sfor-logo.gif (7931 bytes) sforonline.jpg (10701 bytes)

newhome.GIF (1414 bytes)

newlinks.GIF (2138 bytes)

Weapon storage site in Zepce

By 2nd Lt. Bruno Ménard
First published in
SFOR Informer#118, July 25, 2001

For the first time, the soldiers of the Bosnian-Croat component of the Federation Army (VF-H) took over from SFOR a weapon storage site (WSS) located in Zepce, south of Doboj, in MND-North.

Zepce - Eight o'clock, D-Day, Commanding Officer of Nordic-Polish Battle Group (NPBG), Col. Franciszek Kochanowski, headed a Polish ceremony on the parade ground of Doboj before welcoming Commanding Officer of MND-North (MND-N CO), Maj. Gen. Walter Sharp, to Zepce. It was an official farewell ceremony for Polish soldiers who had completed their mission and were returning home. In his speech, Kochanowski praised his soldiers for their excellent job in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now they will return home with greater experience using the English language and a new challenge of finding a job. The arms flexed, the proud soldiers marched in front of their commander. Then, as every day, there was a morning briefing in which the officers discussed the day's weather conditions, the latest news in BiH and the schedules of the different companies. The briefing allows NPBG CO to be well informed about the daily happenings. “Today, at 10.00 morning, MND-N CO will land in the WSS area,” said one of the officers in charge of the schedule.
The end of the site's guard
At that exact time, the American helicopter landed near the site. The Polish Alpha Company and two Latvian MPs guarded the landing area. They had left the site of the weapons storage the day before. Lt. Andrz Gardynik, second platoon leader of Alpha coy, commands a section of 22 soldiers. “It was a very hard job. We were in hostile conditions because the buildings in which we intended to sleep were closed. So we had to sleep in our cars,” he said. In fact, they had to patrol every day and every night. There was also a daily rotation with the other platoons to keep watch on the site. July 5 was the last patrol before responsibilities were handed over to the Federation Army. “My opinion is that we have very good relations with local soldiers,” said Gardynik. The Alpha coy commander, Maj. Demczuk, explained that “the attitude of the Bosnian-Croat soldiers is good towards us thanks to the friendship that exists between soldiers, even if it was the first direct contact we had.” Polish Capt. Jaroslaw Bialas, Joint Military Commission (JMC) officer, noted the same at his level: “Local commanders are very co-operative with us. Communication is excellent. And it was the first time that SFOR forces guarded a weapons storage site,” he said.
Inspection of the WSS
According to Bialas, the weapon storage site is “full,” especially with ammunition and some 200 weapons. Reviewing the situation, he noted there were three or four storage sites before. Now, there are only two, and the biggest one is in Tatarbuzda.
After arriving, Sharp and his translator were welcomed by Federation Army Col. Drago Tomic and his soldiers under the kindly but careful glance of Kochanowski. Demczuk, in front of the American and Bosnian-Croat Generals outside and at Sharp's request, did a full explanation of the situation of the site. “Now, there are inspections three times a day with driving patrols day and night,” he said firmly. Then the inspection began.
The site was a tiny village of containers, full of ammunition and surrounded by circular barbed wire fence. In a hangar some vehicles are stored, but ready to start. Some tanks are painted a sand colour because they were forecast to participate in “Desert Storm,” during the Gulf War (1990-1991).
There are many dangerous tanks, trucks and guns too, just near the containers.
Before taking off, the American General visited the Federation Army barracks. At the entrance of the building, a full-length portrait of a heroic long-haired soldier sits imposingly. On the left, there is a showcase full of awards from sporting events. The group is soon invited to go round the barracks and see the operation offices, map and duty rooms, soldiers' dormitory, and a room with a board on which heads of dead young fighters were stuck.
The day before, the loyal soldiers of the Federation Army took over their barracks from Alpha Company. “The action went smoothly and without any problem,” Schimalsky announced. It was really the case.

Related link:
SFOR at Work