Jump to content
News Ticker
  • I am now accepting the following payment methods: Card Payments, Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal
  • Latest News

    Former Yugoslavia

    Recommended Posts

    British Forces in the Former Yugoslavia

    1. Forces from all three Services have played an important role in the events of the last year in the former Yugoslavia through their continued support to the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) humanitarian and peacekeeping operations. Now in their fourth year of operations in the region, British troops continue to make a major contribution to the NATO-led Peace Implementation Force (IFOR).

    2. The British UNPROFOR contingent comprised broadly 3,500 personnel until the summer of 1995. But, on 31 May after the Bosnian Serb Army took hostage over 350 United Nations troops, including 33 British troops from 1st Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers and one Royal Air Force United Nations Military Observer, the Government announced that reinforcements would be deployed to improve the security of British forces. Some 900 immediate reinforcements were subsequently joined by 4,000 personnel from 24 Airmobile Brigade. Our contribution rose to over 8,000 troops and made Britain the largest UNPROFOR contributor. British forces formed a major part of the successful Rapid Reaction Force created by Lieutenant General Sir Rupert Smith, the UNPROFOR Commander, to improve the effectiveness and protection of UNPROFOR. British Army guns played a crucial part over several months as part of this quick reaction-capability, which helped to deter further Bosnian Serb bombardment of Sarajevo and keep open the main supply route into the city.

    3. After the Bosnian Serb Army attacked the United Nations Safe Areas of Srebrenica and Zepa, the International Meeting in London on 21 July resolved that any further attacks on United Nations Safe Areas would be met by a decisive military response; corresponding warnings were issued to the warring factions. Despite this, on 28 August the Bosnian Serbs fired a mortar round into the Sarajevo market place, killing over 30 civilians. As a result, on 30 August, NATO aircraft were ordered into action to deter the Bosnian Serbs from further attacks on the Safe Areas and to persuade them to move their heavy guns from the Sarajevo exclusion zone.

    4. British forces played a full part in the campaign. Eight Tornado F3s, twelve Harrier GR7s and two laser-designating Jaguars, together with eight Sea Harriers from HMS Invincible, took part in the operation. Some 3,500 sorties were flown in under three weeks - 360 by British aircraft. Supported by Royal Air Force tanker aircraft and the E-3D Airborne Early Warning aircraft, British aircraft flew some 270 successful bombing missions against Bosnian Serb targets, as well as flying essential combat air patrol and reconnaissance missions. On the ground, 'the Highland Gunners' from 19 Field Regiment Royal Artillery equipped with 105mm light guns provided vital support from their positions on Mount Igman, overlooking Sarajevo.

    5. On 14 September, the Bosnian Serbs agreed to withdraw their heavy weapons from around Sarajevo. Following intensive United States-led activity, a 60-day Bosnia-wide ceasefire came into effect on 12 October. The proximity talks in Dayton Ohio led to a comprehensive Peace Agreement on 21 November, formally signed by the parties to the conflict on 14 December in Paris.

    6. The first ever NATO land operation then swung into action, as IFOR began its 12-month deployment to Bosnia to help implement the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement. At 1 April, the force was nearly 60,000 strong with contributions from all NATO nations and 16 non-NATO countries, including Russia and many Partnership for Peace countries. A further seven countries are providing IFOR with basing and transit assistance.

    7. On 20 December, NATO assumed responsibility for operations in Bosnia from the United Nations, bringing to an end UNPROFOR's mission. Since their deployment began in October 1992, together with troops from 19 other nations, British troops made an outstanding contribution to the important and largely successful (although often misunderstood) work of UNPROFOR. Their support for the humanitarian relief operation helped to save many thousands of lives. They played a pivotal role in restoring relative peace and stability in Central Bosnia. Sadly, 18 British troops were killed during UNPROFOR operations.

    8. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees humanitarian airlift into Sarajevo ceased on 9 January. A Royal Air Force Hercules made the very first aid delivery on 3 July 1992. Over nearly four years - the longest humanitarian airlift in history - British Hercules aircraft flew 1,977 sorties and just under 27,000 metric tonnes of aid.

    9. The United Kingdom continues to play a major role in Bosnia and is making a major contribution to IFOR. As at 1 April, there were some 10,500 British forces on the ground. The IFOR land operation is controlled by the British Commander of the Headquarters ACE Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC), Lieutenant General Sir Michael Walker. As Framework Nation, Britain has the leading role in the Headquarters, providing 60% of its staff. In addition, Major General Michael Jackson, Commander of 3(UK) Division, commands Multi-National Division (South West) (MND(SW)), one of the three sectors into which IFOR operations are divided. Headquarters 3(UK) Division is based in Gornji Vakuf. The British contribution includes an all-arms brigade and supporting units, under Headquarters 4 Armoured Brigade.

    Photo 14: Following the first Royal Air Force flight into Banja Luka Airport, Major General Mike Jackson, Commander Multi-National Division(South West), gives a press conference on the airfield[58k]

    10. The force is well suited to its mission and well able to defend itself. It currently includes:

    Two squadrons of Challenger 1 tanks from the Queen's Royal Hussars.

