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United de-mining effort

By 1Lt. Kristoffer Egeberg
First published in
SFOR Informer#106, February 7, 2001

There are few other areas where SFOR, along with the Entity Armed Forces (EAF), stand as united as in the field of engineering.
They are specially united in the clearance of mines, utilising their combined strength to do so. Plans are made, side by side in joint meetings. The first SFOR/EAF de-mining conference, with participants from all parties involved, brought them several steps closer toward the goal of a de-mined BiH.
The engineer chiefs of the EAF, representatives from the Republika Srpska (RS) and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre (MAC), SFOR HQ and each Multinational Division (MND) gathered. Also, a representative from the civilian company providing heavy flail assistant was present.
"As far as we know this is the first meeting with everyone. There is no one else involved in the EAF de-mining program that was not there," said Chief SFOR Counter mine/EOD Lt. Col. James Wood.
The main purpose of the conference was to plan the EAF summer de-mining campaign.
"The key point is to ensure that we make the best use of mechanical preparation (Flails), manual de-mining teams, and de-mining dog teams. This will be the first year we have all three assets," Wood said.
Previously the EAF de-mining effort has consisted of manual teams and some support from "Bozena" mini-flails. Now, Wood said he feels there are many more options available.
"It's well known that SFOR monitors the EAF de-mining, but our involvement goes much beyond that. We are supplying the program itself and finding donors. The support includes equipment, ambulances and de-mining dogs. The most supportive donor countries are Norway, Canada, and USA," he said.
"These meetings are not completely new, as we have had meetings with SFOR regularly since 1996. But this is the first time we all sit together, speaking about the de-mining work during the summer campaign and defining the locations for the mine-flails to work," said Chief Engineers Federation Army Col. Asim Spahic.
"We have definitively common topics which are in the interest of the people. These meetings are very useful and build confidence and balance. And I think we are making progress," he said.
Spahic gives SFOR much of the credit for bringing the parties together, and giving support to speed up the process.
"SFOR is of huge importance in this co-operation. It is the body that provides all materials and resources, and we must work with SFOR in the future to develop the de-mining capacity of the Entity Armed Forces. As of the co-operation between the Entity Armed Forces, I'm confident it will continue in the future," Spahic said.

Related link:
Engineering - Mines and De-mining
SFOR at Work