Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

In Depth

Canada's Military

Canada on the Ground in Kosovo

Last Updated October 30, 2003

U.S. helicopters fly over a Canadian Griffon, being refueled in Suffield, Alberta, in preparation for mission. (courtesy DND)

After three months of participating in attacks from the air, Canada's military role in Yugoslavia shifted to the ground.

Canada called this "Operation Kinetic," committing at least 1,300 soldiers to the KFOR peacekeeping operation based in the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

About 300 Canadian military personnel participated with the NATO air operation in Aviano, Italy, and another 200 crew members aboard HMCS Athabaskan in the Adriatic Sea.

It was a big commitment: Canada had not sent this many soldiers to a single region since the Korean War. It was also the last time Canada's Leopard tanks were deployed overseas.

Most of the Canadian peacekeepers were based in Edmonton. The forces included the First Combat Engineering Regiment, the Lord Strathcona's Horse and First Service Battalion. They worked with a British armoured brigade, part of the UK's force of about 50,000 troops in total.

In addition, a team of eight RCMP investigators headed to Kosovo. They were experts in crime-scene examination. They searched for evidence of atrocities, checking out reports of mass graves, and talking to witnesses. They reported to the War Crimes Tribunal.

The main goal of the peacekeeping force was to ensure the safe return of 850,000 refugees who fled Kosovo since March, 1999, and the estimated 500,000 internally displaced people.

First and foremost for the peacekeepers was to ensure that rogue forces, such as Serb paramilitaries and Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerrillas, stopped fighting.

Yugoslav authorities had mined much of the province, and the hidden explosive devices remain a particular problem in border areas. It has taken years to locate land mines and deactivate them.

Part of the transition to peaceful government after violence, said John Watson of Care Canada, was the importance of taking a delegation of community leaders into Kosovo soon after combat ended. Their role was to return to refugee camps and spread the word and to reassure others that it was safe to go home.

However, there remains the complicated longterm issue of who and how government works in Kosovo.

Canada's role in the exercise was modelled on the military and political operations sent into Bosnia at the end of its 3 1/2-year war. But the 1995 Dayton Accord – ending the Bosnia war – was largely orchestrated by the United States. In Kosovo, the United Nations had to play a key role after the NATO assault. That was one of the demands of Yugoslavia's then-President Slobodan Milosevic and the Serb parliament. What followed was a new Yugoslavia, composed of the two provinces of Serbia and Montenegro, and the uncertain "nation-state" of Kosovo.

Yet another part of the story was rebuilding Yugoslavia in the post-bombing era. Though it claimed to be aiming at military targets, NATO inflicted millions of dollars of damage on the Serbian economic infrastructure: bridges, factories, oil refineries, electrical systems. And there was an uncatalogued amount of environmental damage from the destruction.

Go to the Top

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Canada »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Politics »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Health »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Technology & Science »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Money »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Consumer Life »

302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive] 302 Found

Found

The document has moved here.

more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »