EUCOM legal team helping Bosnians
STUTTGART, Germany — About 10,000 soldiers will be counting on Brig. Gen. Rizvo Pleh to help make things right: their paychecks, their careers, their military.
Pleh, whose war-battered nation, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is now a NATO aspirant, visited Stuttgart last week to meet with the U.S. European Command inspector general and his staff.
He said he hoped to learn ways to make his military more fair and efficient.
“From the viewpoint of the average, ordinary man, it is very important to have a good system that is supported by the government and by the state,” Pleh said Thursday through an interpreter.
“From the viewpoint of law enforcement people, it is very important to have consistent laws that are not in collision and that can be applied,” Pleh said. “Good laws will help us in our leadership and management of our armed forces.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the nations that emerged in the 1990s from the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The region has endured civil war, genocide, and campaigns and occupation by U.S. and NATO forces.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is now seeking to become a member of NATO, the Brussels-based, 26-nation security alliance.
One requirement is for the Bosnian military to become complementary with others in NATO, that is, operate in a consistent way.
The Bosnian military had operated under two codes of law, divided along ethnic lines, until 2005, when the military began operating under one code.
Pleh’s soldiers, including ones from explosive ordnance disposal units that have served in Iraq, deal with the same legal hassles as U.S. troops — issues with paychecks, relocation, promotions, and complying with rules and regulations.
“Before we had two soldiers coming from different entities and they were treated in different ways,” Pleh said. “Now we have one single (set of laws) that covers everything.
“No matter how we feel on what we should do at certain moments, it is important we have a law that regulates it.”
Sometimes an inspector general is not very popular, no matter which nation he is from, according to Army Col. Michael P. Anderson, the EUCOM inspector general.
“We have the same challenges,” Anderson said. “An (inspector general) works for his commander. They are the people who direct what we do.
“Often we find when we are helping people, or are identifying corruption, that sometimes it’s kind of a lonely job.”