November 2001





MINES AND UNEXPLODED ORDANANCE (UXO): The Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Armed Forces (AF) de-mining teams carry out de-mining operations as a part of the National De-mining Plan. The BiH AF have 43 nine-man de-mining teams already operational in BiH, in accordance with the requirements of COMSFOR's Instructions. SFOR is not responsible for clearing mines; however, it puts a lot of effort into monitoring the BiH AF in their work and in developing their long term capability through training, as well as equipment donations and loans.

Training and Equipment

Three permanent de-mining schools have been opened in Banja Luka, Mostar and Travnik to enable training of the BiH AF at different levels of de-mining and in the handling of UXOs. Courses include Instructor Training, allowing students to teach their skills within their own units; this training is conducted to professional western army standards. The programme is divided into two parts: general and de-mining specialist skills training, and medical and de-mining site leader training. The course culminates with an exercise in real conditions. SFOR recently introduced into the Instructor Training course, training in how to clear derelict houses of mines, booby traps and UXOs.

Several nations have provided a total of 23 ambulances for de-mining teams and 6 Bozena mini-flails for mechanical de-mining. SFOR is currently developing an explosive detection dog programme for the BiH AF. Personnel from each component are undergoing training with mine-detection dogs. Funding comes from Norway, and the training is carried out by the Canadian funded Dog Training School at Bihac.

Future plans

* Secure funding for the purchase of additional mechanical flails.
* Obtain continued insurance coverage for the BiH AF de-miners when their current policy expires.
* Continue training with explosive detection dogs.
* Purchase additional Personal Protective Equipment and tools for manual de-mining.
* Establish an advanced trauma course for de-mining medical teams.

Bottom line

Although the BiH AF are working hard to eliminate the mine threat, the process will take many years. SFOR continues to train and supervise the BiH AF de-mining teams, but continued donor support from the International Community is essential. The improvement in the rate of de-mining as a result of the training and equipment donation stresses the importance of such critical activities.
A key issue is how to guarantee the allocation of manpower and de-mining capability in the restructured BiH Army of the future.