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The scandinavian touch in CIMIC

By 1Lt. Franois-Xavier Miller
First published in
SFOR Informer#106, February 7, 2001

Doboj - The civilian military cooperation Unit from Nordpol have their headquarters at camp Jussi. The 81 soldiers from the CIMIC Company are Swedish, Finnish or Danish. A slight particularity, a construction platoon is included within the organization. "It enables us to give appropriate answers within days," said Finnish Maj. Juhani Raanto, officer in command.
With over 100,000 DM from the annual cost-sharing, donations from the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs (one million DM in 2000), plus those from European Union - which put up the money for determined projects - the budget is sizeable.
Of course, this money is partly used for supplying classic humanitarian aid. "But we are not Santa Claus either," said Maj. Juhani, "we deliver basic products which are supplied by non-governmental organizations, and we buy some as well, but we first use what we don't need any more."
Three hundred camping beds and 8,000 scandinavian ration packs brought happiness to needy inhabitants. Whenever a building was dismantled in the camp, the timber frame or roof material were also redistributed to the community.
As a matter of fact, most of the money was invested in lasting actions, such as bridges, roads or house reconstruction operations, even rubble, garbage or debris removal from the streets.
This afternoon, Finnish Captains Lauri Halla and Vesa Laakso take out a joint patrol. Some residents in Sjenina, in the former's AOR, have been taking refuge in Skipojac Donji, under the latter's responsibility. The two officers coordinate their work to ease the return of everyone to his pre-war home. The departure of a family, its rehousing, the passage from winter to spring, are very concrete issues.
The first stop at Stanic Rijeka, on the Federation side, is to contact a small civil engeneering firm. A 4.6 km road rehabilitation project is being considered for Skipojac. CIMIC has often depended on local ressources, when they existed, and above all when they offered the best quality-price ratio. Real trade talks were instituted. The gravel supplier was put in competition. There was no way the budget would be wasted.
Then the patrol headed for Sjenina, on the RS side. The local community spokesperson was not at home but Finnish officers met Milica Lekovic, principal of the school. Before the war, children and teachers were there. In order to build up the future, the school must find again this harmony. The brand new building is vast and could accomodate more classes. The principal explained that she has been waiting for Ministry instructions and that pupils' parents were still to be convinced. "If it doesn't come from the upper level, we have to sort it at the crowd level. Tell her we have to work this together for next spring," said Capt.Halla to Aneta Teodorovic, the interpreter.
Engineers, purchasers, mediators, legal advisers, project managers; Scandinavian CIMIC soldiers cheerfully wear many hats.
Finally, what makes the difference is not so much the means nor the organisation, but the friendly and yet professional attitude of the military, the Nordpol touch, in a way.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Finland