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Thirty days for a base

By 1Lt. Franois-Xavier Miller
First published in
SFOR Informer#107, February 21, 2001

Bratunac - A bulldozer spreads another layer of gravel on the future entrance road, still a ground track. Multinational Division (North) has begun work on a Forward Operating Base, which will allow increased SFOR presence in the Eastern Republika Srpska (RS).
Located some 15 km west from the city of Bratunac, the Base will lie on a hill a few hundreds meters away from Oregon main road. This Southern Operating Base will facilitate SFOR's ability to rapidly move soldiers around the area and sustain them for greater periods of time to support civil implementation of the General Framework Agreement for Peace. "This base is designed to provide a more secure environment to all refugees, either Bosnian Serbs or Muslims," said 1Lt Thomas Bailey, from A Coy, 1st battalion, 120th Mechanised Infantry Regiment, currently OIC in charge of security. It will allow SFOR to focus support in specific areas throughout the Eastern RS and better support the International Community-led DPRE effort through a focused, extended, and continuous presence. The area was previously more than two hours run from the nearest camp, and the new settlement will soon fill this gap.
The goal of building it in some 30 days is ambitious and yet realistic. At first, the area was inspected by the EOD to sweep potential mines and make it secure. Then stubble-burning took place and the remains of the vegetation were removed. A strip of bare land now covers the top of the hill. Three bulldozers are crudely levelling the 500 m by 300 m area. A compactor is quickly following to finalise the equalising of the ground. An excavator is filling a dump truck with excess soil. The former muddy track that led from the nearby road already looks different. Levelled a first time, it has been covered by a first layer of red material, a second of small stones and another one of fine gravel. A bypass road is also scheduled to enable local civilians living in the farms close to the base to have access to the main road.
In one corner of the building site, a dozen dump trucks or so unload their shipment of various types of gravel. On the other edge of the camp, concertinas and prefabricated sentry boxes are stored until they can be installed. On top of the hill, laid on wooden structures, a small tent camp has already been settled to provide accommodation and support for the workers and the soldiers. It will be covered afterward by an helipad.
Bratunac Southern Operating Base will soon be ready to house at least a reinforced company. 30 days to build it, a challenge, but where there is a will, there is a way. SFOR commitment remains strong, and no doubt the will exists. As Major General Walter L. Sharp, Commander of Multi-National Division (North), stated, "this year, the entire international community will focus on the Eastern RS." He added, "This Forward Operating Base will represent an increased capability of the Stabilization Forces to enhance our presence and contribute to this coordinated effort."

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: US
Restructuring and Reserves