NATO's role in Kosovo
NATO has been leading a peace-support operation in Kosovo since June 1999 in support of wider international efforts to build peace and stability in the area.
- NATO has been leading a peace-support operation in Kosovo – the Kosovo Force (KFOR) – since June 1999.
- KFOR was established when NATO’s 78-day air campaign against Milosevic’s regime, aimed at putting an end to violence in Kosovo, was over.
- The operation derives its mandate from UNSCR 1244 (1999) and the Military-Technical Agreement between NATO, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia.
- KFOR’s original objectives were to deter renewed hostilities, establish a secure environment and ensure public safety and order, demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army, support the international humanitarian effort and coordinate with the international civil presence.
- Today, KFOR continues to contribute towards maintaining a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and freedom of movement for all.
- NATO strongly supports the Belgrade-Pristina EU-brokered Normalisation Agreement (2013).
KFOR deployed into Kosovo on 12 June 1999, in the wake of a 78-day air campaign. This air campaign was launched by the Alliance in March 1999 to halt and reverse the humanitarian catastrophe that was then unfolding.
KFOR derives its mandate from United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244 of 10 June 1999 and the Military-Technical Agreement between NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia. KFOR operates under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and, as such, is a peace enforcement operation.
Today, KFOR consists of approximately 4,500 troops provided by 31 countries. It continues to help maintain a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people and communities in Kosovo, according to its mandate, which is to:
- deter renewed hostility and threats against Kosovo by Yugoslav and Serb forces;
- establish a secure environment and ensure public safety and order;
- demilitarize the Kosovo Liberation Army;
- support the international humanitarian effort; and
- coordinate with, and support, the international civil presence.
Over time, as the security situation has improved, NATO has been gradually adjusting KFOR’s force posture towards a smaller and more flexible force with fewer static tasks. All adjustments to the KFOR force posture are decided by the North Atlantic Council (NAC) as the security situation on the ground evolves. KFOR is also cooperating and coordinating with the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and other international actors to support the development of a stable, democratic, multi-ethnic and peaceful Kosovo.
KFOR tasks have included assistance with the return or relocation of displaced persons and refugees; reconstruction and de-mining; medical assistance; security and public order; protection of patrimonial sites; border security; interdiction of cross-border weapons smuggling; implementation of a Kosovo-wide weapons, ammunition and explosives amnesty programme; weapons destruction; and support for the establishment of civilian institutions, law and order, the judicial and penal system, the electoral process and other aspects of the political, economic and social life of Kosovo.
Special attention continues to be paid to the protection of minorities. This includes regular patrols near minority enclaves, check points, escorts for minority groups, protection of heritage sites such as monasteries, and donations including food, clothes and school supplies.
On 12 June 2008, NATO agreed to start implementing additional tasks in Kosovo, i.e. assist in the standing down of the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC) and in the establishment of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF), as well as a civilian structure to oversee the KSF. The following tasks have been implemented in close coordination and consultation with the relevant local and international authorities:
- Stand-down of the Kosovo Protection Corps
The KPC was conceived as a transitional post-conflict arrangement, under the responsibility of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo. Its mandate was to provide disaster-response services, perform search and rescue, provide a capacity for humanitarian assistance in isolated areas, assist de-mining and contribute to rebuilding infrastructure and communities.
The KPC ceased its operational activities on 20 January 2009 and was formally dissolved on 14 June 2009. In parallel, the Kosovo Security Force was developed to ensure that key capabilities were available for emergency situations.
- Stand-up of the Kosovo Security Force / NATO Liaison and Advisory Team
NATO has supervised the stand-up and training of a multi-ethnic, professional and civilian-controlled Kosovo Security Force. The KSF is a lightly armed volunteer force, with no heavy weapons such as tanks, heavy artillery or offensive air capability. It has primary responsibility for security tasks that are not appropriate for the police such as emergency response, explosive ordnance disposal, management of hazardous material, fire-fighting and civil protection.
The first Kosovo-wide recruitment campaign for the KSF started on 21 January 2009 and focused on encouraging all minority communities in Kosovo to apply. The recruitment process was carried out in two official languages: Albanian and Serbian. Initial operational capability was reached in mid-September 2009, with some 1,500 personnel; full operational capability was declared by the NAC on 9 July 2013, with approximately 2,200 active personnel. The KSF’s total strength is mandated to a maximum of 2,500 active personnel and 800 reservists.
In order to continue supporting the KSF, the Alliance established the NATO Liaison and Advisory Team (NLAT) in July 2013. The NLAT is distinct from KFOR and consists of approximately 35 military and civilian personnel. Based in Pristina, this body is charged with providing advice and support to the KSF at brigade level and above, focusing on staff capacity-building and training.
- Establish a civilian-led body to supervise the KSF / NATO Advisory Team
NATO assisted and continues to assist in establishing a civilian-led organisation that exercises control over the KSF. Primary responsibility for this task rests with NATO Headquarters in Brussels; KFOR is tasked to support the NATO Advisory Team that has been established in Pristina.
- Merger of the NATO Liaison and Advisory Team and the NATO Advisory Team
In November 2014, the NAC approved the merger of the two NATO teams. This work is ongoing with a view to establishing a new team – the NATO Liaison and Advisory Team – by the end of 2016.
The Multinational Battle Groups (MNBG)
A Battle Group is a military unit at the level of a battalion, consisting of numerous companies. These companies are highly mobile, flexible and rapidly deployable to potential trouble spots all over Kosovo. There are currently two MNBGs:
- HQ MNBG East, located at Camp Bondsteel, located near Urosevac;
- HQ MNBG West, located at Camp Villagio Italia in Pec.
HQ KFOR continues to be located at Camp Film City, Pristina. In addition to the KFOR troops in Kosovo, NATO continues to maintain reserve forces ready to deploy if necessary.
KFOR comes under a single chain of command, under the authority of Commander KFOR (COMKFOR). COMKFOR reports to the Commander of Joint Force Command Naples (COM JFCN), Italy. The current COMKFOR is Maj. Gen. Guglielmo Luigi Miglietta. He assumed command of the Kosovo Force on 7 August 2015.
Former KFOR commanders
Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Jackson, UK A
09 Jun 1999 - 08 Oct 1999
Lt. Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, GE A
08 Oct 1999 - 18 Apr 2000
Lt. Gen. Juan Ortuño, SP A
18 Apr 2000 - 16 Oct 2000
Lt. Gen. Carlo Cabigiosu, IT A
16 Oct 2000 - 06 Apr 2001
Lt. Gen. Thorstein Skiaker, NO A
06 Apr 2001 - 03 Oct 2001
Lt. Gen. Marcel Valentin, FR A
03 Oct 2001 - 04 Oct 2002
Lt. Gen. Fabio Mini, IT A
04 Oct 2002 - 03 Oct 2003
Lt. Gen. Holger Kammerhoff, GE A
03 Oct 2003 - 01 Sep 2004
Lt. Gen. Yves de Kermabon, FR A
01 Sep 2004 – 01 Sep 2005