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 home.

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 act.
"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…Now everyone 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 another day.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: UK
SFOR at Work

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Photos: Capt. Ian Hamilton

Posing after the find. (From l. to r.) Hldr. Luke McMullen, Hldr. Gordon Monroe, Hldr. Kenneth Tuach, Lt. Geoff Brocklehurst, Cpl. James Wilkie and Capt. Chris Kind.

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Maj. Jamie Campbell, 35, D Company commander, 1st Battalion, The Highlanders.