Another Weapon storage site inspected
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,"
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.
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.
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,"
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,"
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.
Nations of SFOR: France,