Forces: Who's Who In Kosovo

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November 29, 2007: Despite the NATO intervention in 1999, the possibility of a violent conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo is greater than ever. The various factions in  Kosovo are threatening each other with war. This could start in the first half of 2008, because the final status of Kosovo is supposed to be resolved in the next few weeks. For now, the status is regulated by a UN resolution which states that Kosovo is formally an integral part of former Yugoslav federation but under the UN governance.

 

If there is a war, the local forces would consist of lots of guys with light weapons. The Government of Kosovo possesses only the lightly armed police force (KPS). Of course, KPS would have the support of the NATO forces in Kosovo (16,000 troops from 34 countries organized into 4 multinational brigades). KPS includes 7,000 personnel of which 85 percent are Albanians and 15 percent ethnic Serbs. Within KPS, there is also a small SWAT team trained for anti-terrorist campaign and equipped with lots of Western arms and equipment. Moreover, in case of a conflict, the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) would probably be revived. During the conflict with Yugoslavia, the UCK had 30,000 members, principally armed with rifles, RPGs, mortars and machine-guns. The majority of the UCK officer are now in The Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). Until now, KPC has been a civil formation, but in the future it should develop into Kosovo Armed Forces. KPC consists of 5,052 personnel, of whom 302 are active members, with the annual budget of $37 million. Another possible players is the ANA (Albanian irregulars from southern Serbia). ANA, although small in numbers could potentially represent a guerilla force which would operate in the rear of Serbian forces possibly hindering their operations.

 

The Serbian Armed Forces are in the midst of transformation, and the new structure is not the best one for fighting large numbers of Albanian guerillas. The new Serb forces consist of four mechanized brigades (each including 1 armored battalion) and 1 artillery brigade, all of which are organized following the model of British armed forces. This force is organized and trained to fight other armies. There is a special brigade (3 battalions), trained for dealing with guerillas. Four para-military forces from the ministry of internal affairs specialize in dealing with guerillas, but these are already tied up with the ANA.

 

A major factor in the possible conflict could be the Serbian paramilitary forces formed in the north of Kosovo, which has the majority of Serbian population. These units, similarly equipped as the disbanded UCK (KLA), could possibly be supplemented with experienced combatants from the recent wars that were fought on the ground of the ex Yugoslav republics. These soldiers could be and possibly are highly motivated and strongly supported in logistics.

 

The conflict between these armed formations could be potentially very hard to control, and could develop into much larger armed conflict. If things should go down this road, there would be a possibility of the new NATO intervention, but this time it would be aggravated by the strong influence that Russia has in the international community, especially in the Balkans.