The crossfire of the Dragoons

Cpt. Óscar Tarrero Alonso
First published in
SFOR Informer#147, September 12, 2002

Exercise DRAGON-02, took place July 22-24, 2002 and was organised by the Spanish Cavalry Squadron 'Dragones de Villaviciosa' (Dragoons of Villaviciosa), from the Spanish Battle Group (SPBG). This exercise was conducted to test reconnaissance patrols, as well as introduce other procedures, materials and sharing experiences.

Buna - Five Patrols participated in the exercise. One Canadian (reconnaissance group), from Multinational Division Southwest, one French (Foreign Legion, Legion Etrangere) and three Spanish (infantry, Marines and cavalry), both from Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE).
Each Patrol consisted of a chief, deputy chief and no more than eight explorers, with two tactical vehicles (HUMMWV, BMR, VEC, VBL, and Coyote).
Four hard kilometres with seven obstacles
The exercise was composed of seven samples during the three days.
On the morning of July 22 an obstacle race was made in Buna, south of Mostar. The race route was four hard kilometres with seven obstacles (crossing a river, passing by a wire, wire netting…) and a grenade throwing test.
During the afternoon an identification test prepared by the Intelligence Unit of the SPBG took place as well. The purpose of this test was to evaluate the knowledge of tactical symbols, uniforms and ranks, and materials (vehicles, light weapons, etc.).
During the night an evasion was prepared; another hard sample. The evasion was combined of several orientation stretches (compass, air photographs, sketch…) and other incidents.
On Thursday July 23 driving and shooting tests were developed. The driving test took place in Mostar-España Base during the morning hours. This test consisted of several stations (narrow path, loading into a truck, zigzag…) in order to prove the driver's ability. The individual weapon shooting was thought of as a combat firing exercise, with a previous race and limited time.
Star test, the Tactical Reconnaissance, was conducted on Wednesday morning at a location near Ljubuski. During the itineraries each patrol was using its own tactical vehicles. On their mission they encountered various weapons and material, and had to deal with the incidents (destroyed vehicle, observatory…) where they could show their abilities during this kind of mission.
During the afternoon a helicopter reconnaissance was carried out over the same area as the morning try out. The group was supported by the MND SE Multinational Army Aviation Battalion, based in Ploce (Croatia), which worked with a German BO-105.
The prizes were given during the reception made by the SPBG because of the Apostle Santiago's celebration, the Holy Patron of Spain and of the Cavalry Branch.
All the participating units carried out a great effort by combining the training for the exercise while at the same time completing their daily missions. The atmosphere was positive and friendly, enabling the participants to realise just how powerful the multinational units are.
Several conclusions can be taken into account from this exercise, but the most important one is the inter-operativity of the small units and their will to understand the tactical field, no matter what their language is, or their flat.

Related link: Training and Exercises

Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Photos: Courtesy of Spanish Battle Group

Many surprises were in store for those trying to cross the stream.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

All the teams give the best of themselves.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Canadian cavalry members ready themselves on their Coyote.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

At the start of the escape exercise, Spanish Dragoons wish their fellow comrades the best of luck.