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MSU, the SFOR force multiplier

By Capt. Luis Barber
First published in
SFOR Informer #92, July 19, 2000

Sarajevo - The fact that in 1998 there was still a long way to go in implementing some objectives of the General Framework Agreement for Peace was one of the significant reasons for the creation of the Multinational Specialised Unit (MSU). Italian Carabinieri, Capt. Livio Carbone recently explained the importance of MSU, "Units like this became necessary when the perception of a public security gap between local Police and SFOR units was evident." This gap will be filled by the MSU.

Since assisting and monitoring local police in BiH is a task for the International Police Task Force (IPTF), which is unarmed and not homogeneous, and SFOR conventional forces are not always suitable to undertake all public security tasks, the MSU is a viable solution to deal with these matters.

"Moreover, conventional forces are not always equipped to handle complex, civilian-focused crisis situations that are at the core of public security operations," commented Carbone, pointing out that extensive manpower and equipment are required to operate.

Other peculiarities of the MSU are the focus on the use of minimum force and firepower possible, and the fact that MSU prefers long term commitments and employs individuals or small units. Recce/info gathering patrols and the use of their negotiation skills are the main proactive measures they use.

MSU is made of up of police officers with military training and specially organised, trained and equipped to operate between local police and military forces. Four nations form the mainstay of the MSU, Italy (the bulk of all personnel), Argentina (one company and staff personnel), Romania and Slovenia (both with one platoon and staff personnel each). Moreover, the USA has one post staffed and another pending, and the Netherlands has two others post not currently covered.

Under the operational control of COMSFOR just like the MNDs, the MSU provides a highly flexibile force able to deal with all sorts of situations.

"We realise that our mission is very important for SFOR, and enjoy it," is the opinion of a group of proud Carabinieri. They can be deployed in areas where public security and freedom of movement is in danger, and also improve and enhance the SFOR presence into potential hot spots.

Since the beginning of the operations the MSU has worked daily in patrolling and has deployed regularly. "But despite this large number of missions, we have only twice needed to intervene in troubles," affirmed the Italian Carabinieri Commander, Col. Elio Tagliaferri.

Related links:
SFOR at Work
Nations of SFOR: Argentina, Italy, Romania, Slovenia