"Kilo 1, this is Bravo 2, contact..."

Capt. Ian Hamilton
First published June 2, 2003

The men of D Company, 1st Bn The Highlanders, recently pin-pointed a farm building in their Area of Operations that they believed was being used as a store-house for illegal weapons. Their suspicions proved to be correct. Back in the company patrol base, Lt Jeff Brocklehurst sat glued to the radio.

A minute's notice was all he needed. It was time for his platoon to go into action. Driving through the night, the platoon quickly surrounded the farmhouse and began a pain-staking sweep of the area.
150 kilos of high explosive!
The results were spectacular, 150 kilos of high explosive, numerous small arms, ammunition and under a pile of hay, a massive and deadly multi-barrelled rocket launcher. "It was great to see the results after all that effort," said Highlander Alan Leiper. "To take this kind of stuff out of circulation is a terrific win for us".
The figures do make sobering reading. If anyone doubted the need for SFOR, just take a look at the figures for a single month's finds: Five tonnes of weapons, ammunition and explosives handed in during April alone.
As the Commanding Officer of the Highlanders, Lt Col Tim Lai, explains, "To put that into perspective, if five tonnes of ammunition was placed in Buchanan Street, Glasgow, and then detonated, the City Centre would basically cease to exist from Charing Cross to the Tollgate". A frightening statistic, yet one which standing alone fails to explain the entire picture.
"Bosnia Herzegovina is a country on the cusp of normality," adds Col Lai. "What you have is a situation where 98% of people want to get on with life and 2% want to go back to the bad old days…. so the weapons finds basically split into two groups… The first is the local man who knows where stuff has been buried or left behind after the war. Not a problem, come and tell SFOR and we'll take it away before any innocent civilians get hurt…. However, the second group are the hard-line nationalists and criminals who don't want a safe and secure country and are squirreling stuff away to put on the black market, or to cause more death and destruction. Those are the people that we're targeting - and we mean to get them and their weapons out of circulation".
The spectrum of finds go way beyond the old concept of hunting rifles. The Highlanders have seized everything from anti-aircraft missiles to large calibre mortar rounds. "We're here for the people of Bosnia" says Col Lai. "If you want a safe and secure future for you and your children, the Highlanders are here to help guarantee that. But if you want to tread the way of the gun, my men will stop you. It's as simple as that".

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK

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Photos: Capt. Ian Hamilton

Camouflaged deep in the trees, Highlanders David Mowat (r.), from Inverbervie, and Alan Leiper, 19, from Mintlaw.


A multi-barrelled rocket launcher ready for destruction by Engineers.


A one-day find for the 14 Platoon.


Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Lt. Jeff Brocklehurst sitting on seized mortar bombs.