NATO's role in Kosovo

  • Last updated: 09 Mar. 2017 15:43

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.


Highlights

  • 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 United Nations Security Council Resolution 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’s objectives

    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 28 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 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's tasks

    Initial tasks

    KFOR tasks have included and, in some cases, still include 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.

    Additional tasks
    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-up of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF)
      NATO has supervised the stand-up and training of a multi-ethnic, professional and civilian-controlled KSF. The KSF is a lightly armed volunteer force. 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 KSF’s total strength is mandated to a maximum of 2,500 active personnel and 800 reservists.
    • Capacity-building
      NATO’s presence in Kosovo also covers capacity-building efforts with the security organisations in Kosovo through the NATO Advisory and Liaison Team (NALT), that reached full operational capability in January 2017. This team was created following the merger of:
      • the NATO Liaison and Advisory Team (NLAT), that continued to support the KSF beyond the North Atlantic Council’s declaration of the KSF’s full operational capability in July 2013; and
      • the NATO Advisory Team (NAT), created in 2008 to supervise the establishment of a civilian-led organisation of the Kosovo authorities to exercise civilian control over the KSF. 
      The NALT is a team of 41 military and civilian personnel, coming from 13 Allied and partner countries. The Team provides practical assistance and advice to the security organisations in Kosovo from the executive to the force level in areas such as logistics, procurement and finance, force development and planning, as well as leadership development. In order to fulfil its mission, the Team is currently designed along three lines of development: Strategy & Plans, Operations, and Support. 
      The NALT is also playing a key role in the implementation of the enhanced interaction with Kosovo that was approved by the North Atlantic Council in December 2016. This enhanced interaction is focusing on important topics such as building integrity, cyber defence, public diplomacy or Science for Peace and Security.”
  • Command and structure of KFOR

    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. Salvatore Cuoci. He assumed command of the Kosovo Force on 15 November 2017.

    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