EUFOR, the European Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), currently consists of soldiers from twenty-three different nations, out of which five are from non-EU member states. One of them is from Latin-America, namely Chile, a country some 14,000 kilometres away from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 2003, more than four-hundred Chilean soldiers were deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina with up to 55 personnel at a time in the initial phases. Chile is very proud to be the only Latin-American country working together with the EUFOR troops as Chile is particularly interested in international cooperation and considers EUFOR playing an important role within BiH.
More than 1100 Chilean soldiers are presently serving abroad in UN and EU-led Peace Support Operations. The Chilean army is organized into seven divisions and one air brigade and the current Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army is General de Ejército Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba Poblete. The first Chilean troops in BiH arrived in 2003 together with the British contingent, to serve in the Banja Luka Metal Factory and to participate in weapon-harvest operations, which were performed by the Chileans in a very effective way. They presently are working in two main areas - one part of the contingent is working among the local population in a Liaison and Observation Team (LOT) in the northern area of the country, while the other members of the Chilean Contingent are serving as part of EUFOR HQ and are directly involved in helping to improve the doctrine of the Armed Forces BiH (AF BiH) and to reach higher standards in their training.
Office Call with COM EUFOR
On 06 August 2013, during an office call with COM EUFOR, Major General Dieter Heidecker, in Camp BUTMIR in SARAJEVO, General Juan Miguel Fuente – Alba Poblete was briefed regarding EUFOR’s role as the military component of the overarching European Security and Defence Policy mission in BiH. The Generals then discussed a wide range of topics including the obligation of the EUFOR mission to assist the BiH authorities in order to maintain a Safe and Secure Environment (SASE). COM EUFOR thanked the visiting General for Chile’s ongoing commitment to EUFOR and acknowledged the professionalism of the Chilean contingent. Chilean soldiers perform a number of functions within EUFOR including HQ staff posts and manning a LOT house.
Visiting LOT House BANJA LUKA
After the completion of the office call, General Juan Miguel Fuente – Alba Poblete visited the LOT house currently manned by seven Chilean soldiers in BANJA LUKA. LOT houses are the eyes and the ears of EUFOR in the field and their mission is to closely cooperate with the local authorities and to interact with the population in order to maintain a good situational awareness. The full spectrum of the tasks consists of patrolling, showing presence and to support the local population, local authorities and non-governmental organizations as much as possible. Keeping in contact with the regional leaders and the religious groups is considered equally essential as is providing useful information for the local population about mine risks and the dangers of unexploded devices. This usually is a high priority during visits of the LOT personnel to educational institutions and schools, usually conducted together with civilian instructors in order to provide mine risk education.
14 Chilean soldiers are serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the EUFOR mission, 6 of them in the EUFOR Headquarter in Sarajevo, one in the National Support Element and 7 in the Liaison Observation Team (LOT) house in Banja Luka. From the early 90’s Chile is participating in international peacekeeping missions like MINUSTAH in Haiti, or UNFICYP in Cyprus, UNMOGIP in India-Pakistan, UNTSO in the Middle-East, UNMIK in Kosovo and according to a bilateral agreement with the European Union since 2003 first in SFOR and since 2004 in EUFOR Althea. Altogether more than 1100 soldiers from the Chilean Armed Forces participate in international military operations all over the world.
Chief Press Officer:
Lt Col Otmar Lindner, AUT Army
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Lt Cdr Paul Gill, UK Royal Navy
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