European Command project helping reintegrate war-torn region
STUTTGART, Germany — A water distribution network replacement project is helping reconcile historic differences in war-torn Milici, Bosnia-Herzegovina, according to the Chief of the U.S. European Command's Security Cooperation Programs Division.
Army Colonel David T. McNevin said the EUCOM humanitarian assistance project, which replaced 6,700 meters of antiquated asbestos pipes with modern plumbing, is a model humanitarian assistance project that directly benefits more than 10,000 people.
"This project is helping achieve the United States and NATO goals of reintegrating the war-torn region and encouraging reconciliation of longstanding differences between ethnic groups," McNevin said. "There are tangible benefits for all sides [involved]. The local community is behind it; this is the type of humanitarian assistance project we want to be involved with across our 92-nation area of responsibility."
The municipality of Milici unveiled a fountain at the March 16 dedication ceremony as a memorial for the European Command-funded water project. The fountain includes a plaque commemorating the joint EUCOM-Milici efforts to make the project possible.
European Command funded the $700,000 project, but according to McNevin, the EUCOM Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, headed by Army Lt. Col. Walt Kennedy, "deserves the credit for pulling this [project] off."
Once the command approved the money for the project, it was the ODC that was "on the ground" overseeing the competitive bidding process for the construction contract, ensuring the contract remained on schedule while briefing both host-nation and European Command officials on the progress.
The project demonstrates the continuing good will of the American people towards Bosnia-Herzegovina and proof of what U.S. military humanitarian assistance is capable of accomplishing, McNevin said.
McNevin said European Command will also help fund a needed water chlorination system and additional plumbing infrastructure for other neighborhoods to link to the new Milici water distribution network.
"In Milici, the local government officials were saying and doing the right things to reintegrate the region; to play a small part in this process through EUCOM's humanitarian assistance program is truly rewarding," he said, noting European Command carefully selects each humanitarian assistance project. "Milici township is a leader in reintegrating displaced persons from the internecine conflict of the 1990s. This project helps the civic leaders of Milici provide the needed infrastructure not only for the 2,500 displaced persons who have already returned, but provides the capacity for many others to return to the region."