CAPLJINA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Nineteen-ninety-five was a significant year in the history of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Dayton Peace Accords were signed in December of that year to end the Bosnian War.
That same year, the rock ‘n’ roll band U2 released the song, “Miss Sarajevo,” that highlighted to the world the tragic plight of civilians trying to survive in the capital during the conflict. In 1997, U2 was the first band to play a concert in Sarajevo since the end of the war.
Fast forward to 2012, although a scatter of bullet holes still visibly pockmark some Capljina buildings, slowly the psychological wounds of the country are beginning to heal.
The positive momentum continued May 28 to June 8 as the Bosnia-Herzegovina armed forces participated in and hosted Shared Resilience 2012, an annual U.S. European Command civil-military disaster and crisis management training exercise.
The interagency event, conducted in the spirit of partnership for peace, provided training for the U.S., Bosnia-Herzegovina and participating nations in medical readiness, humanitarian assistance and crisis consequence management.
Among the joint U.S. force that participated were two U.S. Army Reserve units from the 7th Civil Support Command, headquartered in Kaiserslautern.
The 361st Civil Affairs Brigade conducted key leader engagements throughout Capljina and the surrounding area to collect assessments of local infrastructure and public services in preparation for the culminating event, “Live Ex” on
June 4 and 5.
During the live exercise portion the 361st CA Bde. Soldiers split into two groups. They were tasked with going out in the local community to find out the most current information on sewage treatment, water supplies and emergency electrical grid shutoff during the hypothetical earthquake and chemical truck spill scenarios.
One team visited the Capljina public services office and the local electric company.
The Bosnians were eager to participate.
“There are some things you can’t learn in an educational setting,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Jacob Rogers, a civil affairs specialist with Company C, 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th Civil Support Command, U.S. Army Reserves. “Working with real people puts the pressure on you, allows you to see the flaws you have and allows for us to work as a team to back each other up.”
“It was a good opportunity to improve our skills, our equipment, our experience,” said Bosnia-Herzegovina armed forces Maj. Stanko Paradzik, a civil military cooperation officer.
“It was not only a good opportunity to learn, it was a good experience to have Americans here, to have them around Capljina to build friendships.”
A second set of 7th CSC Soldiers, troops from the 196th Medical Support Unit, also conducted assessments in preparation for the live exercise.
They visited five different medical hospitals and facilities in multiple
cities, including Mostar and Capljina, to evaluate and document their
medical readiness and capabilities in anticipation of a possible future disaster.
“That was the main bulk of our work last week to gather the information,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie Clark, a medical health care specialist with the 196th Medical Support Unit, 7th Civil Support Command, U.S. Army Reserves.
The 196th’s hospital assessments helped determine what level of care patients would receive based on a one-to-four numeric scoring system. A role four or level four would be considered the best or highest level in comparison to a role one or level one, which could potentially be used as an immediate triage facility within a close distance to a crisis or catastrophe site.
Once a patient was initially assessed, then a critical patient might then be moved to a higher level medical facility for more urgent treatment based on the extent of
their injuries and taken to the appropriately numbered medical treatment facility.
“We did concentrate on four main areas (during medical facility assessments),” Clark said. “We looked at the emergency room, the laboratory, the pharmacy, because we have a pharmacist, and radiology.”
These three days (June 4 to 6) are basically a culmination of everything we assessed prior to the “Live Ex,” Clark said.
“We used the scenario to say, should something occur (we know) they have these many beds available, they have this staff on hand, they have these many supplies on hand things like that,” Clark said.
Some of the disaster scenarios used to test or “exercise” the Bosnia-Herzegovina armed forces and local civilian authorities included a helicopter crash, wildfires, flooding, chemical spill, earthquake and a building collapse.
“Based on those scenarios, we’re seeing how they react to the different casualties that come in,” Clark added.
There were close to 500 participants involved in Shared Resilience 2012, with more than 160 U.S. service members and more than 320 from the 12 partner nations, including Montenegro and Serbia.
“We’re all trying to learn from one another,” Rogers said. “I’d love to come back in the future.”