View Full Version : Bosnian defence unified

27 Sep 03,, 19:55
Bosnian defence unified

An historic agreement on defence reform has been reached by Bosnia's Serbs, Croats and Muslims.

For the first time, representatives from all three ethnic groups have agreed to set up a state defence ministry and unified military command.

There had been deep divisions among the country's armed forces since the end of the Bosnian war eight years ago.

The move brings the country closer to eventually joining Nato.

After three months of often fraught negotiations, a series of draft laws have been agreed which will transform the make-up of Bosnia's armed forces.

For the first time, there will be a state defence minister and army chief; soldiers will wear the same uniform with state insignia; they will swear the same oath and serve under the same flag.

The head of the Nato-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia, General William Ward, helped negotiate the deal.

"The key ingredient was the creation of a unified defence establishment in Bosnia... All their operational lines are controlled through the establishment of an operational chain of command," he said.

Reduced powers

Following the Dayton peace agreement in 1995, the country's armed forces were divided into two, between the Bosnian Serb army and the army of the Muslim Croat Federation.

Both have been answerable to their own separate parliaments.

Whilst these armies will remain in name, their powers will be greatly reduced, and - crucially - they will now be answerable to parliament and presidency.

"I think it sends a great message... that there is a commitment, a desire to move forward and get beyond the very destructive and terrible times that were experienced here during the war," General Ward said

The draft laws still have to be approved by the Bosnian parliaments, but many now believe that the reforms, when confirmed, will lead Bosnia on the path to eventual membership of Nato - a significant step for a country so recently ripped apart by ethnic conflict.


Officer of Engineers
28 Sep 03,, 11:25
In name only,

The units are still locally raised. You won't find a Muslim serving in a Serb area nor a Croat in a Muslum unit.

30 Sep 03,, 06:29

While I understand the rationale, could you give us a run down of the situation since you were there.

Officer of Engineers
30 Sep 03,, 20:24

The only good thing is that the shooting has stopped but the tensions remained and new ones haven't even been addressed yet.

Bosnia-Herzgovania is roughly divided into three enclaves - Croats, Serbs, and Muslims. The Croats and Muslims supposed to have a united federation but that's more in name only than actual practise.

Within each enclave, relative peace and development has returned, albeit with massive foreign aide. Towns and villages have began to organize themselves and began delivering some basic services again.

Within the country, however, problems remain. None of the original tensions have been addressed. The attrocities during the war have not been forgotten. The displaced refugees are too afraid to go home, homes that may be already occupied by dominant group within that area. Since SFOR does not have the mandate to evict these people and restore the homes to their rightful owners, it would be an issue for conflict for a very long time.

Though there have been token arrests and some medium size fish has been caught in connection with the attrocities, the big boys who are responsible remain at large. No one seemed interested in going house-to-house, village by village to hunt them down.

To this, there is a competition between Serbia and Croatia in that country. Two massive corps remain over the borders in Croatia and Serbia. The Muslims are relying on SFOR for that.

What SFOR and the UN has been trying to do is to put a facade on the who situation, trying to portray the country is unifying when it's the exact opposite. Things like this united armed services can only happen when SFOR and the UN pay for it. There isn't enough tax revenue to create a united service and no Croat/Serb/Muslim is going to pay a soldier who only a decade ago was shooting at him. There's already been Croat mutinies at the C-M Federation.

The facade got to some ridiculus levels when you've got a Muslim mayor having to be armed escourted into town every tuesday to do his job when neither he nor his constituents who elected him are no longer living in that town.

The quiet that's being going on is only possible with the massive armed presence of SFOR. Once SFOR is gone, those tensions would mount once again, especially with the displaced refugees wanting their homes back.

While SFOR is definetely needed to keep a lid on things, the Americans, British, Canadians, French, Italians are not. The Brits and Canucks had been trying for years to get former Warsaw Pact members to take up the slack. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was of no help as major American, Canadian, and British battle groups had to be withdrawn for those wars and no one came up to take up the slack. Right now, you've got sections doing the jobs of companies. Essentially this means OPs instead of patrols.

Both the British and the Canadians are getting so fed up with the situation that backdoor diplomacy has been going on that someone better take up the slack or both countries would unilaterrally abandon SFOR and thus kill SFOR.

Thus far, both countries have not lived up to their threats, much to the relief of the people in Bosnia-Herzgovania.

01 Oct 03,, 07:14
Don't mind my saying so, but everywhere it seems to be a greater mess than what it was which folks wanted to straighten out.

While Iraq is a complicated case, I thought the Balkans would be more straight and cut and dried.

Afghanistan requires a heavier hand not by bombing but by 'liberating areas' and then making them a showcase so that the wilder areas realise that it is better to stop playing cops and robbers as the tribals there have played throughout history.

Of course, the bottom line is money to be put in to implement the scheme and that is in short supply unfortunately.

Officer of Engineers
02 Oct 03,, 06:53

The only good thing is that the war has stopped but the war has not been settled.

Had we let them fight it out, at least the war would have been settled. The casualties may would be more severe but certainly not more that we've let the war dragged out.

02 Oct 03,, 18:07
I wonder if a fratricide would have solved the issue.

This area is worse than the 'Wild West'. I agree it is immensely difficult to lick it into some shape, but if there wasn't the intervention, then the Taliban would have returned as they are returning even now.

I think like Iraq, it requires a larger expeiditionary force that what is there. Alongside, it is essential to organise more infrastructural build up to wean away the people with progress from their fetish for guns and lawlessness.

Karzai would agree with me. Heard him at the Labour Conference in the UK?

02 Oct 03,, 21:32
They've been fighting for centuries over there, no surprise they are still not ready to play nice without outside interference.