Prnjavor House

Capt. Benoit Guilloux
First published in
SFOR Informer#146, August 29, 2002

The United Kingdom Battle Group (BG) has several isolated units throughout its Area of Responsibility (AoR). Two troops are stationed in a house in the town of Prnjavor, East of Banja Luka towards the limit of Multinational Divisions South-West and North.

Prnjavor - Anywhere within the force, the focal point is the operations room. Lance Cpl. of the Horse, David Oliver of 1 troop is manning the Ops room. He is a lifeguard attached to the Blues & Royals and is in the country for the second time, stationed in the same little town of Prnjavor though the premises have changed. He explains: "This house was the IPTF place back in 97 when I served here. There was still animosity at the time. There were major elections for the country." Cpl. James Moffat is 2IC as the troop leader is away. "The troops have been swapped in position. Troop 1 is now here since three months. We were in Prijedor with the Welsh Guards. It is a lot better out here." He explains why there are cavalrymen serving with the British Army: "We are the reconnaissance for the BG run by the Welsh Guards."
Two platoons
There are two platoons on site, each with its distinctive AoR. Troop 1’s area is to the north near the Croatian border around the town of Srbac where it is quiet and very hilly. Troop 2 is around Prnjavor town where the house itself is. There are approximately 24 or so men in total. Trooper Gareth Purcell is one of them. A driver on Scimitar, the recce armoured vehicle in the household Cavalry. "We use the Scimitars out of town mostly, so I am also a driver on Land Rover when we patrol in urban zones." Cpl. of the Horse Richard Bentley, 2 Troop, has been in the army for 14 years now. He runs all the administration and daily matters at the camp like a troop sergeant would.
Last but not least, there is an army chef from the 22nd Engineers who is a reservist, with a couple of assistants, one army medic, cleaners and two interpreters per troop, all the latter being civilians.
Landlord visit
The compound comprises an open area, tents are used as parking and maintenance areas for the tracked vehicles. One can also find a volley ball court. "We found out about the sand. We got it off the army. We cleared the top layer ourselves. It took about two days and then the sand was delivered." Next to it lies the Helicopter Landing Site and the Emergency Water Supply. In the house itself is the Ops room, a large recreational area with kitchen, pool table, sofas and TV. There are various rooms and dormitories on the first floor. Last but not least, there is the barbecue area that is a sort of kennel for the dogs. The house has two canine boarder collies named Blue and Royal. They were brought to the camp gate as puppies a couple of months ago. Blue has just had a pin removed following a road accident and has been visiting the vet quite a lot. He broke his leg while misbehaving outside the camp.
Mission and activities
Bentley explains: "We try to get out in our AoR which covers some 65square kilometres, mainly farmland. We also guard the place. We do general day-to-day stuff such as visiting the different markets, the local police as well as the International Police Task Force (IPTF) and distribute the Mostovi, the psychological operations newspaper of the division, in town and out in the villages. We also participate in the Harvest operations."
Bentley concludes: "There is no mine threat in the area, we are quite lucky." Basically, all are ready for any appropriate response to whatever mission or threat.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: UK
SFOR at Work

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Photos: Capt. Benoit Guilloux

The Household Cavalry Regiment's plaque.

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No moving without guidance; whatever the distance, whatever the visibility.

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Gareth Purcell performs maintenance on his Scimetar.

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Free time includes playing a game of pool.