Updated: 13-May-2002 Week of 6 - 12 May 2002

9 May 2002

SFOR and KFOR missions
evolve to meet new challenges

On Friday 9 May, the North Atlantic Council approved a series of changes to the Alliance's missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The changes, which were agreed after consultation with all troop-contributing nations, are designed to introduce a more regional approach to operations, boosting efficiency and allowing for troop reductions.

As a result of improvements in the security environment, lighter, more mobile and flexible forces are now more appropriate to respond to current security challenges and assist international efforts to address areas such as refugee flows, border security, rule of law and extremism across all operational areas. As a part of this process, NATO's Military Authorities will develop a reserve-force concept to complement the Alliance's in-place force posture. These changes will be implemented over the next 12 months and should be completed by mid-2003.

Although NATO is adopting a more regional approach where appropriate, each operational area has its own unique qualities and security needs. As a result, distinct mandates for each of NATO's missions will remain, with their specific tasks and objectives. At the same time, the new structures will enable the Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Kosovo Force (KFOR) in Kosovo to meet remaining challenges more effectively and efficiently, especially at a regional level.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFOR will be reduced from 19,000 troops to approximately 12,000 by the end of 2002. In Kosovo, KFOR will be reduced by 4,800 from a current level of 38,000 to 33,200. At the same time, the number of brigade headquarters will be reduced from five to three. The changes reflect the success of international efforts, and those of political leaders in the region, which have led to a great improvement in the security situation. They are also the result of NATO's continuing efforts to adapt its presence to best meet current requirements.

"These changes will help us build on success." NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said. " Since we first sent forces to the Balkans much has changed and improved, and we are changing with them. What hasn't changed, though, is our determination to work with the people of the region to build peace and prosperity together. Make no mistake these forces will still be robust enough, tough enough and flexible enough to maintain a safe and secure environment."

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