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VRS amunition destruction

By Cpl. Nicolas Marut
First published in
SFOR Informer #87, May 10, 2000

Kalinovik - At dawn on 21 April, a military convoy left the Italian camp located at Tito Barracks headed for Kalinovik one hours drive east of Sarajevo to carry out a field destruction.

Thousands of mines and rounds of ammunition, of several types and calibre, were scheduled to be destroyed over the course of two days by the Italian Explosive Ordinance Team (EOD), commanded by Capt. Fabio Fucci.

"We regularly inspect the military sites of the Entity Armed Forces (EAF)," explained Spanish Capt. Juan de Mena, of the MND-SE Multinational Site Inspection Unit (UMCS), Mostar. "When the presence of equipment or ammunition isn't justified, we confiscate it on the orders of the MND-SE/Headquarters. Yesterday, we confiscated munitions located at a VRS barracks, a logistics ammunition dump, located in the Italian Area of Responsibility."

So far during this operation almost 30,000 pieces have been seized by SFOR to include about 15,000 different calibre cartridges, 12,000 fuses and 500 anti-tank mines. Once the munitions have been confiscated, EOD personnel are required to destroy the material as soon as possible at an appropriate site.

"To stockpile the confiscated material could present several safety hazards, because it's not always in a good state of conservation," said De Mena.
Almost twenty-five people are typically required to destroy confiscated munitions. Teams include members of the Police Platoon of Surveillance and Investigation, UMCS members, engineers, EOD, and a Protection Force.

To destroy the stockpile of munitions, EOD team members prepared their explosives while the engineers began digging two large holes. During this time, the Protection Force assumed their positions. They were assigned to block all traffic along the road shortly before every explosion.

"We first place the lightest munitions at the bottom of the hole," explained Lt. Nicola Vero, EOD team chief. "Then we place shells, and finally anti-tank mines at the top, which contain the greatest amount of explosives. This process allows us to increase the effectiveness of the explosion."

Everything is then covered with dirt to prevent flying debris. At 12:40 p.m., two huge explosions sounded simultaneously in the valley, followed by two others four hours later. Two more were heard the following day. In less than 36hours all mines and munitions had been destroyed.