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The Austrian Armed Forces in Kosovo

From the revocation of autonomy to the NATO operation

The violent conflict between the Serbian military and the police force on the one hand and the Kosovo Albanians on the other escalated in 1989. The conflict could only be ended with the help of the subsequent deployment of NATO forces. Since 1999 the Kosovo Force (KFOR) provides for peace and stability in the region.

As early as in the beginning of the 1980s the political tensions were clearly to be noticed in the Kosovo region. In 1981 the first violent riots erupted, initiated by Albanian political activists.

In 1989, the then Serbian President of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Miloseviæ, revoked Kosovo’s autonomy. As a consequence, in 1991 the Kosovar members of what then was the Yugoslav Federal Parliament formed an underground government. Consequently, they installed a provisional constitution for the Kosovo area in its own right, and held elections on 24 May 1992, which, however, were never acknowledged by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The escalating suppression of the Albanians by the Serbians in Kosovo resulted in the 1994 establishment of the armed "underground army” Ushtira Çlirimtare e Kosovës, also known as Kosovo Liberation Army or KLA.

In summer and autumn 1998 there were the first skirmishes, and numerous members of the Albanian ethnic group were driven away by Serbian police units. Serbian paramilitary groups increasingly took part in these operations, with the first atrocities being committed on Albanian civilians.

In 1998, open hostilities between the Serbian military and police forces on the one hand and Kosovo Albanians on the other caused over 1,500 deaths on the Kosovo Albanian side. 400,000 persons were displaced. The escalating conflict soon came to alarm the international community, in particular as to the humanitarian consequences (ethnic cleansing, refugees, etc.) and the danger that the fighting might spread to neighbouring states. Also President Miloseviæ’s disregard of diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict by peaceful means as well as the destabilising role of the militant Kosovo-Albanian forces caused alarm.

Only after 40 bodies - among them several KLA members, but most of them elderly people, women and children - had been found, did the massacre of Raèak, which was presumably perpetrated around the 10 January 1999 by Serbian paramilitary fighters or even police units, call world-wide attention. The efforts at mediation by the United Nations, the European Union and NATO had consistently proven futile until then.

Diplomatic efforts

On the occasion of the meeting of the North Atlantic Council on the foreign ministers level of 28 May 1998 NATO declared two major objectives for bringing about a solution to the Kosovo crisis:

  • First, the international community should take over responsibility in order to contribute to a peaceful solution of the conflict, and
  • Second, stability and security in the neighbouring countries was to be supported, with a particular focus to be placed on Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

The meeting of the North Atlantic Council on the defence minister level of 12 June 1998 suggested that further measures be assessed by NATO in the event that the Kosovo crisis should escalate even more. This resulted in a vast number of military operations.

When the situation deteriorated further, the NATO Council adopted the basic resolution on launching air strikes against Yugoslavia on 13 October 1998. This measure was to support the ongoing diplomatic efforts, advising the Miloseviæ regime to withdraw their forces from Kosovo, seek a peaceful ending to the atrocities, and allow refugees to return to their homes.

After further diplomatic initiatives, at the last moment possible, President Miloseviæ gave in to the demands and the air strikes were suspended for the time being.

Among other things, UN Security Council Resolution 1199 expressed the deep concern about the excessive use of force by the Serbian security forces and the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army, and called upon both conflicting parties for a ceasefire. Moreover, the permitted strength of the Serbian forces deployed in Kosovo was limited. The extent of their operations was limited in a separate agreement with the Generals Naumann and Clarke. In addition, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) installed the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), the task of which was to monitor if the agreement was adhered to on the ground, while NATO established an aerial reconnaissance mission. The two missions were in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1203. Various Partnership for Peace nations (PfP) agreed to contribute to NATO’s aerial reconnaissance mission.

In support of the OSCE, the Alliance installed a military Task Force in order to be able to evacuate members of the KVM in the event that the conflict should flare up again. The Task Force was commanded by the SACEUR and stationed in FYROM.

