By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#120, August 22, 2001
In order to consolidate the peace process after
a war, the key point is to help people to re-establish a normal
life. The German Civil-Military (CIMIC) Company is working hard
for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in reconstructing
public infrastructure, fostering the economy and founding new
Rajlovac - August 10, probably, one of the most
important tasks carried out by the German Contingent would be
the CIMIC co-operation within the framework of return of Displaced
Persons and Returnees (DPREs) in connection with BiH reconstruction.
At the end of the war, Germany was the country with the higher
number of refugees (about 345,000). Now, after several years of
work, this number has been decreased considerably (to 45,000),
thanks to the work of successive personnel with a rare CIMIC concept
of helping Bosnians whatever their origins were.
Our main effort was to rebuild housing, now we focus on
infrastructure, schools, kindergartens and health centres to improve
the economic situation, meeting with locals to set up business
at low level, re-activating local economy and creating new jobs,
explained Lt. Col. Tilman Röhricht, company commander. It
is not too different from my normal job, making decisions and
managing the unit, only the staff are different; all the soldiers
are truly engaged with this task. As an Artillery officer, I was
trained to destroy military targets (during a war) with the smallest
effort, and here my intention is to build up as much as possible
with the limited resources we have, said Röhricht,
normally deputy of an artillary unit and now in a CIMIC Coy. One
of the staff, 1st. Lt. Jurgen Bleil said, the objective
here is to construct with one budget the most possible amount
of buildings, quite different from private firms. The happiness
of the people is our motivation to perform a good job.
company currently comprises 38 soldiers and 11 local translators,
combined in a special mixture between military and engineering.
This unit is unusual in the German Army, about 80% of the staff
are officers but their level of responsibility explains this.
Their job is not a common military job, a high technical level
is required to act in a quite different context from the military
point of view.
Lt. Col. Manfred Pathe, chief of projects, commented: The
technical work is easy, in Germany we work only for military purposes,
now here for civilian goals. The most part of them have double
qualifications. In addition to their military skills they have
a university degree, such as mechanical or electrical engineering.
The Unit has a direct chain of command from the German Army under
operational command and from SFOR Headquarters (Combined Joint
9, CIMIC) for operational control.
Theatre - wide
To perform its job it always maintains a relationship and co-operation
with BiH authorities, Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations
and International Organisations, especially with Reconstruction
and Return Task Force (see SFOR Informer #118).
To act more accurately, it operates in the whole theatre and not
only in the German Area of Responsibility (AoR). For instance,
the refugees from the area of the German City of Hamburg came
from Modrica (Republika Srpska, RS) in Northern BiH. In this case
it was necessary to act there, making possible the return of these
people to their pre-war home. One element of the CIMIC Coy that
also shows the importance of knowing real problems, is keeping
in contact with people directly and supervising projects from
the offices that have been set up in Modrica and in Ustikolina
(Gorazde area, Federation, Canton 5).
Dietmar Strauch is serving in the CIMIC coy for the third time.
At first, people were reserved, now they know us and they
are friendly and confident. The first project in which I participated
was a pharmacy, two years later people remember me and salute
me in a very friendly manner. He continued: In Jelec
(a village in the German AoR) we rebuilt 23 houses in two and
a half months. People were very happy and the Mayor named one
street with my name. These houses were the seeds for rebuilding
more houses. Meanwhile other houses have been built by locals
with their own resources, making possible the return of
DPREs to that area.
Engineering officers do not only compose the Coy. Privates also
play an important role, like Michael Metz who works as driver.
This gives me the opportunity to travel and see what really
happens in BiH. Two of his colleagues are translators. In
addition, there are 11 local translators.
Right now, the group has finished a lot of projects, among them
a school for blind children. Others are underway like housing
and schools in different areas, construction of power supplies,
health centres, a womens refuge and primary schools. All
of them show how the German Contingent is engaged in the task
of rebuilding BiH life, by means of its CIMIC unit, with one motto:
Give the young a chance that the land can live.
Related links: Nations of SFOR: Germany