Exercise Quick Response 2020 is taking place concurrently in multiple locations across BiH. In the afternoon of Wednesday 2 September, as part of Exercise Quick Response 2020, a dynamic exercise took place at Sarajevo International Airport, which rehearsed the simulation of attempted airplane hijacking and terrorist attack. This is the fourth year in a row that SIA is taking part in the exercise. Acting Director of the Airport Alan Bajić said that airplane hijacking is one of the hardest terrorist acts and one of the most complex crisis situations and continued: “Airport staff and other participants invested a lot of effort to make sure that exercise is conducted properly. I want to thank everyone who participated in the exercise. Although we hope that we would never have this situation in a real life, it is good to know that we have well trained personnel and procedures”.
After commercial flying had ceased for the day, the EUFOR Multinational Battalion in conjunction with BiH Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) quickly moved into the airport, setting up checkpoints, securing key infrastructure and dealing with a hijack and bomb threat situation. As a part of the exercise, the National Crisis Staff gave permission to police agencies to resolve the hostage situation. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Security of BiH Selmo Cikotić, Minister of Defense of BiH Sifet Podžić, Minister of Traffic and Communications BiH Vojin Mitrović, Commander EUFOR Major General Reinhard Trischak as well as leading representatives from intelligence services, law enforcement, BiH prosecution and coordination bodies. On behalf of Sarajevo International Airport the Crisis Staff was attended by acting Airport Director Alan Bajić, acting Executive Director for Traffic and Services Elvedin Begić, acting Executive Director for Development Samra Pehilj, and the Director of the Security Sector Senad Malić.
Minister Cikotić said:
“Such joint exercises with a very realistic scenario are a good opportunity to check the system of coordination and action of the competent institutions and ministries, police agencies, emergency services and the services of the Sarajevo International Airport itself. I am pleased to say that today's exercise showed a high degree of readiness, training and coordinated action of all participants in the exercise, which is a strong message to those who might want to commit terrorist acts, but also to the passengers themselves, which is an additional guarantee of their safety.”
Commander EUFOR Major General Reinhard Trischak was satisfied that the scenarios were dealt efficiently:
“Cooperation between EUFOR, the LEAs and the Airport Authority has been excellent. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with our colleagues from BiH, we have demonstrated the ability to rapidly secure and protect Sarajevo Airport, being key infrastructure vital to maintaining the safe and secure Environment in BiH.”
The scenario at Sarajevo airport is only one of the challenges EUFOR’s soldiers are facing as part of Quick Response 2020. Just one day before EUFOR secured Tuzla International Airport and deployed an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team to neutralise a suspected luggage for exercise purpose.
Quick Response is an annual Peace Support Operations Exercise and tests every year EUFOR’s contingency plans and mechanisms to rapidly activate and integrate high-readiness forces outside the country with troops already stationed in BiH for continued security, stability and progress in BiH.