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Last spring harvest

By Cpl. Nicolas Girault
First published in
SFOR Informer#116, June 27, 2001

In Banja Luka area, the Brits continue to perform Operation Harvest in order to collect weapons owned by private individuals.

Jankovici - The old man hands over the SKS rifle to British craftsman Nikki Murdoch. She goes back to Staff Sgt. Dave Chivers near the outhouse where the crop fruits from the hamlet are disposed: an ammunition box with a machine gun cartridge band, two rockets, a grenade and several plastic charges. At the same time, the British from the Queens Royal Lancers Regiment mark the area where explosives are grouped with a red adhesive ribbon. The rifle is put in the Land Rover where the radioman calls the command post.
A few kilometres from there, in a construction building in Jankovici, the CP receives information. This information is transmitted to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team. They are in charge of checking the explosives and eventually neutralising them before their removal. Not very far from here, people handed in a grenade without a pin!
To confiscate war weapon
Operation Harvest in western Banja Luka was in its third and last day June 16. Posters and flyers informed people from the area about this operation in the previous weeks. The soldiers combed the area, which was divided in different sectors. Each group, of about two or three cars with an interpreter had its own sector. So from house to group of houses, the lancers went to see people who signalled the presence of weapons and ammunitions.
The commander of the operation in the field, Sgt. Maj David Dakim, explained that "it is illegal for us to enter the houses without the owner's permission. But if we find a weapon or ammunition we confiscate it, even the shotgun whose owner has no licence."
But most of the people are full of goodwill, give the weapon they own, and let the explosive finding dog into their homes. A former Bosnian-Serb warrior gave five grenades, two stun, two fragmentation, one anti-tank grenade and a rocket. He gave it because he "was afraid for his children".
The result of this three-day operation was 183 grenades and rockets, 41 small weapons (rifles, shotguns and pistols), four AK 47 Kalashnikov machine guns, 9,247 ammunitions and 61 different accessories (magazines, bayonets…). All these weapons will no longer kill.
If the command thinks that the weapon harvest is not sufficient in some areas, another harvest operation will be conducted in the same area. Chivers said, "If we do the same operation in the same area, we will again find weapons."
Even if there is a long way to go, Operation Harvest after Operation Harvest, BiH disarms itself.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: UK
SFOR at Work
Project Harvest