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
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
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
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