SFOR drill demonstrates troops' reinforcement abilities
September 4, 2003
CILJUGE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Stabilization Force troops demonstrated their ability to quickly reinforce one another during a four-hour drill held Tuesday as part of a monthlong exercise.
Militaries from five countries participated in Dynamic Response 03, an annual exercise conducted throughout the Balkans. The forces practiced flying in reserve forces under the watch of SFOR commanders, international officials and the media.
Two British Jaguar jets conducted a low flyover to provide photos of a drop zone near Eagle Base for Italian paratroops, who jumped into the area.
Meanwhile, Italian, Slovenian, Romanian and Hungarian troops, flown in by U.S. Task Force Aviation helicopters, spread around the drop zone, providing security for the paratroops.
U.S. soldiers in Bradley fighting vehicles also rushed to the area to provide support.
Some of the troops who participated in the exercise were already stationed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Others came in as part of the Over the Horizon Forces, multinational professional reserves not stationed in the country but available to reinforce ongoing SFOR operations.
The demonstration’s goal was to show that significant force can be deployed on short notice, said U.S. Lt. Gen. William Ward, the SFOR commander.
“Dynamic Response 03 is designed to assure all that the NATO force is more than the force that you see every day here in Bosnia,” Ward said.
Currently, there are less than 12,000 peacekeepers in the country. Around 60,000 were deployed at the end of 1995 to implement the Dayton peace accord, which ended the 3½-year war.
“It demonstrates a very high level of interoperability between the troops of different countries,” Ward added.
Though the troops have different backgrounds and equipment, common doctrine made it possible to work well together, he said.
Ward took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of the Bosnian armed forces being under a joint command and sharing a common doctrine.
Bosnia has two militaries, one from the Republika Srpska — the Serb-dominated part — the other from the Federation — the Muslim-Croat part. The two are under control of the two entities, not the state. Efforts to bring them under a joint command are under way.
The exercise, intended to assure the Bosnian people, also turned out to be a morale booster for Spc. Jonathan Bentley, of Company A, 5th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment of the South Carolina National Guard, who spent the last six months patrolling Bosnian communities.
“We don’t get to see that often, especially being a mechanized unit,” Bentley said. “We don’t get to train like that with other nations that often.”
Bentley was one of the U.S. soldiers in a Bradley who backed up the paratroops. “I gained a lot of respect for these guys,” he said of the international troops.
Sgt. Scott Wagner, a member of the same unit, said the exercise was a good way to finish the rotation.
“It was very exciting to see all the different militaries working together and a great experience for us,” he said.
About 3,000 troops will take part in Dynamic Response 03 in Bosnia and Kosovo before the exercise ends Sept. 26. In addition to the militaries participating Tuesday, the exerice will include troops from Germany and France.