First news of the 3rd BIAT
On the 23rd of May the unit day of the Airborne School (ETAT) was celebrated in Tancos. The 3rd BIAT from ETAT was present in the honor parade. In the first days of June around 200 soldiers of the 3rd BIAT will leave for Bosnia, to replace equal numbers of soldiers from 2nd BIAT.
3rd BIAT on way to Bosnia
On the 5th of June the first group of more than 200 soldiers from the 3rd BIAT went to Bosnia to replace equal numbers of soldiers from the 2nd BIAT.
With this group replacing the 2ndBIAT, the soldiers that now go to Bosnia receive special training in mine awareness, to avoid more accidents with mines.
The 3rd BIAT commander, LtCol Saraiva, is a veteran from Bosnia, and has served as Monitor in the European Community Monitor Mission ( ECMM ) during one year, at the beginning of the UNPROFOR Mission in this country.
The 3rd BIAT will be at full strength in Bosnia in the beginning of August. On next the 25th of July and 15th of August, the next steps to replace all personnel from the 2ndBIAT will occur.
First serious incident with Serb troops
Portuguese troops and serbian troops on Monday the 10th of June, were involved in a light incident in Bosnia, without major consequences. “A Portuguese patrol, under the command of Lt. Rosa during a routine mission, found an unexpected Serbian armed ( VRS ) force training in the Zepa area, at the extreme north side of the multi-national IFOR forces area, near the border of the US controlled area”. After some moments of tension between the two sides, the situation return to normal. In fact the Serbian troops were authorized to train in this area by IFOR command. This is not the first time that Portuguese forces have been involved in incidents with serbian armed forces, but in all cases were resolved without incident.
- Same news from NATO, IFOR MISSION site. OSCE press conference – held in the CPIC on 12 jun 96
- As you probably know, the spurious report about Mladic may have stemmed from a minor situation which developed on Monday evening when a group of VRS soldiers were sighted by a Portuguese patrol some 15 kms South of Han Pijesak. The VRS claimed to be on a training exercise which the IFOR patrol went to the soldiers’ headquarters to verify. At no stage, was Mladic encountered or seen.
- Maj. Haselock: the press release basically discusses it and lays it all out. You can get a copy of that afterwards. I mean, they saw some VRS troops carrying out some training about 15km South of Han Pijesak. They claimed, as I say, to be on a training exercise. The IFOR patrol went with them to their HQ which is slightly closer to Han Pijesak, to determine whether the training exercise had been authorized. It had been locally authorized although the Portuguese patrol were unaware of that. And when they were content that was legitimate, they then left.
- But there was nothing more than that, there were only small number of VRS troops involved as far as I understand. There was no, we saw no difficulty and certainly no sighting of Mladic.
- (Nuno Bras: RDP Portuguese Radio Station) Simon, how can you explain that a Portuguese patrol was located in the vicinity of Pale which is not at all their usual region of deployment.
Maj. Haselock: they were crossing the border between divisional areas. It is not a solid wall. General military practice is that you patrol across borders, across boundaries so that they do not become a sort of… Otherwise people might patrol up to one side and then leave it and then up the other side and leave it. You make it sort of no-man’s land developing in the middle.
- General military practice is that you patrol across the borders. If you see something that is happening on the other side and people know that you are in that patrolling box, you can certainly patrol across that border and follow up into that area. There is nothing unusual about that.
- (Jacques Charmelot, AFP) it would be wrong to assume that they are part of any kind of reinforcement of…?
- Maj. Haselock: they were on the routine patrol and they saw something suspicious which they followed up on.
20 June 1996, NEWS HEADLINES from NATO site: IFOR MISSION, IFOR to stop providing escort to traffic heading for Gorazde
AFP, June 19, quoted an IFOR spokesman saying IFOR would cease providing an escort to traffic heading for the Gorazde pocket through Bosnian Serb territory in Eastern Bosnia. The spokesman said security on the Sarajevo-Gorazde route was good enough to obviate the need for the escort. The escort would be discontinued from June 28, but IFOR would continue to monitor the route, the spokesman reportedly said.
This kind of mission was accomplished by Portuguese soldiers sinc the beginnings of the IFOR presenc in Bosnia.
Later, IFOR command on Bosnia confirmed that kind of mission was definitely ceased since June 28 of 1996. Now IFOR just monitorized the route as it was previously announced.
