By Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#126, November 14, 2001
Nov. 6 the German Battle Group (GE BG) staged
a demonstration of the destruction of munitions gathered during
Operation Harvest. To highlight the importance of the exercise,
many organisations from the entities were involved. A multitude
of media were also present in order to ensure that the people
of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) were made aware of the need for
Kalinovik - With a flash, a puff of smoke and a
resounding crack, illegal weapons gathered in Operation Harvest
were destroyed. The operation was initiated by SFOR in 1998 to
remove from circulation throughout BiH illegal weapons, ammunition
and explosive ordnance. The operation takes place across all Multi
National Divisions (MND), in this case the demonstration occurred
after two months of effort by the GE BG in MND Southeast (MND-SE).
we have collected here, we destroy as a sign of peace and co-operation
and a successful future of this country," explained German
Brig. Gen. Bernd Kiesheyer, GE BG commander, during his address.
The theme of co-operation could be easily witnessed throughout
the day, as also in attendance were all those involved in making
the operation a success. These included the mayors of the Opstinas
(municipalities) in which the harvest had taken place as well
as representatives from the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and
the Federation Army (VF).
am happy to be here, as the weapons are out of the wrong hands
and have been destroyed. Secondly, that the members of the Armed
Forces in BiH are meeting and talking with each other. I hope
that this co-operation will extend into the future and that SFOR
will continue to lend support too," said a VRS lieutenant
The demonstration was extremely well organised, with all attending
having the chance to view the condemned weapons, which were laid
in demolition pits. German 1st Lt. Suhr explained that in all
cases the weapons and explosives would be rendered useless and
that their remains would pose no threat to humans or animals.
More importantly, they could never be used as weapons again.
the demolition pits lay the arms, surrounded by carefully measured
Nitor PNT explosive, and looked like thick slabs of pink icing.
Wires ran from the detonators to the exploder. The weapons were
of varied types: 5.54-12.1mm rounds, 12.7-40mm rounds, over 40mm
calibre, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, anti tank rounds,
hand grenades, anti-personal and anti-tank mines. Some looked
as if they were straight out of the packet; others lay brown and
rusted with corrosion. All were potentially deadly.
The crowd once more retired to a safe distance, and while they
waited for the explosions there was a chance to view the work
of other elements of the GE BG. These included Explosive Ordnance
Disposal (EOD) and de-mining stands.
go to the de-mining teams of the entity armies, and say if the
process(and) how the teams work is okay or not. We clear no minefields.
We act as monitors," said German Master Sgt. Ulrich Vogt,
of the GE BG mine monitoring team. Also included, however, was
a demonstration of German mine clearing units "in action"
on a dummy minefield.
"More publicity is needed so that people can be better informed
as to why weapons are being collected and what will happen if
they remain in the wrong hands," said the VRS lieutenant
To ensure that this was the case, the Germans had arranged attendance
of the press from both entities. These consisted of newspaper
journalists, photographers and a television crew.
As the peals of the explosions died away the spectators were escorted
to the demolition sight. There, craters greeted the visitors.
Of the explosives, mines, rounds and rockets, nothing remained;
complete obliteration was their fate. The small arms lay in a
confused heap, contorted beyond use.
Kiesheyer thanked the crowd, which dispersed after a highly successful
event. German Capt. Thomas Luhrig summed up the efforts: "Today
demonstrated how important it is to save the whole country, especially
for the children."
Nations of SFOR: Germany
SFOR at Work