Military Leadership

How the war in Iraq unintentionally helped stabilise Bosnia

The revelation that a Bosnian company had broken the arms embargo on Iraq unified three armies which had been fighting each other a decade before.

Back in March 2003, George W Bush’s “coalition of the willing” launched an invasion of Iraq, the consequences of which reverberate to this day. The now-ubiquitous US military presence in the Middle East began in earnest following the invasion, and it could be argued that much of the current instability in the region can be traced back to the war that followed. But new research shows that the conflict had another, very different effect: it was the most significant step in stabilising the Balkans since the violent breakup of Yugoslavia.

The 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was brought to an end by the Dayton Agreement, which not only halted the conflict, but also laid the foundations of the post-war Bosnian state. In an arrangement that’s been described as “the world’s most complicated system of government”, the country was divided into two entities, the Republika Srpska, which is predominantly Bosnian Serb, and the Federation, which is mostly administered by Bosnian Croats and Muslims (Bosniaks). The central government had little authority; most power, including control of the armed forces, was delegated to the entities and other local governments.

While Dayton was a complex agreement, its overwhelming priority was the cessation of hostilities, meaning many key issues were purposefully disregarded or left ambiguous. One such issue was the future of the three armies – the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Army of Republika Srpska, and the Croatian Defence Council – which fought each other in the war: as Dayton made no real stipulations about their future, they simply remained in place.

Richard Holbrooke, a key American mediator in the peace negotiations, later lamented that “the most serious flaw in the Dayton Peace Agreement was that it left two opposing armies in one country”. The Peace Implementation Council, the international body responsible for overseeing post-war Bosnia, warned of “the instability that is inherent in having two – and in practice three – armies present in one country”.

Yet despite the evident risks, the armies were left largely untouched, and they continued undermining the authority and legitimacy of the Bosnian state – until the prelude to the invasion of Iraq.

Forcing the issue

In September 2002, as hundreds of coalition planes bombed Iraqi air defences in preparation for the US-led invasion, details began to emerge from the US embassy in Sarajevo that a Bosnian company, the Orao (Eagle) Aviation Institute, was suspected of breaching the 13-year arms embargo, sparking a scandal known as the “Orao Affair”.

US tanks parked under the Hands of Victory in Ceremony Square, Baghdad, 2003. Photo credit: Technical Sergeant John L Houghton, Jr, United States Air Force
US tanks parked under the Hands of Victory in Ceremony Square, Baghdad, 2003. Photo credit: Technical Sergeant John L Houghton, Jr, United States Air Force

During the Cold War, Iraq and Yugoslavia had developed a range of bilateral agreements, ranging from the construction of infrastructure and bunkers in Iraq to the maintenance of Iraqi Migs (Soviet-designed fighter jets) in Yugoslavia. It emerged that the leadership of rump Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) had quietly continued the relationship with Saddam Hussein, and had facilitated a deal worth $8.5m in which Orao engineers had travelled to Iraq to “get the damaged fleet of Migs back to the heavens”.

The ensuing investigation implicated much of the Bosnian Serb leadership in the trade, and unveiled numerous attempted cover-ups. With evidence mounting, the potential for Bosnia to face economic sanctions became a real possibility, leading international officials to state that Bosnia was facing its “most severe crisis since the war”.

Bosnian troops in Afghanistan with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 2015. Photo credit: Vanessa Vilarreal, USFOR-A Public Affairs
Bosnian troops in Afghanistan with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 2015. Photo credit: Vanessa Vilarreal, USFOR-A Public Affairs

As US forces entered Baghdad in 2003, the fallout from the Orao Affair was taking its toll. The Bosnian Serb member of the presidency, the Minister of Defence of Republika Srpska, the Chief of Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska, and numerous other officials, ministers, and generals were all removed from their positions. Seventeen of them were prosecuted. International observers and Bosnian citizens alike demanded reform, and just a week after the invasion of Iraq was declared over, a Defence Reform Commission was established. It recommended a complete restructuring of Bosnia’s armed forces, which was duly implemented by the Bosnian parliament.

The result was the demobilisation of a considerable number of soldiers, and the creation of a unified Bosnian army. The largest multi-ethnic institution in the country, it benefited from a clear chain of command, which led all the way up to the presidency via a single Ministry of Defence. The new military was modernised and professionalised with external assistance, and in 2006 it joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace. The Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina have since been deployed in numerous peace-support roles across the world including Iraq.

Post-Dayton Bosnia was a fragile and unstable country brimming with soldiers and weapons, and to some extent, it still is – but it’s nonetheless a much more stable and secure state than it was after the peace in 1995. Strange to think that it owes much of its improvement to something as destabilising as the Iraq War.

Elliot Short, PhD Candidate and Associate Tutor in Modern History, University of East Anglia.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.


The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.