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Ensuring compliance in Pale

by JO1(AW) Terk O. Husbands

First published in SFOR Informer #34, April 22, 1998

Photo 1T.JPG (9148 bytes)Pale- While SFOR patrolling and maintaining a presence in Bosnia and Hercegovina is important to the people of BiH in returning their country to its once peaceful and prosperous state, SFOR, at times, needs to flex its muscles when it comes to ensuring compliance with Annex 1A of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

"In January of this year, it was decided a second Republika Srpska Specialist Police unit bePhoto 2T.JPG (7252 bytes) brought under SFOR’s control in accordance with Annex1A," said Canadian Major Jim Waddel, of CJ3’s Co-ordination section. The unit was the Security of Buildings Unit (SBU), who also provides VIP security to government and visiting dignitaries.

The SBU fulfilled a very specialised role in providing security to Photo 3T.JPG (6991 bytes)government facilities in Pale and Bijelina. "Once we received direction that SFOR would receive a second unit under Annex 1A we went through the same steps of ensuring compliance as we did with the first unit (Detachment 5 of the Doboj Specialist Police) back in August of 1997," continued Waddel.

Ensuring compliance is primarily an administrative process. "In August we issued an Photo 4T.JPG (7192 bytes)Instruction To the Parties (ITP), which gave them direction on what we required," said Waddel. Administratively the ITP directed the Special Police Anti Terrorist Brigade, an organisation of 750 Special Police Officers to include inventories of weapons ammunition and equipment and rosters of all officers belonging to the Special Police. Once everything was in order new ID cards were issued to the Special Police and staged certification through the International Police Task Force began for the Special Police Anti Terrorist Brigade.

Photo 5T.JPG (7702 bytes)However, unlike the first unit of special police to come under SFOR’s control the SBU was not a para-military type unit and some issues in communications arose prompting the compliance operation in Pale. "We came up against resistance at the Minister of Interior level and things we anticipated happening in bringing them under our control at the end of March did not happen," said Waddel, pointing out that SFOR had expected a smoother conclusion.

While negotiations were being conducted at high levels to settle the stand off, communication broke down. "We thought we had a settlement but then the information didn’t seem to filter down through the proper RS channels," continued Waddel.

Photo 6T.JPG (6267 bytes)This break down prompted compliance action operations on SFOR’s part. "Basically we were forced to mount an operation to enforce compliance with the ITP, which we had issued to them in February," stated Waddel. "We went to Pale and spoke to the commander of the SBU and told him he had two choices, he could comply and get his organisation administratively in compliance with Annex 1A, immediately, or, we would decertify his organisation in a similar way we did the office in Doboj last November," he continued.

Fortunately, SFOR authorities were already working with RS officials, "We were already working with the SBU commander’s superior, RS Chief of Police and the Interior Minister. So when push came to shove, we insisted everything went smoothly and they are now fully compliant, with a few minor details to be worked out," said Waddel.

In order to show resolve during the operation in Pale, three companies from Multinational Division South East, North and Central Brigade, were involved.

Should the SBU have refused to comply, SFOR would have gone to the SBU facilities and confiscated all their weapons and equipment and we would have posted an SFOR presence at the buildings the SBU was guarding. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that and we didn’t have to settle for the second choice."

[Italian soldier]

[The work of SFOR]