Bosnians join the British Army

Capt Ian Hamilton
First published in
SFOR Informer#, Date, 2003

A select group of men and women from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have joined the British Army - at least on a temporary basis! Promoted over a period of weeks on local radio and press, The Highlanders invited local people to come and live with SFOR. Over two days of gruelling tests, designed to promote leadership, teamwork the participants got a sense of what the average British soldier does for a living.

Mrkonjic Grad - In a move designed to open barriers between the men of The Highlanders and the locals, Capt Matt Munro, 30, from Edinburgh, put together a challenging course: "What we're trying to do is to show that we're human beings too. Sometimes, it's difficult to break down the barriers when you're on patrol. All the locals see are guys in camouflage, armed with rifles. It's easy for them to forget that we all have wives, sweethearts and families back home - just the same as they do. It's also a chance for the Jocks to show the Bosnians that there is a lot more involved in being a professional soldier. It's a no-lose situation for both sides".
Split into competing teams, it was a challenge for all involved. Brankica Gavrilovic, 28, from Mrkonjic Grad, had never done anything like it before. "It was really good fun" she says. "Initially, I was worried that I wouldn't get on with the soldiers. But once you see them laughing and joking, they're really just like us. And the tests! We did all sorts of things, from crawling around in the mud, memory games, to playing volleyball against the Scots. I really did have a great time - and I've made lots of new Scottish friends!"
Capt Munro hopes to run another course soon. "It's a great way to let people know we care. Of course, the weapons finds and so on are important, but in the long run, if we can influence peoples attitudes by letting them know we're genuinely on their side, maybe SFOR and the people of BiH together can make for a safe and secure future in BiH".

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK

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Photos: Capt Ian Hamilton

A happy group of survivors at the end. Back row, LOF, Cpl Nigel MacGillivray, 27, from Elgin, instructor, 3rd from left, back Row, Brankica Gavrilovic, ROF, back Row, Capt Matt Munro.

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Red trousers, Brankica goes for a shot.