Portuguese Soldiers injured by gun fire
Two Portuguese soldiers from the BAI ( Batalhão de Infantaria Aeroptransportado ) have been injured in Bosnia. This incident occurred at 5.20 am, day 23rd of June in Vitkovici. Private Armindo Borrego Lopes and Nelson Ferraz Marques, were assisted by the medic of the unit at Rogatica, and later evacuated to the Italian Military Hospital, in Sarajevo, for surgery and observation. This incident occurred when Priv Lopes, who was on duty at that time, making the security procedures of his pistol, a Valther P-38 9mm pistol, and accidentally firing a bullet. The bullet hit his left hand and his left leg, and the same bullet injured Priv Marques on his right leg. They will return to service in a few days. These soldiers serving in the 22 Coy, as part of the first group of the 3rd BIAT.
Portuguese convoy under gun fire
On the 7th of July, at 6.42 pm, near Podromanja, a Portuguese supply convoy from Sarajevo to Rogatica, in Bosnian-Serb territory, came under gun fire. Portuguese soldiers responded promptly with shots to the area of the gun fire. No casualties, or wounded soldiers, have been reported for Portuguese forces, just one vehicle was hit. The aggressors have not been identified.
Same news from SHAPE site: IFOR MISSION, Portuguese convoy fired upon in Bosnia
AP quotes NATO officials saying Monday six Portuguese soldiers serving with IFOR were shot at in Bosnian Serb territory and responded with several bursts of small arms fire. No casualties were reported in the incident. The attack occurred some 35 kms south of Han Pijesak, site of a weekend standoff between U.S. soldiers and Bosnian Serbs.
Portuguese Soldiers apprehend non-authorized weapons
Sunday, 14 of July, at 17:00pm, Portuguese soldiers during an inspection of a chopper flying from Zenica to Gorazde, discovered four canons and 148 anti-tank ammunitions. The chopper was from the Bosnian Federation Government. This kind of civilian flight was authorized until this date, but with the finding of the transportation of non-authorized weapons, all civilian flights of Bosnian Federation Government have been canceled.
15 July 1996, same news from NATO site: IFOR MISSION
Portuguese patrol arrived in Gorazde to monitor an authorized HIP helicopter flight from Zenica. Inside, rather than the 24 passengers it had been authorized to carry, there were four 75 millimeter anti-tank weapons, and 148 rounds of anti-tank ammunition. The weapons and ammunition were just in the process of being transferred from the helicopter to a civilian vehicle. So, needless to say, it was all seized and taken to an IFOR base near Gorazde. As a result, all A-B-I-H rotary and fixed-wing flights are banned immediately and until further notice. That includes a previously approved flight from Zenica to Coralici and back which was set for 8 this morning.
The 3rd BIAT in review
On the 24th of July, at the Airborne School in Tancos the 3rdBIAT received the National Flag. This event happened after the last exercise in Portugal, the army’s biggest exercise ORION-96. On the 25th July the 3rd BIAT participated in a parade for commemorate army day in the Sta Margarida Military Camp. On the 29th July 200 men of 3rd BIAT will follow to Bosnia together with the Battalion commander LtCol F. Saraiva On the 8th August they take over in Rogatica HQ.
During the commemorations of the Army Day on the 25th of July in Sta Margarida Military Camp, Cap Leite Basto, injured in Bosnia was awarded the Silver Medal for Distinguished Service. Also awarded with the Distinguished Services Medal – copper, was 1st Sargent Oliveira, for his action to take Lt. Pinheiro out of the minefield where he was injured.
Accident in Bosnia
A Portuguese soldier – Private Esteves Fonseca got injured on the 26th July in a vehicle accident near the Bosnian village of Praca, three other soldiers were also assisted but nothing serious. This is not the first accident in Bosnia, immediately upon arrival, still in Croatia, an armored Chaimite had an accident. Some other small accidents have happened during the mission in all contingents. Recently the Bosnian newspaper Oslobodjenie published an article called “Danger IFOR” saying that since January, IFOR had more than 400 vehicle accidents with 19 death and more than 100 injured. Although Portuguese accidents are not too numerous, the most serious of them happened in March, and killed a Bosnian child and left another injured.
Fire in the Camp Base at Rogatica
On the Day 27th July, Private José António Carvalho Pacheco from the 2nd BIAT received 2nd degree burns. When he turned on the water-heater to have a shower, the water-heater explode, and a fire occurred in the barrack, which was promptly stamped out. He has been evacuated to the Italian Hospital at Sarajevo for treatment and observation. Later he was transported to Lisbon.
