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CIMIC Reconstruction

Duge is a remote village in Kosovo's Crnoljeva mountains lying near the cross-roads between the towns of Urosevac and Prizren. It has a population of about 200, is largely cut off from the rest of the province in winter and, in common with much of Kosovo, suffered large-scale destruction during fighting in 1998 and 1999. Today, life is beginning to return to normal, in large part because of the efforts of a KFOR civil-military cooperation (CIMIC) team.

General Ortuño: long-term perspective ( © NATO - 34Kb)

War damage to the main road out of Duge meant that villagers found it extremely difficult to get in and out, had no immediate access to health care, and were unable to take their children to school. Repairing the three-kilometre stretch of road linking Duge with the outside world was critical for the revitalisation of village life and one of some 1,000 reconstruction projects identified by a CIMIC team last year.

CIMIC is the process of cooperation and coordination between a NATO commander and the civilian populations and civilian organisations within his theatre of operations. The process involves the establishment of liaison mechanisms and the coordination of the needs of the military and civilian organisations. It can also lead, under exceptional circumstances, to military involvement in tasks that would normally fall under a civilian mandate.

CIMIC's involvement in reconstruction was key to the strategy of KFOR's second commander, Spanish General Juan Ortuo, who aimed to "provide a long-term economic perspective to the province" and to endow it with "a mechanism to facilitate the flow of international donor funding to regional and municipal levels". Moreover, not only has this approach been welcomed by civilian organisations, international agencies and local authorities, but it has also helped build mutual understanding between them and the military.

Following a field assessment in March 2000, which identified that the international community lacked a Kosovo-wide capacity to assess reconstruction needs, planners at Supreme Headquarters Allies Powers Europe (SHAPE) set up the Kosovo Development Group. This was detached under the authority of the European Union's Kosovo reconstruction department. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain volunteered a staff of 18 trained officers, who have worked in teams of three in the province's five sectors as well as in Pristina. Costs have been shared among the parties involved with participating nations covering salaries, KFOR providing lodging and work-space and the European Union ensuring transport, as well as stationery and supplementary expenses.

Starting in July 2000, Kosovo Development Group teams travelled throughout the province, identifying and prioritising reconstruction projects, like that in Duge, in cooperation with local authorities and the 120 or so non-governmental organisations operating in Kosovo. These projects, which cover all aspects of reconstruction, from repairing infrastructure to regenerating the economy, have now been allocated EU funding.

The Kosovo Development Group's original staff left the province at the end of January as their tour of duty came to an end. Their successors will be overseeing projects until July of this year, by which time EU civilian structures should be ready to take over the task.

Since NATO-led peacekeepers arrived in the Balkans in December 1995, the range of activities which the military has become involved with has steadily expanded. Although the demands on soldiers and the skills they require have increased, CIMIC experience of reconstruction has proved extremely positive, helping improve relations both with the local population and other international agencies working in the field.

Based on experience in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, SHAPE has prepared a policy document, laying down broad guidelines for CIMIC, defining the concept and setting out operating principles. Most importantly, it establishes the checks and balances to ensure that involvement in civilian tasks occurs only when there is no alternative. This document has already been agreed by NATO member states and should soon be endorsed by the North Atlantic Council.

In an effort to improve field coordination, SHAPE has also developed working relations with the key CIMIC-oriented international organisations and NGOs, such as the European Union, the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN agencies. Moreover, another, more comprehensive CIMIC doctrine document has been drafted, setting out in detail how CIMIC should operate in theatre. This paper is currently being circulated for agreement among member states.

Read more: Kosovo
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