8 Oct. 1999
by General Michael Jackson
during the Transfer of Authority Ceremony
The deployment of the international presence to Kosovo has been a remarkable achievement: a Multi-National Force of some 50,000, drawn from over 29 countries has come here, operating in demaning conditions, and shown excellent unity of effort. I congratualate all my subordinate commanders particularly my Multi-National Brigade Commanders past and present. I also recognise publically the contribution of the Russian contingent. I have nothing but praise for the manner in which they have operated under my tactical control.
May I also thank my chain of command: Admiral Jim Ellis, CINCSOUTH and the Joint Force Commander, and General Wesley Clark, the SACEUR. They carried great responsibility and burden. I am very conscious of the fact that I was only the land component commander; they had to deal with the complete breadth of the campaign. Finally and most importantly my thanks also goes to the soldiers of KFOR, from whichever nationality; it is their commitment and hard work which has made it all work.
We have also seen an unsurpassed level of co-operation and understanding between the international civil and military powers. My aim has been to support UNMIK in every way. Mission creep - the concern that the military is drawn into unforseen tasks - is a meaningless term in the circumstances that we have found ourselves. We share, as the joint representatives of the international community, one goal. It has been a joint effort, and I thank Dr Kouchner. He has become a personal friend, and I have greatly enjoyed working with him. He, and all members of UNMIK, face a task greatly more complex than my own and I know that KFOR will continue to support them in every way possible.
In the four months since KFOR first entered Kosovo much progress has been made. We have seen the return of nearly 800.000 refugees to Kosovo. We have seen, in cooperation with the UNMIK police, the establishment of law and order. We have seen the successful demilitarisation of the UCK, and the establishment of the Kosovo Protection Corps. We have seen a return to normality.
It is clear that the criteria for success are now changing. It will now be judged against the international communities ability to oversee the development of provisional, democratic, self-governing institutions that ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all - for all - the inhabitants of Kosovo.
To this end my final comment is directed at the leaders of people of Kosovo. Whilst KFOR can curtail violence, we cannot prevent the intent to commit violence. It requires strong leadership, tolerance and a willingness to work together with UNMIK and KFOR for the benefit of all communities in Kosovo.
Finally, as I handover to General Klaus Reinhardt, I wish him and his headquarters all good fortune.