Everyone is a winner in this raffle

2Lt Dunphy Christopher
First published in
SFOR Informer#164, August 1, 2003

A joint harvest effort between local media, businesses, civil officials and Stabilization Force 13 culminated in a rich reward of weapons turned in by the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina to U.S. soldiers. Each person who turned in a piece of munition was provided a raffle ticket and the chance to win one of several daily prizes, that included amongst other items; free dinners, a 35 mm camera, a free month's membership at a private fitness center, and the grand prize, a brand new Volkswagen Polo.

Nedima - The May 19-June 17 operation, called Harvest Rewards, provided each citizen throughout Task Force North's area of responsibility the opportunity to anonymously turn in any illegal or unwanted weapons. "Everything began with an initiative in Camp McGovern, in a gathering of all the media in northern Bosnia, including ten television and radio stations," said Nada Koturic, Radio Orasje editor. "We came together and agreed on how we would conduct this operation." The media outlets decided to encourage and reward civic participation in Operation Harvest by handing out raffle tickets. They used their resources to advertise the rewards program to the local communities.

Big Prizes
"The local media, merchants and police have made this entire program a success," said Capt. Robert Ford, Task Force North spokesman. "It gave me a glimpse of how effective this community can become when they all work toward the same goal." The media stations received funding for the daily prizes through local businesses and received much needed financial support for the grand prize from the Mayor of each municipality including Srebrenik, Modrica, Odzak, Orasje, Samac, Srebrenik and the Brcko District. The local auto dealership Brcko-Gas also provided financial assistance in purchasing the Volkswagen. Neda Kozomara, marketing chief at Radio Brcko, said she was pleased with the participation of the local merchants, who provided the daily prizes. "People responded to the operation without any objections," she added.

Pleased to be Rid of Them
The operation consisted of stationary checkpoints and door-to-door operations, where police officers accompanied with Task Force North soldiers asked citizens if they had any weapons they would like to turn in. Soldiers would issue a set amount of tickets to each person, 18 years or older, who turned in weapons or ammunition. Although tickets were not given for UXO and mines, residents did not hesitate to get rid of them. "We had a great response from the citizens. The large number of weapons and unexploded ordinance collected has never been better," said Djordje Popovic, Brcko police station commander. He said the significance of the harvest is far-reaching, both in its impact on the environment and in its removing of weapons from the peoples' homes and out of the reach of children. "It is not necessary to say what kind of importance it has for us who are responsible for maintaining law and order," said Popovic.
Lt. Col. Timothy Kadavy, Task Force North commander, also said the operation was a complete success in more than one way. "We exceeded all expectations, nearly doubling all of my initial goals for weapons, small round ammunition and hand grenades, (and) by the way the Bosnian people have come together to make this harvest operation work," he said. In this respect it has been a significant contribution to peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: US
Project Harvest

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Ronald D. Covington

A sampling of some of the ammunition collected during Task Force North's Reward's operation.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Ronald D. Covington

Sgt. Corey Stewart and Staff Sgt. Greg luetkenhaus, Task Force North, offer a raffle ticket to Slobodan Djuran for turning in more than 140 shotgun shells during the soldiers'.

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Photo: Sgt. Guy D. Choate

Task Force Husker soldiers unload weapons destined for destruction.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Ronald D. Covington

Sgt. Corey Ryman (left) carefully passes a hand grenade to Sgt. Jason Nunes.