September 2004

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Liaison and Observation Teams of SFOR

As a result of SFOR restructuring a new type of unit was introduced within the framework of Multi National Task Forces. The Liaison and Observation Team (LOT) is a group of soldiers who live not in military camp but in civilian accommodation among the local population providing the dynamic, responsive and locally-based 'public face' of SFOR. The purpose of LOT is to be more accessible to citizens and authorities, who want to make a better Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On average a dozen soldiers provide regular appearance of the same personnel with an active interest in the area where they are deployed. In total, there are more than 40 LOT houses across Bosnia and Herzegovina providing daily information exchange with the local authorities and communities.

A typical LOT engagement with Local Police and EUPM.

Since the LOTs have been operating, good co-operation has developed at all levels. The continuous presence and the sense of attention towards the local population enables local authorities to lead in providing a safe and secure environment but provides SFOR with the situational awareness to support them if necessary.

The key tasks of the LOTs are as follows:

- Operate with direct contact with local population, institutions and the International Community (IC);
- Responsible for local co-ordination and liaison with the IC (to include Non-Governmental Organizations), regional/ local civil and police authorities, and the populace;
- Monitor the political, economic, and social developments and focus on indicators and warnings;
- Build trust and confidence among international actors and service organizations contributing to the development of BiH;
- Monitor the progress and interaction of the IC to evaluate the degree of positive interaction, and identify any problem areas where SFOR can encourage solutions.

Working with the local population is the daily business of the LOT.

The LOT concept is proven as a success story in the SFOR part of the process of normalization in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The improved security situation and the increased role played by BiH authorities allows SFOR to restructure itself. Furthermore it paves the way for the transition from NATO to the European Union. Liaison and Observation Teams play a significant role in these changes with their open and transparent approach towards the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.