Special Operations Forces In Bosnia
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 1996 Special operations forces from the Army, Navy and Air Force conduct numerous missions supporting NATOs implementation force in Bosnia. Assistance ranges from air support and rescue operations to reconnaissance and liaison duties.
Nearly 700 members of the Army's Special Operations Command deployed to Bosnia in midDecember and began numerous operations throughout the Balkan nation. Included are more than 100 reservists serving in Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations positions.
Army special operations units in the area include the 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis, Wash.; the 5th Group from Fort Campbell, Ky.; the 10th Group, Fort Carson, Colo.; and the Army National Guard 20th Special Forces Group, Birmingham, Ala. Portions of Fort Braggs (N.C.) 4th Psychological Operations Battalion, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, and 112th and 528th Special Operations Signal battalions are also in Bosnia.
Special operations personnel serve as liaisons between NATO forces and local nationals. Other tasks may include unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and humanitarian or civic action.
Air Force special operations forces are continuing efforts started two years ago with Operation Deny Flight. Airmen of the 16th Special Operations Wing from Hurlburt Field, Fla., and the 352nd Special Operations Group from Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, Great Britain, are providing search and rescue forces for NATO air operations. They also augment Army support to the implementation force commander.
During Deny Flight operations, two Air Force NCOs received Purple Hearts for injuries while searching for two downed French pilots. Crews flying Air Force AC130H gunships fired on targets enforcing U.N. restrictions in Bosnia. They also transported supplies and personnel into the country.
Air Force sources said special tactics airmen are with all liaison teams, coordinating air support between the teams and NATO air support. There are also specially trained Air Force security police teams serving at critical locations. Air Force special operations support forces also serve at both Brindisi and San Vito, Italy.
Navy special operations forces have assisted Army engineers. Units building bridges across the Sava River used reconnaissance information from Navy SEALs to confirm river depth and map obstacles. The SEALs, like their Air Force counterparts, are also assisting Army special operations forces in liaison missions.