By Sgt. Peter Fitzgerald
First published in
SFOR Informer#125, October 31, 2001
Much of what SFOR does in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(BiH) is connected to Croatia. Many goods and services, along
with personnel and equipment, move through Croatia to support
the SFOR mission in BiH. Helping to facilitate operations between
the two countries is SLTC, SFOR's Croatian connection.
Zagreb - Located 288 kilometres from Sarajevo, the
Croatian capital of Zagreb is home to an element of the Stabilisation
Force known as SLTC, SFOR Liaison to Croatia. The liaison team
is responsible for representing SFOR's interests in Croatia.
mission is to support SFOR operations in BiH through liaison with
Croatian authorities - governmental authorities, individual companies
and private citizens," said Canadian Lt. Col. Marty Schlosser,
deputy chief liaison officer.
Schlosser, who just completed his tour in Zagreb, said Croatia
plays an important role in SFOR because many of the goods and
services the force needs to carry out its mission in BiH move
through Croatia. Two-thirds of BiH is bordered by Croatia, making
it essential for SFOR to maintain good contacts with the country.
To fulfil its mission, SLTC carries out a number of operational
tasks. First and foremost, the team acts as COMSFOR's representative
in Croatia. Working with the Croatian Office for Co-operation
with International Institutions, SLTC interacts with several governmental
institutions to carry out this task.
"On a daily basis the liaison staff is in contact with the
Office for Co-operation," Schlosser said.
Successful liaison work is a matter of maintaining good contacts,
said German Maj. Manfred Rudorfer, an SLTC liaison officer. In
his time there, Rudorfer said there have been "no big problems"
with Croatian authorities.
"Any problems that do occur are resolved quickly because
of a good relationship between SFOR and Croatia," he added.
When something does happen in Croatia with SFOR members, the liaison
team's task is to safeguard the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)
between NATO and Croatia, which differs somewhat from the agreement
between BiH and NATO. The agreement affords SFOR members certain
rights and privileges, but it also demands certain responsibilities.
are different rules here and we have to respect Croatian laws
and regulations," Rudorfer said.
Another SLTC task involves supporting National Support Element
(NSE) activities in Croatia. Various NSEs provide services, like
travel and mail, via Croatia. The liaison team helps facilitate
this process through its contacts with Croatian authorities.
The team also monitors any developments in Croatia that may have
an impact on SFOR's mission. For example, SLTC would report on
any drastic changes in the economy that may directly affect the
SFOR mission in BiH. SLTC also represents SFOR concerns in co-ordinating
with the United Nations and other international organisations
Carrying out these various tasks is a staff of 29 military and
26 civilian workers, in both liaison and support roles. With the
exception of an eight-person detachment in Ploce, Croatia, the
SLTC team lives on a compound in downtown Zagreb known as the
Defenders of Vukovar Barracks (DVB).
The DVB community
The barracks, guarded by Croatian soldiers, houses a number of
lodger units. SLTC's secondary mission is providing support for
these units, which include the SFOR Customs office, an SFOR Air
Traffic Control unit, a post exchange (PX) and several British
somewhat detached from the rest of SFOR, the various elements
at the DVB enjoy their unique mission in Croatia.
"It's a real community here. It's small so it's easy for
people to mix together and get on, which is good," said British
Lance Cpl. Alan Uden, a postal courier with one of the British
Keeping that community in touch with the rest of SFOR is a multinational
signals group, also housed at the DVB. They provide secure telephone
service, cryptology, and Internet and network connections for
"Without communications, we're isolated. We keep SFOR Zagreb
connected," said German Master Sgt. Stefan Kresse, Operation
and Maintenance chief of the signals group.
Through the efforts of the liaison team, SFOR stays connected
to Croatia. Canadian Lt. Col. Dominique Guay, the new deputy chief
liaison officer, said the liaison work done by the team remains
a vital part of the SFOR mission.
"Our personnel make it easier to address SFOR concerns in
Croatia," he said. "We're here to help."
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