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Dutch farewell to Sisava

By Cpl. Diego Bunuel
First published in
SFOR Informer #99, October 25, 2000

Sisava - From IFOR I in December 1995 to SFOR VIII today, the Dutch base in Sisava, nestled atop mountains above Travnik, seems to have left everyone with fond memories.
The tall pine trees, green grass and breathtaking views along with living accommodations in a ski chalet hotel, has made of Sisava, over the years, a privileged place to serve a tour of duty.
"The climate is much better for working and the view is amazing," said Sgt. Arnaud Middelkoop. "For most people it's hard for us to leave. They love this place."
But the hotel grounds that had first been used during the war as headquarters by one of the warring factions, had to be handed over to their rightful owners Oct. 14. Like many things in Bosnia Hercegovina, the war has blurred the traces of the actual proprietors, said Capt. Piet de Jong of the 101 Mechbat, responsible of the base clean-up. Therefore the transfer went to a Dutch military committee in charge of investigating the various ownership claims that have been made. The actual transfer is scheduled for the first of November.
Cleaning up a base that had been home to thousands of men and women of the Dutch army was no small task and was accomplished in only six weeks.
"The most difficult part was staying on schedule," said de Jong. "But now all is done and at 3 p.m. we will be on our way to Bugojno (the new Dutch HQ)."
During the clean-up 205 shelters and containers were shipped out, 35 small bunkers and 11 large ones had to be dismantled.
"Nothing would have been possible without the help of the Bulgarian engineers," said de Jong.
Indeed Capt. Boyko Bahnev, in charge of the Bulgarian engineer detachment in Sisava, said the base now looked completely different from what it was when they arrived last May.
"It's difficult destroying the things that you lived in and liked," Bahnev said. "But it was a fun time and we had a great co-operation from the Dutch."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Netherland