Bosnia and Herzegovina: Promoting Security By Destroying Conventional Weapons

June 21, 2010
Bosnian Serb Army Soldier Destroys Weapons

About the Author: USAF Brigadier General Thomas J. Masiello serves as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Plans, Programs, and Operations in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

In the early 1990s, Bosnia and Herzegovina became synonymous with the worst horrors of war until the U.S.-brokered Dayton Accords and NATO peacekeepers finally ended the conflict and helped the region start on the long road to post-conflict recovery.

I recently visited Sarajevo, Bosnia, to meet with top defense officials to underscore U.S. support for Bosnia and Herzegovina's efforts to deal with one of conflict's most dangerous legacies: more than 67,000 excess small arms and thousands of tons of surplus conventional ammunition and explosives. In response to a request for support from the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, our Bureau's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is ready to help.

The United States' well-known efforts under its U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action program, which has also been very active in Bosnia and Herzegovina, are only part of our larger, comprehensive approach to Conventional Weapons Destruction. In addition to funding efforts to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance, the United States is also committed to mitigating the impact of illicit trafficking and the potentially destabilizing influence of excess small arms, light weapons, and munitions in dozens of countries around the world. Since 2001, we have worked closely with our partners at the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency to help countries safely dispose of more than 1.3 million weapons and approximately 50,000 tons of munitions worldwide.

As with many other forms of U.S. assistance, Conventional Weapons Destruction also seeks to empower partner countries in the region to develop and implement their own solutions. To this end, Bosnia and Herzegovina has also been an active participant in the Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR), an ongoing U.S. initiative to build partnerships among military officials and international organizations in Southeastern Europe. Through the RASR initiative, former adversaries are now working together to strengthen regional security through collaborative efforts to address aging, excess, and loosely secured stockpiles and conventional munitions.

Disposing of these excess weapons and ammunition will take several years, but Bosnia and Herzegovina's commitment to safely disposing of this excess weaponry marks a positive step toward enhanced regional security.



New Mexico, USA
June 22, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Masiello


What an incredible waste of money invested in the destruction of people's hopes and dreams, than to pay twice to destroy the implements of destruction. In the ever strange and wonderfully dualistic, dysfuntional world we live in, suffering from the endless war between the sane and the insane; I'll score your effort as one for the sane if that's all the same with you Tom, as the karma associated with these weapons is being decommissioned as well.

If folks would only quit wasting their time and money to begin with, we wouldn't need these type of job creation programs. Thus I find it hard to thank anyone, as it would be only proper to "thank" the arms merchants, and a fine mess they've gotten humanity into...

I don't know how this might line-up with your professional military assesment of probabilities, and by no means am I tryimg to be flippant; But it seems to me the arms merchant runs a risk that when there's no one left to buy the weapons, there'll be no place to spend the profits, and that's bad for buisiness. I wouldn't even fathom a guess as to what a working tactical nuke - complete with codes, launch vehical and of course-a manual- would fetch on today's black market. But I think it only took us 12 billion (1940's dollars US) to build the first one's and end a war with them.

Decades later, humanity can truly count the cost of Stalin biting the hand that fed him lend-lease aid to save his nation. I think it's a safe bet that machine guns have killed more folks than atomic weapons, but that could change...

In any case, every vet I know tries his best to keep the peace, at home and abroad. You're following in a fine tradition sir.

Best Regards,

Pamela G.
West Virginia, USA
June 22, 2010

Pamela G. in West Virginia writes:

I am so glad we are helping these countries try to get back to normal. We need to keep these weapons off the streets and away from terrorists. I am glad we are finally taking care of unfinished business.


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