On Track

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 Jon.
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 in BiH.

* Zeljeznica means Railway in local language

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Photos: Lt. Col. Horst Grosskinsky

An alternative resource to the use of roadways.

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The Railway Sarajevo-Mostar runs through a wonderful landscape.