End of mission

Lt. Anne-Claude Gouy
First published in
SFOR Informer#147, September 12, 2002

How do military Signals work? Who makes the SFOR communications possible on the safe network in Sarajevo valley? How does the Republika Srpska (RS) television broadcast? How do RS cell phones function? And what would happen in the case of a power outage?
Since 1997, Mount Trebevic has been famous and familiar for the military, and thanks to its aerial signals useful for the local population. From all over Sarajevo valley you are able to see it. Whether at the top of a hill or in the direction of Pale, that is as long as the fog doesn't hide it.

Mt. Trebevic - When you take the road to Pale, if you're attentive to a small path on your right and follow it, you'll climb up until you are at the top of Mt. Trebevic. There you will find its aerial residents from three nationalities. They include Bosnians, French and Italians. They're in charge of integration radio-fill (IRF); supporting French network; rescuing SFOR network; transmitting the local television; SFOR radio Mir; radio Andernach; transmitting the Bosnian-Serb cell phones and finally acting in case there is a power outage. But French soldiers, who were leaders on the site, are leaving, with all their material. And it's not so easy to dismantle such installations.

A page has been turned
“With all new technology, above all with the satellite, a page has been turned, in the theatre and also in our own countries,” said French 1Lt. Christophe Vigneron, chief of Mt. Trebevic's station. It took three days, from Sept. 2 - 4, to unseat the huge installation, with several phases, several machines, several procedures, and a lot of dedicated and professional soldiers. Firstly, from the top of the tower, 83-metres high, they took down the satellite dish, using rappelling methods for all aerial equipment. Then, with the help of French Legion paratroopers, they dismantled the generator's building in order to be able to take it away the third day. They kept the most difficult task for the end because each generator weighs 2.8 tons.
“We thought about everything; weather, civilian workers, road and the machine size. Even with all these elements, it might happen something unforeseeable,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Nicolas Rouff.

In the wind
Trebevic was a particular site not only for its aerials, but also for its way of life. Only those who were assigned in the station are able to know this. The Italian soldiers stayed only ten days, two of them four months with ten days of holiday, but the French stayed there during fours month without a break.
“We become wild here. We're obliged to live by ourselves, with only one common room, so people who come here don't understand that their arrival is disrupting. Some of us like to be visited, but it makes me anxious, I isolate myself,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christophe Dessol.
It was like monastic life, about 20 persons in a little area, in precarious conditions, out of the rest of the world, surrounded by a lot of mines, with only three weeks without fog and rain during four summer months. Add to that some intense winds which sometimes put down the aerials. And in case of emergency, night or day, if they needed to go up the aerial, they often had to run up 390 stair steps because of the risk that they could be wedged in the lift.
But even though the departure from Trebevic is a liberation for the material, all those who where assigned there will always remember this mission at the top.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: France

SFOR at Work

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Photo: Lt. Christophe Vigneron

The most difficult operation; take off the generators without putting out of order the electrical support.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Olivier Chatelais

Lt. Vigneron and Cpl. Jonneaux at the beginning of the dismantling, with the precious help of the sun.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Olivier Chatelais

Lt. Vigneron, Sgt. Monnier and Cpl. Jonneaux, dismantle the aerial before taking it down.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Olivier Chatelais

Sgt. Laurent Monnier tries to keep contact with his colleagues who are 83 metres lower.