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Pontoon Battalions [Pontonirskom Bataljonu]

Following the split with Montenegro, Serbia became a landlocked country. After reorganization of the Military of Serbia, the River Flotilla was organizationally subordinated to Land Forces, as the military didn't have a Navy. The Flotilla is now organized as Brigade-size unit, and two pontoon battalions [pontonirskom bataljonu] - the 110th Pontoon Battalion and the 111th Pontoon Battalion - from 1st Land Force Brigade are subordinated to the River Flotilla.

The River flotilla was transformed into a brigade level unit on 02 October 2008, when the pontoon units became part of River flotilla, and were subsequently renumbered as 1st Pontoon Battalion and 2nd Pontoon Battalion. The Serbian River flotilla is intended for keeping the operative regime of sailing and protection of interests of Serbia on inner sailing corridors (ISC). Assignments execute independent, in cooperation with units of Land Forces, Air Forces and AD and in cooperation with forces of Police. It included a pair of 441 class ex-Yugoslav Assault ships: DJC-411 and DJC-412 [the later unit may no longer be in service].

Pontoon units, in modern conditions in which combat operations are to be carried out, demonstrate the need that within the framework of questions pertaining to the command and control in a pontoon battalion should be solved qualitatively new and thus yet not researched problems. The basic question that follows from the substance of these problems and that shows that a change is needed in the organizational structure, for the purpose of improvement of the command and control, pertains to the methods by whose application this improvement can be effected. The known facts include links and interrelationship, communications, number of physical links, overall effectiveness and command and control process in a pontoon battalion, all of which makes possible the optimization of command and control in the battalion. This does not exhaust all the peculiarities of the specific employment of the battalion, particularly the increased number of links between the battalion commander and commanders of his subordinated units with commanders of units with which the battalion has either to effect combat cooperation or to cooperate in general.

The members of the armed forces of Serbia and Hungary conducted military exercise Velika Reka (Big River) on 09 November 2007 on the river Sava near Sabac where they demonstrated their capability to provide assistance to civilians in case of natural disasters and catastrophes.The exercise was carried out following the preplanned scenario - a flood which occurred on the river between the blue and the green state. After the competent government structures reached a decision to deploy armed forces the forces started their activities to address the consequences. The members of the 110th Engineering Pontoon Battalion of the SAF Land Forces First Brigade, under the command of Lt. Col. Zoran Stanic, were the ones carrying out the exercise, while the Hungarian officers participated in the work of HQs in charge of preparing the exercise.

Big River 2007 included actions of evacuations and rescuing civilians by deploying assault boats and amphibious transporters while deploying divers to rescue possible drowning victims. In addition to exercising procedures and standards for the deployment of forces in crisis situations, the exercise also showed possibilities for using SAF special-purpose weapons which can be used for rescuing cattle and salvaging assets and to fortify levees on the river banks of large rivers. The exercise also involved medical teams, water supply stations, along with an organized evacuation of and tending to the persons in the flooded areas.

This joint exercise was carried out according to the plan for bilateral military cooperation between Hungary and Serbia. In his assessment of the exercise, Maj. Gen. Tibor Benke, who led Hungarian delegation, commended Serbian members of the pontoon battalion for demonstrating top-level of capability in carrying out the most complex engineering tasks. The Chief of the Department of Training and Doctrine Maj. Gen. Petar Cornakov pointed out that the reason for the cooperation of the two countries lies in organizing an appropriate response to floods as a real threat both states face every year. According to the words of Gen. Cornakov, todays exercise has opened new perspectives for a more comprehensive and richer cooperation between the two armies which have proved on more occasions that they are capable of meeting even the most tasking challenges.

In December 2011 members of the 1st Pontoon Battalion of the River Flotilla disassembled the pontoon bridge across the river Lim in Brodarevo. The pontoon bridge, 65m long and 7m wide, was assembled by the River Flotilla pontoon battalion on December 17, and opened for traffic a day later, on 18 December 2010. In that way, after the flood damaged the existing bridge on December 2, the inhabitants of ten villages on the right bank of the Lim River, at the foot of the mountain Jadovnik, were enabled to connect with the main road towards Prijepolje and Bijelo Polje. During that one year, as the bridge was operational, fifteen commanding officers and professional soldiers from the first pontoon battalion of the River Flotilla and the Sabac garrison were on duty around the clock maintaining the pontoon bridge. Up to one hundred vehicles and a large number of pedestrians crossed the bridge on daily basis. Following the static testing, the reconstructed bridge across the Lim would be opened for traffic.

441 class Assault ships 441 class Assault ships



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