Ghostburners, from collection to destruction
Photo: Sgt. Diego Ropero Pastor
Lt. Anne-Claude Gouy
2Lt. Agustín López Marín
First published in
SFOR Informer#157, February 6, 2003
From Dec. 16, 2002 to Jan. 26, 2003, the Turkish Battalion
Task Force participated in Harvest activities in their Area
of Responsibility. This was done in coordination with the
local police and the Army of the Federation (VF). The goal
was to significantly reduce the number of dangerous weapons
and explosive material. Also, to show possible Harvesting
methods (the activity of the methods of collecting illegal
weapons and explosives) likely to be implemented in the future.
Turkish units focused its efforts in three villages of Canton
4 of the Federation: Zenica, Zavidovici and Vares.
|Harvest Information operations
- Broadcasting 1,092
- House visits 775
- Posters hung 1,470
- Distributed handouts 4,736.
Zenica - Since 1998, the Harvest Projects prime mission
has been to remove from circulation illegal weapons, ammunitions,
or explosive ordnance throughout BiH to be destructed. SFOR
informed the local governments with a letter detailing the
sorts of weapons that must be harvested.
Capt. Unal Usta, Commander of the 2nd Coy, who was in charge
of the Harvest activity in Zavidovici, stated: We follow
a special process with specific tasks to perform this operation.
First, there is a Preparation and Information Operations phase
where we form contacts and do the necessary co-ordination
with local authorities and media. This is to inform the people
about the Active Harvest activities. Soldiers involved with
the task attend special training about harvest instructions
and security measures.
The second phase includes an information campaign using Mass
Media utilities to inform and persuade the population to hand
over weapons, through local radio stations, newspapers and
posters. The patrol teams went over their AOR distributing
announcements by handbills, fixing posters and slogans.
Usta added: In the Battalion Harvest phase, every mechanised
company has its own zone to cover with several EOD teams assigned.
The 1st Coy was in the rural area of Vares, the 2nd Coy in
Zavidovici and the 3rd Coy in Zenica. The centre of the village
is always the gathering point. We inform local people about
the results of the harvest activity with information notes,
which are also distributed to the press. Obviously, the Explosive
Ordnance Disposal teams (EOD) control and safely destroy all
weapons and ammunition collected and stored in the Federation
Army barracks in Zenica.
Collecting actions in Zenica
After the information campaign provided by CIMIC teams in
local mass media, everybody knew the Turkish operation in
this village. Capt. Cevdet Yasar is the commander of the 3rd
Coy and responsible for the area of Zenica. We keep
a patrol fixed at the main collection point inside the town,
where the commander of the unit, EOD team and CIMIC unit are
located. Two mobile teams are deployed around the village,
walking around and visiting houses through the neighbourhood
in the outskirts, with translators. They explain to the local
people the danger of keeping the different types of weapons
and ammo in their homes. In the meantime, the OC will direct
the teams by making use of the intelligence collected."
An EOD team, led by Capt. Ozgur Kildirli, who remained in
the main point, provided additional support. Normally,
local residents hand over small weapons, magazines or ammo
of different calibres. Patrols without an EOD Team may only
remove some small weapons, empty magazines and ammunition
under 12.7mm, but not other dangerous devices, to avoid bobby-traps.
All other cases require direct EOD support. For instance,
it's possible that population gives us information about the
place where weapons, explosives, etc. are stored; the patrol
reports the exact position and the location. The EOD team
inspects and examines the devices found; if they represent
a risk, we make sure they are destroyed. We make sure that
the rifle and hand grenades, mines, tank and artillery rounds,
rocket launchers, plenty magazines, explosives, etc. are in
good conditions to be transported by specific vehicles to
the storage depot located on a Federation Army base in Zenica.
New mind in a new country
during the campaign
(Dec. 16, 2002 - Jan. 26, 2003)
- Rifles 7
- Light Machine Guns 47
- Pistols 4
- Shotguns 3
- Antitank Guns 12
- Rocket Launchers 9
- Land Mines Antitank 13
- Land Mines Antipersonnel 24
- Hand Grenades 509
- Rifle Grenades 45
- Mortar rounds 3
- Ammo over 76 mm 4
- Ammo 20 to 76 mm 104
- Ammo -20 mm 20,399
- Rocket Engines 10
- Magazines 158
- TNT (Grams) 2,000.
I consider this activity an important part of our peacekeeping
operation. As a result of our daily work in our Area of Responsibility,
such as patrols, CIMIC tasks and engineering , local people
trust us. They know the profitable consequences of these harvest
activities and always show a friendly attitude. The population
is not obliged to hand over the weapons, but the residents,
the police and military authorities try to colaborate with
us, commented Usta. We notice that we get less
and less weapons. They are especially co-operative with the
explosives, thanks to the awareness we previously provided.
The local police comes gentlywith us , because residents prefer
to see them: they want to work together for peace, explained
Capt. Zyia Kilig, EOD leader showing the last harvest (see
In order to maintain a safe and secure environment, and to
be sure that these weapons won't be used again, it's necessary
to destroy them. We melt the weapons and the magazines
in the Zenica factory. We will destroy the mines, rockets
and ammunition in a live fire range based in Moscanica. But
we will do it in stages, on several occasions, in order to
not disturb the environment, said Lt. Goksel Galic,
liaison officer of the Turkish Batallion.
Monday, Jan 27th was the first day of the demolition. People
in Zenica saw a large military convoy comprised with trucks,
a field hospital and EOD vehicles crossing the town from the
Federation Army Brigade HQ to the metal factory. Co-operation
with SFOR is excellent. They pay us 200KM per tons destroyed.
We do it two or three times per year, and we never had any
accidents with SFOR, whereas we had with local police,
said Mr. Memis Tahirbegovic, technical director of the factory.
Burned in a oven by 1,600 degrees Celsius, the weapons disapear
for ever. That is the way for SFOR Turkish soldiers to hunt
war ghosts from the Bosnian minds.
Related link: SFOR
Nations of SFOR: Turkey