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Air Forward on the way to Normalisation

By Capt. Jesus Campuzano
First published in

SFOR Informer #76

Ilidza - The Air Forward / Aviation Normalisation (Air Forward/Avnorm) Division is the liaison team between SFOR Headquarters and the Joint Forces Air Component Command (JFACC) of the NATO Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH), which provides the Air Component for SFOR. "The commander of SFOR (COMSFOR) is the sole authority in Bosnia and Hercegovina regarding airspace. As he is a land commander, he needs an air commander to execute this mission, so COMSFOR delegates control of airspace to somebody with capability to manage this task, which is JFACC. Since his headquarters and his staff is located in Naples (Italy), consequently we are the team to liaison between them," said Italian Col. Ubaldo Serino, chief of the Air Forward/Avnorm Division.

"We, Air Forward, are part of the Air Team in the SFOR HQ. SFOR CJ3 (Combined Joint 3) Air and the NAOCC (NATO Air Operations Co-ordination Centre) are the others components of the SFOR HQ Air Team," added Col. Serino.

This six-man Division, manned by German, Greek, Italian, and Spanish personnel accomplish two missions. "If SFOR needs something from JFACC, like air control or support, we take care to co-ordinate with the CAOC Vicenza and JFACC staff to get it. Also, Air Forward deals with the military matters regarding the Air Component of the Entity Armed Forces (EAF) within the framework of the Dayton Peace Agreement (DPA), like restrictions on the use of the airspace, or their training programs. In addition to these tasks, since April, Air Forward has a new cell, Aviation Normalisation, to prepare the way towards the normalisation of the civil aviation, through the release of the control of the upper airspace and the manning of the four airports of BiH to the local civilian authorities, namely the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), the Federation Civil Aviation Department (FED-CAD) and the Republika Sprska Civil Aviation Department (RS CAD)," explained Col. Serino.

"Establishing an organisational structure of civil aviation within BiH and supporting these authorities with our advice in order to ensure a smooth and sound functioning is one of our most demanding tasks. This system is mandatory for the administration of all aviation matters in general, as well as for the airports in particular. There are four airports in BiH that SFOR is responsible for: Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar, and Tuzla. At each airport we are facing different situations regarding control and management. Besides Banja Luka, all other airports are used commonly by civilian companies and military divisions, but our aim is, in accordance with the GFAP, to hand over the sole authority to civilian authorities. As early as possible, all of them should be controlled by civilians. So our task in the Aviation Normalisation cell, is to manage this transition period," explained German Maj. Edgar Reuber, deputy chief of the Aviation Normalisation cell.

"As a tool to achieve this aim we established the Airport Steering Committees (one for each airport). Working side by side together with the responsible civilians from the airport, local authorities, and also civil aviation organisations (like the Office of the High Representative, United Nations or Eurocontrol) constitutes our nearly daily routine. A lot of work has to be done to ensure a smooth transition phase. From selecting personnel for air traffic control, air traffic servicemen for their respective jobs, or personnel for cargo handling to installing meteorological systems, everything should be implemented in accordance with the international standards to make possible the normalisation of the civil aviation in Bosnia and Hercegovina," said Reuber.

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