Flying Americans Support Rapid Portugese

Capt Victor Gomes
First published July 21, 2003

The Portuguese Battalion (POBn) as part of COMSFOR's Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) had established a priority-training phase in order to prepare its units to be able to deploy, fight and win. In accordance with that concept the battalion had requested training with helicopters from the United States Task Force Warrior (TFW), the famous Blackhawk (UH-60).
The airborne training was done between 25th -26th Jun. On the first day TFW with two UH-60 conducted air movement of the POBn within the Portuguese area of responsibility (AOR). The aim of the first day was to simple improve the integration between the POBn and TFW in preparation for future operations. Lieutenant Jordon from TFW conducted a 15 minutes capability brief at Camp Dannevirke on their respective aircraft. After the brief the two Portuguese's Companies practised their battle drills with the helicopters, rehearsing the loading and unloading drills as well as organising into combat formations on the landing zone.
On the 26th, the operation commenced with the insertion of two of C-Company's squads at Bosanski-Brod. The key objective for this first phase was purely the safe loading/unloading of these two squads. After that the two helicopters with a small team from the POBn conducted a reconnaissance over the new AOR of the POBn. They could see from above down the Sava River (the border between Croatia and Bosnia), Vukosavlevo (mountainous region), Odzak and Modrica.
Finally two squads from D-Coy were deployed along the Bosna and Spreca rivers until Ozren. This terrain-flight was flown at low altitude conforming generally to the contours of the terrain, varying altitudes and airspeed. After "Kicking off" the two squads and the reconnaissance team, the two Blackhawk and the crews recovered to Eagle Base.
Thanks to the TFW availability, the battalion staff increased performance on the planning of Airborne Operations and at the same time conducted an air reconnaissance over the new AOR that POBn will take over on 21JUL03. Thanks to this kind of Operation, the POBn could achieve speed, precision and confidence in airborne operation. The successful operation was a sequence of actions carefully planned, trained and precisely executed by the two forces. It is proof that US aviation and the Portuguese unit can be fully integrated to form a powerful and flexible task force that can be projected throughout the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: US, Portugal

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Photos: Private Benvindo Martins

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