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Successful weapons transfer in Zepce

By 2nd Lt. Alexandre Barb
First published in
SFOR Informer#115, June 13, 2001

Within three days, the remaining weapons in the last two weapon storage sites of Zepce have been gathered in the same place, under the NORDPOL Battle Group supervision. The VF-H soldiers co-operated entirely.

Zepce municipality
Recent events also highlighted the Zepce municipality, mainly Bosnian-Croat. The decision issued by High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch on Oct. 6, 2000, to integrate the Zepce municipality to the federal structure of the Zenica-Doboj Canton 4 still causes troubles; especially about the borders of the municipality with those of Zavidovici and Maglaj, where other Bosnian-Croat minorities live. An interim structure including members of OSCE and UNMIBH, called the International Review Panel (IRP), has been set up by the OHR. Chaired by Richard William, the IRP held a meeting May 24 to evaluate the progress made by the new Zepce municipality. It should give its recommendations soon to the OHR in order to implement the decision he issued last October.

Zepce There are many sites where SFOR has been obliged to intervene the last weeks. Zepce is one of them. This town, where a majority of Bosnian-Croats live, used to shelter five weapon storage sites (WSS) of the Bosnian-Croat component of the Federation Army (VF-H). In accordance with its mandate, the NORDPOL Battle Group (NPBG) conducted a consolidation operation at the end of May.
We started to patrol the sites after the events in Orasje (SFOR Informer no. 111). We decided to remove the weapons of two sites to this one called Tatarbuzak and to consolidate the two others. We had troops 24 hours a day on the sites for one month, explained Danish Capt. Niels Jorgensen, of the G3 Operations cell at the NORDPOL Headquarters in Doboj. Due to an increase of tension between the two parts of the VF-H (tension between the soldiers loyal to the Federation government and those who had been dismissed but were still wearing the uniform without the Federation badge), we decided, in accordance with the Joint Military Commission (JMC) to consolidate the weapons in a unique site, here in Tatarbuzak, he continued.
The weapon-transfer operations began May 22 and ended two days later. All weapons, mines and ammunition were counted, then stored in containers that were set up by civilian contractor Brown and Root. Our mission was to co-ordinate the process and to ensure the security of Brown and Root. We have counted and checked the weapons and we signed a document with the VF-H saying that all was in accordance with the JMC record, Jorgensen added.
CIMIC presence as well
We wanted the VF-H soldiers to participate and they did. We had about 100 local soldiers. They handed us back their weapons with full compliance. Everything went according to plan, Jorgensen said proudly. The operation even ended in advance of the initial plan. On May 25, under heavy rain, the soldiers finished storing all kinds of non-weapon equipment, including some food.
First Lt. Frederick Ostrom, Swedish second CIMIC team leader in Doboj was there as well. Theres indeed a CIMIC house in Zepce. But for that time, his mission was to show a reinforced presence on the WSS in case of any problem. He confirmed, as well, the good running of the operation. All went well, the proof is that we did nothing. We didnt have to intervene, he affirmed. The VF-H soldiers should soon repossess the site where everything has been sealed. For the moment, it is well kept by Polish and Danish soldiers of the NPBG.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Denmark, Sweden
SFOR at Work