CIMIC Course, a co-operative effort

Maj. Pellumb Elezi
First published in
SFOR Informer#148, September 26, 2002

CIMIC is the means by which the military command establishes formal relations with national and local authorities, the civilian population, International Organisations and Non Governmental Organisations within its Area of Responsibility.
From Sept. 9-13 SFOR held a five-day Civil Military Co-operation (CIMIC) course at Camp Butmir and Army Hall in downtown Sarajevo.

Camp Butmir - Approximately 50 international participants attended the course. It was a link between the efforts of civilians and SFOR to re-establish Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in accordance with the goals of the International Community. They are willing to assist the people of BiH to return to normal life and to make the psychological transition for the pursuit of economic well being. As said by Maj. Kevin Nykanen, U.S. Army, CIMIC Course Director, "Since 1998 there were more than 20 CIMIC courses. The next (and the last in this formula) is scheduled for November. Our intention is to create a Balkan CIMIC Course. We want to bring together SFOR and KFOR CIMIC structures, because the problems we are dealing with are similar. The first Balkan CIMIC Course is scheduled to begin in early 2003."
In the field
On Wednesday morning the students went by bus to the small village of Kijevo, not far from Sarajevo. This is where the German CIMIC Company re-constructed the school. The elementary school in Kijevo was built in 1971 and partly destroyed in 1993. The construction cost 122,000 Euro. The CIMIC Company was responsible for the planning, supervision of the construction, the final inspection, the cashing up and the documentation. Three civilian enterprises were in charge of the execution of the construction.
"We are here to help with such things as re-opening of schools, hospitals, routes and return the smile of these people. This is our philosophy here," said German Lt. Col. Eberhard Jendricke, Tactical Support Team (TST).
In the village of Zabdra, in the part of Trnovo's municipality belonging to the Federation, the German CIMIC Company is in charge of the construction of a path. Zabdra had been completely destroyed during the war; all inhabitants left. The path cost 16,000 Euro. The European Union provided the funds.
A few of the participants visited the municipality of Kresevo, a one hour drive Northwest of Sarajevo. The destination of this tour was the local medical facility that was being restored under the direction of the German CIMIC Company without interruption of the daily consultations. The director, Karlovic Peric, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to have the building restored, and as a sign of her gratitude and as a little surprise, all participants were given Kresevo eggs.
Aims and hopeful signs
The five-day event was filled with a mixture of lessons and field trips. "I think that the most important goal for a CIMIC officer is to think how he can interact with the population. What the civilian population really wants is not to see us in uniform, but to interact with them in order to improve their life in this country," said Capt. Richard Stephen, U.K. Army.
Major Mihail Ceausu, Romanian Army, emphasised: "I am here for the first time, that's why the most important moment for me (speaking about this course) was when we graduated. When Brig. Gen. Quinlan handed me the certificate, I realised that I'm a CIMIC officer now and my mission here is to continue to bring hope for the people by interacting with them, by understanding their needs and helping them. It is a very important goal for all of us."
Approximately 50 people gathered together with the common goal of learning more about the CIMIC world and how it operates. For the third time, officers from the Entities' Armies took part in the course.
The example of the elementary school in Kijevo is a good one. At the beginning only six children started lessons and now there are 15. This shows that the reconstruction of a school has an influence on the process of the returns. As a result, close to 80 percent of the families have returned to Kijevo, up to now, the city had been severely destroyed during the war.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Germany

Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Photos: PO Susan Rose

A traditional picture of CIMIC students surrounding the COMSFOR.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

"Give support and assist DPRES to come home, this is, in just a few words, the CIMIC Philosophy," said German Lt. Col. Eberhard Jendricke, TST, while addressing CIMIC course participants.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

In the village of Zabdra the German CIMIC is in charge of the construction of a path. Three families already returned home and started rebuilding their houses. If SFOR didn't help by reconstructing this road, this could never have happened.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

"Be aware of the mines!" This sign is quite common everywhere in BiH. The safe area of Zabdra village is ending at this line. People will be haunted by this danger for many years.