Despite the measures taken, the conflict in Kosovo resurged after provocations by both parties as well as excessive and inappropriate use of force by the Yugoslav military and special police forces at the beginning of 1999. Some of the incidents could be resolved by way of mediation by local OSCE members, even if as of mid-January 1999 the situation deteriorated following a Serbian offensive against the Kosovo Albanians.

The Contact Group of six nations (U.S.A., Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Italy), which was appointed at the 1992 London Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, convened on 29 January 1999. There was agreement that urgent negotiations between the two conflicting parties under international arbitration were called for.

On 30 January 1999 NATO increased the Contact Group’s pressure by consenting to any air strikes necessary and issuing a warning to both parties to the conflict. These initiatives culminated in the first negotiations between the conflicting parties in Rambouillet, close to Paris, from 6 to 23 February 1999, followed by a second round of talks held in Paris from 15 to 18 March 1999. The second round of talks ended with the Kosovo Albanian delegation signing the proposed peace agreement, while the Serbian delegation refused to do so.

NATO intervention

Instantaneously, the Serbian military and police forces stepped up the intensity of their operation against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. They deployed additional troops and modern tanks into the region and, thus, clearly violated the October 1998 agreement. In view of this systematic offensive, tens of thousands of people fled.

On 20 March 1999, after the OSCE’s Verification Mission had been severely curtailed by the Serbian forces in carrying out its mission, the KVM withdrew from the region altogether. In a final attempt to convince President Miloseviæ to stop attacking the Kosovo Albanians, U.S. Ambassador Holbrooke flew to Belgrade. Or else NATO air strikes would be launched. Miloseviæ refused to give in to the demands and, on 23 March 1999, the order was issued to initiate the air strikes (Operation Allied Force).

In the evening of 24 March the NATO air strikes, which initially were kept quite small-scale and were intended rather as a final warning, started. They were directed against the units of the 3rd Yugoslav Army in Kosovo, but also against strategic targets in Serbia and Montenegro.

The political inefficiency of this became apparent a few days later, when the Yugoslav regime gave no sign of yielding to the Rambouillet conditions; after a few more days, additional NATO air formations were incorporated into the operations.

Although the Yugoslav integrated air defence system was not disabled altogether by the end of the air campaign, it remained largely ineffective.

The Yugoslav fighter aircraft units were decimated in air-to-air combat or, in part, also on the ground on the airfields and were basically useless (see Truppendienst 5/2009, "Die Luftstreitkräfte Serbiens - Hüter des serbischen Luftraums” [the Serbian air forces - keepers of the Serbian airspace]). Even if the Yugoslav air defence succeeded in taking down two U.S. Air Force combat aircraft (one F-117 stealth bomber and one F-16 fighter bomber), their pilots were recovered unharmed in U.S. search and rescue operations. Several aircraft were damaged and some 10 reconnaissance drones of the NATO forces were destroyed in the campaign. Despite the more than 1,000 surface-to-air missiles and an infinite number of air-defence projectiles fired, there was little success due to the electronic countermeasures.

Even if the materiel losses and casualties of the 3rd Yugoslav Army in Kosovo were minimal, the movement of the units, however, was drastically limited. The severe NATO air strikes entailed heavy destruction of the military and civilian infrastructure in Serbia and Montenegro.

Overall, the air campaign lasted 78 days. Over 38,000 sorties were flown, of which more than 14,000 were combat sorties. Between 24 March and 10 June 1999, NATO formations released over 20,000 bombs and missiles.

The employment of combat helicopters and special operations forces was considered, but (according to present knowledge) not carried out. However, two AH-64 Apache combat helicopters were lost due to accidents.

The heavy destruction of command and control facilities and infrastructure as well as the futileness of sustaining a prolonged military conflict against NATO made the Yugoslav regime eventually give in at the beginning of June 1999. According to Yugoslav information, 532 soldiers and special police personnel lost their lives in the bombardments. Also several hundred civilians were reported to have been killed or injured.

