, one of the surveillance vehicle commanders.
"They set up our surveillance point and performed their
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