Operation Albatross takes flight
By Cpl. Diego Bunuel
- Dropping from the mountain tops, the enormous German-made CH-53 helicopter,
swooped over a grassy clearing before landing. The bay door spilled out
an entire platoon of heavily armed French infantry who took cover under
nearby bushes as the transport chopper bounced back into the clear morning
sky. At the same time, around 7:45 a.m., similar scenes occurred in three
other locations as the French Tactical Battle Group deployed for Operation
men then moved into action securing a series of strategic locations simulating
the event that a village of ethnic minorities had come under attack.
this simulation is a reminder to all involved that their units would be
the first one to be sent out in case something went wrong. The French
tactical group has two armoured platoons on constant alert working under
a one-hour notice, said Lt. Col. Dominic Laugel.
the field, Capt. Michel Magne of the 110th Infantry Regiment made sure
this mission would be a success. He posted his armoured personnel carriers
at two crossroads thus controlling all the entrances into the town and
giving him a commanding view of the valley.
seen two types of threats so far," Magne said, looking at a map inside
his command vehicle. "First a possible infiltration of enemy commandoes
to harass people or blow up buildings. The second is the threat posed
by about 10 cars packed with armed drunken people who would want to force
our position to go through the city. They've been gathering outside our
area but we don't know when they'll make their move."
used all the tools at his disposal to make sure the security in and around
the town was airtight. Precision shooters trained their scopes to detect
any sniper activity from the nearby dirt bluffs, while the 50 cal. guns
from the APCs guarded the towns entrance. A third platoon took position
inside the town as reserve and also to defend the locals if an infiltration
like the kind of exercise we do here (in Bosnia) because we have more
means at our disposal than when we train back in France," Magne said.
"It's essential that the communication from the headquarters to our command post and then down to our troops be checked and double checked and that we have at our disposal several means of communicating in case one goes down," said Alleno.