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NATO Strategic Reserve to Train in Bosnia

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

MONS, Belgium, March 24, 1998 – About 1,800 troops from six nations, part of the 5,000-strong strategic reserve of the NATO Stabilization Force, will soon train in Bosnia for the first time.

NATO designated units from the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Turkey as the strategic reserve in February 1997. The force, based "over the horizon" on ships and at sites outside Bosnia, would rapidly deploy if NATO peacekeepers need backup, a Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe spokesman explained.

A U.S. Marine expeditionary unit with 2,000 Marines provides the reserve with both its commander and the largest part of its force structure. The strategic reserve also includes heavy and light infantry, armor, artillery and attack aircraft.

Some 1,800 reserve troops will practice deploying to Bosnia-Herzegovina March 25 to April 7 during Exercise Dynamic Response. As part of the training, a Polish airborne battalion will move to Bosnia by rail through Croatia, and a Romanian infantry battalion will move by road through the northeast sector of Croatia.

The strategic reserve will practice the same tasks performed by the NATO peacekeeping forces in Bosnia -- manning checkpoints, patrolling, inspecting weapons storage sites and more. The troops will become familiar with the territory and practice communications among their six nations and the stabilization force. The exercise will culminate with a combined arms live-fire demonstration April 3 at Glamoc range in northwest Bosnia.

Dynamic Response will be the first major training exercise conducted in Bosnia by the strategic reserve. Previously, only key leaders visited Bosnia, gaining a better understanding of the environment where they may be called upon to operate, SHAPE officials said.

Last year, the force trained in Greece. A smaller portion of the reserve focused on coordinating combined operations during Exercise Dynamic Action.

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