The Fourth Session of the Strategic Committee for Weapons, Ammunition and Explosive Ordnance held in UN House

18 Feb 2014

The fourth session of the Strategic Committee for Weapons, Ammunition and Explosive Ordnance was held today at the UN House in Sarajevo, in organization of the Ministry of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina (MoD) and in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Participants of the fourth session of the Strategic Committee, were permanent members of the Strategic Committee including representatives MoD and the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina Office of the Special Representative of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina, OSCE Mission to BiH, UNDP, NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo, the command of EUFOR in BiH , Embassies of the United States, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, as well as special guests, General Sir Richard Shirreff,  Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Operational Commander of Operation ALTHEA in a departure and General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, successor of General Shirreff in this position.

Zekerijah Osmić, Minister of Defense of Bosnia and Herzegovina pointed out that it has been planned for this year to dispose about 2,000 tons of unstable ammunition and explosive ordnance produced up to 40 years ago and stored in the ammunition storage.

Chief of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, major-general Anto Jeleč, has mentioned that not all ammunition surpluses will be disposed as there is certain amount of technically functioning ammunition whose condition is being assessed by trained ammunition inspectors. "After completion of the assessment, we intend to solve this issue in a way that every piece of weapon and ammunition is stored appropriately and in accordance to the standards", major-general Jeleč has added.

"With the current capacity in place we can expect 1,000 tons of surpluses to be disposed of, while we are working to improve the capacity to double this amount. We also have about 700 tons of ammunition surpluses with no capacity for disposal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Therefore, we are talking with international community to perform disposal of these surpluses within the region respectively where such disposal capacities exist", said major general Jeleč.

Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Operational Commander of Operation ALTHEA General Sir Richard Shirreff has emphasized the importance of the Committee as a strategic body; however it is not a body that is able to implement the activities in the field at the tactical level. Therefore, it is important to have operational teams, adding that these objectives will be accomplished if the resources are engaged and capacities are provided to implement the plans.

During the Strategic Committee session, work of the Coordination Committee in 2013 was discussed mainly focusing on three working groups and the implementation of the OSCE Project SECUP as well as the implementation and achievements of the UNDP project EXPLODE funded by the European Union in the amount of US $ 5 million.

"UNDP in partnership with the EUFOR / NATO has recently completed a very important task of auditing the ammunition management regulations and standard operating procedures in which international ammunition technical guidelines (IATG) are now integrated," said Yuri Afanasiev, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding that through the activities of the project EXPLODE, only within the technical workshop for the maintenance and disposal of ammunition (TROM) in Doboj , nearly 450 tons of ammunition of medium and large caliber have been disposed of and more than 2.5 million pieces of small caliber ammunition.

Participants have expressed the belief that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be safer in terms of addressing the surplus of unstable ammunition as it was concluded that significant steps were made in this domain in the last year. The Strategic Committee is a forum established for the sole purpose of resolving the issues of surplus weapons, ammunition and explosive ordnance under the control of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a more efficient, faster and transparent manner.