Bosnia Diary – Pg. 2

Green Bay to Bosnia LogoDeployment

11 Jan 96, Thu — Green Bay, WI

Reported to the unit at 0630. I didn’t have to be there until 0730, but I am paranoid about being late and besides I wanted to copy off the last print edition of Yugo Digest. We filled out a few forms and went home about Noon. Everything is already boxed and shipped except for our personal gear, so there wasn’t the same amount of urgency one would normally associate with the first day of activation.

Attended the Kiwanis meeting tonight. My step-dad, John, is a member and so was I when I lived in Green Bay (1990-91). Ed Houston, a CPA now but an SF officer in ‘Nam, asked me to pick up some foreign coins for his son. He also showed me his technique for setting off a claymore ambush.

Road at Tuzla Main.
Road at Tuzla Main.
12 Jan 96, Fri — Green Bay, WI

We brought in our personal gear for advance shipping. There is so much of it that the commercial flight we are flying on cannot handle it all. I had three full duffel bags, and the only personal item I packed was a small box that holds ten cassette tapes. All the rest of the gear was military. It’s amazing how much crap the American army carries with it; other armies must think we look like carpetbaggers or something. I think that if it can’t be fit in a ruck it shouldn’t be issued, let alone dragged along. In any case, I packed my duffels in descending order of importance, from stuff that will go into my ruck (duffel A) to snivel gear (duffel C). That way I know what to keep an eye on, and what to not care about if it gets lost in the baggage shuffle between here and Bosnia.

We had briefings all day: unexploded ordinance (UXO), SINCGARS radio, local culture, the op order and irregular forces in the AO. I knew about the Mujahideen, but did not know there were so many others. Some of those others may be fighting on the side of the Muslims (who are our unstated allies), but are fighting us in other parts of the world. Should make for some interesting encounters.

Found out we are not taking our heavy weapons (such as they are): We are leaving our M-203 grenade launchers and SAW light machineguns behind. While that does not preclude responding immediately, it does render our force more impotent than overwhelming. Politics have obviously won out over common sense.

Green Bay wasn't any snowier than the 47th FSB camp in Visca, Bosnia.
Green Bay wasn’t any snowier than the 47th FSB camp in Visca, Bosnia.
15 Jan 96, Tue — Ft. Bragg, NC

PT at 0500, then classes all day at the NAF (New Academic Facility). We had classes on OPSEC; weapon, aircraft and armor ID; identification of the various factions; a “Balkan Conflict” briefing video; medevac; first aid; map reading; and handling the media. Points of the day:

  • OPSEC is not just classified info, but all exploitable info.
  • In dealing with the media, there is no such thing as “off the record”.
  • The CA mission is to leverage the capabilities of NGOs, IOs and national governments to achieve end states.
  • The primary end state goal/objective is to achieve public confidence in the transition from IFOR to the host nation (Bosnia).

We thought we might be leaving on the 22nd, but as of right now (and these things have a tendency to change many times) we are being pushed back to the 29th. The bridge problems and inadequate road net in Bosnia are delaying the deployment of the combat units being supported by the CA assets in line ahead of us.

17 Jan 96, Wed — Ft. Bragg, NC

Got shots yesterday. I felt fine until I did PT this morning; after that I got feverish and achy. I only got shot five times — some people got jabbed eight times! The way I feel, I’m glad I’m not them.

Instructor speaking about M-1 Abrams and Bradleys sharing roads with the locals: “Try not to have the ‘biggest, baddest’ mentality. Try to be courteous to other traffic.”

Convoy lead vehicle in Bosnia.
Convoy lead vehicle in Bosnia.
18 Jan 96, Thu — Ft. Bragg, NC

Had classes on mines, cold weather and ROE.

The mine class was excellent: A video of people who been injured by mines was sobering and hands-on lane training in detection and probing was challenging.

The ROE class here was not nearly as contentious as it was last week in Green Bay. The briefing last week stated that the ROE were not being revealed to the locals so that they would be kept on their toes and thus less likely to try some funny business. The briefing today said the locals were pulling back from the lines of separation because they were aware of the ROE. Interesting.

The use of minimum force is a consistant theme of the ROE. Two overheads from the class:

  • “Use the minimum force to accomplish the mission.”
  • “Use only the minimum force necessary to defend yourself.”

“How does this square with the Commander-in-Chief’s declaration that we would be allowed to ‘respond immediately … with overwhelming force’,” asked one concerned soldier. Note that under U.S. Constitution the president also holds the position of commander-in-chief, the commander of all U.S. armed forces.

“The president isn’t in tune with the rules of engagement … I think what he meant is ‘necessary force’,” was the reply.

Looking out the window of our C-17 Globemaster at what I believe is Croatia.
Looking out the window of our C-17 Globemaster at what I believe is Croatia.
22 Jan 96, Mon — Ft. Bragg, NC

Wheels up at 1628, or 2228 Bosnia time. We will be doing an in-flight refueling about midnight. They are supposed to be pretty dicey so the flight crew passed out dramamine … That wasn’t so bad. I managed to sleep through most of it, though the gal behind me tossed. I’ve been on much worse: On jumps the Air Force likes to fly NOE for 90 minutes before they hit the DZ. I’ve seen whole planeloads of experienced paratroopers blow chunks on those. That is bad.

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