The 3rd Yugoslav Army in Kosovo indeed also suffered materiel losses in the air campaign (over 100 armoured vehicles and an unknown number of cannons and other military vehicles) and redeployed to Serbia and Montenegro on 11 June 1999.

From end 1998 to June 1999, some 750,000 Albanians were either dispelled or fled. Most of them returned back home by end 1999 under the protection of KFOR, the first advance elements of which were airdropped in Kosovo by helicopters on 12 June.

On 10 June 1999 the then NATO Secretary General, Javier Solana, announced after a 78-day air campaign that he had instructed General Wesley Clarke to suspend the air strikes against Yugoslavia. The decision was taken after consultations with the North Atlantic Council and receiving the confirmation by General Clarke that the complete withdrawal of the Yugoslav Forces from Kosovo had begun.

The withdrawal of forces was signed and sealed in a Military Technical Agreement between NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 9 June 1999. On behalf of NATO the agreement was signed by Lieutenant General Sir Michael Jackson, and on behalf of Yugoslavia by Colonel General Svetozar Marjanoviæ (Yugoslav Peoples’ Army) and Lieutenant General Obrad Stevanoviæ (Ministry of the Interior). The withdrawal was also in line with the accord between Yugoslavia and the European Union, the Russian Special Envoy, the Finnish President Ahtisaari and former Russian Foreign Minister Victor Chernomyrdin, which was signed on 3 June 1999.

NATO’s Secretary General urged all parties to the conflict to seize this opportunity for peace and to abide by all provisions of the agreement in compliance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

The Secretary General of NATO officially recognised the role of General Clarke and his troops, which had contributed to Operation Allied Force, especially for their coherence and resolve. According to Clarke, now NATO was prepared to start its new mission, to bring back the refugees into their homes and to ensure lasting and just peace in Kosovo.

Facts and figures:

Between March 1998 and March 1999, as a consequence of the Serbian government policy over 2,000 persons were killed in Kosovo. In the summer of 1998, over 250,000 Kosovars were displaced, and villages and harvests were destroyed.

In January 1999 a UN team found evidence of a massacre perpetrated on 40 people in Raèak. At the beginning of April 1999, the UNHCR estimated the number of refugees caused by the ethnic cleansing in Albania to be 226,000, in FYROM at 125,000 and in Montenegro at 33,000.

The aid provided by NATO forces alleviated the situation of the refugees. The aid included the provision and equipment as well as the setting up of camps for 50,000 refugees in Albania and the extension of the camps in FYROM. Medical support included, among other things, conducting emergency surgical interventions in victims of fire fights. Refugees were taken to secure places and aid goods were transported.

By the end of May 1999, over 230,000 refugees had reached FYROM, whereas over 430,000 had entered into Albania and some 64,000 into Montenegro. Approximately 21,500 had reached Bosnia and over 61,000 were evacuated into other countries. In Kosovo proper, some 580,000 people lost their homes. Some estimates claim that, by the end of May 1999, 1.5 million people, that is 90 per cent of the entire population of Kosovo, were fleeing. Approximately 225,000 Kosovar males were considered as missing. 5,000 Kosovars were murdered.

NATO troops flew in many thousands of tons of foodstuff and equipment. By the end of May 1999, over 4,666 tons of food and drinking water, 4,325 tons of other goods, 2,624 tons of tents and almost 1,600 tons of medical goods were flown into Kosovo.

Kosovo Force - KFOR

The UN Security Council, with its Resolution 1244, which was passed on 10 June 1999, welcomed the acceptance of a political solution to the Kosovo crisis by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This solution had to include an immediate end of the violence and a quick withdrawal of the military and the paramilitary forces as well as of the police. The resolution was adopted by 14 votes in favour with no vote against it, only with the abstention of China, and was the decision of the UN Security Council to deploy international civilian forces and security forces into Kosovo under UN mandate.

