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Thorough inspections, accurate team

By 1st Lt. Luis Sánchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#123, October 3, 2001

To create a safe and secure environment it is vital to monitor, control and supervise all the weapons of Armed Forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina (AF in BiH). The Multinational Sites Control Unit (MSCU) performs this essential task. The unit carried out an exhaustive special inspection in a Bosnian-Serb barracks beginning on September 18.

Nevesinje - Under a persistent rain, several SFOR cars arrive at a Republika Srpska (RS) camp, in Nevesinje, 25 kilometres east of Mostar. They are welcomed despite this being a mandatory visit; SFOR staff were there to inspect all their weapons.
The visitors
The MSCU is a rare specialised SFOR unit of the Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE). It was established in 1998 and it released the battle groups from their Weapon Storage Sites (WSS) control duties. Its mission is to supervise some activities of the different factions such as monitoring, controlling and checking all the weapons and equipment. Moreover they contribute to the liaison with AF in BiH.
The unit comprises of an administration, documentation, technical, secretarial office and five inspection teams (six-persons, two-nationality groups). It is composed of personnel from four different contingents, (French, German, Italian and Spanish) on a six-month tour.
There are two kinds of inspection: programmed and unexpected, in which they not only supervise the weapons, ammunitions or explosives in BiH's arsenals, but also the security systems, storing conditions or checking other barracks' areas, fulfilling its mission. Almost a hundred WSS are controlled in the divisional area, on an average of four Weapon Storage Site (WSS) inspections per week, on a twice-monthly frequency.
Spanish Maj. Luis Candal Añon, unit commander, stated: "Our unit is the only one within SFOR that carries out this mission, in other MNDs the responsibility is on the battle groups. This job is one of the most real that could be undertaken in the theatre. One can see first hand what really happens inside the entities." Working in a multinational group presented exceptional features. "The main point in our unit it is to find a common procedure for all, there are different methods to carry out a task. You need to fully trust in your predecessors who have performed the previous inspections and in the written rules" commented German Capt. Walter Sperger, Deputy commander.
The inspection
Prior to the scheduled inspection, the control was meticulously studied, documents prepared, notifications sent, etc. Due to this WSS's size, two teams were needed, numbers 1 and 5, under the command of the chief of the leader team, Spanish Capt Daniel Vazquez del Pozo.
The first step was a meeting with RS garrison commander. In a friendly atmosphere, RS Capt. Momcilo Parovic listened to Vazquez's explanation about the inspection programme. After some arrangements, the group split off, two big buildings crammed with weapons were waiting. One team monitored the weaponry and equipment and the other the ammunition, a huge task, which lasted several days.
Case by case, round by round, the MSCU staff, helped by RS soldiers and in the presence of their officers, counted down all the items checking their conditions. French 1st Lt. Laurent Mercier commented: "It is very important to do it with accuracy and in the same way for the two Entities. Monitoring the Entity's arsenals will impede any uncontrolled arm movement, contributing in this way to the peace process."
The action is not only a mechanical one, quite the opposite. "It is necessary to notify the type, calibre and conditions, every possible thing about the item" declared French WO1 Jean Paul Tavernier, who carries a complete arms catalogue to help him. " In this country there are so many different kinds of armament that the main problem is to identify it," he added. Also Spanish 1st Lt. Sergio Belbis Pereda commented, "While monitoring I have seen hand-made weapons, air compressor mortars, all kind of rifles, local rocket launchers and uncommon weapon systems." The main point is to deal with possible dangerous materials.
Eventually, after three days, the team leader, commander and the inspected site's commander sign the inspection form on which the comments are stated. If the inspection failed another process would be under way, that could end in confiscation. Some faults in the mechanisms or dangerous conditions lead either to a corrective process or the destruction of the faulty weapons.
The daily task concluded, the next day the two-inspection teams returned to the site to check the last items. "For this mission, it is necessary to have a lot of patience, professional rigour and observations skills, trust in yourself and trust in your companions, " concluded Tavernier.

Related link: SFOR at Work