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Election Support


SFOR was a significantly smaller force than IFOR. Thus SFOR could not provide as much support as IFOR did for the 1996 national elections. Nevertheless, SFOR still played a critical role in the municipal elections. The U.S.-led element of SFOR was Multinational Division (North) (MND(N)). The American elements of MND(N) were collectively referred to as Task Force Eagle or TFE.


The Stabilization Force (SFOR) supported the Bosnian municipal elections ensuring the Bosnian people had the opportunity to vote and democratically determine their own destiny at the local level. Much of this effort was to support the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other organizations. OSCE was the principal agency responsible for organizing, assisting and monitoring the 1997 municipal elections in BiH. Two thousand four hundred and fifty OSCE supervisors oversaw 2,300 polling sites making it the largest election support effort in the organization's history.

SFOR support to OSCE was extensive, including assistance to OSCE and local election committees in preparation of polling sites. It performed monitoring and net control of all OSCE and European Community Monitoring Mission repeater networks. It provided extensive maps including land-mine information, military routes and locations of military installations. At a tactical level, SFOR units performed reconnaissance of possible polling sites and operated security checkpoints during the balloting.

SFOR provided a militarily secure environment for OSCE operations and the opportunity for the citizens of Bosnia to vote in peace. Support to the OSCE was designed to increase their situational awareness as well as to help them make the Bosnian election a success. Assistance included reception of OSCE personnel, training, onward movement, timely and safe transport of voting materials and strict accountability of all ballots. TFE had a LO stationed at each OSCE field office to maintain liaison with OSCE. Each liaison officer was supported by a military communications team with FM and SATCOM radios.

Area security: SFOR's principal responsibility was area security and each TF unit of TFE had a specific area of responsibility within the MND(N) sector. TFE was not to serve as a police force. Normally, SFOR operated outside a 100-meter radius of a polling place. Bosnian security forces were expected to carry out police duties for the election.

Providing a secure environment: SFOR provided overall area security for the movement of voter materials. TFE ensured freedom of movement and provided convoy escorts to OSCE personnel. On the day of the election, SFOR units placed Traffic Control Points near polling stations where inter-ethnic tensions were most severe.

Securing ballots and counting houses: SFOR ensured general area security around ballot locations and during ballot transportation. SFOR transported and secured election materials including sensitive items (e.g., ballots).

Distribution of election material and ballots: The BELUGA (Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and Austria) Group moved the ballots from Sarajevo to the SFOR storage/distribution centers, and SFOR transported the ballots from the SDCs to the LECs. TFE convoys in support of the elections had priority on routes within the TFE's AOR. The LECs were responsible for moving the ballots to and from the polling places. In some instances, SFOR assisted the LECs in moving ballots. SFOR also provided emergency lift capability for emergency transport of voting materials. During the election, SFOR carried out rotary-wing missions to redistribute ballots between Sarajevo and some local election districts.

Training: SFOR and TFE provided emergency evacuation instruction and mine awareness training for OSCE personnel.

Logistic support: SFOR provided limited logistic support including tentage, emergency fuel, recovery, medical, and life support to OSCE supervisors and observers.

Noncombatant Evacuation: Under Operations Plan (OPLAN) MEDUSA, SFOR was responsible for noncombatant evacuation of OSCE personnel down to and including polling station level. In the event of an emergency, SFOR was responsible for noncombatant evacuation of most other international personnel including ECMM and the International Police Task Force.

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