February 2004

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SFOR OPERATION ARMIDILLO

BACKGROUND

Operation ARMIDILLO began 7th November 2003. The aim of the operation is to support the Entity Armed Forces (EAF) with their efforts to reduce their current stocks of unserviceable, unsafe and surplus ammunition, in order to reduce the number of Ammunition Storage Sites (ASS) in BiH. This is part of creating a safe and secure environment. ARMIDILLLO was initiated by SFOR, but the intent has always been to transfer responsibility to the EAF.

Large numbers of ammunition and ordnance have been destroyed since ARMIDILLO's initiation, however there is still a considerable amount of "Unsafe", "Unserviceable" and "Dangerous" ammunition that is unstable and hazardous. This presents a risk to all when moving and handling such ammunition and must de done with the utmost care.

2003 REPORT

In 2003, over 1100 tonnes of ammunition and ordnance were transported and destroyed at the Velika Ribnica (VR) destruction range. The EAF and SFOR work closely together to inspect and determine the actual condition of the ammunition. They ensure unserviceable, unsafe and serviceable ammunition is physically segregated and incompatible ammunition is separated, packaged, stacked & stored safely. Personnel are trained to load ammunition for immediate movement to the destruction site and safely conduct demolition range disposal activities of all Armed Forces ammunition natures.

The EAF and SFOR are presently developing strategies that are intended to optimise the mandated ASS reductions. To date, SFOR and the International Community have been strongly encouraged by EAF accomplishments but to maximize success in 2004, the EAF must have sufficient support equipment, material resources and vehicles to conduct the storage, transportation and destruction of ammunition and explosives. It is imperative there is no disparity in the ammunition management practices between SFOR and the EAF when the EAF ultimately assume responsibility for the project.

WAY AHEAD

SFOR is assessing its present, and future, ammunition technical capabilities and is in the process of identifying which resources can be devoted to assisting the EAF with its reduction efforts. However, it is clear from the lessons learned from Operation ARMADILLO to date that it is unlikely that SFOR will be able to maintain the status quo, or continue to take on a principal role in this EAF project. Equally clear is the fact that ownership of the problem, now more than ever, must ultimately reside with the EAF. Public safety is of paramount concern; the success of the EAF mission to reduce the number of ASS depends greatly on their continued joint, co-operative, efforts and with the assistance of SFOR, the EAF must and shall ensure their resource allocations are optimised, and that responsibilities, roles and tasks are clearly assigned and coordinated.