MND-SE downsizing

Lt. Antonio Ruiz González
First published in
SFOR Informer#152, November 21, 2002

On November 16, two ceremonies took place within Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE). Firstly, in the morning, at Mostar Europe Base, the divisional Spanish Engineers Unit was officially disbanded. Later in the afternoon, in Duzi, near Trebinje (Republika Srpska), the Spanish Marines Unit, belonging to the Spanish Battle Group (SPBG), also marked the official end to their deployment in BiH. Their next step was to move from their barracks in Duzi to Ploce harbour, where they will remain until embarking on a Spanish ship for the final leg of their journey back to Spain. COMDIV Brig. Gen. Philippe Sommaire attended both events.

Mostar/Trebinje-The Spanish personnel at the Mostar and Trebinje units were very well known across the Area of Responsibility (AoR) of MND-SE. Whether working on engineering projects for the division or maintaining a safe and secure environment in the area surrounding Duzi as part of the SPBG tasks, they carried out their mission satisfactorily.
Engineering
The MND-SE Spanish Engineer unit worked on a myriad of different tasks. The Engineers ensured that condemned buildings were demolished safely, and conducted operations to dispose safely of UXOs (Unexploded ordnance). They rebuilt homes, repaired tracks and roads and maintained and rebuilt bridges, to list but a few of their varied responsibilities. "I am completely satisfied with the work performed. Above all, it is the professionalism of the men and women of the unit who have ensured that it is strong and capable of every mission undertaken" said Capt. José Angel Hevia García, Engineers commander. "I am sure that my 15 predecessors would say the same", added Hevia regarding the former units which have carried out similar tasks since December 1996.
"This tour of six months was all about performing our job to the highest standard whilst maintaining a strong sense of unity within the team. We simply worked as hard as we could. The time spent out here was great as we were a good team" remarked Sapper Platoon Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Tenreiro Martinez.
It is certain that the effects of their work will be felt by the local people for quite some time to come as they continue to enjoy improved roads, accommodation and facilities such as the Dindo Bridge (see SFOR Informer #150, Oct. 24, 2002).
Spanish Marines
Brig. Gen. Philippe Sommaire went with Maj. Gen. Juan García Lizana, Spanish Marines Commander in Chief, to attend the ceremony in Duzi, where they were accompanied by local authorities, both civilian and military. "It's a pity to leave this beautiful place but on the other hand there will be Spanish Marines around here from time to time" said Maj. José Cánovas García, Duzi detachment commander. In view of the fact that the detachment's base will be handed over to the Army of the Republica Srprska, it will remain as a non-permanent FOB (Forward Operating Base) in the AoR of the new French-Spanish Battle Group. A Spanish Marines Coy will take over part of the recently created structure of the battle group.
During the last six months, as from the very beginning of the Spanish Marines detachment in Duzi, on May 1996, they were involved with many different types of task. These tasks included patrolling the Montenegrin border, disposing of weapons caches, co-operating with International Organisations such as International Police Task Force, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Reconstruction and Returns Task Force amongst others, as well as providing humanitarian aid to the surrounding area. The local population very gratefully received this last task. "We were certainly well received here as we were on good terms with the people of the area and we made every effort to foster good relations with them," pointed Sgt. Arturo Paredes Crespo.
On November 23, they will leave Ploce harbour (Croatia) sailing back to Spain on the 'Pizarro', a Spanish Navy landing ship.
Both types of units are widely deployed on missions overseas, so who knows if they will meet again either here or in another theatre of operations.
Well done and good luck.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Spain
Restructuring and Reserves

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Photo: Sgt. Diego Ropero Pastor

Till the last day, Spanish Divisional sappers worked hard…


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Photo: Sgt. Diego Ropero Pastor

… What they had to do was to fit out the new camp for the French-Spanish Battle Group (See story..).


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Photo: PO Steve Wood

Something one will no longer see: Spanish Marines in the forrest of Duzi.