POLUKR Battalion

Text: cpt Hubert GLICA - Photos: POLUKRBAT

Polish and Ukrainian soldiers at the common Drajkovce CP. Both nationalities make use of various kind Kalasnikov's rifles. All the soldiers are equipped with bullet-proof vests and Kevlar helmets.

In accordance with a Polish - Ukrainian agreement, POLUKRBAT was created to participate in international missions organized under the auspices of the UN or other organizations, according to the 8th Chapter of United Nations Charter. Now the second rotation of the battalion fulfills the peacekeeping mission on the southern part of Kosovo in the MNB (East) KFOR.

They started their mission when the fights were in FYROM a month before the "Essential Harvest" started. Having their area of responsibility in the mountain terrain along Kosovo-FYROM border they have had a very difficult task to prevent illegal NLA members to cross the border and smuggle weapons. They made these challenges and as MNB(East) commander said "they have done their job in an excellent way".

The POLUKRBAT area of responsibility is Kacanik and Strpce municipality. In Kacanik, inhabited only by K-Albanian, Poles operate mostly.

In Strpce in the mostly Kosovo-Serb municipality Ukrainians operate. However in both regions the battalion conducts different common polish-ukrainian missions. In Strpce they have the largest Serbian enclave in Kosovo. Every week the battalion provides a dozen or so convoys from Strpce to the border point with Serbia or to any place in Kosovo. Convoys include thirty vehicles and about two hundred K-Serbians and soldiers from other KFOR nations.

The Battalion was deployed in Kosovo on the 7th of August 2001. It consists of elements from the Polish 5th Mountainous Infantry Battalion and the Ukrainian sub-units of the 24th Armoured Division. The POLUKRBAT structure on a mission in Kosovo is based on four motorised companies (two Polish and two Ukrainian), Polish headquarters company and logistic elements from both nationalities. There is also one Lithuanian motorised platoon and a U.S. Component from the Special Forces. Among the professional soldiers both Polish and Ukrainian contingents have conscripted service. The mission in Kosovo is normally 12 months for the soldiers, regardless of nationality.

LTC Jzef ANDRZEJ MATUSZYK from the Polish Army commands battalion, while Maj Victor GANUSCHAK from Ukrainian Army is deputy of commander. The main base of POLUKRBAT is "White Eagle" Camp (WEC) in Raka village 7 km north from Kacanik town, where there is headquarters of battalion and mixed polish-ukrainian staff. Polish companies and logistic elements are accommodated in WEC, while two Ukrainian companies are in Brezovica Base near Strpce village.

An important apsect is that no problems exist in the communication environment. The official language for both nationalities is English, however Polish and Ukrainian languages have many similarities so contact between soldiers is very easy.

The main military equipment the POLUKRBAT uses is quite similar between the nations. Only national flags distinguish Polish and Ukrainian APCs. Both use the BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicle with 14.5 mm machine gun centred on the hull. The small arms battalion uses many kinds of very well known Russian Kalashnikov. The Ukrainians make use of AKS 74 5.45 mm version, Poles have their own produced version 5.56mm "Beryl" and Lithuanian 7.62 mm AK 47. Jeeps are different. The Polish make use of their own produced Honker, while the Ukrainians use UAZ 469B and American Hummer jeeps.

Having the Area of Responsibility with K-Albanian and K-Serbian inhabitants along the Kosovo-FYROM border POLUKRBAT has many kind of mission tasks. The primary are:

  • enforcing basic law in order to provide security for local population,
  • conducting operations in order to prevent M-EAAG activities along the Kosovo-FYROM border,
  • providing security at the two Border Crossing Points with FYROM (Deneral Jankovic, Globocica),
  • checking vehicles and persons at the permanent and temporary checkpoints,
  • providing escort for Serbian convoys from Strpce enclave,
  • protecting cultural goods,
  • monitoring the work of Kosovo Protection Corp,
  • working closely with UNMIK and providing assistance in support of humanitarian aids as a part of CIMIC job in its AOR.