On the basis of Chapter VII of the UN Charter the UN Security Council concluded that the political solution of the crisis was to be based on those general principles that were decided upon by the foreign ministers of the G-7 nations (U.S.A., Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Canada) and Russia on 6 May 1999. Moreover, the principles, which had been presented by the Finnish President and the Special Envoy of the Russian Federation on 3 June and been accepted by the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, were to be applied.

The principles included, among other demands,

  • the immediate and verifiable end to the violence and oppression in Kosovo;
  • the withdrawal of the military, the police and the paramilitary forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia;
  • the deployment of effective international security forces with a substantial contribution by NATO under a unified command;
  • the installation of an interim administration;
  • the safe and free return of all refugees;
  • a political process for developing a substantial degree of self-government, including the disarmament of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and
  • comprehensive efforts towards the economic development of the crisis region.

The Security Council authorised the member states and the international organisations to set up an international (military) security presence, and decided that its tasks were to comprise deterring new hostilities, disarming the KLA and establishing a secure environment for the return of the refugees. Moreover, the Security Council tasked the Secretary General of the United Nations with establishing the international civilian administration and appointing a Special Representative.

On the basis of the instructions of the North Atlantic Council, General Sir Jackson, supported by a UN mandate (Resolution 1244), immediately prepared for a quick deployment of the peacekeeping force (Operation Joint Guardian).

The first elements arrived in Kosovo on 12 June 1999. In accordance with the Military Technical Agreement the peacekeeping force KFOR was synchronised with the redeployment of the Serbian forces. On 20 June the Serbian withdrawal was concluded and KFOR was operating. This multinational force under a unified command with a substantial contribution by NATO had with its approx. 50,000 soldiers its highest troop strength so far. Also on 20 June NATO formally declared the end of the air campaign.

NATO forces spearheaded the humanitarian efforts in alleviating the suffering of the many thousands of refugees, who had fallen victim to the Serbian ethnic cleansing. In FYROM NATO forces established refugee camps, reception centres and emergency food points, and transported hundreds of tons of relief supplies to those in need. Relevant forces were deployed also to Albania, in order to carry out similar relief measures.

Moreover, NATO supported the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in coordinating the relief flights and provided additional aircraft of its member nations.

Of particular interest for NATO and the international community (including Austria) was, already since the crisis had broken out, the situation of those Kosovo Albanians, who had stayed in Kosovo. Their situation of distress had been described by refugees. Everything pointed towards systematic persecution, including

  • mass killings;
  • abuse of humans as living shields in combat;
  • rape;
  • forced mass displacement;
  • burning down and pillaging of houses and villages;
  • destruction of harvests and live stock;
  • suppression of identity;
  • negation of origin and seizure of property after confiscating documents;
  • starving out and wearing out, as well as
  • numerous other instances of disregarding human rights and international standards of civilized conduct.

KFOR today

Eleven years after the NATO operation in Kosovo was initiated, now the final chapter of the KFOR operation is opened. Eleven years of presence of multinational forces in a rather small area are quite a long period. This demonstrates that the concept of separating parties to a conflict in order to keep peace may prove successful if the military operation is guided by a clear mandate (in this case UN Resolution 1244) and backed with sufficient assets to implement it, in addition to going in parallel to, and being synchronised with, the political development.

Only once, on the occasion of the riots of March 2004, the resolve of KFOR had been put to the test. After that, the development, influenced by Ahtisaari’s plan, which incidentally was co-devised by the former Austrian Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador (ret.) Albert Rohan, was headed towards peaceful development in Kosovo. (Ahtisaari Plan: The UN Special Envoy to the Kosovo and former Finnish President, Martti Ahtisaari, was tasked with reconciling the interests of the ethnic groups and enabling a peaceful coexistence in Kosovo in the future. His plan, however, avoided to directly lay down the status of Kosovo. Yet, it contains so many status-relevant elements, such as status symbols, the freedom to negotiate international treaties and memberships to a lightly armed military unit, that Kosovo’s path into sovereignty was traced out already.) Today, more than two years after the unilateral declaration of independence of the state of Kosovo, the young state is on its way to normality. This does not imply, however, that the conflict has been resolved, but most troop-providing nations rate a relapse into a Kosovo-wide violent escalation as highly unlikely.

