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Dear Barbara

By Cpl. Nicolas Girault
First published in
SFOR Informer#117, July 11, 2001

June 26, Maj. Gen. Rick J. Hillier, Commander General of MND SW, announced during a press conference the SFOR decision concerning the future of Resolute Barabara Range (RBR). This firing range, located near Glamoc, is one of the main Stabilisation Force's ranges in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Glamoc - Maj. Gen. Hillier answered a lot of interrogations about RBR's future. The legal owners will recover their lands located within the range ; but if SFOR worked a lot to reach a solution, a great job will still be necessary to enforce this decision.
The range was established in the surroundings of Glamoc by IFOR (Implementation Force) in February 1996. It was organised in three separate areas : a tank range, a small arms range and a manoeuvring range.
British Lt. Col. Robin Hodges, MND SW chief G-5, who was in charge of the file, explained that the area was then chosen for several reasons : "the area was not far from the Inter Entity Boundary Line (IEBL), the IFOR was stationed in the vicinity, the area had been left by legal owners; furthermore it was close to a Yugoslav National Army (JNA) airfield, and finally four Federation Army ranges were still set up there." He added : "SFOR intentions were to leave the RBR when people come back. For several years, nobody claimed these properties, but in the last eight months, displaced persons wanted to return to their pre-war homes. They came back because the area is quiet, thanks to a safe and secure environment provided by SFOR, and because of the Property Law Implementation Plan (PLIP) enforcement." So, SFOR tried to find a solution. Several branches of the Headquarters were involved : G-9 (CIMIC), G-3 (operations) and G-5 (plans and policy).
Problems to solve
At first, further information was needed. CIMIC teams looked for a better knowledge, sending messages to ask people for information about the owners and searching through the cadastral register. "The problem is that from about 200 owners who have returned, each one holds several pieces of land. These lands are mostly located in the Eastern and Western part of the range on about 20% of it." Thus, the decision from HQ SFOR was to reduce the size of the range and concentrate the three kinds of activities into one single manoeuvre range.
Two main problems still remain. The first one is the owners who have land on the area which will still be used by SFOR. Hodges declared : "according to the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP), we are not obliged to pay the owners which have got bits of land in the range. So we think that if they come back in accordance with the return policy, they merit a compensation for their own pieces of land located in the range." To deal with owners, SFOR will appoint a Land Appointer whose statute, nationality and mission has not been yet finalized.
The second problem concerns the safety of the area because of unexploded ammunitions ; this area is one of the most mined of Bosnia and Herzegovina. "Some areas are contaminated with live ammunitions and mines, so we have to clear it, which takes 50 days for each square kilometre," Hodges added. All the affected areas have still not been identified. At first, SFOR's engineers will clear the area, and after maybe teach the BiH de-miners to clear by themselves. Furthermore, the range was not only contaminated by SFOR, but also during the war and subsequently by the Federation army.
But with time, solutions will be found. SFOR would have participated in the return to a normal life in this area by giving back lands, but keeping part of RBR for essential daily military training.

Related links:
Training and Exercises
Restructuring and Reserves