Maj. Pellumb Elezi
First published in
SFOR Informer#154, December 19, 2002
Moving supplies and troops throughout a theatre of operations
is one of many critical aspects to a successful mission. It
is the task of SFOR Engineers to maintain total freedom of
movement for troops by road and rail, managing projects according
to the requirement for Military Minimum Requirement (MMR).
The team responsible for this task are the HQ SFOR Engineers
based at Camp Butmir, Sarajevo.
Camp Butmir - Freedom of movement is key to operational deployment,
whether it's reinforcement or the rotation of soldiers from
one area of operation to another. An example of freedom of
movement is the railway system that is extensive throughout
BiH. The rail system is a good alternative to using the roads.
The first meeting
"SFOR, by virtue of the Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA),
has the right to Freedom of Movement, vital to the area of
responsibility," said German Lt. Col. Horst Grosskinsky.
He is assigned in CJ4 (Logistics), as JMCC Chief Rail / Sea
Ops. SFOR Joint Movement Control Centre Rail / Sea Operations
(JMCC Rail / Sea Ops) is the only theatre organisation authorised
to process requests for SFOR rail movements within the theatre.
A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) details the responsibility
for planning, co-ordinating and requesting any rail movement.
It identifies and issues priorities for rail infrastructure,
in close co-ordination with the Engineers, to maintain and
improve rail operations. On Dec. 6, a meeting was held at
Camp Butmir. Its purpose was to discuss the current procedures
for the use of rail transportation by SFOR Troop Contributing
Nations, to make the rail movements smoother and more effective
in the future.
Railways in BiH
The BiH railway network consists of approximately 1,000 km
of operational single track line. Passing tracks are available
at all railway stations. SFOR primarily uses three main lines;
the North-South Line (approx. 400 km long), from Bosanski
Samac to Sarajevo and then to Ploce; the East-West (approx.
350 km long) from Volinja to Zvornik; and the 'Hungarian Line'
(approx. 65 km long), from Tuzla to Brcko. "Whilst there
is also the 'Una Line' from Bosanski Novi to Split, SFOR has
decided to focus the limited funding available on the lines
which receive the most SFOR traffic," said Maj. Jon Roose,
UK Army, SO Plans CJ Engineers.
Today, there are two main companies, which are state-owned
and manage all rail infrastructure and movement, the ZBH (Zeljeznica*
Federacije BiH) and the ZRS (Zeljeznica Republike Srpske).
"SFOR assists by identifying through meetings and reconnaissance,
key areas of need on the railways, such as worn or damaged
rails, old or rotten wooden sleepers/ties, landslides or subsidence
and damage to tunnel and bridges," said Jon. Joint venture
projects to address problems are then contracted between SFOR
and the Rail Companies on a cost-sharing basis. The Rail Companies
provide manpower and equipment for these projects unless the
services of a sub-contractor are engaged for specialist works.
"SFOR Engineers monitor the project as it progresses
and once completed, inspect the work on site to ensure it
has been completed to the correct standards," concluded
The budget for these projects, which are annually funded by
the NATO Infrastructure Committee, is 3.2 million KM for 2002.
Contracts are now in place for 25 projects located throughout
BiH. Those projects include the replacement of basic communication
cabling between Bosanski Samac and Doboj, the refurbishment
of two bridges near Sarajevo, the repair of a concrete retaining
wall near Banja Luka and the replacement of wooden sleepers,
metallic switches and rails throughout the network.
The railways are another example of SFOR's continuing involvement
* Zeljeznica means Railway in local language