EUFOR soldiers in conjunction with a unit of the RS Ministry of Interior Gendarmerie and Banja Luka police carried out a high speed civilian evacuation exercise of OSCE personnel in Banja Luka on Tuesday the 8 October 2019, as part of exercise Quick Response 2019. Under the eyes of EUFOR’s Chief of Staff Brigadier General László Szabó, the EUFOR troops from the Austrian contingent allowed the gendarmerie to secure the surrounding area first before they entered the OSCE building and “rescued” the civilians. Then in cooperation with the gendarmerie they quickly withdrew from the area in a convoy of vehicles using a high speed blue light escort provided by the police.

Quick Response 19 arrives in Banja Luka

Lieutenant Commander Tim Leckey who observed the scenario said,

“The effective cooperation between the gendarmerie and EUFOR allowed this exercise to run quickly and effectively. The professionalism of the gendarmerie in securing the perimeter allowed the troops from EUFOR to focus entirely on their role of getting OCSE staff out of the building safely.” He added, “Joint exercises like this benefit all the units involved as they get to practice their skills and can learn new techniques from each other.”

After the convoy left the area of the exercise it headed towards the nearest ‘safe area’ which was the Armed Forces of BiH ‘Kozara’ barracks. Before the troops could relax however, the exercise coordinator decided to challenge them further and asked one of the staff from the OSCE to feign a suspected heart attack. The medical team quickly stabilised the patient while a helicopter was called to carry out a medical evacuation. Within minutes, one of EUFOR’s Agusta Bell 212’s had arrived and the patient was transferred on board for evacuation to the nearest hospital. The hospital transfer marked the end of this part of the exercise and the troops were able to return to their barracks to prepare for the next challenging stages of the exercise.

Exercise Quick Response is the annual test of EUFOR’s capability to rapidly reinforce its troops in BiH with part of its reserve forces which are held at high-readiness in partner nations. The exercise runs in cooperation with BiH authorities, Armed Forces BiH and Law Enforcement Agencies and will take place in locations all over BiH between the 7-11 October.

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