Freezing Storm a success
Sgt. Kelly Whitteaker
First published in
SFOR Informer#146, August 29, 2002
From Aug. 21-23 exercise Operation Freezing Storm took
place in the region of Mostar located in Multinational Division
South-East (MND-SE), as well as the town of Nevesinje. According
to an MND-SE spokesman: "The purpose of the exercise
is to check the readiness and capabilities of SFOR units to
react in unexpected situations that jeopardise the stability
in the region." One portion of the exercise included
a scenario where opposition forces, known as Hot Wind, acted
as would-be thieves and overran a weapon's storage facility
where they stole a number of weapons and took hostages. Once
members of Operation Freezing Storm located the smugglers
whereabouts, the mission of the day was to capture the members
of Hot Wind while at the same time safely extracting the hostages.
Nevesinje - Operation Freezing Storm is part of a larger
training scenario called Exercise Paladin. The event kicked
off with a series of attacks occurring in the Areas of Responsibility
(AoR) for the three MNDs throughout the month of July. According
to the investigations, members of the extremeist group Hot
Wind conducted the attacks. This particular group has strong
ties to a radical political party. Hot Wind's goal is to disrupt
the calm and stable situation in the country.
Hot times for MND-SE
"Freezing Storm is a Paladin type exercise. We call Paladin
the exercise where we exercise the employment of the tactical
reserve of the division, which is one company of all the battle
groups. Now in the exercise the French Battle Group was tasked
to catch the bad guys who stole the weapons, they were reinforced
by one Spanish company and one German platoon. There are also
helicopters from the Multinational Army Aviation Battalion
(MNAAvBn)," said Maj. Luis Gomez-Vilanova, Spanish Army,
Training and Exercise Cell, G-5, Headquarters MND-SE.
The group works together to overtake the tents where members
of Hot Wind are hiding out along with two French soldier hostages.
A French Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle scouts the area looking
for the tents. Just minutes earlier helicopters from the MNAAvBn
have dropped off a platoon of French Infantry soldiers. Upon
landing they immediately drop to the ground and quickly make
their way into the cover of the wood-line so as not to be
detected by the Hot Wind radicals. The infantry move stealthily
through the brush, away from the Landing Zone, Hot Wind doesn't
stand a chance.
The Great Escape
Nestled in a picturesque valley in the mountainous region
of Nevesinje, sit two anonymous looking tents. However, the
activity inside of the tents is less than inconspicuous. Two
hostages sit bound to plain metal chairs. Members of Hot Wind
are yelling at them and tormenting them. One hostage endures
a face full of cold water - the radical taunts him and keeps
pouring more water down his face.
Little known to the radicals is that the Infantry Platoon
are quietly making their way through the woods and toward
the tents. Freedom is right around the corner for the hostages.
Suddenly there is a flurry of activity. The infantry make
their way out of surrounding bushes and thickets. They overtake
the Hot Wind tents in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately the
radicals received warning of the infiltration by Freezing
Storm and left shortly before they arrived - thankfully they
left the hostages behind. The two victims were rescued and
unbound by the first troops who moved in. The remaining forces
headed into the valley where they quickly tracked down and
subdued the radicals. The two hostages are now free, but for
members of Hot Wind, their freedom has quickly ended.
Hands in the air
With the hostages safely removed from the tents, the mission
appears to be over. But not quite yet, two of the Hot Wind
radicals have been captured. The Infantry Platoon escorts
them at gunpoint with hands over their heads back to the tent
area. They are ordered to kneel on the ground and keep their
hands in sight. The troops begin questioning the radicals;
the air is thick with anticipation. The radicals are surrounded
by a squad of soldiers pointing FAMAS assault rifles at them,
the slightest indication of escape and they will be fired
upon. After lengthy questioning the radicals are ordered to
lie flat on the ground. They are restrained and will be taken
into custody. The officers observing the exercise deem the
mission a success. The radicals have been captured and the
extraction of the hostages went smoothly.
Players in the game
For Capt. Guillaume Raulet, Company Commander, 3rd C Coy,
21st Infantry Marine Regiment, the exercise went well.
"It was an exercise that we are used to doing quite a
lot, but it is always interesting to work with members of
the Spanish Coy who co-ordinated the event," he said.
Though this type of training is all part of a day's work for
these infantry troops, there is always the challenge of making
sure things run according to plan.
"The most difficult thing is to locate the position of
the enemy and then when we know exactly where he is to infiltrate
and get as close as possible to make the assault," he
Taking part in that assault was French Cpl. Arnaud Demaret,
team chief, C Coy, 21st Infantry Marine Regiment. Even though
his company recently returned from a real-world deployment
in Afghanistan, the chance to be stationed and train in Bosnia
and Herzegovina was a welcome one.
"It was fun, everything was done well - like the helicopter
transport and the hostage exercise," he said. Thanks
to the combined efforts of Multi-National forces in MND-SE
Operation Freezing Storm was a success. As described by one
of the troops on the ground, the names were a perfect match.
You had radical bad guys called Hot Wind; it could only take
a Freezing Storm to bring them down and put them out.
Nations of SFOR: France,
Training and Exercises