Peacekeeping in Kosovo

On 24th June 1999 the 1 PARA Battle Group assumed control of the whole of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, for peace-keeping duties. Two weeks before they had conducted an air-mobile helicopter insertion to secure the Kacanik Defile during the NATO KFOR ground force intervention.

This particular day was one when violence in the city peaked. The Second-in-Command of the Battalion recorded 43 major incidents in his note-book that day. He lists a litany of murder, tortured bodies found, major intimidation of Serbs by Albanians, inter-communal gun-battles, house burnings, beatings, kidnaps, weapon finds and looting. By early afternoon the battalion ran out of reserves and a scratch-patrol of the headquarters staff was sent out to counter an intimidation threat. Even the Padre was on patrol.

A policy of firm, yet fair handling of incidents utilising generations of Northern Ireland experience enabled a measure of peace to be restored. The final four weeks of the tour in Pristina was about reassuring the remaining frightened Serb community that the battle Group would and could protect them from Albanian violence.

It was a difficult task and well executed. The battle Group flew back to the UK at the end of July.

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