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Full days for the mechanics

by Sgt. Charles Mangin

First published in Sfor Informer #15, July 23rd, 1997

photo T.JPG (6628 bytes)Nevesinje - In the Multinational Engineering Battalion at Multinational Division South East (MND-SE) is the French road vehicle maintenance team of six mechanics,: a staff sergeant, two sergeants, and three privates. They are specialised in French machinery and normally they only service their own equipment, although sometimes they are able to provide some aid to the Spanish crew in the same camp if needed. "We may be able to give them a very specific part they don't have in stock, a special screw for example. But essentially, everybody looks after their own job," says Sgt. Fabrice Ruinet, of the French team.

Maintenance includes lubrication, changing oil filters, changing the oil itself. These tasks represent roughly 30% of their workload. Breakdowns are not rare, and the team spends the rest of their time repairing them. "The most frequent breakdown is hydraulic leakage because machines are really worked hard on the road projects," said Ruinet, adding, "for major breakdowns, we have to bring the machine down to Mostar."

The mechanics do not only work in the Mostar area. "Half of the team is in Sarajevo right now. They move according to the Division’s needs. "That's why our days are pretty full," said Ruinet.

For Spanish mechanics, the organisation is different. Maintenance is handled by machine operators near the road repair operations in Luka. They too perform basic maintenance, such as oils and filters. But there’s more. "If we go through a breakdown, we call our mechanics in Mostar. If we call them in the afternoon they are here, in Luka, the following morning," says Capt. Jose Sebastian. He added, "We have 11 mechanics in Mostar, including a second lieutenant, a staff sergeant, a sergeant, and eight privates."

[French soldier]