Just Another Patrol in Nozicko
Maj Tony Keene GBR A
First published in
SFOR Informer#172, August, 2004
The old man has a merry twinkle in his eye as he approaches
the two British soldiers in the small village of Nozicko,
near Gradiska in northwest Bosnia. Sgt Dave Turner and Cpl
Peter Hawley are a two-person patrol from the Liaison and
Observation Team (LOT) in Gradiska, and they are trying to
get their bearings. Cpl. Turner is consulting a map.
Are you lost, just like those Germans?
Germans? What Germans? There are no German troops in Multinational
Task Force Northwest. Cpl. Hawley looks puzzled, as he shakes
hands with the elderly man. "Would you like to hear a
Retiring to a nearby coffee shop, they sip small cups of the
bitter, strong brew that is a favourite in these parts, the
lubricant of Balkan society.
"I am an old man now, but when I was a boy during the
war, a German patrol came down the road and stopped here,
just like you did, and they asked me for directions to the
Sava River. So I told them how to get to the bridge, and they
moved on. I wondered if you were lost, just like they were."
Sgt Turner and Cpl Hawley realize they have a unique opportunity
here to plumb a source of local knowledge. The LOT teams are
spread out across BiH specifically to engage in this sort
of personal, one-on-one information gathering. They begin
to ply the old man with questions.
"Do you know about the weapons collections operation
that is coming up?" they ask. "And do you know about
the amnesty policy?"
The old man shrugs. "Of course I do. I listen to Radio
The two British soldiers smile; their LOT team does a regular
Monday radio show on that station, to apprise the local population
of upcoming police and SFOR joint operations. This proves
that it is working.
The conversation wanders off into other areas of community
life, including schools and young people, and social and medical
"Talking to people like this man is part of the job,
a big part," Cpl Hawley points out later. "They
approach you, more often as not, and as long as you are not
pushy you can find out a lot." He and his team are members
of a British infantry unit, The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment
of Yorkshire. It is one of the first units to be deployed
in the LOT function within SFOR.
The coffee is just dregs now, and it is time to go. As they
shake hands and bid farewell, the inevitable question comes
"By the way, what happened to those Germans? The ones
who asked you for directions 60 years ago?"
The old man lays a finger alongside his nose, and his eyes
twinkle again. "Ah, well, when they reached the bridge,
they were 'sorted out' by the partisans!"
The patrol moves on. Sgt Turner and Cpl Hawley know they and
their fellow team members now have another contact in this
small community, just south of the Sava River.
Nations of SFOR: UK