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The guns of Chestnut Coy in Sanski Most

By Cpl. Diego Bunuel
First published in
SFOR Informer #99, October 25, 2000

Sanski Most - The Chestnut Company of the British 1st Royal Horse Artillery Regiment, carries its name well. It's small, but tough.
The 150 men and women based in Sanski Most, a town tucked in a farming valley west of Banja Luka, arguably pack the biggest firepower in theatre with their six AS 90 guns of 155 mm.
These mammoth guns, set up on a tank body, can fire three 96-pound shells at up to 24 km in less than 10 seconds. A battery of six of these, fires 18 rounds and can reload before the first shells hit its target, explained Staff Sgt Derek McCarthy.
"It's the equivalent of two tons of explosives coming down on a target," McCarthy said.
Capt. Taff Kalies, a 23-year veteran and the company commander, knows his job and his priorities.
"Our purpose to be here in Bosnia is to fire our guns if needed," Kalies said. "We can be deployed anywhere in Theatre and we are the only ones with such big guns."
Because many of the gunners are on their third or fourth tour in Bosnia, a well-established routine allows the camp to run smoothly, said Colour Sgt. Jerome Kenyon. But when Chestnut Company is not training, they are either patrolling or participating in CIMIC projects.
"We are regularly asked to fill wells in the rural areas where people are struggling financially and its important to help these communities make it through the winter," Kenyon said.
Looming over the camp is a decrepit, 10-story-high colliery known as "the mine." It used to be the area's main industry, but is now unable to sustain the population. The SFOR soldiers have been making every effort to provide villagers with good shelter during the winter to prevent them from leaving the countryside, Kenyon said.
"The first soldiers here would comment on the destruction," Kalies said. "Now what they are commenting on is how it's being rebuilt."
Like most British camps, the trademark dark green containers assembled like a domino game, are linked by wooden gangways bearing names of famous battles like Waterloo or known places like Victoria Park. The camp's three bars provide for evening entertainment while the mess hall dishes out fine foods from tasty curries to tender tandori chicken.
"This is a small camp, but it's homely," Kalies said.
"Everyone is tightly-knit here."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK