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Swedish Battalion farewell

By 2Lt. Alexandre Montagna
First published in
SFOR Informer #78, January 6, 2000

Tuzla - The Swedish battalion has accomplished its mission and is going home.
Sweden has been involved in creating and keeping the peace in Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) for seven years.

The first Swedish forces arrived in former Yugoslavia Sept. 30, 1993. The force, which was led by the UN, was called NORDBAT and Sweden contributed 850 soldiers to the . Very soon they got a good reputation with all three warring factions. In amongst the violence and confusion of internecine warfare, the battalion quikly earned a reputation for acting vigorously and firmly, but in a fair and impartial manner. Its AOR, at the time, included the Tuzla area.
A critical moment came for the UN Swedish in July 1995 when the Bosnian Serb Army attacked the town of Srebrenica city. Thousands of people fled and NORDBAT help provide shelter and aid for many of them at Tuzla Air Base and provide humanitarian support. The Battalion witnessed great suffering but, fortunately, within months, the warring parties agreed on the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Swedish

During Implementation Force (IFOR) mandate, in 1996, seperate battalions were formed out of NORDBAT. The newly-formed Swedish Battalion (SWEBAT) left Tuzla Air Base to the American troops and assumed an Area of Responsability (AOR) that stayed virtually the same until the end of 1999. Their HQ was established in Bistarac and the Swedes became a part of the Nordic-Polish Brigade (NORDPOL Bde). The Swedes of IFOR found themsleves operating in what had been very heavily contested areas. Mines were a constant threat Five soldiers lost their lives in the first months of Operation Joint Endeavour (IFOR).

Between 1997 and 1999, under the mandate of SFOR, regular rotations of committed Swedes consolidated the situation in their AOR. "The mission seemed impossible at the beginning. Nevertheless, a change gradually took place in region," explained Lt. Col. Borje Tyvik, last commander of the battalion. Between 1996 and 1999, within the SFOR mandate, SWEDBAT worked relentlessly to stabilised its AOR.

In August 1999, the Swedish government decided to withdraw the Swedish Battalion from BiH by the end of the year, due to the restructuring of SFOR. Sweden has opted to maintain a contribution of around 800 men to Kosovo and its AOR is currently being taken over by other elements of the current NORDPOL Bde. SWEBAT finished its mission officially Nov. 30. The month of December was dedicated to the dismantling of facilities and the repairing of the kit. A reduced force of about 52 soldiers will remain there until March 2000. On January, 34 Swedes, mainly CIMIC officers, will integrate into thenewly NORDIC-POLISH Battle Group in the HQ of Doboj.

The people of BiH will not forget them and the many Swedes who served in UNPROFOR, IFOR and SFOR will equally not forget their experiences here... and the contribution they made to the future of this country.