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EAGLE BASE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Though the size of the Stabilization Force will decrease by June, a new American camp was recently opened to improve safety for troops patrolling the area by cutting the number of hours they spend on the roads.

SFOR started manning Camp Clark, near the Bosnian town of Olovo in the southernmost part of the American area of responsibility, two weeks ago.

“We didn’t have a base camp anywhere close,” said Maj. Jarrod Krull, the spokesman for Multinational Brigade North. “[Camp Clark] will allow more flexibility as far as presence patrols.”

Before the construction of the new camp, patrols had to travel two hours from either Forward Operating Base Connor, in the east, or Eagle Base, in the north.

“It was something that was determined that was needed before our rotation here,” Krull said.

SFOR 14 took over on Sept. 30.

The new camp allows troops to stop for lunch when they are in the area, get repairs if needed, and, in case of bad weather, to spend the night instead of taking chances on the road.

“Even though we have smaller numbers [of troops], it allows us to keep our presence throughout our area of responsibility, and … it’s a safety issue, too,” Krull said.

Snow and ice in the winter are a great concern for travelers taking the windy, mountainous, two-lane road from Camp Clark to Eagle Base.

NATO recently announced the number of SFOR troops will be cut next June, and the Stabilization Force mission possibly turned over to the European Union at the end of 2004, but the U.S. military believes the camp will continue to be used long after restructuring.

“It’s a base camp that could be used by anyone,” Krull said. “It’s something that could be used well into the future.”

When the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia started in December 1995, small camps and numerous checkpoints were opened throughout the area, including one in Olovo, the closest town to the new camp.

As the security situation in the country improved within the first two years of the mission, many of the smaller camps closed, leaving the area around Olovo without a permanent SFOR presence.

Over the next six years, SFOR shifted bases in northeastern Bosnia as the need for its presence changed. The peacekeeping force closed Camp Demi near Kladanj, and the satellite base of Camp McGovern, while FOB Morgan in the north opened. Soon after, Camp Dobol near Kalesija in the east closed, but Forward Operating Base Connor was opened to allow the return of refugees in Bratunac and Srebrenica area.

While a few platoons will be stationed in Camp Clark, the number will vary depending on the number of patrols in the area and troops taking a break at the camp.

“It’s going to add to safety,” Krull said. “It will just make the soldiers’ lives easier.”

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