Members of the newly-formed 77th Brigade have completed a two-week exercise in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they trained alongside members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Armed Forces and police. The 77th Brigade is a British Army unit that draws upon a wealth of civilian and military skills from both Regular and Reservist members, who are able at short notice to provide a huge range of expertise, from civil engineering to policing, in order to help to build or restore stability overseas or to support countries recovering from natural disasters,
From 9-20 March, with the support of local authorities and relevant Ministries, the British and Bosnian teams, together with UNDP and US civil/military experts, visited the cities of Doboj and Maglaj in order to see for themselves some of the areas most affected by terrible floods last year, which affected over a million people and damaged 40,000 houses. The exercise concluded with a joint planning exercise that saw both countries practicing natural disaster contingency plans together at the Ministry of Security’s Operations and Communication Centre in Sarajevo.
Dr Samir Agic, Assistant minister for Protection and Rescue of the BiH Ministry of Security, added:
I am grateful for cooperation and confidence that Bosnia and Herzegovina can quickly and efficiently act under NATO PfP Status of Forces Agreement and its Protocols, and organise such an important exercise that provide that Bosnia and Herzegovina can be an equal partner to NATO.
Exercise Civil Bridge was the first time that British troops have carried out a peacetime military exercise in Bosnia and Herzegovina and it was enabled by the recent agreement of a new NATO Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement which deals with the status of foreign forces while present in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Edward Ferguson, British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, said:
Last year’s floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina were a very difficult time for many people, but throughout it all, the Armed Forces and police were out on the ground right across the country, saving lives and helping communities to start the process of recovery. It’s great to see British troops coming here to share experience and to learn lessons, and to improve our own ability in future to respond to natural disasters.