COS EUFOR consolidates close working Links with AFBiH

January 28, 2018 8:45 AM

Chief of Staff EUFOR (COS EUFOR) had a busy week of visits to Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) Battalions, where he consolidated existing ties between EUFOR and AFBiH, and discussed future plans with the Battalion Commanders.

He started with a trip to the 1st Battalion of 5th Infantry Brigade in Zenica, where he met the Battalion Commander Lt Col Terzić. COS EUFOR’s visit was the first from a senior EUFOR figure since the Battalion Commander met the then-COMEUFOR during the 2014 flooding relief operations. COS EUFOR got a short brief on the mission, tasks and capabilities of the battalion which include ensuring a safe and secure environment (SASE) for the population living with the battalion’s area of responsibility, and contributing to disaster relief operations. Lt Col Terzič also stated his appreciation of EUFOR’s support in undertaking combined training serials with sub-units of the 1st Battalion. The long term aim for the battalion is to fulfil the NATO-style requirements and form a battalion-sized battle group. EUFOR provides support and mentoring to AFBiH units as they work towards NATO-style evaluations.

In Bileća, where he visited the 2nd Battalion of the 4th Brigade of AFBiH, COS EUFOR met the Battalion Commander Lt Col Ivezić. The battalion shares the same primary tasks as the 1st Battalion. These tasks (providing SASE in their designated areas, disaster relief operations and participating in peace support operations) are those defined for the whole of AFBiH, with other tasks met under EUFOR’s Executive Mandate. In December, EUFOR’s Multi-National Battalion (MNBN) exercised with troops from 2nd Battalion and Lt Col Ivezić praised the quality of training and noted that the EUFOR troops were from the same nation (Hungary) as the Chief of Staff. Lt Col Ivezić said: ‘We wish to continue combined training’. He spoke of the benefits of AFBiH non-commissioned personnel being employed beyond their 35th birthday (up to the age of 40) and the experience that this will retain in his battalion. His views on this age extension were unanimously shared by his colleagues in other brigades and battalions.

The final visit was to the 2nd Battalion of 5th Brigade AFBiH, located in Kiseljak and commanded by Lt Col Slišković. COS EUFOR observed AFBiH undertaking routine physical training on the assault course, as part of building his broader understanding of the daily lives of the soldiers. Lt Col Sliskovič explained the battalion’s strength in disaster relief to COS EUFOR. The battalion regularly exercises and trains with the local professional fire service. The progress that the soldiers have made in this area puts them in a good position should they need to support their civilian colleagues in the case of natural or humanitarian disaster.

While all the Battalion Commanders spoke of the progress their units are making, one of the recurring themes of the visits was the fact that battalions struggle to release personnel from their guarding duties of ammunition and weapon storage sites in order to undertake both individual and collective training. The ability to train and exercise the battalions with EUFOR was appreciated. The Capacity Building and Training Plan for 2018 with AFBiH and EUFOR personnel has already started and will see a continuation of EUFOR’s mentoring role as the AFBiH progress towards their NATO-style assessments. Capacity Building and Training of the AFBiH is one of EUFOR’s key roles in maintaining a safe and secure environment for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

written by Lt Cdr Sarah Wetherfield

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