Another Weapon storage site inspected

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Lt. Antonio Ruiz González
First published in
SFOR Informer#145, August 15, 2002

Multi-national Site Control Unit (MSCU) is an organic element of the Multinational Division Southeast (MND-SE) Headquarters. The unit depends directly on the divisional Chief of Staff and it is also under operational control of Joint Military Affairs (JMA). It is a very useful element of MND-SE as it helps to keep a safe and secure environment as depicted in the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP).

Semizovac - There is no other unit like the MSCU in the theatre of operations. Battle Groups manage the Weapon Storage Site (WSS) inspections at their own level in other divisions. In 1998 the MND-SE created the MSCU to accomplish that task, discharging by this way its Battle Groups to do it.
The main mission of the MSCU is to inspect the WSS and the Ammunition Storage Site (ASS) of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) within the Area of Responsibility (AoR) of MND-SE. The original mission of the unit, and its 'raison d'être', is to control and monitor weapons, ammunitions and Electronic Warfare (EW) means.
Spanish Army Maj. Fernando Lechuga Pueyo is the commander of the unit. "We also deal with supervising some activities of the AFBiH such as exercises and movements of weapons or ammunitions," he said. "Furthermore we contribute to the liaison between the AFBiH and SFOR because we visit periodically all the military facilities talking almost every day with military authorities and liaison officers," he added.
Completely multi-national
The unit is made up of personnel from four countries belonging to MND-SE, this includes France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The commander of the unit is a Spanish major and a German captain acts as deputy commander. All the teams are completely multi-national, some are composed of two countries and others by all of them. An administrative and bureaucratic office supports the command team. There is also a documentation team whose task is to run an important database that includes every piece of equipment. "In this database we keep information even from the smallest piece of equipment or ammunition from any barracks, site by site, building by building. It is also implemented by a large amount of reports and pictures from all the sites," said Lechuga.
Unit's core
Five bi-national inspection teams are the unit's core. They are the field teams who carry out the inspections. There is also a technical inquiry team, led by a German officer and including members from the countries. This team is in charge of looking into any problem happening during the inspection, such as identification of some weapons, security measures and storage conditions to name a few. They also edit a field book for the inspection teams, which is their tool of trade. There are plenty of photos and useful information. "The red book [as they call it] is very important for us, it is our guide for the inspections," said Spanish Staff Sgt. Antonio Sese Abadias, member of inspection team 1.
Another team, the administrative investigative one, deals with special inspections of closure and reclassification of sites and resolves the inspections that have not conformed.
Semizovac
On July 31, the MSCU inspected Semizovac's barracks. The town is 15 kilometres north of Sarajevo, and in its barracks the 820th Wheeled Infantry Brigade, 2nd Combined Battalion of the Federation Army is posted.
The first step during the inspection was an interview with the Garrison commander. Here, the team leader explained to him and to his staff how the visit was programmed. The atmosphere was very relaxed because the MSCU has paid several visits to the barracks and the soldiers know each other very well. Important equipment including tanks, howitzers, mortars, missile launchers and every kind of small arms are kept at the site.
Once the briefing ended, the official party relocated to an area where a long row of tanks and wheeled vehicles were parked. French Army 1Lt. Salimou M'Djahidi, team 1 deputy commander explained the situation: "Our job here is to check all the equipment from the heaviest, T-55 tanks, to the lightest, as a simple cartridge or round. We control even communication and signals means," said M'Djahidi.
They agreed also with the commander of the barracks to check a certain number of buildings where specific items were stored.
"We are going to supervise a building with a lot of boxes containing rifles and machine guns," said 1Lt. Giosue' Tortorella, Italian Army. "My team is made up of two non-commissioned Officers, one Spanish and one Italian and also one driver from each nation as well. This is very sensitive material. It has to be checked very often. After an inspection we seal the boxes. Safety is one of our main goals," explained Tortorella.
Secure environment
The concern about security in the barracks is high, however Semizovac is a sort of model for other units. Nevertheless, they check every security measure. Spanish Army Capt., team 2 leader, Jorge Diaz Muriana explains the issue.
"We take notes of any problem we see about security, because this is a very important problem in a barracks. The way they store the ammunition -- how it is kept safe, and above all what kind of security guard they have at the barracks," said Diaz.
Furthermore they found approximately 35 aviation bombs stored in poor condition and reported it to get rid of them (see SFOR Informer # 143).
Work in a small group with colleges from other countries is amazing. French Army WO1 Bruno Notredame: "It is a very good experience for me. I have been in the military for 24 years and I have seen a lot, and what I am seeing here is always a very good atmosphere," he said.
The MSCU is made up of nearly 60 people from four SFOR countries and Bosnian civilians. They rely on help provided by seven interpreters. Not only are they a very technically and well-trained unit, but also the perfect tool used to carry out the guidance provided by the GFAP.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: France, Germany, Italy, Spain

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Photos: PO Susan Rose

The official party inspect a row of T-55 tanks.


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WO1 Umberto D'Avascio (l.) and 1Lt. Giosue' Tortorella check the serial number of a randomly chosen AKS-47 rifle.


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Maj. Fernando Lechuga Pueyo (r.), talks with interpreter Mirsad Zedevic during the inspection of 105 Light Gun howitzers.


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Pieces of equipment are carefully checked, for example a launcher for an AT-3 missile, better known as a Sagger.


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Capt. Jorge Diaz Muriana verifies the condition of a ZPU-2 anti-aircraft gun.


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1Lt. Giosue' Tortorella tests the serviceability of an M-16 rifle from the security guard of Semizovac's barracks.


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WO1 Umberto D'Avascio and 1Lt. Giosue' Tortorella count the last machine-gun taken out of a pile of boxes.