This assessment permitted the plan Deterrent Presence to be formulated (see also Truppendienst 3/2010, "Einsatzvorbereitung unter geänderten Bedingungen - Reduzieren der Kräfte bei KFOR” [operations preparation under changed conditions - reducing KFOR’s troop strength]). The credible, deterring presence was kept up, even while reducing the strength of KFOR. This is effected in harmony with the further development of the Kosovar institutions. Supported by the international organisations present on-site, such as UNMIC, OSCE, ICO and EULEX, the young state is to take over more and more tasks. This includes parts of the core tasks of KFOR, dealing with the general security situation and the movement of freedom of all ethnic groups living in Kosovo. The visible sign of this is the gradual handover of responsibility for relevant objects that so far were under the direct and exclusive protection of KFOR. In this way, on 18 March 2010 the responsibility of the monument of the Battle of Kosovo Field of 1389 (a.k.a. Gazimestan monument) was handed over to the Kosovo Police. So far 22 EU states recognised Kosovo as an independent state, with the exception of Slovakia, Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Romania. By mid-May 2010, overall 68 UN member nations had recognised Kosovo. To this point Serbia, with the support of Russia, has been using diplomatic and legal initiatives to prevent Kosovo from joining the UN and to avert further waves of acknowledgement.

Phased plan

The reduction of KFOR’s troop strength will be effected in three phases. The first phase, Gate 1, has been implemented as of February 2010. This phase and every other phase are preceded by a thorough assessment of the situation in the field. In a recurring cycle numerous security-relevant individual factors (such as ethnically motivated incidents, economic development, etc.) in the field are assessed in order to learn whether the situation has continued stabilising. Only when the political, economic, social and military factors allow for a further reduction of the troop strength, the commander of KFOR (COMKFOR) as the operational commander in charge on the spot will recommend to the superior echelon that the subsequent phase be implemented. If the superior echelon arrives at the same conclusion, the next phase of implementation will be recommended to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). The North Atlantic Council will take the final decision on the basis of these recommendations. Thus, the process is not scheduled, even if there are specific preferences as to its timing.

The three phases of reducing KFOR’s troop strength are termed as "Gates”.

Gate 1:

If in mid-2009 the troop strength of KFOR was some 13,500 soldiers, in Gate 1 (the first phase), as of the beginning of February 2010, it dropped to just above 10,000. This also brought about a change in the command structure of KFOR. Still in 2009 the Headquarters of KFOR with its five multinational brigade headquarters (MNTF, see also Truppendienst 1/2009, "Ein Team - eine Mission, Multinationalität - ein Garant für den Erfolg der MNTF S im Kosovo” [one team - one mission, multinationality - a guarantor for the success of the MNTF S in Kosovo]). The brigade HQ’s, in turn, were in charge of battalions with several companies. In the beginning of 2010 the five multinational brigade headquarters were transformed into five multinational Battle Groups. The Battle Groups are reinforced battalions that now directly lead companies. This resulted in an ”even thinning out" of the available forces, whereas the structures existing in the theatre so far have been basically maintained. The consequence of this was not only a reduction of the troop strength, but also of the specialised elements, in particular in the field of logistics.

In order to make up for that, at least in part, for the very first time in an operation a Joint Logistic Support Group was installed. Its task is to coordinate between the National Support Elements (NSE) of the troop-contributing nations, and to support with its own logistic assets the units and nations in carrying out their logistic tasks in a comprehensive manner all over Kosovo.

