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Two entities, one army?

By Cpl. Jean-Philippe Lavigne
First published in
SFOR Informer#120, August 22, 2001

One of the European Union’s conditions for Bosnia and Herzegovina to be a member of the EU is a unified army in BiH. It is also necessary for entering NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP). Aug. 8, the Joint Military Commission (JMC) met in Doboj to discuss such topics in MND-North.

Doboj - Created in 1994 by North Atlantic Council (NAC), PfP is the framework for practical security co-operation between 19 NATO countries and 27 non-NATO European countries. It is generally considered as the final step before entering NATO. The last country that signed the PfP is Croatia in May 2000.
When NATO Secretary General visited Sarajevo on July. 13, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s tri-partite presidency announced its wish to join Partnership for Peace. But reducing and ensuring the transparency of defence budgets in both entities of BiH, consolidating democratic control over the armed forces, encouraging political demilitarisation, and restructuring the Armed Forces in BiH, is absolutely essential.
Joint Military Commission in MND-N dealt this month with such topics. Col. Franciszek Kochanowski, Nordic-Polish Battle Group (NPBG) Commander, assisted by JMC officers, Capt Palle Knudsen and Capt Janusz Przeor chaired it. Representatives from Armed Forces in BiH attended. The commission discussed policy - and security - related issues to improve co-operation and confidence between the armies of the two Entities. It was also the opportunity to assess the situation: CIMIC projects, Harvest operation, demilitarisation and demobilisation of the soldiers.
“Armed Forces in BiH cost too much and people can’t afford it,” explained Knudsen. “The money used for the soldiers income is too important and has to be cut.”
World Bank
However important efforts are made to reduce the armies. Some 34,000 soldiers are still in activity in BiH, but the International Community expects this number to be reduced to 20,000 in 2005. In MND-N, 6,000 soldiers were demobilised. The problem for them is to restart a civilian life in spite of the high level of unemployment. Some 2,000 former soldiers are jobless.
The World Bank has launched a countrywide “Emergency Demobilisation and Re-integration Programme,” that lends money to societies employing demobilised soldiers. Already 102 companies have contracts (60 in Federation, 42 in RS); 165 additional projects in Federation and 33 in RS are under consideration.

Related link: SFOR at Work,
EAF professionalisation