Turning soldiers into a work force: Demobilization and reintegration in post-Dayton Bosnia and Herzegovina

Release date: 2003-08

BICC brief 27 summarizes the insights gained and lessons learned from the downsizing of the armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in the wake of the Dayton Peace Accords (DPA) of December 1995.
The three major reintegration projects covered by this report (two World Bank projects and one run by the International Organization for Migration) allow for some generalizations:
Demobilization and retraining are residual strategies that develop out of Security Sector Reform (SSR). The strategic policy sequence should cascade downwards to include economic development, national security, defense and intelligence as well as changes in organizations and personnel. Military downsizing is unlikely to succeed unless it is accompanied by a coherent Armed Forces Restructuring (AFR) policy and underpinned by wider socioeconomic programs and strategies.
Prior to discharge, soldiers must receive reliable information about their benefit package as well as about retraining, business opportunities and job placement services. Instead of just looking at the immediate cost of postmilitary benefit packages, demobilization and reintegration programs should also analyze the educational, economic and social needs, customizing assistance accordingly.
Particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable—the disabled, veterans, female soldiers, and dependents.
The overarching goal of international aid and projects must be to create and develop sustainable national structures that can provide employment for exsoldiers. Additionally, promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) adds value to society as a whole.