Russians: another fruitful Harvest
Maj. Valery Kovalenko
Sgt. Artyom Bezborodov
Sgt. Maxim Zakharov
First published April 10, 2003
Seven years after the end of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(BiH) nobody is able to make an assessment of the number of
unregistered weapons and ammunition kept by locals. Since
these weapons pose a real danger, one of SFOR's priorities
is to collect them. The amount of weapons gathered during
just 50 days of the Active Harvest performed by the Russian
Military Contingent (RMC) show that a potential threat to
a safe and secure environment still exists.
Last year the previous Harvest was very efficient and the
results were really astonishing. The Commander of the RMC
believes such great results were achieved due to good organisation,
management and co-ordination. February was a month of intensive
Information Operations held among the locals.
The power of word
The Information and Analytic Group (IAGR) led by Lt. Col.
Alexander Ryabukhin tried to influence locals by using the
real examples of tragedies that happened in the RMC Area of
Responsibility. The death of a teenager, who set up an improvised
arsenal in the Coretach village, was one example. Another
was the explosion of a chimney in the Bulodjani village, caused
by the accidental introduction of an explosive substance.
It affected the parents of three children, making them invalids.
The plan included the design of posters, their dissemination,
publication of press releases, conducting of conferences,
broadcasting from Osvit in Zvornik and BN-Radio in Bijeljina
and finally co-operation with radio MIR. The most effective
influence was exerted through a television campaign that was
created with the help of US soldiers and broadcasted by BN-TV
Cpl. Dmitry Matrosov, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team
member said: "We are glad to be successful in collecting
illegal weapons; we hope that it will be a good contribution
to the common SFOR efforts, for the implementation of the
cause of peace."
"We are also very grateful to our counterparts as they
rendered great support and assistance," Ryabukhin added.
On the third day of the information phase, the locals of Jablonica
let Russian soldiers know about a big ammunition depot, located
in an old shed. EOD teams, led by Maj. Alexei Vikulov, found
there all the weapons, boxes of ammunition and facilities
needed to equip two mortar batteries.
Real Active Harvest
The achievements of Active Harvest are the result of a good
preparatory work. From day to day the soldiers patrolled,
examined the situation and got acquainted with local leaders,
local police chiefs and enforcement organisations. Furthermore
they co-ordinated their actions with other contingents and
EOD teams, such the Americans, Polish and Turkish.
The most successful group was under the command of Col. Valery
Kiselev. This was much to the credit of the interpreters:
2Lt. Alexey Okhapkin and Svetlana Pavlovich.
The local population was informed in advance about the location
of weapons collection points and that's why they brought the
weapons on their own. They also turned in weapons directly
to the checkpoint of the RMC base.
The deputy commander of MNB-N, US Col Johnson, was present
for the destruction of the weapons and ammunition. "I
appreciate what the RMC has done. This unit has collected
many more weapons and ammunition than any other contingent.
I wish they would share their experience and secrets with
others," he said.
It is - partly - done.
Nations of SFOR: Russia