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Combat Service Support

Stabilization Force (SFOR) combat service support to the Bosnia-Herzegovina Municipal Elections was significantly less than that provided by the Implementation Force (IFOR) to the Bosnia-Herzegovina National Elections. This was for two reasons. First, SFOR was a much smaller force that did not have the same capabilities as IFOR. Second, unlike the National Elections, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was required to reimburse SFOR for services provided. Because of these costs, the OSCE requested less assistance. The major CSS support requested by the OSCE was transportation of election-related material. This proved to be the logistic focus for Task Force Eagle (TFE). Additionally, though OSCE did not request certain forms of support, TFE had to anticipate requirements and be prepared to provide certain services on an emergency basis.


During the Bosnia-Herzegovina Municipal Elections, TFE established priorities for logistic support. The first priority was timely transfer, distribution, and collection of voting materials and ballots. The SFOR (Stabilization Force) BELUGA (Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Austria) Group delivered election-related materials to SDCs (Storage/Distribution Centers) in the TFE AOR (Area of Responsibility). TFE brigades and task forces moved these materials to and from LECs (Local Election Commissions). To accomplish this mission, the election period was broken into three phases.

SFOR Soldiers Deliver Election Materials

Phase I (Election Preparation). This phase began with preparation tasks and logistical support including transfer of election materials from the BELUGA Group to TFE brigade and task force SDCs. It ended when marked ballots had been moved to LECs/Polling Stations. Priority was given to ensuring that brigades and task forces had operational SDCs capable of receiving materials, providing temporary weatherproof storage and maintaining accountability of materials, and to the support of secure transport of materials and ballots to LECs. Convoys supporting the elections had priority on SFOR and MND (Multinational Division) routes. The following logistic support occurred during this phase:

  • Nonsensitive materials and ballots were delivered by the BELUGA Group to TFE SDCs. Materials were inventoried, accounted for, and stored in secure, weatherproof areas.

  • Brigades and task forces worked with OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) representatives ensuring on-hand materials were capable of supporting the mission in their respective AORs.

  • Brigade and task force logisticians identified tentage and lighting capabilities available in their stocks to support polling sites, if needed.

  • Nonsensitive materials and ballots were delivered to LECs for onward movement to polling stations. TFE prepared to provide emergency transport to polling stations in the event LECs had exhausted all other available options under their control.

Phase II (Election Execution). This phase began with support to OSCE on the election days (13-14 Sep), followed by pickup of completed absentee ballots from LECs, transport to brigade and task force SDCs, and ended when marked ballots were moved to the Sarajevo warehouse. Logistics priority was to support secure transport of materials and ballots from LECs. Convoys in support of elections had priority on Corps and Division routes. The following logistic support occurred during this phase:

  • TFE brigades and task forces picked up marked absentee ballots from LECs, and moved them to SDCs for transfer to the BELUGA Group and onward movement to Sarajevo for sorting.

  • When asked by OSCE, TFE brigades and task forces picked up completed ballots from LECs/polling stations and moved them to SDCs for transfer to the BELUGA Group in the same method as Phase I for counting, sorting, and storing.

Phase III (Post Election Support). This phase began with the announcement of election results and ended when local councils were installed. Logistic support included:

  • Brigades and task forces provided transport to OSCE, as required.

  • Brigades and task forces recovered and disposed of residual materials from the elections.

  • Brigades and task forces provided emergency support until OSCE personnel redeployed.


The BELUGA (Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, and Austria) Group

The BELUGA Group transported election materials from the OSCE warehouse in Sarajevo to 32 storage/distribution centers (SDCs) throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. The BELUGA Group was a Stabilization Force (SFOR) transportation unit consisting of military assets from Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and Austria. They were responsible for the transportation of voting materials between the OSCE warehouse in Sarajevo to storage/distribution centers within all three Multinational Divisions (MNDs) during the municipal elections.

In the Multinational Division (North) (MND(N)) area of responsibility (AOR), the BELUGA group delivered election materials to 12 storage/distribution centers. TFE base camps served as storage/distribution centers in the MND(N) AOR.

To accomplish the election material distribution mission, the BELUGA Group divided its resources into three groups. One group provided election materials transport services to the Turkish Brigade, Danish Battalion and Polish Battalion. A second group transported ballots to three U.S. battalion task force base camps and the Swedish Battalion. The final group serviced the Russian Brigade, two U.S. battalion task force base camps and a Norway Battalion base camp. The pickup of completed election materials was accomplished in the same way as distribution.

Task Force Eagle Units

SFOR units transported ballots from SDCs to the Local Election Commissions (LECs). The LECs were responsible for moving ballots to polling places. In MND(N), there were 12 SDCs and 56 LECs.

Tracking Election Material Distribution

TFE developed an Election Material Distribution Matrix to capture tasks associated with the distribution of election-related materials. During the municipal elections period, moving sensitive and nonsensitive election material throughout the TFE AOR was a big responsibility. To track movement of election materials, TFE developed an Election Material Distribution Matrix and Timeline.

The matrix contained four columns: Activity, Date, Remarks, and Responsibility. The Activity column clearly identified the tasks, broken down by stages. The various stages were:

  • Stage 1: Distribution of nonsensitive election materials.

  • Stage 2: Distribution of sensitive materials.

  • Stage 3: Distribution of completed absentee ballot papers from the polling station to the Sarajevo warehouse for counting.

  • Stage 4: Collection and distribution of completed ballots and spare ballot papers.

The second column was for the date. This was the date that the task had to be accomplished. Some dates were listed as "no later than." The remarks column was next. In this column, TFE clearly explained what actions were to occur to support the task. The fourth column was to denote responsibility. This column identified the organization that was responsible for completing the task.


