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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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