The Spanish-French Battle Group runs again
2Lt. Agustín López
First published in
SFOR Informer#155, January 9, 2003
From Dec. 26-30 the Spanish-French Battle Group, belonging
to the Multinational Brigade Southeast (MNB-SE), deployed
all its units to their Area of Responsibility (AoR). The purposes
of the exercise were to establish the different missions assigned
to the SPFRBG, check the readiness and capabilities of SFOR
units, familiarise the BG personnel to their AoR and to show
the SFOR units' presence among the civilian population.
Duzi - Capt. Luc Le Coz commands the French Infantry Marine
Company (FRIMC). "During this week, the different platoons
belonging to the FRIMC are deployed in many municipalities
of our AoR, Gacko, Bileca, Nevesinje and Trebinje. To perform
activities related to information patrols in the Montenegrin
border, and to better know the primary needs of the local
people in order to provide humanitarian aid with the help
of CIMIC units," said Le Coz.
In this hamlet close to Trebinje, the 1st Platoon of the FRIMC,
led by 1Lt. Renaud Merlin, completed on Dec. 27 an exercise
with the goal of the detention of some hard-liners belonging
to a group with strong ties to a radical political party.
Members of this extremist group conducted attacks in some
villages and overran a Weapon Storage Site (WSS) where they
stole explosives, weapons and ammunitions to disrupt the calm
and stable situation in the area. "We receive this type
of mission on scarce occasions. In theory, our unit would
give a green box security to the Multinational Specialised
Unit (MSU), the Carabinieri Special Weapons and Techniques
(SWAT) team or the local police. Anyway, we must be prepared
to perform a reaction in a possible escalation of hostilities,
on the best conditions and training," stated Merlin.
Merlin made a Mission Analysis with a situation assessment.
Later, he split the platoon into some squads assigning tactical
missions to his team leaders. For each detail, he gave them
his own approach and endorsement.
In an isolated building, three French soldiers wearing civilian
clothes simulated the behaviour of radicals preparing destabilising
actions. While the infantry moved stealthily through the bush,
inside the forested terrain, four VABs (Armoured Personal
Carrier) secured the assault action assuming that the hard-liners
receive hypothetical help from the local community. Merlin
gave only one order "go now". After 15 seconds,
the radicals were surrounded by a squad of soldiers pointing
their FAMAS SLR rifles at them. The assault appeared to be
over with two captured radicals. But not quite yet, one more
hidden vilain escaped in a vehicle. Staff Sgt. Anthony Moreau
with his squad stopped his flight at the first cross-roads.
Sgt. Franck Kuntzler is on his fourth mission in BiH, and
explained: "After a meticulous search in the house and
the car, the French platoon found some small weapons, ammunition,
explosives, varied documentation and a video camera. We improve
our training to be prepared for a real case." Merlin
emphasised: " Now, we will repeat the process but changing
The Spanish Infantry Marine Company (SPIMC) is going to complete
new tasks. Capt. Jesús Calvo Hernández commands
this unit. "We made the relieve of the guard with the
French troops. My unit collaborates with the Moroccan soldiers
on the guard of the Europe Base in Mostar and, also as a reaction
force in a surprised action," stated Calvo.
Maksumici is located 13 km from Mostar. One old abandoned
hotel of this small town is the place selected by 1Lt. José
Lorenzo Penalva, to perform Operation Hilton, an exercise
to capture a Person Indicted for War Crimes (PIFWC) supported
by the local population. Lorenzo is assigned to the 4th Platoon,
SPIMC. "We have to train and improve our skills and tactics
for this type of operation. Intelligence units would give
us guidance about identification, exact location and some
features about the local support environment to the war criminal.
Every element has a specific task according to the phases:
provide security, assault and identify the PIFWC inside the
building, blockade escapes, etc.," explained Lorenzo.
During the previous days, this platoon would practice the
activity with the information brought by a small team, which
made an exhaustive reconnaissance of the place, identifying
operational hazards and details. In the early morning of Dec.
28 the convoy with four Humvees left Mostar. They quickly
make their way into the cover of the wood-line in order not
to be detected. They overtake the building in a matter of
minutes. Suddenly there is a flurry of activity. The PIFWC
has no time to react and is captured. The transportation team
react quickly. The game is over.
Sgt. Francisco Manuel González Orozco commented: "This
type of training is all part of a day's work for infantry
troops. There is always the challenge of making sure things
run according to plan in a scenario with opposition forces.
The most difficult thing is to locate the position of the
enemy and evaluate hazards, then when we know exactly where
the objective is, we infiltrate and get as close as possible
to make the assault."
Calvo supervised directly the unfolding action. "I trust
completely in the capabilities and the skill levels of my
troops, to react in unexpected situations that could jeopardise
the stability in the region," he added.
Patrolling the Montenegrin border
From Dec. 26 to 28, two platoons belong the Spanish Light
Cavalry Squadron (SPLCS) were encamped for three days in Duzi,
in the facilities of a former SFOR detachment. Capt. Francisco
López Villar, Commander of the SPLCS, stated: "During
these days, my Squadron has to perform various activities.
For instance, two platoons check some Border Crossing Points
(BCP). The other two platoons have two missions; firstly to
provide security during the rebuilding of a mosque in Stolac
and secondly, verify the correct functioning in the large
WSS situated in Gabela (close to Capljina).
First Lt. David Gil Mora, assigned to the 1st platoon, commented:
"My unit has to update previous information about 35
BCPs with Montenegro (location, type of facilities, civilian
police or military personnel responsible of the point, trade,
etc.) and to identify mountain routes without surveillance.
The main goal is to avoid the illegal gun-running and dangerous
Staff Sgt. Sergio Lallana Caluzano is performing his first
peacekeeping operation in BiH. "We are patrolling the
main routes around the towns of Mostar, Bileca, Trebinje and
Neum, to guarantee a secure environment avoiding any riots,
and ensuring the stability and the economical and political
development of those municipalities," he concluded.
Nations of SFOR: France,
Training and Exercises