Latest News …
Letter to Portuguese Defense Minister
During the visit of the Portuguese Defense Minister to the Support Detachment ( Destacamento de Apoio e Serviço – DAS ) in Vogosca, Lt. Mexia, the treasurer of the DAS, delivered a public letter to the staff Minister where he described the precarious living conditions of his troops and some criticisms referent to the non-payment of the soldiers stipends. In result of this act, the 1st officer on Command , LtCol. Krug, and his second, Lt. Mexia, have been called back to Portugal on the morning of 15 March, where they will be judge by a military court-martial, for disobedience and insubordination to the Portuguese staff.
– LtCol Krug was replaced on the command by Maj. Barbosa
Later all charges on LtCol Krug have been canceled by the portuguese army staff.
One more incident with mines
On 17th of March 96 in the afternoon, Captain Leite Bastos commandant of the ” 22 Companhia de Atiradores “, was injured by a mine in Vitkovici-Gorazde. The explosive engine is a new kind of anti-personnel mine know as a Gorazde Mine, made in Gorazde by Bosnian forces. A few thousands of these mines are in the ground in the area of Gorazde. They explode when small pressure is applied on the top side. Cap Leite Basto is well, he was evacuated to the military hospital of Vogosca and submitted to surgery. He lost 3 fingers of his right hand, and has some scares on his face. Capt. Leite Basto returned to Portugal and was replaced by Capt. Santana as military observer, a veteran from UNPROFOR.
Accident with mine Sunday
On the 2nd of June 96, in the afternoon, Lt Pinto Rocha Pinheiro, was injured by an explosive device in Praca, a PMA-3 anti-personnel mine. He was immediately evacuated to Sarajevo with some scares on his face, and was blinded by the explosion of the device. Later he was transported to Rome, Italy. On the 3rd of June he was submitted to surgery. But there is no danger of life .Eng Lt Augusto Pinheiro, Commander of the Engineering Detachment of the 2ndBIAT, had an accident with a mine in Praca. The Detachment is part of the BIAT Combat Support Coy, and is in charge of engineering works and of course mine detection, Lt Pinheiro had instruction from the French Foreign Legion Engineers and also the Bosnian 1st Corps Engineers, for locally made mines. He was an expert in mines and when he was working with a Bosnian team near Praca he had a bad accident.
The most dangerous and perfidious legacy of this war: mines
New acts of scorched earth policy on the village of Praca
During the night of the 18th to 19th March, the village of Praca, North of Gorazde was systematically burned and destroyed by the Serb population leaving the village. This village was returned to the Bosnian Federation authority on 19th March. With only 20 Portuguese soldiers in this village, Portuguese IFOR forces haven’t tried to minimize the consequences of these acts. The commandant of the Portuguese BIAT, LtCol. Moço Ferreira, couldn’t take any kind of initiative or give orders to his troops in order to restore the order in the village. On the morning of the 19thof March, only a few Serb families remainded with Portuguese, in a village reduced to ashes and smoky ruins. On the afternoon of the 19th of March, when the federal authorities entered in the village, only Portuguese Forces remained in Praca.
New Contacts with both sides on the ground
On the 20th of March was realized another Join Military Commission for Gorazde in the BIAT HQ at Rogatica. Bosnian and Serb military delegations were present to discuss the new steps of the Peace Plan after D+90.
Portuguese Prime Minister visits his troops on the ground
On the 30th of March Portuguese Prime Minister, Eng. Guterres, visited the Portuguese Forces in Bosnia. The Prime Minister arrived at Sarajevo Airport in a Falcon airplane and then flew by helicopter to Rogatica where he attended a briefing and a catholic mess in the BIAT HQ. After lunch, he followed, in battalion vehicles to Ustipraca where he made a detailed visit to the well fortified camp. From Ustipraca the Prime Minister went on to Vitkovici, heading a column in a Chaimite armored vehicle. After the visit to Vitkovici flew again by helicopter to the Support Destachement Camp in Vogosca, where he finished the visit. During this visit, he didn’t make any kind of contact with the local authorities, Bosnian or Serb, military or civilian. His decision caused an embarrassing situation for the officers on command with the local authorities after his departure.
To discuss the next steps of the Dayton Agreement after D+120, a Joint Military Commission was held on 20th of April in the BIAT HQ in ROGATICA, with the presence of Bosnian and Bosnian serb military leaders from the GORAZDE area. These meetings are part of the Dayton Agreement. Before these there had already been held two other JMC in the BIAT HQ on the 28th of February and 20th of March. Gen Pedone, the Italian commander of Brigade Multinational Sarajevo North is the Chairman of these commissions for the Gorazde area. Portuguese forces are in charge of making contact with both delegations, organization and security of the meetings and the transport of the Bosnian delegation from Gorazde to Rogatica, and back.
A new aspect of Portuguese presence in Bosnia
The Portuguese Military Chaplain visited the Cardinal of Sarajevo, to prepare the visit of the Portuguese military bishop to the forces in Bosnia.
First incident with Serb Civilians
On the 26th of April, for the first time, Portuguese forces had to fire warning shots during an escort. Since February, Portuguese troops have escorting three times a week, a convoy with civilian buses, trucks and other vehicles from Sarajevo to Gorazde and back. This movement goes through the territory of the Republika Srbska. In March, after the change of Sarajevo Serb quarters, Serb displaced people threw stones against vehicles, but until now nothing serious, although once a stone broke a windscreen of a Portuguese vehicle. This time a stone hit a Bosnian vehicle, and a man was injured.
On the 29th of April during an escort of a convoy from Sarajevo to Gorazde a Portuguese Chaimite activated a smoke device hiden in a tunnel on the road from Rogatica to Gorazde in the area under control of Serb forces. Lately the tension has increased all around, Bosnian refugees want to return to their homes in the Serb controlled area, but Serb authorities don’t let them contrary to what was agreed in Dayton. In the area of responsibility of the Portuguese Battalion, Bosnian refugees in Gorazde want to return to their homes in the surrounding villages, but Serb leaders are opposed. To avoid possible conflicts, Portuguese forces have to stand as an interposition force in the area of KOPACI just near Gorazde.
New Barracks in Sarajevo
In the last week of April, the Support Service Detachement (DAS) moved from its camp in the Volkswagen factory in Vogosca to other installations in the Tito Barracks – the old military academy – near the center of Sarajevo. With this change, the Portuguese forces are deployed in: ROGATICA (HQ 2BIAT), USTIPRACA (23 Coy), VITKOVICI (22 Coy), PRACA (21 Coy), SARAJEVO – Tito Barracks – (DAS). In a reorganization of the forces the personnel strength of the DAS was reduced and now the Detachment is under the command of the BIAT.
National Day Show
To commemorate the Portuguese National Holiday – 10th of June – a show will be organized in GORAZDE on 8th of June with Portuguese artists. The singers Adelaide Ferreira, Lena d’Agua, Luis Represas and the band Despe&Siga are already confirmed. The President of the Portuguese Republic, Dr. Jorge Sampaio, announced he will visit the forces, and will be present in the show.