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The road to peace

By 1st Lt. Luis Sanchez
First published in
SFOR Informer#125, October 31, 2001

The engineer platoon and the Civil Military Co-operation team (S-5) of the Italian Battle Group work very hard together to speed up the peace process. The ongoing operation focuses on Displaced Persons and Refugees (DPRE) and consists of de-mining the terrain and building a road and entrances in an area in which a Bosnian-Serb settlement has already started (Opstina 140, Republika Srpska).

Novo Srpsko Sarajevo - True peace is a long road to travel. Thanks to the Italian Battle Group, based in Tito Barracks (Sarajevo downtown), a new step towards the normalisation process has begun. Its engineer platoon is engaged in the construction of a road, 350 metres long and 7 metres wide. This will serve as the main street. It gets wider in the middle foreseeing a future crossroad. Also, drainage channelling and accesses to about 100 houses will soon be built to lodge B-Serb people, currently living in Sarajevo.
CIMIC Engineers
The whole project is focused on the DPREs process and also involves other organisations, such as the Office of the High Representative. Capt. Fabio Silvestri, S-5 team commander, commented: "This task is inside a big project related to DPREs and it facilitates the return to normal life."
The "plotone Genio, 4 Rgt. Guastatori" (engineer platoon, 4th Sapper Rgt.), based in Palermo (Italy), is comprised of 17 soldiers. The staff is experienced in their field of work. Lt. Luigi Cucinotta, platoon commander, said: "We work directly for the reconstruction of the country and we can see firsthand the results of our job; it's gratifying."
The CIMIC team keeps in contact with all the mayors of the municipalities in the Italian Area of Responsibility (AoR). They study and choose the projects in the CIMIC context (intellectual work, connecting people, teaching and being politically correct). This project followed a technical engineering study focused on necessities. Later, they set up a plan that depended on the availability of the machinery (excavators, dump tucks, steamroller and so on).
Firstly, an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team de-mined the area. They are also part of the same Italian engineer platoon. Sappers started working in the last week of September and the task is expected to last for a month, till late October. In the beginning, when engineers started working in the area, there wasn't anything but trees with cows grazing. Now some of these houses have already started to be built on both sides. The new dwellers are really happy with them.
For them the job is not difficult despite the flooded terrain. They are skilled and experienced in their field of work. WO2 Francesco Incastasciato, excavator operator in his second tour, said: "It's my normal job in Italy, it's easy. When scraping and removing mud there is always a risk of finding mines but the area has been de-mined before."
The process
Cucinotta explains in general terms the different stages to build the road. The first step is to prepare the ground, to level it and to make a channel for the drainage. The soil is clay and due to the rainy weather, flooded. Then three layers of hard material (stones) are laid and compacted with the steamroller. The municipality provides the needed materials, and its civil engineer works together with the team. The first layer (big stone) provides consistency. The second (4-5 cm stones) and the third (thick gravel) give the necessary drainage.
The limited engineering means are in great demand. If a lorry was stopped it could be used for another task. For instance, on Oct. 15, the trucks were used to carry wood for people in small villages to deal with the winter (Winterisation plan).
Step by step, Italians continue working hard in ongoing CIMIC operations, always with the same aim to speed up the peace process.

Related links: CIMIC
Nations of SFOR: Italy