Downpour of Ammunition
2Lt. Agustín López Marín
First published in
SFOR Informer#154, December 19, 2002
Dec. 4, the Spanish-French Battle Group (SPFRBG) stationed
in Europe Base, Mostar organised a live-fire exercise. Facing
the high wooded mountains on the firing range of Macipolje,
the troops belonging to the SPFRBG spent whole day training
hard to enhance their combat skills.
Macipolje - Two platoons from the Spanish Light Cavalry Squadron
(LCS) and one from the French Marine Reconnaissance Squadron
took part in this exercise in high winds and heavy rainstorms.
The day started with a tactical movement of the armoured vehicles
from Europe Base to the range, passing through Nevesinje.
Every unit had a different departure time. Security, ammunition
control and the Spanish medical assistance were co-ordinated
by 1Lt. Paul Kaeser, assigned to the3rd platoon, French Marine
Reconnaissance Squadron (MRS). He led the French unit composed
of five VBLs (Light Armoured Vehicles), one VAB (Armoured
Personnel Carrier), one truck and one light vehicle P4. "This
shooting test comprised of some trials with different types
of weapons - HK G36E and FAMAS 5.56mm Self Loading Rifles
(SLR), 7.62mm. Machine-guns, BMR (Armoured Personnel Carrier)
and VBL 12.70mm gun -. Firstly in static firing lines exchanging
weapons; then, the BMR 12.7 mm hydraulic gun turret firing
at 500 metres and tactical attacks with VBLs giving covering
fire by bounds while the infantry advanced," said Kaeser.
This exercise represents one of the first joint activities
between French and Spanish troops. 1Lt. David Gil Mora, 1st
platoon, LCS, was the commander of the Spanish unit composed
of two Nissan Light Vehicles, two REBECOs (similar to the
HUMVEE) and one BMR. "The main aim of this activity is
to train and improve skills of our troops and to increase
their knowledge of their technical weapon characteristics
by sharing their own small arms. We have to check the readiness
and capabilities of units, according to our general guidelines,
providing an effective reaction in unexpected situations that
could jeopardise the stability in the region," said Gil.
HK G36E versus FAMAS
Spanish Sgt. 1st Class Manuel Freire Gutiérrez belongs
to the 4th platoon, Spanish Light Cavalry Squadron, and is
on his second peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Asked about the exercise, Freire said: "These type of
firing trials are designed to prepare soldiers to qualify
for realistic combat situations. We try to teach the soldiers
to improve their firing skills, which are steady position,
a correct aim, breathing control and a light trigger movement."
After shooting with the FAMAS SLR, Freire said: "From
my particular point of view, the HK G36E has some advantages.
I can mention that the HK SLR is handier and is equipped with
an improved aiming system, telescopic sight has a measured
reticule but I have to admit that FAMAS SLR has some features
and devices, which I like. For instance, its bipod, rate of
fire and maximum effective range." Spanish troops were
delighted with the features and capabilities of the VBL, considering
it a versatile vehicle capable of carrying out a variety of
French Staff Sgt. Fabrice Rautureau, assigned to the MRS,
recognises that HK G36E is a good SLR. Rautureau has a great
experience in missions abroad and this is his third mission
in BiH following tours in 1992 and 1994 under the United Nations
(UNPROFOR) mandate. He said: "The main aim, in this initial
period of the joint SPFRBG unit, apart to accustom ourselves
to the weather and theatre, is to establish effective battle
techniques and tactics, practising common command and control
Nations of SFOR: Spain,
Training and Exercises