Italians seize weapons and ammunition

2Lt. Ilario Tancon
First published in
SFOR Informer#151, November 7, 2002

On Oct. 22 the 22nd Alpine Company from the Italian Battle Group conducted Operation 'Brave POA*' in Brezje, a spot near Rogatica (Republika Srpska). During this operation, a cache of illegal weapons and ammunition was found. In line with SFOR's mandate, this type of find is a step towards a safe and secure environment.

Brezje - "Numerous rumours circulated about the likely presence of arms trafficking in our Area of Responsibility," explained Capt. Davide Dal Maso, commander of the 22nd Company, which belongs to 2nd Alpine Regiment, stationed in Cuneo, Piemont. "So, my soldiers began patrolling the territory in a deeper manner. In particular, they kept an eye on a group of farmhouses. A patrol gathered information and took pictures round the clock to check the farm' owners movements. Our suspicions were confirmed when there were some suspicious movements at night."
Brave Poa
After some weeks of close observation, Op 'Brave POA' started on Oct. 22 early in the morning. It was still dark when the Alpini of 22nd Company, called 'L'Impavida' (the Fearless), left the Italian compound in Rogatica. About at 7 pm., the area of Brezje was surrounded by the Italians troops consisting in Alpine platoons and a platoon of armoured cavalry. At 7.30, in the presence of the Local Police and members of International Police Task Force (IPTF), Dal Maso and his men contacted the farmers. Then the inspection started both in the houses and the cattle-sheds and haylofts nearby.
"At first, we were very cautious, but after finding some weapons, our searching method became specific and sure," said Sgt. Roberto Trotta, deputy commander of first platoon and NCO in charge of security.
Numerous weapons and ammunitions were found: Fourteen M52 hand grenades, seven M75 hand grenades, two M36 hand grenades, one M94 hand grenade, four rifle bombs anti-tank for M60, four M80 rockets, two launchers, nine various rifles, six pistols and 4,000 bullets. Moreover, there were also many helmets, bayonets, holsters and anti NBC masks. A hand grenade without safety catch was also discovered. Immediately the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team provided a controlled explosion.
A long training
A significant "booty" which was certainly not for hunting. All the material seized was catalogued and after few days delivered to the harvest point of Visegrad.
"This was my first activity of this sort in Bosnia and Herzegovina," commented Cpl. Antonio Rizzo, also in charge of security. "I had an opportunity to deal with weapons and ammunition that I had never seen before. It's important to underline that this operation took place without incident, in the complete safety."
"This operation has been successful, but the safety and the way we conduced 'Op Brave POA' are the results of long training both here and in Italy, and of much careful planning," concluded 1Lt. Gianmarco Laurencig, 22nd Company deputy commander and in charge of one of the searching teams.
POA stands for Posto d'Observazione e Alarma, Observation and Alarm Post.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy
SFOR at Work

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Photos: WO2 Andrea Lombardo and Cpl. Giuseppe Della Morte

WO2 Nicola Valente and Sgt. Alessio Licata, both members of the IBG EOD team, recount the cache out the shed.

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WO2 Nicola Valente checks the safety mechanism of an UXO seized.

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Capt. Divide Dal Masso talks to the Local Police helped by interpreter Mediha Hodzic.

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Even on the roof! Capt. Divide Dal Masso gets out of the house carrying a rocket launcher.