Rome '08 Workshop

Operations in Kosovo and the Balkans 

Admiral Mark P. Fitzgerald

Allied Joint Force Command Naples 

Admiral Mark P. Fitzgerald

When we first started addressing what we would talk about today, Roger proposed the crisis in the Middle East, and I said that we needed to broaden the topic to Europe, because there is a direct link between and a direct impact on both. Since my headquarters spans those regions, I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you some of the things that I think have worked and some that have not over the course of not just the six months I have been in command but the 10 years we have had troops deployed in these regions. 


Regarding what we do in Naples, Karl-Heinz Lather pretty much told you the breadth and scope of those activities, but particularly what we are doing in Kosovo, where we have 16,000 troops on the ground and forces from U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 trying to maintain safety, security, and a safe environment. We also have Iraq, where we are trying to bring in the NATO Training Mission to educate and westernize a military that is fighting a war of insurgency there, and we have Operation Active Endeavor, where we are now performing both counterterrorism and counter-WMD missions in the Mediterranean. 

When you look at the resources that we have allocated in Kosovo, the 16,000 troops do not begin to tell the tale, because I think everybody here understands that it requires a 3 to 1 or a 4 to 1 mixture to maintain that kind of troop level. So we are talking about tying up 60,000 to 80,000 troops in Kosovo that we may need in other places for other missions. For example, in Bosnia there are 2,500 EU troops. The quicker we can draw down the large expenditure of troops the sooner we can start to use that excess capacity in other places where we probably need them. So we need to start thinking about how the European crises are impacting the crises in Asia. 

When I look at what has happened in the Balkans over the last few years, I think of how we have brought Croatia and Albania into NATO, as Ambassador Ildem talked about, and how we are pretty close to getting Skopje in there. And when I see that Bosnia is signing up with PfP and trying to gain MAP status, that Montenegro is coming along, and that Serbia is participating in PfP, I see the trend towards collective security on the EU side. I also see how the signing of Stabilization and Association Agreements (SAAs) is supporting economic stability. That is where the Balkans are heading, so my headquarters is trying to figure out how we can provide the leadership to get that security sector reform piece—enabling the rule of law, making the military subservient to political leadership, those kinds of things—in place. The headquarters in Skopje, Tirana, Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Pristina are also looking at how we can best help those militaries and those governments come to grips with those kinds of issues. We want to instill NATO/western principles and organizations through SSR officers to get that reform accomplished.  

How successful have we been? If you look outside Kosovo, we have about 259 NATO officers and administrators deployed throughout the Balkans, and the net Balkans output to places like Iraq and Afghanistan is about 758. So we are starting down the path to getting the Balkans to become a net exporter of security, and not just grinding up troops and have them pinned down there. I think that is a good-news story. 

When you go to Kosovo, though, you start to get to the root of the problem. We have been there for 10 years; the situation is what I would call stagnant on the economic side of the house, with the highest unemployment in Europe—58%—and GDP growth just starting to come up, now at 7%, though it has been relatively flat. Inflation is up to about 13%. Electricity is the lifeblood of the country, but there has been no new infrastructure put in there, and the people are still living with 1950s and 1960s technology. Unemployment, personal income, budget deficits, GDP, all of those things are going to get us to a place where we can start to solve some of the problems in the country or else it will stagnate. 

Money is coming into the country primarily from the diaspora outside the country. Pensioners on the Serb side get money out of Serbia; customs has had problems with this, and money is also coming in through foreign UNMIC and KFOR troops in the nation. The real issue in Kosovo in my view is not whether this is going to be a Serbian province or an independent country, but where are the people’s next euros coming from? Where are they going to get some money? The corruption, the smuggling, everything is eating into that country’s quest to become an independent state. That is where I think we have failed over the last 10 years. We have been able to institute a safe and secure environment; people in Kosovo now expect NATO troops to be on their ground and expect them to protect them. We need to start weaning the people from that and to start bootstrapping their economy so that it can get going. Balancing the military and economic investment will allow us to start moving towards a deterrent presence and start drawing down some of the troops, who we can then deploy in an emergency and start to get the economy going. 


In Iraq there are similarities and differences. Our mission in Iraq is to train the military, the police force in that country, to get them once again oriented towards a more western-style military that serves the political masters. We have taken over the training at Rustamiyah, their national defense university, and we have put about 500 officers through the course. We have also sent officers from many countries for training there; we have trained the navy in Basrah, we have trained the members of the Air Force Academy, and we have brought the Italian carabinieri into the country and trained about 2,000 of their police officers. I believe this is all a very good-news story, and the police and the military have executed very well. They have not run from danger and actually did a great job. 

When I look at the mission, I think that the way forward is to start broadening what we have done with the 160 people that are in country. We received direction from the Bucharest Summit. Prime Minister Maliki sent a letter that was accepted requesting additional training in areas like customs, forensics, and systems to enable technicians in the army, air force, and navy to do maintenance, as well as in skills areas, NCO professionalism, and language training. All of those things will help further stabilize the country, which is another good-news story. 


I also want to talk about Operation Active Endeavor, because it started out to be an Article 5 operation but has ended up as much more than that. It actually has ended up as a very good theater security cooperation initiative in which not only NATO countries have participated but other countries now want to come in and participate in collective security. Countries including Albania, Georgia, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Russia, and Ukraine are all participating in that effort. We have also seen spin-off efforts in the Black Sea, such as Black Sea Harmony, not under NATO. These countries now have the ability to take this work and complement it with national priorities such as countering drug trafficking and countering illegal-alien smuggling, because our Article 5 operations are not charged with doing that. The intelligence we are gaining and our ability to pass significant information on to national command centers really resonates with those countries. Just as NATO’s air policing efforts bore fruit in the past, our maritime policing efforts are starting to bear fruit now. 

What will happen with data in the future? We see a couple of things happening. One is that, much like in aviation, in which the ICAO agency is able to paint a picture of the skies, technologies are now emerging that can do the same thing in the water, painting an international picture of where all of the ships are. This will give us much better insight into what is going on in the maritimes. As we talked about in a previous panel discussion, maritime-based missile defense capabilities will also soon start to resonate in this arena. So there is a lot of possibility there. 


There are three takeaways from what I have discussed, one from each operation. The first is that you have to have economic stability in order to have security, and we need to work on that. The second is that western values and western ways of operating militaries will be stabilizing forces in the countries. And the third is that nations want collective security beyond their national interest. 

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