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The current time is: 11/19/2017 9:18:24 AM
 (1946-1999) Other 20th Century Battles    
AuthorMessage
kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1902

Operation "Bøllebank" (Hooligan bashing) April 29th 1994
Posted on: 1/5/2017 6:21:36 PM
On April 29th 1994, Danish Leo 1A5 tanks, forming part of Nordbatt 2 (Nordic battalion 2), engaged and destroyed Bosnian Serb artillery and anti-tank batteries close to Tuzla in Bosnia.

The Serbs had been shelling a Swedish/Norwegian observation post in the area, and the response from the Danish armoured units came after months of bullying from Bosnian Serbe forces all over Bosnia (where UN personnel were taken hostage etc). The engagement was the first time UN used heavy weapons in Bosnia and the first time Danish forces took part in battle since ww2. Up to 150 Bosnian Serb soldiers were killed in the engagement, with no losses on the UN/Nordbatt side.

In the past few days the story has come back in Danish media, as some of the soldiers (incl individual tank comanders) involved in the battle, claim the two commanding officers, Lt. Col. Møller and Maj. Rasmussen, have significantly spun the incident in their own favour in their official memoirs of the event.
In reality, the soldiers claim, the leaders where at a loss for what to do and how to respond, and the succesful outcome was pure luck and not the result of good leadership...It appears to boil down to a battle of credit - was it good leadership from above, or was it the individual leadership shown by the single tank commander that saved the day?

There are now calls for an official investigation to establish exactly what happened on thet day in 1994.

I have myself spoken to Norwegian soldiers that were in the OP that was being shelled, and their experiences largely match the story told by Lt.Col. Møller (but they were obviously not in the heat of the battle where the Danish tanks were operating).

Interesting to see how this develops.

Here is a short resume of what happened, not this is partly based on the memoirs of Lt.Col. Møller.

[Read More]
---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3445

Re: Operation "Bøllebank" (Hooligan bashing) April 29th 1994
Posted on: 1/27/2017 4:40:30 AM
 Some are wondering if Putin's next gambit will be a restart of the Serbia-Kosovo War. If the EU is looking to make a military power out of itself, this is a ready-made challenge.

Image: Serbian train in livery designed to outrage Kosovars.


Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3445

Re: Operation "Bøllebank" (Hooligan bashing) April 29th 1994
Posted on: 1/27/2017 4:57:54 AM
 Regarding the battle, I don't think "pure luck" describes it. The Danes were fortunate the antitank ambush did not cause casualties or vehicle loss, but it sounds like they took the situation in stride and returned effective fire. Detonating the ammo dump was a lucky hit; I'll bet that took some of the fight out of the Serbs. Ultimately, the sad thing is that after all the suffering caused by the Balkan Wars, too many in that region are ready to take up arms again.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5520

Re: Operation "Bøllebank" (Hooligan bashing) April 29th 1994
Posted on: 1/27/2017 7:19:56 AM
Hello Kai,

Why was the requested air strike denied? Were the conditions poor for flying or did UNPROFOR command consider that to be a provocation?

Cheers,

George

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1902

Re: Operation "Bøllebank" (Hooligan bashing) April 29th 1994
Posted on: 1/27/2017 7:45:47 AM

Quote:
Hello Kai,

Why was the requested air strike denied? Were the conditions poor for flying or did UNPROFOR command consider that to be a provocation?

Cheers,

George
--George


Hi George,
generally the UN operations did not receive air support, probably as you suggest because it was seen as provocative and could mean the much stronger Serb forces would go much further in their harassment of UN troops. There were already UN troops handcuffed to bridges and power stations after having been forced to surrender to the Serbs. For instance, the commander of the Dutch battalion at Srebrenica begged for air support several times but was rejected, and consequently felt forced to hand over the civilians to be massacred (many people argue that the Dutch should have fought the Serbs,but realities on the ground do not support that argument). Generally, the UN operations were governed by political considerations and commanders had their hands and feet tied. Compare and contrast with NATO operations both in Bosnia and Kosovo, where air support was applied as and when militarily necessary.

The frustration with UN rules of engagement was massive, I remember the anger displayed by troops that either had to fight with one arm tied behind their back, or even more so, forced not to fight when they felt they should and could have prevented atrocities right before their eyes.

The Nordics in this engagement were exceptionally well equipped, compared to other forces, in that there were MBT's available, and there are indications that the Serbes were generally surprised when the Danes returned fire -the general modus operandi for UN troops was to hunker down and let the political reprsentatives hammer out a deal with the Serb leadership.
---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

kaii
Edinburgh, UK
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major


Posts: 1902

Re: Operation "Bøllebank" (Hooligan bashing) April 29th 1994
Posted on: 1/27/2017 7:52:36 AM

Quote:
 Regarding the battle, I don't think "pure luck" describes it. The Danes were fortunate the antitank ambush did not cause casualties or vehicle loss, but it sounds like they took the situation in stride and returned effective fire. Detonating the ammo dump was a lucky hit; I'll bet that took some of the fight out of the Serbs. Ultimately, the sad thing is that after all the suffering caused by the Balkan Wars, too many in that region are ready to take up arms again.

Cheers

BW
--BWilson


I agree Bill,
the debate in Denmark now is really mostly about whether an order to fire was actually given by the two commanding officers, or whether the decision was actually made by the individual tank commander in response to a lack of orders and direction from above. I.e.did the two officers that have been hailed as heroes, and largely built a career as authors and lecturers afterwards, in reality freeze up and leave the situation to their sergeants and 2nd Lt's in the tanks?

Not sure whether there will ever be a definite answer.

The outcome of the engagement is not in doubt though.
---------------
A fool and his money are soon elected.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5520

Re: Operation "Bøllebank" (Hooligan bashing) April 29th 1994
Posted on: 1/27/2017 8:15:19 AM

Quote:
The frustration with UN rules of engagement was massive, I remember the anger displayed by troops that either had to fight with one arm tied behind their back, or even more so, forced not to fight when they felt they should and could have prevented atrocities right before their eyes.


Indeed, I recall a battle that the Canadian battle group assisted by two companies of French mechanized infantry fought at a place called the Medak Pocket.

In that case, it was the Croats who were engaged in ethnic cleansing of Serbian villages.

As the Canadians and French moved into position, they were shelled and shot at by the Croats.

The Canadian commander decided that he had had enough and he and the French fired back, killing a lot of Croats and stopping them.

They stopped the Croats but could see smoke coming from villages behind the Croat lines, a sign that they had done their dirty work.

And then the commander had to negotiated a pull back by the Croats. That took 24 hours as the Croats tried to clean up the evidence of their dirty work.


The Medak Pocket was one of the bigger battles fought by UNPROFOR but the Canadian government was concerned that its troops had violated the ROE and denied that it happened.

Those guys came home and little was said in the press. No commendations. Nothing.

So the troops were quite depressed at that. They knew that they had saved Serbs civilians who were destined for "cleansing" but in the wake of the Somalia affair, the Canadian government didn't want any more bad press internationally. So it was better to say nothing if there had been a violation of the ROE.

These UN peace keeping missions are a lot tougher than people realize. In a sense, it is more complex than a true combat mission and demands a different skill set including an understanding of the cultures involved.

I think that the Danes did the only thing that they could. I wonder how many times the commander vacillated before he said "to hell with this" and fired back.


Cheers,

George

 (1946-1999) Other 20th Century Battles    
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