July 9, 2013 Source: NATO
Progress in Kosovo continues at a steady pace – and the Kosovo Security Force’s (KSF) full operational capability is another illustration of this.
While the general security situation has been improving on the ground, this lightly armed force responsible for civil protection operations and assisting civil authorities in responding to natural disasters and other emergencies has now trained to NATO standards. The declaration of full operational capability on 9 July 2013 by the North Atlantic Council means that the KSF is fully capable of performing the tasks assigned to it within its mandate. The KSF will conduct non-military security functions that are not appropriate for the police. In more concrete terms, this force of approximately 2200 personnel will deal with search and rescue operations, explosive ordnance disposal, control and clearance of hazardous materials, fire-fighting and other humanitarian assistance tasks.
Recruitment for the Kosovo Security Force started early 2009, once NATO had agreed (June 2008) to implement new tasks in addition to those agreed under UNSCR 1244. These new tasks included the standing down of the Kosovo Protection Corps, and the creation of the KSF and of a civilian structure to oversee it.
NATO’s role in the creation of KSF has therefore been two-fold: helping with its formation – standing up, recruitment and training; and the establishment of a civilian-led organisation to supervise and control the KSF. One of the principal aims was to encourage all minorities to enroll, so special attention was given to carrying out the recruitment process in two languages – Albanian and Serbian. The result has been a professional, multi-ethnic, all-volunteer force, which should continue to remain a source of regional stability.
Following the declaration of full operational capability, NATO will continue to support the development of the KSF through the NATO Liaison and Advisory Team (NLAT), consisting of a mix of approximately 30 military and civilian personnel that will help with the professional development of the KSF, providing advice and support in a variety of areas such as capacity-building and training and leadership.