License to confiscate for MNB-SE

2Lt. Agustín López Marín
First published in
SFOR Informer#156, January 23, 2003

Jan. 16, Multinational Brigade Southeast (MNB-SE) carried out an operation in the Ammunition Storage Site located in Gabela, near Capljina. The aim was to seize surplus ammo, as a result of irregular movements without enough explanation.
In accordance with the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) and the Instructions to Parties (ITP), the control of weapon or ammunition storage, in both Entities is the responsibility of SFOR, which has the right to conduct unannounced or announced inspections as it deems appropriate.

Gabela - In MNB-SE, regular inspections of all sites are conducted all the year long by specialised teams belonging to the Military Sites Control Unit (MSCU). Spanish Maj. Fernando Rodríguez De Ravena commands the MSCU. "We maintain usual talks with the sites and facilities' persons in charge. We reserve the right to conduct unannounced and announced inspections in those sites. This main mission includes the update of a program software database (Data Access and Retrieval for the Entities, DARE), where all inspection's results are listed and the verification of the security's conditions of the storage. The information about the site is analysed, updated, and used for future inspections. Any discrepancy means a not conform appearing in the final report of the inspection; in the case of an excess of ammo, this may lead to sanctions, normally confiscation," he stated. "Furthermore, we have secondary missions, for instance supervise some activities of, or contribute to the liaison with the Armed Forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2002, a total of 331 actions in both Entities' Armies resulted in 23 reclassifications and 13 closure of sites," he added.
Gabela's ASS is located about six km south of Capljina, in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. Capljina is an important junction of communications where entering and leaving many goods. Consequently transportation and services sectors in this area are more developed than the average. An uncontrolled surplus of weapons or ammunitions stored in unauthorised depots could be used by organised crime's groups or for illegal trafficking or.
Recent events
German Capt. Tobias Maué is the Deputy Commander of the MSCU. "During the last two years, the MSCU unit has performed nine inspections in this ASS, three of them with a 'Conform' result and the six others with a 'Not Conform' one, due to some administrative mistakes and discrepancies which could justify this confiscation. The Army of Federation's stance towards SFOR inspection teams is one of continuing co-operation. Last year saw many areas of progress in a cordial atmosphere and decisions by consensus, with a relationship based on cordiality and compliance. The confiscation was performed in whole transparency and with the entire co-operation and consent of the Commander of the 1st Guard Corps, its military representatives and the guards of Gabela," commented Maué.
Scheme of Manoeuvre
German Capt. Frank Dickert led one of the two MSCU teams participating in this operation. "From the last inspection, this ASS remained in a situation which is not in conformity with the ITP. Jan. 3, Brig. Gen. Bernard Oberto, MNB-SE Commander, decided to launch an operation to confiscate all the irregularly detained ammunition, which will be destroyed in the next future. There are three different phases. Firstly, the surveillance of the Gabela's ASS and the notification of confiscation dates and figures to the 1st Guard Corps Commander. Secondly, the confiscation itself. And thirdly, from the end of confiscation, the hand-over of the responsibility of the management of all the seized ammo to the Spanish French Battle Group. They will organise an intermediate storage in the Europe Base-Mostar until its complete destruction as soon as possible in the demolition point at Lapov Dol range; and from the MSCU, update the database," explained Dickert.
On the field
Jan.16, the activity started at 08:30 in Europe Base, with the departure of all elements involved in the operation. They formed a joint convoy, under MSCU command. Italian 1Lt. Vito Zupo was the leader of one of the MSCU teams. "Yesterday, the MSCU unit selected and marked the unauthorised ammo in the ASS. Today, after a small briefing between the MSCU CDR and the site's responsible, we split the unit into three teams. Two of them, led by Capt. Dickert and myself, are due to accomplish the confiscation with trucks, two Humvees and Explosive Ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel. The third team will stay at the main entrance with the MSCU CDR, a medical unit and the Marshal Provost. Obviously, we keep a continuous communication with MNB-SE to report immediately any incident. When we finish, we leave a confiscation form, and no appeal is possible from them," stated Zupo.
MNB-SE Units
Many units took part in the operation. For instance, the 2nd platoon, Spanish Infantry Marine Company (SPIMC) provided security measures. First Lt. David Alarcón Nicolás commented: "several units from the SPFRBG established the appropriate surveillance of the ASS from last December to now, to detect any potential attempt to remove some of the ammo out of the site. Today my unit provided escort and protection to the convoy and the MSCU teams within the ASS."
French Master Sgt. Arnaud Dauphin led the EOD team. "My unit has two main missions. Firstly, helping to identify the correct ammo; then, inspecting it and making sure that the ammo is in good conditions to be loaded in the trucks," he said. Spanish Capt. José Manuel Martínez De Andrés commanded the medical unit. "We provide health measures if an unexpected accident or explosion occurs, stabilising the wounded and performing the evacuation of the injured people to Mostar," stated De Andrés.
Sgt. Ernesto Villa Ledesma was the chief of the signal team; his squad allowed the continuous communication with the MNB-SE trough TACSAT (Tactical Satellite) device. The Multinational Military Police Company, the Multinational Headquarters Support personnel, the French Logistic Battalion and several interpreters were also the key of success. Different countries working together in a Harvest operation, avoiding that uncontrolled ammo arrive trough smuggling to radical or terrorist groups succeeded to make safer and more secure the environment in this area.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: France, Germany, Italy, Spain
SFOR at Work

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Photos: Lance Cpl. Sylvain Lamy

Lt. Alarcón explains the escort and the security of the MSCU teams.

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Maj. Ravena reports to MNB-SE through TACSAT the main details about the confiscation.

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Maj. Ravena provides guidelines about the operation to Capt. Dickert, Lt. Zupo and Lt. Alarcón.

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Sgt. Villa (l.) commanded the signal squad.

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MSCU team led by Capt. Dickert, and MHQ personnel had to perform the inspection and prepare the ammo to be loaded in trucks.

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After EOD teams checked condition of the ammunition, French and German soldiers co-operate in eliminating this threat.

Background of the previous inspections in Gabela
Feb. 2001
June 2001
Aug. 2001
Oct. 2001
Jan. 2002
Apr. 2002
June 2002
Nov. 2002
Dec. 2002
Not conform
Not conform
Not conform
Not conform
Not conform
Not conform

122 mm 28
100 mm 236
7,62x66 mm 1000
7.62x39 mm 35167
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