The relief of the 2nd BIAT
On the 28th of Jul, 200 personnel from the 2nd BIAT went back to Portugal, relieved after 6 months of duty in Bosnia, by equal numbers of personnel from the 3rd BIAT. At the same time, the new officer in command of the 3rd BIAT, LtCol Fernando Saraiva, joined his troops in Bosnia, in substitution of LtCol. Moço Ferreira. The official relieving ceremony of the command will take place on day 8 of Aug. The next steps of the relief will take place on day 7 of Aug and day 12 of Aug.
Day 6 of Aug next step of the relieve of the 2nd BIAT
70 Soldiers from the 3rd BIAT went to Bosnia on the morning of the 6th of Aug, from Lisbon to Sarajevo on a Military flight.
Day 12 of Aug, end of the 2nd BIAT relief.
On the morning of day 12 of Aug, the latest 200 personnels from the 3rd BIAT left the Military Airport of Figo Maduro ( Lisbon ), for Sarajevo. They will be located at Rogatica in relief of the 2nd BIAT. They will supervise and secure the elections of September, and be present in Bosnia until the end of the IFOR forces mission in Bosnia.
At the same time the last 200 soldiers from the 2nd BIAT will come back to Portugal on the morning, of the 13st of Aug. after 6 months of duty in Bosnia.
IFOR Forces on heightened alert since day 11 of Aug
IFOR Forces have been placed on heightened alert after a violation of Dayton Agreement by Bosnian Serbs authorities. On morning of Saturday 10 Aug, a IFOR Patrol has been keep to proceed with a inspection on an Serb Military dump near Pale. All portuguese Patrols have been canceled since this day to prevent all kind of explosive situations.
Same news from SHAPE site: IFOR MISSION, NATO orders Serbs to comply over arms inspection.
NATO sent clear orders to the Bosnian Serbs on Sunday to comply with the Dayton peace accord after they blocked inspection of an arms storage site, an alliance source said. NATO pulled its liaison officers out of the Bosnian Serb capital of Pale, a sure sign of its displeasure over Saturday’s incident. “NATO acted on Sunday to enforce compliance with key military provisions of the Dayton peace agreement,” said the source “. Senior (NATO) leadership has contacted the Serbs to direct them to comply with the provisions. Senior officials on both sides were in contact on Sunday trying to resolve the issue.”
Day 19 of Aug. Operation ” Volcano “. NATO starts blowing up unauthorized Bosnian Serb ammunitions
NATO troops began blowing up ammunition seized from a Bosnian Serb depot Monday located at Margetici, implementing Operation Volcano. It was estimated that between 15 and 30 tons of material was destroyed, most of it mines. NATO received a letter from Bosnian Serb Army Chief of Staff Tolimir asking that Operation Volcano be called off. NATO sources are quoted saying Gen. Walker would reply to the letter, but the destruction of Serb munitions would continue.
Portuguese personnel from the 3rd BIAT took part in this operation certifying the security of the IFOR command on the sites of the explosions.
Operation “Mercury”, day 2 to 17 of september of 1986
On september the 14th took place the multiple elections in Bosnia although contested, were the most significant application of the Dayton’s agreements in IFOR mission. The 3ºBIAT in Bosnia cooperate intensely in the operations to support the elections. To the 3°BIAT personal, the ” Operation Mercury ” was started much earlier. The operation included patrols reconnaissance of the itineraries to be used by for this elections, transportation and equipment safeguard to the electoral rooms and the ballot-papers, general security of the responsibility area attributed to the Portuguese troops during the election period, security of the two roods to be used on day 14th of September by refugees, transport and protection of the material used on this elections.
With the conclusion of the electoral act, an major steep of the Dayton’s Agreements is concluded.
The End of the mission of the portuguese IFOR troops in Bosnia.
The retreat of the entire Portuguese army from IFOR Mission in Bosnia can happen at the end of November, or maybe on 9th or 10th of January from the next year. Since the IFOR mandate ends on 20th on the next December, the retreat of the troops from Bosnia should occur before that date. Only when the municipal elections in Bosnia were postponed the UN representative Carl Bilt, solicited to the support protection to the period between 14th of September and 20th of December, in a way that elections can be supported.
The NATO mission in Bosnia will be for more one year.
Day 26 of september, Defense ministers of NATO countries, at their annual meeting in Bergen, announced that they had begun contingency planning for a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia for next year.
One more accident with a portuguese vehicle