October 1997

Chapter 5: Logistic Support for Peace Support Operations

Traditional Peacekeeping Missions

503. Whilst these are not official NATO definitions, the three categories of traditional peacekeeping missions may be regarded as observation, interposition force, and transition assistance. It is important to understand that in a specific peacekeeping operation there may be aspects of two or all categories, as well as elements of humanitarian missions.

  • Observation. An Observation Mission is the most basic peacekeeping operation, and its fundamental purpose is to observe and report. This operation may range in size from as few as 20 personnel to several hundreds.

  • Interposition Force. This type of operation is conducted as a means of keeping two opposing military forces apart, in the immediate aftermath of hostilities while negotiations for a peace agreement are in progress. This requires the interposition of an impartial force between the belligerents, the establishment of a buffer zone, and continuous monitoring of the agreement. The size of the force and its concept of operations will depend upon the terrain, the availability of peacekeeping units, and the specific requirements necessary to achieve control of the buffer zone and the separation of the opposing armed forces.

  • Transition Assistance. This type of operation is initiated to support the transition of a country to peaceful conditions and an acceptable political structure after a civil conflict or struggle for independence or autonomy. The peacekeeping force attempts to effect an end to violence, to foster an environment in which the population can return to a normal life, and to support the achievement of a negotiated settlement by the parties in conflict. The execution of this mission will probably require a large peacekeeping force, with distinct and often co-equal military, civil police, and civil administrative components. There must be close and continuous coordination of the activities of all these components as well as other agencies, such as United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

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