545th Military Police Company
First Team’s Finest
As of March 8, 2014
Map courtesy 1CD Association
Image courtesy 1CD Association
Image courtesy 1CD Assn
Image courtesy 1CD Assn
Photo courtesy 1CD Association
1st Cav BDE Headquarters at Eagle Base, Bosnia 1999
Photo credit – 545th MP Co Association
This is one of two MIG planes that were headed toward Eagle base when the US Air force shot it down over Bosnia in 1999. The 545th MP's team escorted CNN as well as other media to the MIG crach site. MP's on the right of the MIG photo are SGT Steve Davis, Larry Parrish, and SPC John Carter.
Operation Joint Endeavor
Operation Joint Endeavour was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization deployment of the peacekeeping force IFOR to Bosnia beginning in December 1995. The operation was the biggest military mission in the history of NATO. Almost 60,000 NATO troops in addition to forces from non-NATO nations were deployed to Bosnia. Operation Decisive Endeavor (SACEUR OPLAN 40105), beginning December 6, 1995 was a subset of Joint Endeavor.
NATO was accountable for carrying out the Dayton Peace Accords. The Dayton Peace Accords was started on November 22, 1995 by the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia, on behalf of Serbia and the Bosnian Serb Republic. The actual signing happened in Paris on December 14, 1995. The peace accords contain a General Framework Agreement and eleven supporting annexes with maps. The accords had three major goals: ending of hostilities, authorization of military and civilian program going into effect, and the establishment of a central Bosnian government while excluding individuals that serve sentences or under indictment by the International War Crimes Tribunals from taking part in the running of the government (1).
Photo courtesy NATO HQS
Image credit of 545th MP Co Association
1st Cavalry Division Deployment Order
On 17 April 1998, a Pentagon spokesman announced that the 1st Cavalry Division troops from Fort Hood, Texas would deploy in late summer to replace the US peace keeping force in Bosnia, the 1st Armored Division. It was an historic move. It was the first time a Continental United States (CONUS) based emergency unit would assume the Bosnian peacekeeping mission.
While not obvious to the layman, the challenge of moving a division size Army task force from its home station in Texas to a deployment zone far away was great. The task force of approximately five thousand soldiers required over seven hundred vehicles, aircraft, and shipping containers of supplies. The shipment had to travel to a far shore across many time zones, mountains, and kilometers of salt water. The route had to be secure and the movement had to be safe.
Planning for the move began in the spring and early summer of 1998. The equipment of the 1st Cavalry Division task force would be transported, staged and concentrated at the shipping terminal of the 596th Transportation Group in Beaumont, Texas, then be moved to its final destination by motor convoy, rail, and air delivery. Additional cargo of the 3rd BN, 229th Aviation Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, which was to be attached to the 1st Cavalry Division for Bosnian Operations, would be staged and loaded at Wilmington, North Carolina.
Spring turned into early summer, Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC) planners began to hear word of a change of plans. The original planed seaport of embarkation was to be Bremerhaven, Germany, but Pentagon planners were considering a port much closer to the destination. Aviators were concerned about maintenance and safety issues associated with a long air transit across the heart (and mountains) of Europe from northern Germany. Leaders in the 1st Cavalry Division wanted to hurry the movement of their heavy equipment to facilitate the mission transfer. Although a port closer to their destination such as the Adriatic Sea port of Rijeka, Croatia might create infrastructure and security problems, it was finally chosen because its location would speed the entry of the task force’s heavy equipment into the theater.
In May, the 3rd Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, which has its origin in the “Widow Makers”, “C” Company, 229th Aviation Regiment as an organic unit of the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam, received orders to deploy to Bosnia as peacekeepers in support of Operation JOINT FORGE. In June, in preparation for deployment, its intensive training criteria included an Aviation Training Exercise at Fort Rucker, Alabama; in July, a Mission Readiness Exercise at Fort Polk, Louisiana and in August, a Joint Air Attack Team live fire coordination exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
On 20 June, the mission of the NATO SFOR was restated to deter hostilities and stabilize the peace, contribute to a secure environment by providing a continued military presence in the area of operations, target and coordinate SFOR support to key areas and primary civil implementation organizations and progress towards a lasting consolidation of peace without further need for NATO-let forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
As a result of the mission restatement, the transition of the current NATO led SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina changed to a slightly smaller follow-on force. The United States agreed to provide a force of approximately 6,900 US Military personnel to help maintain a capable military force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Concurrently, Operation JOINT GUARD ended and Operation JOINT FORGE began. Operation JOINT FORGE continued to build on successes of Operation JOINT GUARD and JOINT ENDEAVOR. No timeline for the duration of Operation JOINT FORGE was established from the onset. Rather than establish a deadline for the termination of the mission, its accomplishments were assessed periodically and the level of force commitment adjusted, as circumstances required.
With the deployment to Bosnia inching closer, soldiers from the advanced party, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Cavalry Division had already packed their military vans in preparation for their year-long deployment.
1st Cavalry Division Deployment
Different sections from the Division Headquarters loaded the military vans for about four days. The loading went fast because everyone was assigned a specific task. Once the military vans were parked, they were loaded onto vehicles, weighed and moved to the Deployment Readiness Reaction Field
(DRRF) - To be marshaled, and taken to the railhead in one group. In addition to the Headquarters equipment, High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), five ton trucks and expand-vans from Headquarters Company motor pool were being loaded on the trains for shipment to Beaumont, Texas.
Long Lines of vehicles were concentrated at the Beaumont docks. The cargo was mostly from Fort Hood. However, some cargo was from Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and Fort Polk, Louisiana. Helicopters were flown into the port, some from as far away as a National Guard unit in California. Army Reservists from the 1192nd Transportation Terminal Brigade, from New Orleans, Louisiana, began loading on 04 and 05 August. In all, the cargo covered 192,000 square feet.
Photo courtesy 1CD Association
On 04 August, the USNS Soderman (see photo above), a roll-on, roll-off ship, belonging to the US Military Sealift Command, three football fields long and fifteen stories in height from keel to bridge, was loaded in Beaumont, Texas. The First Cavalry Division which included the 545th MP Company was on its way to Bosnian peacekeeping duties ahead of schedule, with the help from MTMC who arranged to move the equipment for the Division via the Adriatic Sea – instead of a traditional approach through Northern Europe. The bold move through the Croatian port of Rijeka saved two weeks of transit time for the “First Team” soldiers and equipment.
For the USNS Soderman, the distant port of Rijeka drew closer by the hour. As the ship approached the lands of the former country of Yugoslavia, the personnel of the MTMC were joined by some new and valuable partners, military and civilian. The military partners included the 21st Theater Area Command (TAACOM) of Kaiserslautern, Germany, who was charged with the responsibility of setting up a small city to speed the transition from ship unloading to onward movement to Bosnia.
On 20 August 1998, it was “wheels up” for the troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division as it became the first Continental United States (CONUS) based Division to support the ongoing peace-keeping mission in Bosnia and assume command of TASK FORCE EAGLE and MND-N. Members of the Division departed Robert Gray Army Airfield; Fort Hood, Texas to set the stage for more than 6,000 soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Brigades that would follow.
We have Wm. Harry Boudreau, Historian 1st Cavalry
Division Association to thank for this narrative information
and for further details please go to the 1st Cavalry Division
Web Site at: http://www.first-team.us/