Operation ALLIED HARBOUR
International Operation Name: Operation ALLIED HARBOUR
International Mission Name: Operation ALLIED HARBOUR
Mandating Organization: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
Region Name: Europe
Location: Albania and Macedonia
Mission Date: 13 April 1999 - 1 September 1999
Canadian Forces (CF) Information (MIKADO)
Date: 9 April 1999 - 17 April 1999
Canadian Task Force Name Mission Statement: On order, co-ordinate and assist in the flow of personnel and material into Albania and FYROM in support of Humanitarian Assistance operations for the refugees from Kosovo and to assist in the evacuation of refugees to countries ready to receive them.
CF Mission/Operation Notes: For more than a year leading up to the beginning of the Kosovo Air Campaign in March 1999, relations between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and ethnic Albanian Kosovars had been deteriorating. In February, negotiations between Kosovar and Serb negotiators at Rambouillet, France, led to a basic agreement between the parties but one that the government of the FRY refused to accept. In March of 1999, the failure of either party to comply with the basic tenets of UNSCR 1199, the UN’s call for an end to hostilities in the region, forced the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to withdraw all Kosovo Verification Monitors (KVM) from Kosovo.
When last minute diplomatic efforts failed to reach an agreement, NATO pursued military action and on 24 March 1999 NATO launched Operation ALLIED FORCE (Op ECHO). The beginning of the air campaign against FRY forces in Kosovo triggered a mass exodus of Kosovars from the area into neighboring countries. By the end of March, civilian and UN humanitarian agencies were overwhelmed. With the numbers continuing to increase at a rate of 14,000 per day, NATO initiated OPLAN 10414, Operation ALLIED HARBOUR, NATO’s first humanitarian operation. Normally the purview of non-governmental organizations, these agencies were unable to cope with the nearly 500,000 refugees that flooded into Albania, leaving NATO the only organization capable of dealing with the expanding need.
In support of this NATO operation, the Canadian government offered to provide two CC130 aircraft and the associated personnel and equipment for intra-theatre airlift of humanitarian supplies into Albania and Macedonia. Dubbed Operation MIKADO by the CF, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) led Canadian operation consisted of an airlift component and a camp construction component.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees NHCR Air Co-ordination Cell in Geneva, which consisted of LOG experts from UNHCR, and personnel seconded by NATO member states, collected and prioritized all humanitarian assistance requirements for both Albania and Macedonia. All national, civilian, military, and NATO, offered airlift capacity were matched with the prioritized list of requirements by this cell. As a result, on 9 April CF aircraft were tasked with flying to Bergen, Norway to airlift up to 500 metric tones of biscuits and canned fish into Skopje, Albania. Following the delivery of the final load of supplies, CIDA determined that Op MIKADO would not be required to carry out humanitarian airlift ops beyond the 17th of April. However, the dynamic nature of Canadian participation in ongoing NATO ops required that a capability be retained to respond tactically within Europe to unforeseen operational airlift requirements. To this end a minimal Air Lift Control Element (ALCE) was established from Op MIKADO personnel. Tasked with keeping abreast of the developing situation in the Balkans, it was able to respond on 12 hrs notice to tactical airlift requests in support of Task Force Albania (TFA) and ops within the Balkans area.
The camp construction component consisted of a staff check to look at preliminary costing for the construction of a camp capable of supporting 5000 personnel through the Albanian winter. The camp would consist of sleeping accommodations for 5000 persons, ablution facilities, kitchen and messing, HQ facility for 250 personnel, camp support area, water purification and storage facilities, waste water treatment, power generation, roads, security, and fire fighting installation. Estimated time of construction was 50-60 days, at a cost of $19.2 - $38.4 million dollars, depending on which combination of civilian and military assets would complete the work. In the end, the requirement never materialized and no further action was taken.
Though Canada’s participation ended early on, Operation ALLIED HARBOUR operated up until the end of August 1999, when on 1 September it handed over command to NATO-led KFOR Communication Zone West (COMMZ (W)) command. The NATO presence in Albania prevented Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from destabilizing the country and was instrumental in sustaining the refugees. During its five months of operation, ALLIED HARBOUR was responsible for nearly 3,500 flights into the country moving more than 14,000 metric tones of supplies. It repaired 189 kilometers of road, and constructed 21 camps providing some 129,050 places. At the time of handover, planning had been completed for a further 120,550 places when the need ceased.
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