British Army Sending More Soldiers to Kosovo
UK Increases NATO KFOR Presence
A team of nearly 30 UK troops has left the UK for Southern Europe to join NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR), helping to maintain safety, security and freedom of movement.
The year-long deployment will bolster the mission’s capability, following a request from NATO for further support to KFOR by allies. Its particular role will be to support KFOR’s ability to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The UK team will be based in the KFOR headquarters in Pristina.
KFOR began as a peacekeeping force in the late 1990s. Now it has evolved into a smaller, more flexible body of around 4,200 troops, acting as one of the main security providers in Kosovo. Troops are contributed by some 30 countries, including Germany, Italy, Turkey, Poland and the US, as well as the UK.
At the NATO Summit in Warsaw last year, Allies reaffirmed that KFOR would continue to contribute to a safe and secure environment in Kosovo. It will also continue to adapt. As the Warsaw communiqué made clear, changes to the Alliance’s troop presence reflect conditions in the country. The force’s overall goal is to enable self-sufficient security in Kosovo.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
This deployment of troops demonstrates how we remain committed to supporting security and stability in the Western Balkans region. NATO remains a cornerstone of our defence and by defending the security of Europe we strengthen our security at home. This deployment follows support the UK provided in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2015 to the EU Force (EUFOR).
As the Prime Minister has announced, the UK will be increasing its engagement in the Western Balkans, including through our hosting of the 2018 Western Balkans Summit.
The Ministry of Defence did not release details of the military unit or units involved.
The UK has more than 3,000 military personnel deployed on operations around the world, clearly demonstrating Britain’s global Defence footprint. The UK continues to meet NATO’s target of spending 2% of GDP on Defence, backed by a Defence budget that will rise every year for the rest of this decade.
British Army in Kosovo, 1999
Photo: British Army 26 Regiment Royal Artillery (The West Midland Gunners) in Kosovo as part of KFOR, 1999, by Kevin Capon (Crown Copyright, 1999).
A sentry watches what is happening in the town of Gracanica from his lofty position at the water-pumping station Observation Post. Scanning the horizon he hopes to be able to spot any trouble and report it back to his base control point.
26 Regiment Royal Artillery (The West Midland Gunners) are in Kosovo as part of KFOR. Their Area of Operations is in and around the Serbian town of Gracanica. This town is in the centre of a horse-shoe of Albanian villages which were ethnically cleansed during the war. Consequently as the refugees have returned there has been a certain amount of turmoil and trouble. The Gunners maintain the peace by manning an AS 90 gun position, VCP’s and foot patrols. The Monastery of Gracanica is considered to be a terrorist target and is therefore guarded 24 hours a day.
Source: Ministry of Defence.