May 2004

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SFOR - MULTI NATIONAL TASK FORCES

In January this year, SFOR announced that by 1 June, forces would further reduce to approximately 7000 soldiers and that Brigades would be renamed Task Forces. This reduction is possible because of the increased role played by the local authorities in providing a secure and safe environment for their citizens.

When will this happen? From 1 June, Multi National Brigades will become Multi National Task Forces, for example; Multi National Brigade North at Tuzla will become Multi National Task Force North. The Task Forces (TF) will still retain their headquarters in Tuzla, Banja Luka and Mostar.

What size are the Task Forces? Each TF will be approximately 1,800 personnel strong.

LOTs live in local houses.

Will their tasks have changed? Yes, as the situation has improved in Bosnia and Herzegovina so have our operations. While each brigade will retain mobile reserves a significant development is the introduction of Liaison and Observation Teams (LOT). These teams of approximately a dozen soldiers live in the community, in a local house, and exchange information daily with the local authorities. This development enables the local police to lead in providing a safe and secure environment but provides SFOR with the situational awareness to support them if necessary.

What change will we see on the ground? You will see a greater role played by the local police. This will be particularly evident on HARVEST operations which remove illegal weapons and ammunition from the community and makes BiH a safer place for children.

OTHF can deploy quickly.

Will SFOR still have the capability to reinforce? Very much so; not only will we retain the capability to reinforce quickly within BiH, but NATO Over The Horizon Forces (OTHF) can quickly reinforce Bosnia and Herzegovina. The reinforcement of Kosovo in March this year was an example of NATO's commitment and capability to reinforce.

How is this linked to the potential transition to a European Force? A decision on the transition to a European force (EUFOR) is expected at the Istanbul Summit in June. This recognizes the successful evolution of the NATO mission and is a natural progression as part of the EU`s longstanding commitment to BiH. However NATO remains committed to BiH. A NATO Headquarters, commanded by an American general will be established in Sarajevo at the end of the year.