My US Army unit, Task Force 3-5 CAV or the 1st Armored Division crossed the Sava River Christmas Day of 1995. Our initial encampment was near Brcko. I spent two tours in the area, then seconded to the OSCE for another two years with more time in Bosnia, followed by being relocated to Eastern Slavonia near the city of Osijek.Having “worked” many war/conflict zones of the world to include: Haiti, Bosnia, Croatia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Uganda and Sudan (2nd tour), your country and my presence in BiH was a life changing experience. A great city which hosted the 1984 Olympics was de-moralized years later into hiding from Serb snipers attempting to kill children..and they did..the Serbs killed many Bosnian children.
Having asked myself many times, “how could this happen in Europe”…there was never a reply which may sense. Traveling with the forensic anthologist of the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal of Former Yugoslavia) near Zvornik winter of 1996, I and other heard and saw the evidence of the murder of 500 Bosnian people who were detained in a fenced tennis court, then summarily machine gunned to death…men, women and children.
So what is the point of the previous paragraphs: As mentioned, having “worked” in many adverse and dangerous areas of the world, the horrific circumstances of the war on the people of Bosnia remains the most compelling.
As a women from Prijedor once told me, Serb forces (actually Arkan and his “Tigers”) killed every living thing in that village. She closed by saying…”the black heart of man is alive and well..”
The picture was taken August of 1996 in the Zone of Separation (ZOS) just north of Brka. From time to time, I joined other US Army Soldiers on patrol. As I looked out over the thousands of houses, one could only see blown and burned out homes of Bosniak residents who previously resided outside the city of Brcko. This was a true example of “ethnic cleansing”.
The unending aggression of the Serb forces was systematic, coordinated and planned at the highest level.
Story by Randolph Hampton, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army