Prijedor weapons find
Capt. Ian Hamilton
First published April 16, 2003
With only two weeks 'in theatre', the men of the 1st Battalion,
The Highlanders, may have been forgiven for spending the time
settling in to strange surroundings. After all, the average
age of the men from the North of Scotland is around 20. For
many of the young privates, it's their first trip away from
Prijedor - However, that would discount the energy and experience
of their commanding officers. Major Jamie Campbell, 35, D
Company commander, is no exception. Tasked with policing the
area of Prijedor, his mission will call into action all his
formidable skills of military diplomacy and tact.
Time to act
By Apr. 9, acting on reports of shots being fired to the North
of SFOR's base in Prijedor, Campbell decided it was time to
"It had been a while since SFOR had been up in the hills.
It's a difficult area to get to, and the weather has been
pretty poor since we got here. Yet, I was keen to get a foot
on the ground and let the local people know we are a force
to be trusted."
2Lt. James Stewart, 23, from Edinburgh, led the men of 13
platoon North. His mission: to find the cause of the shots
and conduct an initial reconnaissance of the area.
Taking a sniffer dog team with him, Campbell was soon calling
in an unexpected find. "Almost as soon as we hit the
area, the dogs were onto something. With the war being over
for some 7 years, sometimes it's difficult for them to get
a trace, but this time we were sure we'd found explosives
of some sort."
Aladdin's cave of weapons
From the outside, the barn looked like any other in the area.
Yet not every stile has a secret basement. Under a thick covering
of beams and earth, someone, sometime, had buried an Aladdin's
cave of weapons.
It took the engineers all night to dig up the cache. D Company
had found around 100 large calibre artillery shells, mortar
rounds, anti-tank missiles, recoilless rifles, snipers' rifles,
hand grenades and small-arms ammunition.
Campbell stated: "At first sight, the countryside looks
very peaceful. It's only when you find things like this that
you realise there is a large amount of work to be done here.
It's not just leaving this stuff behind for the bad guys.
Explosives deteriorate over time. A farmer's child could have
been in here when the whole lot decided to go off - or in
the hands of one of my men as we took it away
can breathe a little easier."
This particular find of weapons will be soon destroyed in
a controlled explosion.
For Campbell and the men of Company D, tomorrow will be just
Nations of SFOR: UK
SFOR at Work