Bosnia Diary – Pg. 6

Green Bay to Bosnia LogoMired in a Mine

6 Feb 96, Tue — Ðurðevik

Then again we have days like today.

The U.S. Army in Bosnia has come down with a serious case of REMF-itis. Two days ago the powers-that-be dictated that everyone must have a 72-hour vehicle dispatch. (A dispatch is a document that says the driver is authorized to be operating the vehicle.) Yesterday, they mandated fire guards for all tents with heaters in them. A small tent, such as mine, only sleeps four people. That means we’d be getting 25% less sleep than we already are. Today the REMFitis got terminal.

Anyone refueling a heater must wear goggles. Last night some of the FSB weenies confiscated heaters from unguarded tents. (Which means that in Force Protecting those poor guys from the remote possibility of a fiery death, they froze them instead.)

Also, all vehicular traffic, not just convoys as was the case earlier, must travel in groups of at least four vehicles and all convoys must have permission from the Grand Wazoo before they can use the roads. BG O’Neal, who must be severely under-employed, was out stopping unanointed convoys today. For a unit such as civil affairs, those sorts of restrictions severely hamper our ability to meet and do business with civilians, which is our whole reason for our existence. It’s just another perfect example why special operations units should not be under the operational control of conventional forces.

That anonymous colonel justified his existence today by renaming our camp from ‘Joanne’ to ‘Angie’.

SGT Argetsinger went over to Charlie company to renew our 72-hour dispatch. He was told to come back during working hours.

SFC Tony Libassi (left) and someone who looks vaguely familiar (right).
SFC Tony Libassi (left) and someone who looks vaguely familiar (right).


The Mysterious Mr. Sefket

Had our fourth meeting with Mr. Sefket, the ‘director’ of Visca Mines, on whose land we are squatting. Or, in reportese, a “civil-military land-use negotiation meeting”.Mr. Sefket reiterated his demand that the U.S. leave the quarry, that U.S. presence in Camp Angie is “not negotiable”. He even offered to widen and grade the road to his proposed alternate site. The alternate is littered with numerous closely grouped mounds, which are marked on the map as a “waste pile”. The site would require extensive levelling and a study to determine the health impact on U.S. troops before it could be used. Factor in the time to tear down the BSA and set it back up at the alternate and we are talking an operational delay of a month or more.

Mr. Sefket wants to use Angie to dump excavation waste. Why can’t he just truck it the extra two or three klicks to the alternate and dump it? Because 14 of his 16 trucks have been cannibalized and are up on blocks. He magnanimously offered to let us stay if we would fix the trucks. I don’t think so. Not when we are talking the type of truck that has tires twice the size of a Humvee. It would be cheaper to move.

A local Bosnian official (Mr. Sefket) and the 96th CA Bn.'s Armstrong go over a list of potential basing locations for incoming American units.
A local Bosnian official (Mr. Sefket) and the 96th CA Bn.’s Armstrong go over a list of potential basing locations for incoming American units.

Mr. Sefket said U.S. occupation of the land is idling 500 workers; if it remains where it is, he will have to close the mine; and if he closes the mine he will be considered an “enemy of the Bosnian state”. That statement implies government control. According to one local translator, large enterprises in Bosnia have not been privatized as they have in Russia. Thus, it would appear that it is a governmental entity with which we are dealing. Under the peace accord, the Bosnian government has to provide property to IFOR, but private individuals are not so obligated. If that is the case, then Mr. Sefket is jerking us around, and probably to line his own pockets.

The appearance of the local troops is nondescript. This in itself is not remarkable, but the sighting of someone with a full uniform — pants, shirt, boots, jacket and cap — is. Especially when they all are BDU pattern, all match and all are in good condition. While the rest of the negotiating team was in Mr. Sefket’s office, I was in the reception area watching four such individuals walk into an adjoining office. One of them had a pistol on his hip. I wish I could have been the fly on that wall.

Later in the day there was a protest over in the 3/4 Cav area. Apparently, the protesters were demonstrating against having the mine closed down. It looks like Mr. Sefket deliberately provoked the action in an attempt to pressure the U.S. into meeting his demands.

Sefket’s boss is no better. CPT Fellinger tried to arrange a meeting between the boss and BG O’Neal to resolve the situation. Enver, a Muslim and our normal translator, wasn’t available so he had a female Serb do the talking. The boss apparently started threatening and insulting the translator because she quickly broke down in tears and couldn’t continue. When CPT Fellinger tried talking directly to the boss, he hung up. Prick.

Maybe your average Slobo is glad we are here, but all the bigwigs care about is sucking America’s tit dry. Then, when we leave, they are going to go right back at it. Pathetic.

“Soldiers” Magazine Article About Sefket


Standing above the Visca coal pit. I thought it was huge until I experienced Arizona's copper mines.
Standing above the Visca coal pit. I thought it was huge until I experienced Arizona’s copper mines.
7 Feb 96, Wed — Ðurðevik

Since the coal mine people tried to butt-stroke us yesterday, my team really didn’t have much to do today. We ended up serving as convoy fodder (the fourth vehicle) in a 5/3 ADA convoy to Tuzla Main. This, of course, afforded us the opportunity to take peaceful, cleanly and satisfying dumps and showers. Unfortunately, I backed our vehicle into a U.N. potty-pumper truck, busting one of our two antenna mounts. Even worse, the mail that G-5 was supposedly holding for us was nowhere to be found. No one on my team has received any mail so far.

Later in the day we arranged a meeting with ‘Mr. Big’, Sefket’s boss, who is the ‘President of Economics’ for the mine and who supposedly has the authority to lease the quarry. If this really is a government organization, then Mr. Big is not the top of this food chain. He has superiors and whether he has the personal authority make a deal, he will likely have to refer it to his superior (‘Mr. Bigger’). That means an even longer wait, and even worse jerk job, until the issue is resolved.

“We were able to move 80% of the brigade in here without a DTO [division transportation officer] and now we can’t move anything.”
2BCT S-2

Convoy on Tuzla Main.
Convoy on Tuzla Main.

Was listening to some Creedence Clearwater Revival on my Walkman this afternoon when “Fortunate Son” came on. Considered in the context of tax deductions on used underwear, loathing the military, draft dodging, yearly ‘meals on wheels’ deployments, and confiscatory tax rates, I thought it especially appropriate:

Some folks are born made to wear the flag
They’re red, white and blue
But when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
They point the cannon at you.

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Don’t they help themselves
But when the tax man comes to the door
The house looks like a rummage sale.

Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes
They send you down to war
But when you ask them “How much should we give?”
They only ask for more, more, more.


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