Gate 2:

Gate 2, or second phase, means that the troop strength is halved to approx. 5,000 soldiers and that the command structure is adjusted. According to the plan, the number of Battle Groups will be lowered from five to two. Due to the force reduction, the relevance of collecting information for the assessment of the general situation in the area of operations will increase. Maintaining situational awareness, in particular, with the help of military and civilian sources (soldiers, NGO’s, etc.) becomes especially important. This is also reflected in the adjustment of the deployed Austrian elements. Since Gate 1, Austria has considerably contributed to ensuring that the military leaders have a clear picture of the situation.

The flexibility of the remaining forces will then be tested even more, as their operation all over Kosovo will become the rule. A big boost for the flexibility of the forces will be the possibility to resort to fast air transportation. The deployment of forces overland can be effected only very slowly, since the road system is still poorly developed. Air transportation, however, makes it possible to establish centres of gravity quickly and, in this way, to prevent escalation and acts of violence. The U.S. helicopter type Black Hawk used in the field even allows for transportation of lightly armoured vehicles. In addition, in the field of air transportation Austria makes a significant contribution by having deployed helicopters (currently Agusta Bell 212).

The forces remaining in Gate 2 are to be allocated to fewer camps in order to cut down the costs of running and guarding the camps. Covering the area with soldiers will then no longer be made possible through the number of camps, but through Liaison and Monitoring Teams (LMT), exactly as in Bosnia (see also Truppendienst 6/2007, "LOT und LMT” [LOT and LMT]). The soldiers of the Liaison and Monitoring Teams living with the civilian population are to feel the "pulse” of the society and to report changes. The timing when this phase is to be implemented depends on the further development in Kosovo and Serbia.

Some of the factors that have to be considered are the development of the situation, especially of the Serbian minority and the economic and social development. Parting from the assumption that the positive trend of the past years continues and that Serbia has a moderating effect on the representatives of the Serbian minority in Kosovo, the implementation of the next phase is expected to happen in 2011.

Gate 3:

Gate 3, or third phase, will provide for another troop strength reduction, from approx. 5,000 to some 2,500 soldiers. Consequently, the forces in the area of operations will then only be a type of bridgehead, facilitating the influx of additional troops (operational reserves, e.g. the German-Austrian Operational Response Force (or ORF) Battalion) in the event that the situation should severely deteriorate.

In that phase operational planning will focus primarily on supporting the Kosovo Security Force. This voluntary professional security force, which was raised in 2009, is to support the civilian authorities in the event of catastrophes and other extraordinary events, in which the possibilities of the police are exceeded and which have been dealt with by KFOR so far.

It is still too early to give a date for the implementation of Gate 3. Carrying out the transformation of the individual gates below a one-year period can hardly be managed. Moreover, also the psychological aspect of the Kosovar politicians and the population needs to be accounted for, since an early withdrawal might be perceived as the cancellation of the support of the reform process in Kosovo. This possibly might be the spark to reignite the blaze, causing the situation to deteriorate. The methodical approach to the transformation of forces intended should, also under the dictate of financial austerity of all troop-contributing states, be continued in order not to endanger the progress made to date. Especially the unilateral withdrawal of individual nations might adversely affect the process.

The formal end of the operation and the conclusion of the UN mandate will be imminent after the withdrawal of the last remaining forces in the phase subsequent to Gate 3, termed as Minimum Presence. Presumably, depending on the further political development of Kosovo, the state will strive towards EU and also NATO membership. NATO, and particularly the U.S.A., are highly respected in all over Kosovo, because they prevented that the Kosovo Albanian ethnic group was driven away and that parts of it fell victim to genocide. Therefore, it is highly likely that, also after the conclusion of the operation, some NATO element will remain in the country to advise the Kosovo Security Force.

Thoughts of the national contingent commander, AUCON 20/21 KFOR

Make use of success:

From the viewpoint of the inspecting and visiting superior as well as that of the contingent commander, this Austrian Armed Forces’ operation is to be considered as a full-out success - as are basically all our operations. This assessment is not motivated by self-praise for the subordinated elements, but by honest conviction and comparison to other nations. Neither the Austrian soldiers nor the equipment used in general could give rise to complaints. As a matter of course, the incorporation of reserve personnel worked out smoothly, with no distinction being made.

