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Camp McGovern, Brcko

by Maj. Fernando Buesa

First published in SFOR Informer #31, February 25, 1998

Photo1T.JPG (8618 bytes)Brcko - In the narrowest part of the Posadina Corridor, the riversidePhoto 2T.JPG (8515 bytes) town of Brcko awaits the decision of arbitration hearings to see whether control of the area will pass to the Federation or to Republika Srpska. A few kilometres outside of the town centre more than 900 American Soldiers from Task Force 3/2 ACR are based at Camp McGovern.

Photo 3T.JPG (13258 bytes)The camp’s name is in remembrance of 1Lt. McGovern who was killed on 30 January 1951 while leading his platoon up the slope of a bunker-type pill-house in Kamzangjan, Korea. The action earned him the Medal of Honour.

"Camp McGovern was a farm co-operative before the war. The Americans arrived here in January 1996. It was a cold winter that year" explained Captain Erik Stor, Commander of A Coy, 16th Engineers. "The first unit to arrive was the 3/5 Cavalry commanded by Lt. Col. Tony Cucualo. The first engineers to arrive with them was B Coy of the 23rd Engineers to build the camp. Some of them are back in BiH serving their second tour."

The role of the Units at Camp McGovern "is to provide freedom of movement, help implement peace accords and ensure safety," explains Capt. Moon, Public Information Officer of Camp McGovern. Commanded by Lt. Col. Mark Corda, TF 3/2, the Command Post comprises a Squadron of the 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, a Mechanised Infantry Coy, an Artillery Battery, Engineer Coy, Air Defence Artillery Units and Support Units distributed throughout three Camps: McGovern, Colt and Bedrock.

CIMIC at Camp McGovern

The 12-person strong CIMIC Cell at Camp McGovern is an integral part of TF 3/2.

Photo 4T.JPG (8530 bytes)"We have three teams, one working in the area of the Federation, another in Brcko and the third is at the Information Centre," stated Maj. Gustavo Gonzalez of the CIMIC office.

The Federation team works jointly with the International Police Task Force supervising the multi-ethnic police force - a project that began last January. They also monitor infrastructure projects. Attending meetings with the mayors of the area and discussing projects on water systems, cleaning and general subjects that cover the local neighbourhoods."

There are some problems within the Municipalities. "In the area of Brcko there are another five small villages, Brodusa, Stari Rasadnik, Ditdarusa, Omerbegovaca and Brod. Each one has either a majority ethnic group or are mixed, and are all in a corridor four kilometres wide," continued Gonzalez.

Photo 5T.JPG (9352 bytes)"The Brcko team," states Maj. Reyes "works with U.S. AID and NGO’s (non governmental organisations) in co-ordination with the OHR (Office of the High Representative) of Brcko. The Information Centre gives information to the people, prepares activities for young kindergartens and makes ID cards."

Special projects like the Arizona Market, a market on the Inter Entity Boundary Line, helps people get used to the Line and move freely across it. "The market started with IFOR two or more years ago. We are trying to work with the municipalities to provide water and extend the electricity. People come from Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and (the Former Yugoslavian Republic of) Macedonia. Most of the dealers are Bosniac and Croats," says Maj. Gonzalez. " Another important project is the agriculture seminary for local farmers from all three Entities. This region was a top producer of agricultural goods before the war. Most of the land was destroyed and we are now giving the farmers new information on crops to grow," concluded Maj. Gonzalez.

PSYOPS

McGovern has a PSYOPS detachment commanded by 1Lt. Wayne Bowen. Because of the special situation in Brcko they have been reinforced. "We are doing three missions here," says Bowen. "We talk with people face to face about their ideas, usually over a cup of coffee, distribute journals and news letters from SFOR’s Information Campaign and the OHR and maintain relations with TV and Radio stations. We work with 15 radio stations, sending information on SFOR, Brcko, the arbitration and persons indicted for war crimes."

PSYOPS has three detachments in MND North, one of them in Brcko. "There are three Tactical PSYOPS Teams (TPT), two here and another in Camp Colt. There is also Radio MIR. Its broadcasts directly from Sarajevo. Broadcasts are between 6 AM and 12 PM with a technical break of two hours. Programming includes, music, messages to the locals and three programs of local news, obtained from the local media.

A COY 16th ENGINEERS

Life for the Engineers is like most others here in Theatre, they do all kinds of work and are tasked often and variously. A Coy is no exception. Capt. Erik Stor , Command of A Coy explains their mission at Camp McGovern. "We monitor, and assist where necessary, the de-mining by Entity Army Forces (EAF). This includes removing mines from the ground, opening routes through mine fields with remote control tanks, blowing up bunkers, repairing bridges, protecting the Camp by building soil bunkers around the camp or repairing bunkers inside the Camp. We also built a shooting range for troops to practice on. Naturally, we also maintain all the tactical buildings here."

[US soldier]