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Slovaks in Sarajevo

By Maj. Ladislav Ruzicka
First published in
SFOR Informer #99, October 25, 2000

Sarajevo - Since its foundation in 1993, the Slovak Republic has been actively participating in political and military measures of the International Community in seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict in former Yugoslavia.
On the basis of a National Council of the Slovak Republic Resolution, Dec. 10, 1997, Slovakia joined the community of 38 countries then contributing militarily to stabilising the peace in Bosnia and Hercegovina.
Since August, 1998, eight Slovak army officers have served in HQ SFOR. On August 25, five of them began a one-year mission in HQ SFOR Sarajevo.
Senior National Representative (SNR) of the Slovak officers, Lt. Col. Radislav Jelinek is assigned as the Chief of the Mobile Team South-East in HQ SFOR's Engineer Branch. This is his third mission in Former Yugoslavia.
"As a chief of MT-SE, I'm responsible for leading my three-member team in identifying, planning, managing and monitoring all phases of NATO common-funded Freedom of Movement projects in the area," he explained. "Of course as a National Leader, I also have to solve all national problems which may arise here."
Another member of the Slovak team is Lt. Col. Mikulas Hudak, a medical doctor. He serves as a medical liaison officer of HQ SFOR Commandant Group. In 1992 he was served as a doctor in the UN Guard Contingent in Iraq. Here in BiH he is responsible for liaison with the BiH Ministry of Health.
"Providing input to medical support plans, maintenance of the Host Nation Hospital data and important information about civilian hospitals in BiH is a new and very important experience. It's a really challenging job," said Hudak.
Slovak Maj. Lubomir Mrvan, Chief of Mine Information and Co-ordination Cell, HQ SFOR Engineer Branch, came with international experience too. He served in Eastern Slavonia in 1996/1997. Now in the MICC, he has to ensure mine awareness training and mine information maps for all SFOR personnel.
"In my office I have found a good team which gives a hundred percent to its work. This has been a great experience on how to co-operate with other nationalities and with my office local employees," said Mrvan.
Capt. Jan Runcak is serving in CJ7 HQ SFOR as a training support co-ordinator. His main job is co-ordination of planning and administrative aspects of SFOR range training activities.
"At present, the main task for me is to collect all accessible information needed for a Theatre Educational Centre (TEC) establishment for HQ SFOR Staff. I recently visited TEC in Mrckonic Grad (UK Battle Group) to obtain information and now I'm preparing a draft to request a suitable room for TEC in HQ SFOR," said Runcak. "I like the job, because I meet a lot of people and I have been learning new things."
According to Escort Officer in the Joint Visitors Bureau, HQ SFOR, Capt. Radomir Curny, his job is fascinating. He has to work out the many different details connected with visits by distinguished guests - this includes their visit program and such details as providing quick access to locations.
"At first I had to learn what defines a distinguished visitor, and so on. Now, I'm working on preparations for a visit from Lt. Gen. Ronald Keys (Commander Allied AF South Europe) and Maj. Gen. Thomas Baptise (ACOS OPS AF South Europe), due in October," he said.
All the Slovakians agree that their main obligation is being able to work together in a multinational environment, using only English. Preparation for this is carried out at the Slovak Republic's Army UN Peacekeeping Training Base in NITRA. Additionally, special training is conducted at other Army's military and training facilities, and on specialisation and language courses in Finland, Austria, Holland, Germany and Poland.
One advantage in this area (BiH) is the fact that Slovakians can speak Russian fluently and can understand the local language as well
"As the SNR," said Jelinek, " I would like to stress that the main aim of Slovak officers at HQ SFOR is to fulfil our tasks responsibly, reliably and to improve our professional military, staff work and language skills."

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Slovakia