Unfortunately, this successful work is neither communicated internally nor externally. Opinion makers (e.g. politicians) are positively surprised at the performance ability of the Kosovo contingent, when demonstrated. Although this operation does not enjoy full media interest anymore (since its conclusion is imminent), internal and external communication increasingly should be focused on the performance level of the CIMIC activities supported by Austria.

Anchoring in the HQ structure:

The Austrian contribution is focused on the MNBG S. The highest military echelon is, however, located in the KFOR Headquarters, until the end of 2010 under the NATO command of a three-star general after all. As the largest non-NATO troop-contributor by far, Austria should increase its commitment in this or comparable Headquarters. It is only there that the decisions about the further development of the operation are taken and, thus, relevant information is available. From this viewpoint, comparable with insight into the terrain, it should be there that the place of the national contingent commander should be located for good.

Increase the comprehensive approach:

It is surprising how many Austrians are active in governmental and non-governmental organisations in Kosovo. This existing informal network, which has been supported by the bulk of the Austrians who are on site, has proven to be very effective. And yet the question arises, whether in the sense of a comprehensive national approach better results could have been achieved on the part of Austrian politicians with regard to Kosovo.

In any event interoperation or the possibility to cooperate with various offices and organisations were perceived as very positive, and indirectly also contribute to the contingent commander’s obtaining a better picture of the situation in the field. This is directly security-relevant at least for the Austrian contingent and the Austrian nationals on the site.

Dare specialising:

Austrian contributions to peacekeeping operations all too often concentrate on the infantry or logistical field. From the contingent commander’s viewpoint other, non-personnel intensive, but nevertheless highly effective troop contributions should be increasingly considered. Especially the field of reconnaissance plays a relevant role. Here, the procurement of the IVECO Light Multirole Vehicle (see also Truppendienst 4/2009, "IVECO LMV - Light Multirole Vehicle”) is a step into the right direction. Just as important would be the field of aerial reconnaissance. Modern operational planning is inconceivable without it. In addition to drones, also manned light fixed-wing aircraft (comparable to the Austrian-used PC-6) are undergoing a revival.

But also the specialists of the Austrian NBC corps would be called for, at least as a readily available unit. In line with the manifold requirements of operations, it would be expedient that the task spectrum of international operations be extended, in particular to forces that are relevant for national operations too, such as (aerial) reconnaissance or engineers.


Kosovo is a model case of a peace enforcement and peacekeeping operation. The military learned at least two lessons from it:

Getting a clear picture of the situation by way of reconnaissance and collection of information in the field is of utmost military relevance, so that escalations such as that of March 2004 may be prevented. Thus, the Austrian Armed Forces need to strengthen their ground-based, but also establish air-based, reconnaissance capabilities.

On the political level, the resolve to launch a military operation needs to be pointed out, in order to prevent even more humanitarian suffering. Moreover, a positive development may only be expected when the military measures are accompanied by intensive political (and economic) efforts. Thus, the key to conflict management lies with politics. Be that as it may, the Austrian soldiers are capable of, and prepared to, conducting further operations in the name of peacekeeping within the framework of the United Nations and the European Union if the Austrian politicians consider this to be necessary.

Author (as of chapter "KFOR today”): Brigadier Norbert Huber, born in 1961; graduated from the Theresan Military Academy in 1984, attached to the 9 Mechanised Infantry Battalion as platoon and then company commander; as of 1985 instructing officer for mechanised infantry at the School of Armour; as of 1991 Command and General Staff Course; followed by various postings in the MoD; 1999 commander, 17 Infantry Battalion; 2000-2001 U.S. Army Command and General Staff Course; as of end-2002 Head, Force Development Division; July 2009 to January 2010 international operation as DCOS Support in the Headquarters of KFOR and Austrian contingent commander.

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