Joint Steel on Manjaca Training Area
Lt. Ralph Mooijekind
First published in
SFOR Informer#148, September 26, 2002
The name of the recently held Netherlands Battle Group's
exercise Joint Steel was not a name that was randomly chosen.
Joint Steel refers to the Dutch Leopard 2 A5 tanks and Bosnian-Serb
T55 and M84 tanks that participated. The exercise was held
on the Manjaca Training Area near Banja Luka Sept. 10-12.
Manjaca - of the Armed Forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)
at SFOR exercises have been a common sight in recent years.
Taking this a step further is the actual taking part of the
Army of Republika Srpska (Vojska Republika Srpska, VRS) in
an SFOR exercise. This step was recently taken by the 42nd
Mechanised Battalion, which is the official name of the Netherlands
Battle Group (NLBG) that is headquartered in Bugojno.
More than an exercise for the tank-crews
"At first this training was a planned regular exercise
for our tank crews," explained Maj. Hans Van Dalen, 2IC
of the NLBG. "But to make it a special occasion we decided
to invite the 101st Armoured Brigade of the VRS. After that
had been arranged we called the exercise -- for obvious reasons
-- Joint Steel. Also it is a good opportunity for 'showing
the force'. There is a reason for having tanks in the Battle
Group and the Multinational Division South West (MND-SW).
We want to show what our Leopards are capable of."
In order to get to know each other on the first day of the
exercise the Dutch and the Bosnian-Serbs organised a static
"We got the chance to study each other's military equipment.
They looked inside our tank and were amazed that it is filled
with all kinds of electronics. Most of their equipment works
mechanically. But, if this is what works, they say it is okay
for them, commented Sgt. 1st class Dick Krul from the 42 (NL)
Mechanised Battalion. During Joint Steel several live-firing
exercises were held. Not only with tanks, but also with anti-tank
weapons like the Dragon that the Dutch infantry uses.
VIPs on the spot
The training got a high profile when Maj. Gen. Tony Van Diepenbrugge,
commander MND-SW attended the exercise just two days before
his Transfer of Authority to Brig. Gen. Andrew Farquhar. Also
present were Gen. Maj. Novak Djukic commanding the Banja Luka
based 1st Corps Headquarters of the VRS. The Netherlands newly
appointed Under-secretary of Defence Cees Van der Knaap who
visited the Dutch troops in Novi Travnik and Bugojno also
came to Manjaca Training Area to see this example of co-operation.
Nations of SFOR: Netherlands
SFOR at Work
Training and Exercises