Harvest campaign: the days after

1Lt. Giovanni Lobuono
First published May 26, 2003

From May 6 to 8 the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team from the German-Italian Battle Group's (GEIT BG) destroyed a large quantity of explosive materials collected during the Harvest campaign and the various search operations of illegal weapons performed by the 'Saluzzo' Task Force. The figures of those materials have been enormous… just like the explosion that destroyed them.

Sarajevo - "We are very satisfied with the results of the last Harvest campaign but we are more satisfied with the destruction of all explosive materials. It's very important that the population continue this way and, in the future, facilitate SFOR's mission of collecting weapons." Those sentences were the meaningful message given to the local press by the GEIT BG Commander, Col. Marcello Bellacicco. The interview took place the day after the destruction of explosive materials.
Really, the activities that allowed accumulating those materials did not have a casual development. Harvest campaigns have been prepared frequently and in great detail by the Battle Group. Everything started with first contacts with the local civilian authorities of municipalities situated in the Area of Responsibility of the German and Italian unit. It continued with the press campaign that preceded and accompanied the operations all the time.
At the end, the materials collected have been put aside in a specific site prepared by the EOD Team, led by Italian Capt. Giuseppe Di Fazzio.
A useful day news
The Battle Group EOD Team performed its activity in a rifle range 25-Km south from Sarajevo, at about 1,300 meters altitude.
The team left Tito Barracks very early in the morning: the load was very dangerous and the trucks had to travel at very slow speed. When arriving at the place, two specific sites, called 'Fornelli', had been prepared for the explosion. The four NCO specialists in explosives had to operate inside these. The placing happened with low but steady movements. All the materials have been placed in a specific position according to their power, with a grit bag around and covered by explosive strips. All this particular preparation was made so the devices would explode vertically thus increasing the safety of the observers.
The big bang
After very meticulous preparations that lasted about three hours, the team leader ensured that everyone had arrived at the safety point. Then he started the procedure before the explosion. After a short countdown, he activated the detonator. The black smoke column appeared after the loud bang and the successive control by the team leader were the signals that the operation was successful and that all dangerous materials were destroyed.
And now? SFOR is still looking for other devices to destroy. The possession of illegal weapons in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most critical points that slows down the stabilisation process yet. The increase of the spontaneous delivery of weapons by the population is a good sign for the future, but the work must go on.
The hope is that everyone realises the importance of relinquishing all weapons, to offer a secure future to the new generations.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy
Project Harvest

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Photos: Marco Polini

Sgt. Giuseppe d'Urso (l.) and WO2 Roberto Schifani (r.) during the preparation of the 'Fornello'.

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The big bang.