Kosovo Force (KFOR)
International Operation Name: Kosovo Force
International Mission Name: Kosovo Force (KFOR)
Mandating Organization: United Nations
Region Name: Europe
Mission Date: 24 March 1999 - Present
Mission Mandate: The objectives of KFOR are to establish and maintain a secure environment in Kosovo, including public safety and order; to monitor, verify and when necessary, enforce compliance with the agreements that ended the conflict; and to provide assistance to the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Mission/Operation Notes: During the spring and summer of 1998, open conflict between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and Serbia’s Ministry of Interior Police (MUP) forces, led to the United Nations passing Resolution 1199 calling for an immediate cease-fire and the drawdown of Serb forces in Kosovo. US special envoy Richard Holbrooke negotiated with FRY President Slobodan Milosevic in early October 1998 in an attempt to have the FRY comply with the UN resolution. Finally, following nine days of intense negotiations, an agreement was reached that allowed for the establishment of two monitoring operations. It was agreed that the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM)(Op KIMONO) would monitor the situation on the ground, and that the NATO led Operation EAGLE EYE (Op KAYAK) would conduct unarmed monitoring operations from the air.
Despite written agreement, FRY continued to be built up its forces in Kosovo during the latter part of 1998, and open conflict continued in the face of KVM monitors. This open disregard for the agreement lead a group of nations called the Contact Group to bring the parties involved in the dispute to Rambouillet, France in February 1999 in an effort to find a diplomatic solution to the situation.
Negotiations at Rambouillet, and later in Paris, led to a basic agreement with the Kosovars but one that the government of the FRY refused to accept. In March of 1999, the failure of the Kosovo Liberation Army, and FRY forces to comply with the basic tenants of UN Security Council Resolution 1199, forced the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to pull all Kosovo Verification Monitors (KVM) out of Kosovo.
In the face of continued warnings that NATO military action was imminent, a final diplomatic effort was made to reach agreement. When these efforts failed, NATO pursued military action and on 24 March 1999 NATO launched Operation ALLIED FORCE and began air operations against FRY. The purpose of the air operations was to restore peace and security to the area and thereby resolve the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. Milosevic’s forces responded with an all-out campaign to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of its Albanian population driving hundreds of thousands of Albanians across the border into Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro.
When the bombing campaign began, the Canadian military element consisted of six CF-18s stationed at Aviano, Italy - code-named Task Force Aviano, Operation ECHO. These aircraft began their attacks over Yugoslavia on 24 March in conjunction with dozens of other NATO aircraft. Within a week, this Task Force was increased when it was announced that six more aircraft and support personnel would be joining the TF. On 17 April the Defence Minister announced a further increase in the Canadian contingent with the addition of a further six aircraft, and an additional 50 support personnel, thus bringing the total number of aircraft to eighteen, and the total support personnel to 300. NATO commanders and the Yugoslav government signed The Military Technical Agreement that brought a suspension of the bombing on 10 June. Ten days later, on 20 June, the NATO Secretary General formally ended the air campaign.
Though KFOR continues to operate at a much-reduced size, at its height it comprised more than 50,000 personnel from 45 NATO and non-NATO countries. To date KFOR has helped more than 1.3 million Kosovo Albanians return to their homes and villages; cleared more than 16,000 houses, 1,165 schools and almost 2,000 kilometres of roads of mines and unexploded ordnance; and continues to support some 4,500 international Police as part of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Canadian Forces (CF) Information (KINETIC)
Date: 24 March 1999 - 21 June 2000
CF Mission/Operation Notes: The end of the air campaign required peacekeepers on the ground to enforce the cease-fire. In late April 1999 the Canadian government was asked to provide an armoured reconnaissance squadron and support units as part of a British led armoured brigade then being deployed into the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as part of NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.
Approximately 800 Canadian troops arrived in Macedonia in May of 1999, joining the 4th (UK) Armoured Brigade under the Canadian designation Operation KINETIC (NATO designation Operation JOINT GUARDIAN). In addition to national command and support element personnel, a reconnaissance squadron equipped with the new Coyote reconnaissance vehicle from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), a helicopter detachment equipped with eight Griffon helicopters, and engineers formed the initial Canadian contribution. On 12 June 1999, the first elements of KFOR entered Kosovo. As agreed to in the Military Technical Agreement, deployment of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) was synchronized with the departure of Serb security forces from Kosovo. By 20 June the Serb withdrawal was complete and KFOR was well established in Kosovo.
The Canadian reconnaissance squadron arrived in the vanguard of the British armoured brigade, while other Canadians soon followed or were fully tasked in support roles in Macedonia. KFOR elements were deployed to assist with the implementation of the cease-fire, provide public security for civilians, assist displaced persons in returning home safely, provide humanitarian relief and assist international organizations and non-governmental organizations in their efforts.
Soon after KFOR’s initial deployment into Kosovo the Canadian government announced that an additional 500 troops would be added to the Canadian contingent. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and tanks from the Strathconas were formed into an infantry battle group with armoured support. The battalion began its deployment in early July and soon replaced overburdened British infantry units. The new arrivals raised the total strength of Operation KINETIC to approximately 1,400 personnel.
In December 1999 the first rotation of Canadian Forces units serving with Operation KINETIC took place, and after performing duties similar to those of the first Canadians deployed, all Canadian military personnel were withdrawn from KFOR in June of 2000.
Photo by MCpl Ken Allan, DGPA/J5PA Combat Camera
On the Kosovo-Serbia border, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Soldiers of The Royal Canadian Dragoons use the surveillance equipment in their Coyote reconnaissance vehicles to overlook the Serbian border town of Prešovo from high ground in the American sector of Kosovo.
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