    Two medium reconnaissance squadrons with Scimitar armoured vehicles from the Light Dragoons.

    2nd Battalion Light Infantry equipped with Warrior armoured infantry fighting vehicles.

    1st Battalion Queen's Lancashire Regiment in Saxon armoured personnel carriers.

    Three batteries of AS90 155mm self-propelled guns from 26 Regiment Royal Artillery.

    A 105mm light gun battery from 19/5 Battery, ACE Mobile Force (Land).

    Photo 12: An AS90 155mm self-propelled howitzer on standby as part of the British contribution to IFOR[42k]

    11. These troops are supported by soldiers from:

    38 and 32 Engineer Regiments.

    The Royal Corps of Signals.

    The Royal Logistic Corps and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

    The Adjutant General's Corps.

    The Royal Army Medical Corps.

    12. Six Royal Air Force Chinook helicopters have joined the four Royal Navy Sea King helicopters from 845 Squadron to provide a support helicopter force, based at Split. The support helicopters are also available for casualty evacuation support. Fourteen Army Lynx TOW-equipped helicopters provide an anti-armour capability; and four Gazelle helicopters support reconnaissance operations.

    13. In addition to the land contribution, the Royal Air Force and naval forces which formerly supported UNPROFOR operations also transferred initially to IFOR. Once the ground forces had fully deployed and it was clear that the mission was proceeding well, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe released a number of air and naval assets, including the Royal Air Force Tornado F3s and the Royal Navy Carrier Task Group. The Tornado F3 aircraft redeployed to the United Kingdom in February, but remain on seven days notice to return to theatre should they be required. Since April 1993, the Tornados have flown nearly 3,000 sorties as part of the NATO operation to enforce and monitor the United Nations No-Fly Zone over Bosnia.

    14. Nine Harrier GR7 aircraft, which took over from the Jaguars in August, continue to provide reconnaissance support to ground operations and are available to provide close air support if necessary. Three more Harriers and two-laser designating Jaguars are on standby to move to Italy if necessary.

    15. A Tristar K1 tanker provides air-to-air refuelling for Royal Air Force and Allied aircraft and two Royal Air Force E-3D Sentry aircraft continue to help monitor the air exclusion zone over Bosnia as part of the NATO Airborne Early Warning force. Air transport continues to play a vital role in supporting British forces: the Royal Air Force currently operates seven flights a week in support of operations and has a C-130 Hercules aircraft based at Rimini in Italy.

    16. The Royal Navy Carrier Task Group, comprising HMS Illustrious, with her embarked aircraft, HMS London and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries (RFAs) Olwen and Fort Grange, was released from IFOR on 15 February. The Carrier Task Group had been deployed in support of operations in the former Yugoslavia since January 1993 during which time all three British carriers, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Illustrious and HMS Invincible, played their part in operations in the Adriatic. The six Sea Harrier F/A2 aircraft embarked on the carriers flew over 1,700 sorties in support of operations.

    17. The joint NATO/Western European Union Operation SHARP GUARD to enforce the United Nations arms embargo will continue, alongside IFOR operations, until the phased lifting of the arms embargo is completed later this year. HMS Brazen and HMS Beaver currently operate as part of the combined naval operation. Since November 1992, nearly 70,000 vessels have been challenged, of which over 5,000 have been boarded and inspected at sea and nearly 1,500 diverted and inspected in port. Royal Air Force Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft continue to provide support to naval operations. RFA Resource remains in Split harbour providing stores and accommodation support to the British IFOR contingent.

    18. IFOR's mission is so far going well and the parties have generally co-operated with IFOR. During the first four months of operations, IFOR has successfully ensured the parties' compliance with the key military requirements of the Peace Agreement and the parties' forces have now withdrawn behind the Zones of Separations either side of the new Inter-Entity Boundary Line between Republika Sprska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Photo 13: As part of the British contribution to IFOR, British foot patrols are mounted to reassure the local population

    19. In difficult and demanding conditions, IFOR has performed extremely well and risen to all the challenges placed before it. British forces in both HQ ARRC and MND(SW) have made a major contribution to the overall success of the mission. Tragically four British soldiers have been killed since IFOR's deployment.

    20. Over the coming months, IFOR's primary task will be to maintain a secure environment within which civilian assistance and reconstruction can continue. Throughout Bosnia, IFOR troops will patrol and monitor the 1,000 kilometre-long Inter-Entity Boundary Line and its Zone of Separation, monitor the movement of the parties' troops, and keep open routes throughout the country to allow civilians to move freely. In addition, IFOR will continue to provide substantial support to the High Representative, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the many civilian agencies working in Bosnia, to whom IFOR is providing technical advice and assistance on hundreds of engineering and reconstruction projects.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    • 2 weeks later...

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now
    • Create New...

    Important Information

    We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.