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Special Ops, Volume 32

by Yves Debay, James R. Hill, Clemens Niesner & Alberto Scarpitta

Concord Publications, ISBN 962-361-099-8, Price: unavailable.

We live in a violent world, where wars both large and small, of high-intensity or low-intensity are waged on an almost daily basis. This latest Special Ops title deals with recent and on-going conflicts in the Balkans, Iraq and Chechnya. Other articles cover Belgian and Italian Special Ops units, with the latter depicted in training and deployed to the Balkans.

The first article is from Mr. Debay and is entitled “Kosovo 2004 Multinational Brigade North East in the Eye of the Storm”. It contains very informative text detailing the murders and riots which took place beginning in March 2004 in and around the town of Mitrovica, and the apparent failures by NATO and the UN to enforce the peace. The 85 photos cover a range of subjects from troops of the various units that were part of the Brigade, to their vehicles and their surroundings. Of particular interest to modelers are French VABs and VBLS, Belgian Pandurs, Piranha IIIs and Mercedes Wolf 4x4s, Danish M113s with passive appliqué armor array, Greek M113s, Swedish SISU Patria wheeled APCs and a host of different armored and un-armored wheeled vehicles from such disparate nations as Germany, Morocco, Ukraine and Latvia.

The second article, also by Mr. Debay (he gets around!), presents coverage of a small Australian contingent from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment as they provide security to their diplomats in Baghdad. The 20 photos that make up the article entitled “Aussies in Baghdad” cover the troops, their personal weapons, and their ASLAV and Bison wheeled AFVs. The text briefly describes the reasons for Australia’s involvement in Iraq, as well as the specific mission of the unit that is profiled.

Number three in the hit parade is a piece from the series editor, Mr. Hill. It describes the three battles the Russians fought to gain and maintain control of the Chechyn capitol of Grozny. Entitled “Street Fights in Grozny”, it contains 25 photographs from the Novosti agency depicting Russian and Chechyn troops as well as a few tanks and APCs. The text gives a fine briefing of the situation at the time that the Russians made their assaults in 1994, 1996 and 2000. In particular, insurgent tactics and “lessons learned” by the Russians are discussed in some detail.

Article four is devoted to the “Belgian Para-Commando Brigade” and was written and photographed by Mr. Niesner. It contains text devoted to a brief history of the brigade’s formation as well as details on the organization of its component units. The 27 photos cover the brigade’s men and their personal, as well as crew-served weapons. Vehicles covered include the Pandur 6x6 AFV, versions of the Bombardier Iltis 4x4 all-terrain vehicle (command, Milan ATGW and recon), the tiny John Deere “Gator” 6x6 ATV, artillery and trucks. There is also a photo of a C-130 Hercules transport to tidy things up.

The final article covers Italy’s famed Carabinieri with the emphases on special missions. “The MSU, Italian Carabinieri in the Former Yugoslavia” profiles the Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) and the part played by the Italian contingent in what was once known as Yugoslavia. The text, by Mr. Scarpitta describes the unit’s mission and its organization in great detail, as well as how it trains to meet the challenges of today’s “New World Disorder”. The 37 photos (some credited to P. Valpolini) cover the members of the unit during training and also as they are deployed in Kosovo. The unit is not heavy with AFVs, but coverage includes the M113-based VCC1 APC, VM-90P wheeled light AFVs, as well as Land Rover Defender 90s. The men’s equipment and uniforms are covered and they range from standard police-type uniforms, weapons and anti-riot gear, to more conventional infantry weapons and camouflaged uniforms.

Altogether, this latest volume in the series is quite interesting and should serve the needs of both modern combat vehicle modelers and figure modelers.

Highly recommended.

Frank V. De Sisto

Concord Publications are available from retail and mail order shops, or from the publisher at: www.concord-publications.com