Making way for a better understanding

Lt. Antonio Ruiz González
First published in
SFOR Informer#144, August 1, 2002

During the last two weeks of July, the Engineer Unit of the Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE) rebuilt a road from Bacevici to Jasenice. This job was presented to the field teams of the Reconstruction and Return Task Force (RRTF), which is a multi-agency organisation that co-ordinates the international support for the return of displaced persons and refugees to their pre-war homes.

Bacevici/Jasenice - After the study of capabilities by the Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC) team of the MND-SE, the task was assigned to the Engineer Unit of the Division. This unit is made up of personnel and equipment from different parts of Spain, such as REI 11 (Engineering Specialities Regiment) from Salamanca, and RING 8 (Engineer Regiment) from Melilla.
The road
The area where Bacevici and Jasenice are located is very near southern Mostar just behind the Aluminj Factory. In the last three years more than 70 houses have been reconstructed in Bacevici for Bosnian-Serb returnees. The increase of inhabitants has demonstrated the need to open a bus route for the children of Bacevici. This will facilitate Bosnian-Serb children to attend school in Jasenice, the same as Bosnian-Croat children. Vujadin Berberovic, president of the Association of Bosnian-Serb Returnees, was on the spot, speaking with Capt. José Hevia García, Engineer Unit commander: "He (Berberovic) told us that his association is frequently thanked because the last upgrade of the track was 60 years ago. It is very important not only for children, but also for access to the Bosnian-Serb cemetery," said Hevia.
The cemetery is located halfway along the road, the rebuilding of the track will allow the Bosnian-Serbs to easily reach the graveyard by car.
Jasenice, even though being a Bosnian-Croat area, is a place where children of both municipalities will attend classes together. And since there is a Federation Army depot located close to the Bosnian-Serb cemetery, the Spanish engineers were able to leave the machinery at the site while Federation Army soldiers secured it during the night.
Men and equipment
The Engineer Plant Support Platoon is led by 1st Lt. Benjamín Iglesias Canales: "We are deploying 19 different pieces of equipment to this job site, including but not limited to; bulldozers, graders, vibrating rollers, bucket loaders, excavators, concrete mixers and dump lorries. We also have a team at the quarry," he said. "We are moving some 24 dump lorries every day, loaded with gravel, sand and stones just to name a few," explained Iglesias. More than 5,000 cubic metres of various materials have been moved.
Maintenance team leader Master Sgt. Luis Mesonero González is happy with the performance of every piece of equipment: "None of these pieces of equipment have given us any trouble, no big deal, just punctures." "Yes, we do have some punctures, perhaps one or two every day. The ground here is covered in rubbish, pieces of metal, nails, etc.," said Cpl. Felix Carbajosa Diaz, maintenance team deputy leader.
Every piece of equipment is important here, but they all agree that the grader is the most difficult to run. "This one has eight levers to move, some at the same time," explained Cpl. Juan Marqués San José, a grader operator with more than 14 years of experience. "The grader can do many different jobs, so you have to be skillful and careful," he said.
It is clear that the people of these municipalities will remember SFOR soldiers for a long time, most notably every time they drive down that little road that is finally clear of potholes and debris.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Spain

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Photos: Lt. Antonio Ruiz González

Sgt. Gabriel Marquez Mendez checks the job made by a FD-14 dozer, which is driven by Cpl. Juan Martin Dominguez.

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Capt. José Hevia Garcia, MND-SE Engineer Unit commander, talks with the help of a translator to Vujadin Berberovic (right), President of the Association of the Bosnian-Serb Returnees, about the road.

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Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia Manso and Pvts. Aitor Rodriguez Nacar and Jorge Toribio Yuste are working to arrange the framing for concrete at a water crossing.