Munitions Challenge in
controversy, economic chaos and increasing criminality have faced Albania
since its democratic revolution in late 1990. Anti-government demonstrations
erupted into violence, which took the form of attacks against state facilities
including public offices, schools, factories and military depots. Of particular
concern were the attacks against ammunition and weapons storage areas.
Over 600,000 weapons and several thousand tons of ammunition and explosives
were looted and some 16 ammunition storage areas, known as Hot Spots,
were set ablaze resulting in massive unexploded ordnance contamination
of the sites and surrounding areas.
Issue 4.1 | February 2000 | Information in this issue may be outdated. Click here to link to the most recent issue.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Storage Support
As part of its
commitment to democratic reform, the government of Albania joined the North
Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) in 1992 and was one of the first countries
to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program with the ultimate goal of
NATO membership. NACC sponsored expert teams that undertook intensive assessment
missions to Albania in 1997 and 1998 concentrating on the following issues:
Security concept and democratic control of the Albanian Armed Forces (AAF).
and functioning of the Ministry of Defense, general staff, and structure
of the AAF.
of a Command, Control, and Communications Information (C³I) system.
of the standards of basic military infrastructure as well as defense planning
- Storage and
handling of ammunition, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and security of
Storage and Disposal Implementation Team
The latter function
was undertaken in late 1998 by an eight-man military Ammunition Storage and
Disposal Implementation Team (ASDIT) with members from the UK, United States,
Denmark, Belgium and Italy. They carried out the training of Conventional
Munitions Disposal (CMD) of 16 Albanian officers, the planning and conduct
of UXO clearance tasks, EOD clearance planning, provision of ammunition storage
and management training for 14 officers. They also began training for the
initial Ammunition Storage Area (ASA) safety, operational assessments, improved
chemical analysis training and gave advice to Albanian laboratory personnel.
AT mines and
UXO stored in a farmer's tin shed.
photo c/o HALO Trust
and Ammunition Storage Training Team (EOD and ASTT)
The mission was
successful, which provided the AAF with the basic skills necessary to conduct
operational tasks confidently. This mission also concluded that further assistance
was necessary to assist in the establishment of a full concept of operations,
signal NATO's commitment to capacity building and to maintain momentum in
resolving the problem. The NATO Political Military Steering Committee (PMSC)
authorized the deployment of a second mission, the EOD and Ammunition Storage
Training Team (EODASTT) in early 1999.
The mission was
unique in many ways because a decision was taken to contract out the technical
nucleus of the team to a commercial company by way of competitive tender.
Mine Clear International, a UK-based company specializing in EOD operations,
was selected and provided a team of two British and one Canadian, former military
Ammunition Technical Officers (ATO). The team was completed by serving military
staff from Italy, the United States and Denmark. Initially envisaged as a
three-month mission, its success and immediate impact persuaded the PMSC to
extend the mission incrementally until June 2000.
Jan. 12 to Feb. 1, 1999, The second NATO mission's primary objective was "To
provide expert EOD and Ammunition Storage planning, assistance, training and
advice to the Albanian Ministry of Defence in order that the AAF can plan
and safely conduct EOD operations at Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) contaminated
sites, Logistic Ammunition Disposal operations and the rationalization and
establishment of safe ammunition storage."
The mission goals
for Explosive Ordnance Disposal was to assist the Ministry of Defence in forming
an EOD organization, help in the production of all procedures for the organization,
assist in the planning of Hot Spot clearance, validating ammunition disposal
training, and procedures compliance are also a priority. Preparation of a
storage plan in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence was essential for
ammunition management as well as advising on the establishment of Ammunition
Storage Areas (ASA) to reflect NATO standards and norms. Assisting in identification,
establishment, validation of Logistic Disposal Operations (LDO), advice of
demolition grounds for LDO, and providing technical support to a UKfunded
demilitarization feasibility study was critical to success.
of the mission, which is considered to be the most important by the Albanians,
progressed smoothly. As of Dec. 15, 1999, many goals had been met such as,
the establishment of the AAF EOD organization management team, the provision
of sufficient EOD equipment donated by NATO membercountries to equip current
EOD teams, the introduction of donated EOD equipment into service and training
in use and deployment. All of these goals were achieved as well as several
more that followed. More influential ones were the reconnaissance of all 16
Hot Spots as well as the operation orders and associated planning documentation
was prepared for each individual Hot Spot. The Hot Spot at Palikesht was totally
cleared of UXO and clearance of a second Hot Spot at Mbrestan was commenced.
