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French engineers oversee UXO destruction

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

Sarajevo - Before turning the engineer mission at the Sarajevo Airport back over to local officials, French engineers stationed at the airport have been clearing the area of unexploded ordinance.
Their efforts culminated in the mass destruction of all of the UXOs July 14. More than 10 kilos of explosives were destroyed just on the far end of the airport grounds.
This mission is one of the last for the French engineers at the airport, said French 1st Lt. Cedric Fayeaux of the 25th Air Force Engineer Regiment. The team consists of 17 men, of which four are EOD personnel and the rest are construction engineers.
"This is the first goal for us to destroy the UXOs, afterwards, we do not know for certain when we will hand over the airport duties," he said. "This is the last detachment of engineers in the airport, afterwards, there will be no engineer detachments in the airport. We are to clean the area before we go in the middle of August."
During the clean-up, the team found quite a large amount of UXOs in the area.
"We found the munitions in the embankments around the airport," said Fayeaux. "We found land mines, grenades, rockets and 30mm and 120mm rounds. There were lots of different types of munitions."
After the UXOs were collected, they were then ready to be destroyed.
"The hole that we put the explosives in is two meters deep. We used four kilos of explosive to destroy all of the munitions. We cover that with earth, make the explosion and go see what is left," he explained.
During the destruction, it is key to make sure the job is done properly, said Sgt. Maj. Berhard Gailhard who has been working with explosives since 1984.
"It's important to make sure you have the explosives placed correctly to destroy every munition," he said. "There can be no mistakes in that."
And thanks to the careful work of the engineers, there were no mistakes during this mission and all of the munitions were destroyed.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: France
Mines and De-mining