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24 hours in the life of JOC

By 2nd Lt. Bruno Ménard
First published in
SFOR Informer#119, August 8, 2001

The Joint Operation Centre (JOC) is the cell that collects all the information concerning the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The JOC belongs to the office of the Combined Joint Staff Branch for Operations (CJ3).

Camp Butmir - "Today, an exhumation is foreseen early in the afternoon," appeared on the screen of the "watchkeeper" of the moment, French 1st Lt. Mickael Briollais. It was some information that would in turn be handled by various hands to land finally on the desk of the Commander of SFOR (COMSFOR). The atmosphere was relaxed, though. However, this did not happen so often because of the operational character of the office. Each knew that a piece of news of great importance could fall from one minute to the next, and that it was necessary to be ready to react. It is thus here, in the JOC, that the SFOR knows of all that takes place in the territory of BiH. Each person was at his/her post, concentrating on the computer screens, ready to send the information to the proper authorities.
The JOC belongs to the CJ3 cell, which is in charge of operations for SFOR, in Butmir Headquarters. According to French Lt. Col. Patrice Bouhet, "CJ3 is the point of entrance and exit between the headquarters of the SFOR and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE), Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) HQ, the Multinational Divisions (MNDs), the governmental agencies and the international community." The office employs 37 people and works in close relations with all the international organisations. The JOC itself is the operational room of CJ3, i.e., it is in charge of updating cards and tables of operation. It also synthesises all the information from the MNDs, the detachment of Zagreb and draws the attention of the chief to current operations and future ones that are scheduled.
A typical day
7:15 a.m. The day begins with a review of the night information. Watchkeepers, loaded with the surveillance on computer screens, review with the other office executives what took place overnight.
8 a.m. The Video Tele-Conference (VTC) begins, which links up with the three MNDs by satellite and the SFOR Liaison To Croatia (SLTC), situated in Zagreb.
6:15 p.m. After numerous hours of surveillance and exchanges, a new meeting is organised, called "JOC update." It entails reviewing the whole day with British Col. Bob Kett, CJ3 commander.
"Watchkeepers"
Inside the JOC a team of four or five watchkeepers takes turns so that there is always somebody in the cell who is capable of watching the information that regularly comes on the screen. All the news concerning the MNDs goes directly through to the JOC. It is communicated directly with the Deputy Commander for Operations (DCOMOPS), Maj. Gen. John Kiszely, and then passed on finally to the COMSFOR, Lt. Gen. Michael L. Dodson. Examples of current information that recently passed through the JOC included news on the reduction of the number of sites that stock weapons, the inspection of passable bridges and roads, the follow-up of the exhumations, and the possible emergence of events at risk. It is Operation Branch (G3), situated in every MND, that is at the other end of the chain of the information, ensuring that the CJ3 know perfectly the state of the troops on the ground. So works the operational office of the headquarters of the SFOR, and particularly the JOC.

Related link: SFOR at Work