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OSCE Seminar

By Sgt. Michael Maddox
First published in
SFOR Informer #93, August 2, 2000

Sarajevo - During the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) BiH Seminar on the OSCE Code of Conduct and the German Model of Leadership Development and Civil Education held at Rajlovac Camp July 25-27, ranking officials from the Army of the Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina and from the Republika Srpska Army shared ideas on the future of their forces.
The seminar was sponsored by the OSCE, an organisation established as a primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation under Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations. The OSCE is comprised of 55 participating states from Europe, Central Asia and North America.
The main focus behind the seminar was to share the concept of "Innere Fuhrung" (Leadership and Civic Education), a concept established by the German Armed Forces at the beginning of the 1950s. That concept was that "The dignity of man is inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all public authority."
Those lessons were shared with the seminar participants through various information sessions and discussion groups. The first block of information to explain this concept was presented by Command Sgt. Maj. Erich Heldt, from the Zentrum Innere Fuehrung, Berlin, Germany, on the role and function of the NCO Corps.
During his presentation, Heldt emphasised to the attendees the importance of the NCO in the Army.
"The NCO is the instructor and tutor of the soldier," he said. "He must help him build a strong character and expertise in his field. The performance of the unit is a reflection of him and the basics of military training are drawn from him."
In another presentation, Col. Juergen Weidemaier, from the Zentrum Innere Fuehrung, provided the soldiers with information concerning the "Legal status of the citizen soldier." Weidemaier covered a wide variety of topics in his discussion, including the rights of a soldier.
"In our Army, if a soldier were to violate criminal law, he would undergo normal jurisdiction as any other citizen. When we guarantee the soldier to be a citizen like any other citizen, he understands he can exercise his rights," said Weidemaier. "And so, legally justified rights must be ensured by superiors. The supervisors must respect the individual rights of the soldier and must ensure the soldier can exercise those rights.
"Also, the soldier must respect the rights of his fellow soldiers, and we must observe that certain rights must be limited. This must be done by law, not by the superior's descretion," he added.
Another topic discussed by Weidemaier was the difference in what is expected from German soldiers today compared to in the past.
"We have given up what we had in the past. The soldiers had to swear to a person. They swore unlimited obedience," he explained. "We do not swear to a political leader anymore, and obedience is limited to doing what's right. The soldier must recognise and act on what is right to preserve basic democratic order."
After the presentations, the seminar attendees were then broken down into groups where they worked together to discuss ideas on how they could create parameters to ensure democratic political control of the military as required by the OSCE Code of Conduct. Later, they presented their findings to the entire group.
Brig. Gen. Erdin Hrustic, commander of the Air Force and Air Defence for the Army of the Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina, said he thought the seminar was very useful and a lot of good ideas were discussed.
"It was a useful seminar. It was all very unique and helpful," he said. "Some things we have learned from the seminar can be used and are practical. The experience of the German Army and German society of creating relations in their Army was interesting."
Hrustic added, bringing ideas together from the two armies was a little difficult at times, but still was a great success.
"Of course there can be some problems because the people meet for the first time, and there are people from different components of two different armies, but overall it was not difficult," he said.
The seminar provided a great learning opportunity, said Col. Pero Sajlovic, on the general staff for the Republika Srpska Army.
"I have learned a lot about the countries that signed the agreement on Dec. 10, 1995, in Budapest and about the experiences of those countries," he said. "It is interesting to me is to see how the armies work together under one command, especially because those countries were in conflict in World War II and now they are partners. You can see the cooperation between them. I think a lot can be implemented here also that those countries have learned.

Related links:
Our Partners OSCE
Nations of SFOR: Germany
EAF professionalisation