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Royal Highland Fusiliers

By Lt. ystein Paulsen
First published in
SFOR Informer #71, 29 Sept, 1999.

Gornji Vakuf/ Bugojno - Since the end of April, the Scottish 1st Battalion Royal Highland Fusiliers (1RHF) have been the Battle Group South of Multinational Division South West (MND-SW). Based in Gornji Vakuf, the Armoured Infantry unit have the Vrbas Valley as their Area of Operations (AO) in the Federation, one of the most fought-over areas in Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) during the War. With lots of Displaced Persons and Returnees (DPRE) returning to their old homes in the AOR, the soldiers of the 1RHF are continuously patrolling on foot and by Landrover. 1RHF is an Armoured Infantry battalion of approximately 720 men, based in Northern Germany.

"We have been in BiH since April, and this is our second operational tour here. We were last here under the UN flag in 1994 and 1995, with our Headquarters in Vitez, two companies in Gornij Vakuf and one company in Bugonjo," said Lt. Col. Niall Campbell, Commanding Officer (CO) 1RHF. "Our job is to ensure compliance with the Dayton Peace Agreement and help provide a stabile and secure environment in BiH for the reconstruction of the country and the returns process. To do this we conduct patrols day and night. As an Armoured Infantry battalion we have Warrior tracked fighting vehicles, but they can send the wrong message. So we don't use the Warriors if we don't have to. However they are regularly run to ensure that they remain in good working order, otherwise maintenance could get difficult," said Lt Col. Campbell.

The purpose of the patrols is, of course, to show the flag, and also to help the International Community by doing surveys for them. "Operation Harvest is also a priority when we are patrolling. We inform the locals when and where we are going to have our next Operation Harvest. When the soldiers return to conduct Operation Harvest some days later, the local inhabitants are expecting them with prepared bags of weapons and ammunition," Lt Col. Campbell added.

The RHF Battle Group is located in two different camps in Gornji Vakuf. The Battle Group Headquarters is located in the so-called "Tom Factory", which they share with 662 Squadron (UK) Army Air Corps, who fly their Lynx and Gazelle helicopters from the camp. "My B Company, which consists of two rifle platoons and a mortar platoon, is located in the "Precision Factory", another old metal factory from before the war. I also have a company in Kosovo, and another company is here in BiH, detached to the Battle Group North of MND(SW), the Royal Household Cavalry Battle Group in Mrkonjic Grad. In exchange I have a Squadron from the Royal Household Cavalry, based in Jajce, under my command," said Lt Col. Niall Campbell.

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