By Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#126, November 14, 2001
On Oct. 29 an illegal weapons cache was uncovered
near Han Pijesak, a settlement 50 kilometres Northeast of Sarajevo.
Senior Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) officers denied knowledge
of the site.
Han Pijesak - The illegal weapons cache was discovered
in Multinational Division North's (MND-N) area of responsibility,
within Republika Srpska. The village used to be one of the headquarters
used by Bosnian Serb Army Commander Gen. Ratko Mladic.
secured the general area and were accompanied by Explosive Ordnance
Teams (EOD). Our soldiers then conducted recces to physically
locate the cache," explained American Maj. Michael Reidy
of the 2-29 Engineers. Reidy noted that the site was "back
in a forest, it had a roof of logs with a covering of soil, then
some branches and vegetation. The cache itself was built of wood
and was the size of several foot lockers."
The site proved to be quite a haul with the following items discovered:
six shoulder fired surface to air missiles; two rocket propelled
grenade launchers; 14 rocket propelled grenades; three mortars;
four mortar rounds; 31 land mines; 55 hand held grenades; three
mine clearing charges; two anti-tank rocket launchers; one heavy
machine gun; and 4,239 rounds of small arms ammunition. All the
weapons were removed to another location after being identified
SFOR manages and controls authorised weapon sites where the arms
of the Armed Forces in Bosnia Herzegovina are held and closely
monitored. This is in accordance with the General Framework Agreement
for Peace (GFAP) Annex 1A, which sets out specific rules concerning
the governing of weapons. Unauthorised weapon sites are therefore
illegal as they violate specific tenants within the GFAP. The
presence of such uncontrolled weapons also goes against the general
SFOR mission laid down in the GFAP, namely, to create and maintain
a safe and secure environment in which other international organisations
can carry out their tasks.
seriousness of the find was indicated by the presence of the Commander
SFOR (COMSFOR) Lt. Gen. Sylvester. According to an Oct. 30 press
release from MND-N he visited the site on Monday, Oct. 29, bringing
with him the VRS Commander Gen. Novica Simic. Sylvester expressed
SFOR's concerns over the cache, to which Simic denied knowing
of the site's existence. However, he pledged to COMSFOR that a
full investigation would be conducted to determine if any VRS
forces had knowledge or involvement in this illegal storage area.
Earlier in the day VRS 5th Corps Commander Gen. Svetozar Andric
had also been brought to the area. Andric said that he had no
knowledge of this particular site, but pledged that he would fully
co-operate with SFOR in removing and properly disposing of the
It was reported in an Oct. 30 SFOR press release that both VRS
generals speculated that because the area had been so heavily
contested during the war, that this cache site may have been constructed
prior to the signing of the GFAP. It could therefore have belonged
to either side. COMSFOR acknowledged this possibility, but also
expressed concern over the fact that it appears that the site
had been tampered with since the end of the war.
"We're happy that this is a combined co-operation. The infantry
provide security, the engineers and EOD provide technical expertise,
logistics have helped too, and of course, intelligence provided
information for the location of the cache. It is gratifying that
all the pieces came together," remarked Reidy. This co-operation
continues: "We're trying to locate additional caches at the
moment, which involves dismounted patrols and precautions against
mines with EOD teams on standby."
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