How the CAF supports NATO’s peace support Kosovo Force

Four soldiers from different nations stand in a field and talk.
Lieutenant-Colonel Mills (Centre) discusses with Polish (left) and Ukrainian (right) engineers during Operation KOBOLD.

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By Ashley Black, Canadian Joint Operations Command

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has been active in the Balkans region under numerous missions since 1992. Since Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, CAF personnel have been serving with the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) under Operation KOBOLD.

Today, the CAF and other KFOR nations continue to contribute to new success stories in Kosovo’s history.

Supporting the primary mandate of KFOR to maintain a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and freedom of movement for all, deployed CAF members are embedded in a number of headquarters, contributing to KFOR with important logistical support. Some of their regular tasks include cross-border movements, monitoring supply routes, communications security and customs administration.

Part of the KFOR mandate is to support the development of the Kosovo Security Force. While KFOR still occasionally mentors the Kosovo Security Force, Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Mills, Operation KOBOLD Task Force Commander and chief of the NATO Joint Logistics Operations Centre in Pristina, says the force has come a long way and has greatly improved over the last 15 years.

As part of their primary responsibilities, deployed CAF members assist KFOR with a number of projects taking place in Kosovo.

For example, CAF members within KFOR recently worked alongside the Kosovo Security Force to dispose of explosive remnants of war from World War I, World War II, the Kosovo War, and the 1999 NATO air campaign. Unexploded ordnance continues to be found by civilians and police in Kosovo today.

“When ordnance is found, KFOR and the Kosovo Security Force are called to recover it,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Mills. “When we have a large amount of recovered ordnance, we actually will take it to the range and conduct training and seminars on how to disable it.”

“KFOR still does a bit of mentoring but instead of teaching the Kosovo Security Force, we get together to discuss how we can improve an already capable force,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Mills.

Additionally, CAF members and other nations serving in KFOR recently had the opportunity to further connect with the local population in Kosovo. KFOR hosted a Gender Perspectives Conference to learn more about the issues affect women and other identity groups in Kosovo.

“Members of the community attended the conference to speak about gender issues—both male and female—that are faced by the population in Kosovo,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Mills. “It often came down to employment opportunities and improving conditions for women in the country.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Mills explains that one highlight for CAF members deployed on Operation KOBOLD is the rare opportunity to work with non-NATO forces. While KFOR is a NATO-led mission, nine of the 29 contributing nations are not NATO members. “I’ve worked with NATO countries before, but working with non-NATO nations is a really interesting opportunity for CAF members,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Mills. “We get to learn more about how they operate, about their equipment and about their traditions and culture. We don’t always get to see that and it’s a very enriching part of the job,” he said.

As the Commanding Officer of Task Force Pristina, Lieutenant-Colonel Mills says CAF support and contribution to KFOR is essential: “It is important that we continue to demonstrate that we are a committed NATO partner around the world.”

Image gallery

  • A soldier puts on a glove and approaches unexploded ordnance to conduct a removal. Tools sit on the ground near the explosive remnant.
  • Explosive remnants sit safely on the grass and are surrounded by blue spray paint. Soldiers stand around to discuss techniques.
  • Four soldiers from different nations stand in a field and talk.
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