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.
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,
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
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.
Nations of SFOR: Denmark,
SFOR at Work