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Foca Patrol

By Sgt. Maj. Patrick van de Poele
First published in
SFOR Informer #73


Foca - The only town in the Area of Responsibility of the Multinational Company based in Filipovici is Foca. The town is on the East bank of the Drina River, it is in the Republika Srpska and has a reputation of being closed to outsiders. Earlier this year the IPTF and other international bodies had to leave the town following demonstrations against them. The arrest of an inhabitant for war crimes this summer added to the general tension.

The French, German and Ukrainian Infantry Company based in Filipovici sends out a number of patrols every day.

"Our patrols are made up of one vehicle and crew of each nationality and the command of these patrols rotates. They have different itineraries and lengths, the number of patrols and their times are also random but they all have one point in common: they all pass through the town of Foca and include a foot "presence" patrol in the town." Said Lt. Xavier Charbonnel the commander of the company's 120mm Mortar Platoon.

At his evening briefing Company Commander, French Capt. Charles-Henry de Besombes distributed the missions and tasks for the next day, a patrol was planned for 1315hrs to be led by the Ukrainians. The Ukrainian Platoon commander, Maj. Igor Mazakhovets designated 2Lt. Golovin to lead it. The Company XO, Capt. Gery de Stabenrath then gave the itinerary and the sector of town where the foot patrol was to take place.

The German Platoon Commander, Sgt.Maj. Doring, and the commander of the French Platoon on patrol duty both designated a vehicle and its crew.

Once the three 4x4s were assembled Lt. Golovin quickly made sure that his crews understood the itinerary and timing of the patrol, Lt. Sergei Parchevsky serving as his interpreter. The patrol left on time, Golovin's vehicle taking the lead, followed at a certain distance by the French Foreign Legion VBL, an armoured 4x4 and then the German vehicle commanded by SSgt. Stephan Arens brought up the rear. As theyheaded downriver passing Foca on the other bank, the patrol's first mission was to check the Brod Bailey Bridge. They then crossed over the Drina and headed back up towards Foca.

The centre of the town is not large and the patrol first drove down the main street then cruised around several of the side streets, before heading up past the market to park alongside the ruins of an old Mosque. While each vehicle left the driver on guard, one of the legionnaires fitted up with a backpack radio and the patrol headed into town down the narrow streets of the old Foca. They crossed at lot of people on their way towards the Market Place. They were a presence patrol, their aim was to be seen. After the market place they went down the main street before heading back towards their vehicles. The patrol still had some kilometres to cover before returning to Filipovici but they had made yet another contribution to reminding the inhabitants of Foca that SFOR is determined not to let them slip behind in the peace process.

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