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Project Harvest ongoing and ready to reap

By Maj. Ladislav Ruzicka
First published in
SFOR Informer #96, September 13, 2000

Sarajevo - German Lt. Col Klaus Schröder, Operations Officer of the Combined Joint 3 at HQ SFOR, conducted the "Project Harvest Workshop" in HQ SFOR Aug. 26.
Project Harvest started when SFOR launched the collection of unregistered weapons and ordnance in private hands in Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) in 1998. The reason this was done was to contribute to the overall safety of the citizens of BiH and to build confidence in the peace process. Eventually, this also contributes to SFOR's force protection.
The aim of the Project Harvest 2000 is to build upon the success of "Project Harvest 99" which saw the shifting of responsibility for the collection of these weapons and ordnance to the BiH authorities and the Entity Armed Forces (EAF).
The COMSFOR’s intent for the year 2000 is to work with civilian and army authorities at all levels in BiH to ensure that EAF, police and local authorities are committed to their leading role in the weapons collection process.
The MNDs must to assist with the planning and co-ordination of the local weapons and ordnance collection programmes with EAF, local police and local authorities in order to ensure an effective and workable programme tailored to the local requirements.
SFOR and the International Police Task Force (IPTF) energise and monitor the collection and destruction of weapons and ordnance by EAF and local police in order to assure an orderly and legitimate execution of the process.
Schröder's responsibility is to keep this project updated.
"I have to bring people together from HQ SFOR, MNDs, IPTF, Main Action Centre (MAC), Office of High Representative (OHR) and some other organisations to exchange the gained experience and to co-ordinate common activities for the next time. We had a big conference before we started the first period of 'Spring cleaning' (from May to July 2000). Now we have a workshop before second period 'Harvest time' (from September to November 2000) will start," said Schröder.
Project Harvest 2000 actually does collecting in two main ways. "Routine collection," which is standard day to day collection conducted by the EAF and the local police, and "Extensive collection" which is made up of the two periods mentioned earlier that are focused to give a new impulse to the project.
There has been recent discussion on not only the realisation of the project and organisation changes, but also about "how to improve and upgrade of common effort to achieve the best effect."
"The most difficult is the fact that many cases local population do not trust the local police and EAF. Local people believe that they will need weapons, ammunition etc. in the future," said British staff officer Cpt. Dennison Taniya, MND-SW.
Chief of information operations plans, Maj. Roger Higgins, US Army MND-N said people often do not know where collection points are located.
Acting plans officer for the Public Information Office, HQ SFOR, Maj. Walter Kessels of the Royal Netherlands Army added, "For the final success of the project it is most important to change people's mentality towards possession of weapons. We show that we can provide a secure environment and that people don't need their weapons in the future."
About 11,000 arms, 10,000 mines and 35,000 hand grenades were collected within 1999 and 2000. This means that the threat to the local population has been significantly reduced.
Now plans are being made for the future.
"In November or December we will have the next conference to speak about the future of the project. The intent is that the MNDs will have to report new information about the project every month. The results will be reported to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE)," said Schröder.

Related links:
Engineering: Mines and De-mining
Project Harvest