From a 'Dynamic Response' to a 'Joint Resolve'

Capt. Constantin Spinu
First published in
SFOR Informer#154, December 19, 2002

From Dec. 1 to 7, 2002, the UK's Staffordshire Regiment deployed from the 1st Battalion Tactical Headquarters in Kosovo along with a Company as the 'Operational Reserve Force' (ORF) of SFOR to conduct a planned operational rehearsal, as part of exercise Joint Resolve. The purpose of this particular deployment was to familiarize the troops with the terrain and the procedures overarching the ORF deployment, in order to reach Full Operational Capability by Feb. 1, 2003. The 1st Battalion of the UK's Staffordshire Regiment deployed with 150 troops together with their vehicles, proving their ability to arrive in theatre fully mission capable at short notice.

Tuzla - A company and battle group headquarters of the British KFOR soldiers arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) under the command of Lt. Col. Barney. They arrived at Eagle Base, Tuzla, on Nov. 30 having travelled from Kosovo where they are currently serving with KFOR. The Staffords are currently part of the United Kingdom Battle Group operating in Pristina. The operational rehearsal primarily consisted of cross-boundary activities in conjunction with U.S. Task Force Saber (104th Cavalry), Multinational Division North (MND-N) and focused upon terrain familiarisation.
"Our deployment from Pristina to Tuzla went according plan. The US forces here, in BiH, have been very supportive, as we expected," said Capt. Michael Seager, the Operations Officer of A Company, ORF. "The situation in the KFOR and SFOR Areas of Responsibility (AoR) is improving, therefore we are training our forces to re-deploy at short notice. I think we have already proved that we are capable of doing this successfully." emphasised Seager.
Key words: ASAP
Dec. 3 was a busy day for US Task Force Saber and the soldiers of the UK's Staffordshire Regiment. They conducted joint patrols on the streets of Lukavac, a city west of Tuzla. The atmosphere was calm and the people of Lukavac seemed to be very friendly. British Lt. Will Blackhurst, ORF, and US 2Lt. Keith Mc Keon, who are both platoon leaders, walked side by side on the streets. From time to time they stopped and talked with people. Everybody was smiling and it looked like the two officers enjoyed their day's work. "I'm having a good time here," explained Blackhurst. "Even though this is my first visit to BiH, there is nothing new for me or for my subordinates. We are doing the same job in Kosovo." Working with the US Forces is also nothing new for the UK's Staffordshire Regiment. "We are also working together within KFOR, with the best results," stated Blackhurst.

Joint Resolve 27
• The operational rehearsal was co-ordinated by the Commander in Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH) who is the Joint Force Commander (JFC) within the NATO Headquarters responsible for Balkan Operations including units assigned to and controlled by SFOR.
• Joint Resolve is a series of joint operations primarily involving multinational forces within SFOR. Joint Resolve involves rapid air and road deployments and includes presence patrolling and checkpoint manning. Joint Resolve exercises are run quarterly and hosted by each Multinational Division. This was the 27th Joint Resolve in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
• To maintain its ability to eliminate any threat to a safe and secure environment, SFOR maintains a highly capable Tactical Reserve (TACRES) consisting of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) maintained by each MND. There is also an SFOR Reserve (SFOR RES) comprising several Infantry and Carabinieri Companies and an airborne element (SFOR Reserve Air) equipped with AH-64 Apaches and UH-60 Blackhawks.
• 'In addition to exercising TACRES this edition had incorporated a deployment of part of the Operational Reserve Force from Kosovo.

There is nothing new in seeing US and UK soldiers exchanging military techniques and procedures. They even give each other tips on ways to improve the way they carry out their task in the Balkans. "I have discussed with my American colleague the manner with which we approach the local population in Kosovo. It is no use to hide behind a vehicle or a weapon. You need to gain a person's trust and to do this, you have to be on the street, out in the open." The US platoon leader approves: "You can do the best for your mission if you take the time to smile, shake people's hands and talk to them. If you do that, they will know that you are a friend who has come to help."
After just four days, the British ORF proved itself to be fully effective and able to perform any task. "This was our primary goal: to deploy ASAP, to increase or readiness status ASAP and to be able to perform our tasks ASAP. So this was our key phrase: ASAP," said Blackhurst.
Always welcome
Back on the streets of Lukavac, the patrolling mission continued. US Sgt. Raul Trinidad and UK Lance Cpl. Ben Davis were working together for the first time. "I have just met Ben this morning but we are already friends. It is good to work together. We discussed the differences between serving as a soldier with KFOR and SFOR and we reached the conclusion that there are more similarities than differences. We can work together very well," said Trinidad. Davis added: "This has been my first visit to BiH and I'm so glad to have this opportunity. The Americans were as friendly as usual. I will go back to Kosovo enriched by a new and valuable experience."
For Pvt. Rostan Bailey of the UK ORF, this was also his first mission to BiH: "I found this very interesting. I had the chance to talk to the people here in Lukavac and I asked them how they feel about our presence on their streets. But he was reassured by this reply from a local: 'You are always welcome to our city. You are here to maintain our peace, and we are grateful for this.' I think this is the best answer I could have been given. That is why it is so good to be here."
A very ambitious exercise
At the end of Exercise Joint Resolve one of the most important aims was achieved: proving NATO's ability to reinforce, at short notice, those forces already present in the theatre with so-called 'Over-The-Horizon-Forces' (OTHF). The ORF acted as a high readiness force with a wide range of military capabilities. It has proved itself to be mobile and versatile with the ability to augment in-theatre forces in any military contingency. "Joint Resolve is a very ambitious military exercise that enhances our ability to respond rapidly across boundaries," said US Brig. Gen. John T. von Trott of MND-N and host commander to the exercise. "The co-operative efforts of all the multinational elements paid off and ultimately they benefit all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina."
Working side by side, joint patrols made their way throughout MND (N), manning checkpoints, inspecting weapons storage sites, and promoting the hand over of illegal weapons by civilians.
Just as in the previous exercise, Dynamic Response, held two months ago when the Strategic Reserve Force deployed, this operational rehearsal again reinforced a clear message of the strong resolve and commitment of NATO and the International Community to maintain peace and stability in the Balkans region.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: US, UK
Restructuring and Reserves

Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Photos: Sgt. Laurent Pontillon

Painting the vehicles with 'SFOR' was the easiest job.
Just an 'S' over the 'K' from 'KFOR'.


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Patrolling on the streets of Lukavac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the British soldiers this task is very similar what they do in Pristina, Kosovo.


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

US soldiers provided support for their partners from KFOR.


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

UK and US soldiers found the time not only to work together, but to exchange ideas, techniques and to build friendships.


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Emina Kovacevic (center), interpreter, always has a lot of work when missions like these are performed. "People need to know what is happening; therefore my mission is very important: I'm the communication link between the people and the soldiers who are bringing peace to them," she said.


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

"You can do the best for your mission if you take time to smile, shake people's hands and talk to them." US 2Lt. Keith McKeon (l.) and UK Lt. Will Blackhurst walked side by side.


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

The final checks before the mission.