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Exercise "Fuegos de San Juan"

By Cpl. Nicolas Marut
First published in
SFOR Informer #91, July 5, 2000

Mostar - Most of the SFOR exercises aim, in part, to test the cooperation between the different Battle Groups (BG). The French-Spanish exercise which took place June 26-27 in MND-SE, concentrated on this interoperability. For two days, a French unit, a Spanish unit and their HQ operated jointly in a area of 10 km, approximately 15 km to the north of Ljubinje, according to a predefined scenario.

The scenario was a testing one in which the Spanish BG, in the middle of a re-deployment operation, has its resources downsized. At the same time information reveals the existence of an illegal weapons cache in their AOR.
While the Spanish BG has perfect control of the zone through throwing up checkpoints and patrols it needs extra manpower to fully investigate the remote hilly area in which the operation needs to strike. It is time for the Division to show its multinational skills.

The MND decides to launch a forceful operation coordinated between the Spanish BG (SPBG) and the French BG (GT Fr) to confiscate the weapons and ammunitions and to detain the suspected persons in co-operation with the International Police Task Force (IPTF.

In the evening of June 26, the HQ of the GT Fr, landed in helicopters and set up camp side by side with the Spanish HQ. The following day at 5 o'clock in the morning, the 2nd Company of the GT Fr left the Ortijes camp to take the southern half of the operational area where it began its combined operation.

The 2nd Company of the SPBG, commanded by Capt. Fernando Raso, could now concentrate its efforts on the northern sector. The two companies exchanged one section, "To develop relationships within the two groups," underlined Lt. Col. Hervé Bizeul, chief of Operations Office in the GT FR.

"The coordination and the communication between the two HQs are essential in this exercise," said Maj. Manual Landaduru, chief of operation in the SPBG. "Our main difficulty, it is the language problems."

To avoid this, bilingual liaison officers have been deployed within the HQ's. Thanks to this exercise, each BG is now more familiar with the staff and procedures of the other. It will facilitate all future joint operations," concluded Landaduru.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Spain, France
Exercise and Training