German Summer De-mining Campaign
Capt. Michael von Frankenberg
First published April 18, 2003
Within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), even
years after the end of the military conflict, there are still
18,000 mined areas with an estimated number of more than 290,000
mines, 240,000 of which are anti-personnel (AP) mines. Between
50 and 60 percent of the mined areas are known, which means
that a large number of other unknown and dangerous areas are
spread throughout the country.
Rajlovac - Rendering mined and presumably mined terrain sections
ready for civilian reutilization is executed in accordance
with the principles of humanitarian explosive device clearing,
which means that a success rate of 99,6% must be achieved
by the use of various mine-clearing techniques.
Prevent people from getting hurt
Some of our fellow soldiers in Camp Carreau, Rajlovac, may
have wondered recently why there are regulations concerning
the opening hours of the West Gate and the jogging trails
as well as why there has been extensive marking work outside
the fence of the camp.
The reason for this is the Summer De-mining Campaign of the
Bosniac component of the Federation Army (VF-B), which started
on March 17, 2003.
In the course of this campaign, the presumed mined area of
far over 30,000 square metres alongside the south-western
boundary of Camp Carreau is being cleared as well. This project
has a high priority since the area is situated in a corridor
through which a motorway is to run in the near future.
Due to the safety regulations in force, it is necessary to
cordon off the danger zone during mine-clearing hours in order
to prevent people from getting hurt by an exploding mine.
The same goes for the jogging trail along the inside of the
camp fence which is inside the danger area.
The de-mining teams of the VF-B that are being employed here
and who have had special training for their task, first marked
the mined area and - where possible as far as the ground is
concerned - removed vegetation using the so-called 'Bozena'
equipment to clear the surface.
Afterwards, clearing lanes were traced for each de-miner employed
there, and the de-miners, deployed at least 25 metres apart,
began looking for mines. They wear protective clothing and
use a prodder as well as a spacing bar. The latter enables
them to stick the prodder into the ground continually at a
distance of exactly 1,25 centimetres. In special cases metal
detectors are used as well.
The high degree of exactness de-mining operations involve
explains why an enormous amount of time is scheduled and why
de-mining activities appear to make only slow progress. De-mining
activities outside Camp Carreau are expected to last up to
During the de-mining activities the teams are assessed by
SFOR specialists called 'Mine Monitors' for the compliance
of the techniques, safety regulations and mine-clearing guidelines
set out in SFOR SOP (Standing Operating Procedure) 6690.
Mine Monitors also have to provide advisory support to the
leader of the de-mining team where detection and disposal
of explosive ordnance is concerned. They have to follow the
de-miner into the cleared part of the mined area and, if need
be, even go as far as the actual point where mines are being
From red to blue
The Mine Monitors of the German Combat Engineer Company have
attended training courses at the Army Technical School in
Aachen and at the Engineer School in Munich for this. These
training courses enable them to monitor and advise the de-mining
teams in accordance with the guidelines and to carry out Mine
Awareness training in the theatre of operations, especially
during weather-related stand-down periods.
At the moment German Mine Monitors monitor four, and Italian
EOD teams monitor two, de-mining operations in the Area of
Responsibility of the German-Italian Battle Group.
When a de-mining task is completed, the BiH Mine Action Centre
(BH MAC) certifies the area cleared of mines by the employment
of explosive detection dogs. Only then may the red Mined Area
marking be replaced by the blue marking indicating a newly
cleared area in the corresponding maps.
Nations of SFOR: Germany
Engineering - Mines