Patrolling in Bihac
It can be said that the troops in 5 Platoon, November Company have been busy soldiers since their arrival in the 3 RCR Battle Group Area of Operations.
Why you may ask? If you take a company sized tasking and divide it up to a platoon, you will have the answer.
Whether it be a mounted patrol in our Area of resposibility or a dismounted patrol in the city of Bihac, the troops are forever vigilant in accomplishing their mission.
The mission, " is to maintain the presence of SFOR within the platoons Area Of Responsibility in order to promote the return of peace and security in this area." In addition,the platoon commander stresses the importance of "gathering information from the local populace as well as monitoring Bosnian Armed Forces, civilian police and civilian behavior to ensure all facets of the Dayton Peace Accord are being observed."
Bihac is the capitol town of the Una Sana Kanton. It is the largest and richest town in the area, encompassing approximately 16 km squared. While patrolling, it is clear to see that many of the buildings inside the city were destroyed by the war, bullet holes still riddle the sides of numerous houses.
The edges of town look to have been the hardest hit. It isnt uncommon to see complete streets with houses in ruin, rubble littering what may have been a beautiful yard. Some buildings have no more roofs or walls, others have only a staircase remaining, and in most cases, the buildings have been totally leveled.
It seems though that despite the past carnage, people here go about their daily business, shopping in the market or rebuilding their houses. "Its nice to see that people are starting to get on their feet."
Each day one of the three sections takes on the task of conducting a mounted and dismounted patrol in the area. The focus, mainly on the city of Bihac and its people.
Consisting primarily of a patrol commander, two or three soldiers and an in terpreter, the patrol departs for four to six hours. The soldiers speak with the locals and gather detailed information. Questions are relayed through interpreters, and the answers fly back, animated and decisive. Despite the long treks, the troops seem quite content walking about town, taking in the towns beautiful scenery.
The language barrier slows things down slightly, but information is recorded for the reports and the troops bash on. The patrolling is kept constant. It is pertinent to make our presence known, for a fair environment to vote. If, we werent here they may start fighting again."
In the preparation training for Bosnia, the soldiers of 5 Platoon trained for the worse case scenarios. So far, we have been fortunate that we have never had to resort to the decisions used in those training incidents.
Bihac is a rather quiet town and a prime example how SFORS presence in Bosnia has to date been a positive move towards peace. To our fellow soldiers, stay vigilant and keep up the excellent work.
Helicopter View of Bihac