Here come the Latinos!
Capt. Constantin Spinu
First published in
SFOR Informer#147, September 12, 2002
Sept. 6, the Spanish Marines from the Tactical subgroup
'Soldado Luis' had guests in their camp of Duzi, located near
Trebinje: the Portuguese 1st Rifle Coy / 2nd Infantry Battalion
belonging to the Operational Reserve (OPRES Ground). Together
with elements of the French Battle Group (FRBG) they performed
a routine patrol in their Area of Responsibility (AoR). Their
mission was to check Bosnia and Herzegovina's borders with
Montenegro and Croatia, control road traffic and avoid smuggling.
The mission was a routine one for the Spanish Marines, but
for the Portuguese troops it proved to be a very useful experience.
A routine mission but not an easy one
Trebinje - Major Jose Canovas Garcia, Commanding Officer of
the Spanish Marines Tactical Subgroup and his staff are supervising
the companies tasks in the Operations Room. The Spanish Marines,
the Portuguese Riffle Company and a detachment from the FRBG
will perform a joint patrol mission in the Spanish AoR.
It is very good to have the Portuguese here, for one
week, said Canovas. Our area of responsibility
is quite big, so any help is welcome.
The tasks are very simple to enumerate, but not so easy to
perform. For the Spanish Marines this is almost a routine
This is our fourth patrol mission, said Capt.
Luis Carvajal Romero, operations officer of the Tactical Subgroup,
we've done one patrol mission per month until now, so
it is a normal mission for us. But that doesn't mean that
it will be an easy one. We will control the BiH borders with
Montenegro and Croatia. We have some information that the
Bileca Lake is used for smuggling, so we will check the area,
and install check points on the main routes. It won't be very
easy at all, he said.
The unique role of OPRES
In carrying out the mission of maintaining a safe and secure
environment, the Portuguese soldiers have a unique role within
SFOR. Based in Visoko, the task force has theatre-wide capabilities
in operations and exercises. They can be called upon to take
over normal framework operations like area patrols. They can
also be used in crisis operations to support SFOR elements.
It's interesting working with different countries,
said Portuguese Capt. Antonio Feliciano Mota Dos Santos, soldiers
get to experience co-operation with other armies. During
this mission, 1st Riffle Coy had a chance to conduct a one
day joint patrol with Spanish soldiers.
The SFOR 'Esprit de Corps'
On the main roads in the Trebinje area, the 'Latinos' patrols
were at work. It is my first mission abroad, said
Spanish Pvt. Rafael Puertas Casado, I find it risky,
but I'm ready to react any time. If I've got my weapon and
my comrades to support me, I've got all I need.
For many soldiers this is their first mission, but they are
already convinced that it is a valuable one. I will
improve my chances for a better career, said Cpl. Raul
Gil Blas, also from Spanish Marines, I was very surprised
to find out that all the soldiers from no matter what country
speak the same language -- look on things in a similar way.
It is very good that we have the opportunity to exchange information
about our equipment, and also our procedures.
But the most impressive definition of what it really means
is to serve as an SFOR soldier came from a French officer.
This patrol mission is as much important as any other.
We are doing our job as best as we can. But what really matters
is that we act together like a single nation, the SFOR nation.
We are led by the same motivation, the SFOR 'Esprit de Corps',
said 1Lt. Nicolas Meunier, platoon leader, Scout Squadron
of the FRBG.
Nations of SFOR: Spain,
Related link: SFOR