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Good companions at close-quarters

by 2Lt Lionel Hannoun

First published in SFOR Informer #14, July 9, 1997

Photo 1T.JPG (9540 bytes)Nevesinje - For French Lt. Pascal Lafontaine, Nevesinje camp is a fine place to live. The French Engineering Fire Support Platoon and the Spanish Engineering Platoon are both part of the Multinational Engineering Battalion, which belongs to of Multinational Division South-East (MND-SE). The Spanish Engineers are currently working on a road near Luka, while the French engineers are working close to the camp on another road project.

"This is the first time we have lived together in the same place, and things are going really well," said Lafontaine. Spanish 2Lt. Jose Risco went further, stating, "We have never been so close."

Soldiers from both platoons say they like the arrangements. "We share everything," said SSgt. Luis Royo of Spain, adding, "every other day we alternate the cooking team. The same applies to food supply and security patrols, but things go further than that"

French Cpl. David Vannier explained, "at the beginning, it was difficult to communicate, but we (the French) try to learn a little Spanish and they a little French. We have been here three weeks, and the group gets along well."

As if additional proof of the success of the arrangement was needed, the platoons based in this camp on Nevesinje’s football field often play football with mixed nationality teams.

After a common dinner, members of the Multinational Engineering Brigade generally meet at the club-tent. "Usually we choose the Eurosport channel," said Vannier. "We receive it by satellite in English and German, so everyone can understand a few words, and the action speaks for itself. Sport is a universal language, like music."

[French soldier]

[Spanish soldier]

[SFOR at work]