Class I

TFE planned class I emergency subsistence support for the BELUGA Group, OSCE Supervisors, and International Observers. Units and supporting staffs identified employment, sustainment and contingency subsistence requirements, and forwarded them to the TFE G4, Supply and Services Section.

Distributing Water to Voters Waiting to Vote

Units requested water and MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) through the TFE G4. Units drew sufficient amounts of bottled water and food for sustainment. Bottled water was issued at 4.5 liters per person per day in 1.5 liter bottles. MREs were issued at three per person per day. Each base camp maintained five DOS (Days of Supply) of rations for emergency resupply.

Class III

TFE units were prepared to provide emergency class III support to OSCE Supervisors and International Observers. Units identified additional employment, sustainment and contingency requirements and submitted them to the TFE G4. Requests were filled, and units maintained a 30 DOS (Days of Supply) supply for class III (P). The Forward Support Battalion used Forward Area Support Teams (FASTs)' LOGPACs to replenish stockage levels in the TFE Area of Responsibility (AOR).

Units also identified class III (B) requirements and ensured sufficient petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) were on hand for emergency election requirements. Units used organic tankers to replenish unit vehicles and coordinated resupply through the FSB.


TFE units were prepared to provide emergency maintenance and recovery support to the OSCE. Units responsible for emergency maintenance/recovery support for each situation were determined by closest base camp.

Maintenance/Recovery Requests. OSCE requests for assistance were sent through the OSCE Regional Centers and Field Offices to TFE Headquarters. Brigades and Task Forces used available organic assets from Forward Area Support Teams (FASTs) to recover and conduct maintenance for the BELUGA Group and OSCE vehicles.

Priority of maintenance and recovery was to vehicles with sensitive election material and ballots, Brigade and task force vehicles, BELUGA Group vehicles and then OSCE vehicles.


Treatment. Combat lifesavers, combat medics, and medical platoons/base camp aid stations were prepared to provide Role I and limited Role II medical treatment. A medical task force was responsible for Role III hospitalization and treatment augmentation to TFE medical platoons on order or as required. Role IV hospitalization was available in Central Region.

Priority for evacuation and treatment remained with SFOR (Stabilization Force) units throughout all phases of the operation. OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and other elections support personnel were authorized emergency treatment and evacuation. Local nationals were authorized treatment to save life, limb, and/or eyesight.

Evacuation. Each polling site designated ground evacuation routes (primary/secondary) and a designated PZ (pickup zone) for air MEDEVAC. Primary method of evacuation to Role III hospital was AEROMEDEVAC; secondary method was ground. The Medical Task Force provided AEROMEDEVAC support to MND(N) throughout the AOR. An Air Force contingent was prepared to coordinate STRATEVAC support for TFE and MND (N).

Phase I. Maneuver brigades were tasked to develop casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) plans for each polling site in their respective sectors. Primary and secondary ground evacuation routes and CASEVAC PZs were submitted to the TFE Surgeon's Cell. The Medical Task Force conducted aerial reconnaissance of the submitted PZs.

Phase II. If case of an emergency, maneuver brigades would evacuate patients by ground within their respective sectors from point of injury to the nearest ambulance exchange point (AXP), PZ or higher medical facility. The focus was on "999" polling stations and remotely located polling sites, DPRE (Displaced Persons and Refugees) resettlement areas and Brcko.

Phase III. During phase III, medical support refocused on areas of contention (known as hot spots), especially in split Opstinas. TFE medical units and personnel were prepared to execute active CONPLANs (Contingency Plans) on order throughout Phase III.


Task Force Eagle (TFE) outlined procedures to ensure reimbursement for municipal election support to the OSCE. Unlike the Bosnia-Herzegovina National Elections, SFOR defined the types of reimbursable support that could be provided to OSCE during the Bosnia-Herzegovina Municipal Elections. Once TFE decided that cost-free support could not be provided to the OSCE, TFE had to receive OSCE requirements in advance and grant approval before performing the task. They used a locally developed form, Form A, to document support provided and OSCE agreement to reimburse.

TFE units had to submit Form A to the SFOR J3 Elections. The OSCE had to sign Form A before funds or resources could be committed and return it to TFE. The unit or organization, tasked to provide the support indicated on Form A, had to provide the projected dates and cost of support; the point of contact for support and final costing; the name, phone number, and position of the approval authority. Approval by the organization or unit indicated that support could be provided as specified.


  • By breaking the elections period into phases, logistic planners easily identified the tasks that were associated with the various phases of the municipal election.

  • TFE identified transportation support as the main logistic effort for the municipal elections. Accordingly, they planned to ensure timely transfer, distribution, and collection of voting materials and ballots.

  • MND(N) needed reliable, continuous communications with the BELUGA Group during distribution and pickup of election materials. Without continuous communications, TFE could not properly monitor the progress of the mission.

  • The OSCE had representatives at the LECs. Discrepancies involving number of ballots expected and number of ballots delivered could be quickly resolved. On at least one occasion, the OSCE representative had to call Sarajevo to verify election ballot numbers. It is highly recommended that OSCE representatives be available during election material transloads.

  • The TFE Election Material Distribution Matrix and Timeline served as a good tool to double-check election material distribution tasks. It was only two pages and could easily be distributed to subordinate units and the OSCE. Because of its size, it was widely used by commanders as a quick reference guide.

  • A clear priority on maintenance and recovery operations was needed to ensure ballots were distributed and collected in a timely manner.

  • TFE developed a solid treatment and evacuation plan to support the municipal elections. Only through thorough planning was this possible.

  • When support cannot be provided free of charge, a method to document support is needed. Form A provided a means to: track OSCE support requirements, estimate cost, and determine if military units could provide the requested support. The form also provided documentation of the intent of the OSCE to reimburse SFOR for support.

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