All the lowlevel individual and collective training was completed and the
commencement of CMD instructors training began for all AAF personnel.
The program was
disrupted by the Kosovo crisis as AAF EOD resources, supported by EODASTT
technical input, were re-tasked to deal with the Serbian cross-border KB1
sub-munitions, conventional artillery and mortar strikes in border areas.
Other areas that needed attention were the stray NATO airdelivered weapons,
the surveying and marking of mined areas in Albania, and the clearing of supply
routes and emergency mine clearance and casualty recovery tasks from mined
This very complex
area can only be successfully achieved by a longterm program of assistance
designed to develop a full technical ammunition management system. There will
be a need to develop an external quantity distance protection system in conjunction
with national, regional and local authorities. This will help develop health
and safety practices within ASA to NATO standards as well as accident reporting,
ammunition bans, technical data and ammunition historical records. There is
a need to design new depots, control licensing and waivers on existing sites
and develop a system to deal with conception, procurement, in service life
and final disposal of ammunition natures. A tracking system that handles and
earmarks war reserves, training issues and has overall visibility of the stockpile
is also a necessity.
A full set of
ammunition technical regulations would be an added benefit. The clear prerequisite
to future storage planning was an ammunition program based on AAF future operational
and training requirements. A spreadsheetbased scaling document was produced
utilizing the NATO norm of 30 days general war for operations and individual
training requirements. This document was carefully reviewed in conjunction
with the Albanian General Staff to ensure that they understood the concept,
the spreadsheet interaction and methodology, and that base information on
the types of ammunition and weapon types could be validated. As of Dec. 15
1999, they had achieved full site surveys at 10 ASAs and completed full reporting
on the findings, conclusions and recommendations and then passed on to AAF.
A PC-based ammunition management system was developed and submitted in draft
form to the AAF and eventually accepted. Finally, a development plan for a
model ASA at Borizane was commenced.
and Explosive Ordnance Disposal
It has been agreed
that this area can only realistically be addressed as a two-stage operation
with stage one comprising logistics disposal by demolition and burning of
that element of the stockpile which is identified or suspected of being dangerous
by the AAF. Stage two would detail the fabrication of a permanent demilitarization
facility in Albania. Just nine percent of the Albanian ammunition stockpile
is less than 30-years-old. It was determined that as much as 90 percent of
the stockpile will require disposal within the next 10 years, which is clearly
a major challenge for the AAF. The key ammunition requiring logistical disposal
is unopened ammunition in poor condition (800+ tons) as well as stock declared
unserviceable by the AAF weighing up to as much as 3,000 tons. Another factor
needed to be disposed of are the AP and AT mines as part of the Ottawa Treaty
obligation (5,000 tons). Although progress in the explosive ordnance area
is vital, real time activity has been exceptional. There is clearly a need
for further support in the continued validation of EOD activity, in particular
Hot Spot Clearance Procedures. The team is aware that some information has
been lost in the translation and interpretation process. The training for
further EOD operators will enable the Albanians to enhance current disposal
operations, address the ongoing requirement to train EOD operators and to
develop and implement a process to identify, select and train Albanian personnel
as EOD trainers.
of EOD and ammunition management that require support are cataloging a system
which would be a NATO standard system for all ammunition needs, but Albania
does not currently possess a credible counterIEDD capability. An extension
to the capability of the AAF EOD organization would be considered a logical
enhancement. The ammunition stockpile requires a 100 percent surveillance
program to ascertain serviceability. The AAF will require further training
in this function. A number of bad handling and storage practices which are
intrinsically unsafe have been identified and an initial course held in December
1999 will be supplemented by a depotbydepot program of active risk limitation
Both the EODASSTT
and UNDP Weapons Collections missions have proved extremely successful on
a number of levels. In Albania they are seen as both a practical and symbolic
indicator that the country is stabilizing and addressing fundamental security
and safety issues. NATO has seen a vindication of its concept of the Individual
Partnership Program within PfP believing success in such a technically complex
area bodes well for addressing other specialist areas with confidence. NATO
has also seen its first steps towards contracting military advisory tasks
to prove successful with the hope that such future tasks will not be forced
to rely on the allocation of scarce military personnel resources from member
nations. The UNDP approach has vindicated the view that the collective responsibility
and ownership engendered through this weapons collection program is the way
forward, and hopes to replicate the approach in Albania and elsewhere.
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