History: NZDF Involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Introduction

Below is a timeline of New Zealand Defence Force involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina:

1992

17 February

  • The New Zealand Government responds to a request from the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) for personnel to contribute to the peacekeeping effort in the former Yugoslavia, and sends four military observers.  A further two are sent in August 1992, followed by three more in December that year.
  • New Zealanders quickly establish a reputation as highly effective observers who can carry out a wide range of tasks in a very capable manner with personnel from other nations and with the warring parties. 

At the end of 1992, the NZDF’s  commitment to Bosnia is 9 personnel.

1993

June

  • United Nations Security Council declares the cities of Sarajevo, Bihac, Tuzla, Gorazde, Srebrenica and Zepa to be United Nations “Safe Areas”.  The Security Council authorises UNPROFOR to use force to protect the civilian population of these areas from attack. 

At the end of 1993, the NZDF’s commitment to Bosnia remains at 9 personnel.

1994

8 March 

  • The United Nations makes a formal request to the New Zealand Government requesting NZ Defence contribute personnel to UNPROFOR.  

30 May

  • New Zealand Government agrees to send a 250-strong reinforced infantry company with 25 M113 armoured personnel carriers, 10 Unimog trucks, 21 Land Rovers, a small number of other support vehicles and 42 containers of equipment to Bosnia. 

12 September

  •  Infantry-company group of 250 personnel (known as Kiwi Company) deploy to Santici Camp near Vitez, 60 kilometres north-west of Sarajevo, a company sized commitment will remain there until January 1996. The deployment is New Zealand’s largest since the Vietnam War.
  • Kiwi Company’s principal task is to monitor compliance with the agreements reached between the Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Government authorities, and to improve the freedom of movement and general quality of life of people in its area of responsibility. 
  • Kiwi troops place particular emphasis on undertaking humanitarian activities such as creating medical clinics for local civilians, developing a mine awareness programme, rebuilding damaged schools, digging pipelines, filling pot holes, moving rubble, disarmament, restoring utilities such as electricity and water, and delivering seeds, toys and aid to refugees.

At the end of 1994, the NZDF’s commitment to Bosnia is 259 personnel.

1995

17 March

  • Kiwi Company 1 who deployed to Bosnia on 12 September 2004 return to New Zealand after being relieved by Kiwi Company 2.

21 September

  • Kiwi Company 2 greets Kiwi Company 3 at Split Airport in Bosnia before returning to New Zealand.

12 November

  • Governments of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (acting on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs) reach an agreement on a peace settlement at Dayton, Ohio in the USA.  Known as the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP), its terms included the inception of a NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) to replace UNPROFOR.

Late November

  • The Kiwis have solidified their good reputation with the locals and with the other international forces.  The Kiwis have played a major part in the establishment of a unified local administration covering the Croat town of Busovaca and the Muslim town of Kacuni, by bringing Croat and Muslim Brigade Commanders together and initiating joint patrols along confrontation lines.  This was a first for central Bosnia.   
  • By late 1995 New Zealand’s area of responsibility is widely considered to be the most settled part of central Bosnia.  The 250 Kiwi troops prepare to return to New Zealand.

20 December

  • UNPROFOR is replaced by the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR), established to implement the military aspects of the peace agreement.

At the end of 1995 there are a total of 261 NZDF personnel in Bosnia including nine military observers and two staff officers at UNPROFOR HQ.

1996

1 January

  • 200 New Zealand troops return to New Zealand, 50 remain in Bosnia to reconstitute equipment and supplies for return to New Zealand.  The remaining soldiers and equipment return to New Zealand in late January.
  • Five of the New Zealand military observers serving in UNPROFOR are withdrawn, leaving four in Bosnia to serve with United Nations operations. 

Mid-January

  • Fifteen officers depart New Zealand for Bosnia, where they will hold staff or liaison posts with the British contingent of IFOR. 

12 December

  • Under UN Security Resolution 1088 of 12 December 1996, the NATO-led Stablisation Force (SFOR) is authorised to implement the military aspects necessary for consolidating and stabilising the peace, and absorbs IFOR.
  • By special agreement with the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia as non-NATO countries are incorporated into the operation on the same basis as NATO forces, taking orders from SFOR Command.  New Zealand begins its contribution to SFOR by posting six staff officers and up to twenty other personnel to serve within the Multi National Brigade North-West (MNB(NW)) units. 

At the end of 1996, there are 19 NZDF personnel in Bosnia.

1997

At the end of 2007 there are 26 NZDF  personnel in Bosnia serving with SFOR as staff officers in the MNB (NW) HQ and within MNB (NW) units.

1998

January

  • Twenty personnel are deployed as the New Zealand SFOR Artillery to work within MNB (NW) units, with a rotation for a further twenty artillery soldiers in June. .

At the end of 1998, there remains 26 NZDF  personnel serving in Bosnia.

1999 – 2003

There are up to 26 New Zealand personnel in Bosnia during these years, including the six staff officers at MNB (NW) HQ and up to twenty personnel made up of Military Police, communications and information systems specialists and logistics support serving within the MNB (NW) units.

2004

May

  • The New Zealand Government is advised that MNB (NW) will transition to a smaller force of 7,000 – 8,000 personnel, which reduces the overall number of Battle Groups.  The Commander of MNB (NW) recommends that if New Zealand wishes to continue a commitment to SFOR, it should be within the role of monitoring, observation, surveillance and targeting (MOST).

15 May

  • Ten New Zealand personnel who make up a monitoring, observation, surveillance and targeting (MOST) team are deployed to Bosnia for maintenance of situation awareness within the Multi National Task Force North-West (MNTF (NW)) area of operations.  This is initially a one-off summer/autumn rotation.

October

  • The MOST team return to New Zealand.  Their tasks have involved working within weapon harvest operations to encourage locals to hand in illegal weapons for destruction.

2 December

  • SFOR is downsized and replaced by a force led by the European Union (EUFOR).  New Zealand continues its support by contributing six staff officers to EUFOR Headquarters in Banja Luka. 

At the end of 2004, there are 6 New Zealand personnel in Bosnia.

2005

May

  • NZ Government approves the deployment of up to ten personnel to take on the role of a Liaison and Observation Team (LOT) on six-monthly rotations for 18 months, effective from 1 November 2005.  They will work alongside twelve other teams from eight nations.
  • The New Zealand LOT team were based in Prijedor and lived in a civilian house among the local population in order to provide a dynamic, responsive and locally based ‘public face’ of EUFOR.
  • The purpose of the LOT is to be accessible to citizens and local authorities, to collect information and liaise with the local authorities and population, and encourage trust and co-operation.  The Kiwi house is bright pink, and people often walked in off the street to discuss problems ranging from ownership disputes over cows to the location of illegal weapons and ammunition hidden in the community. 

August

  • The number of staff officers serving with EUFOR is reduced to three.

At the end of 2005 the NZDF’s commitment to Bosnia is 13 personnel.

2006

31 December

  • The NZ LOT has consistently recovered more illegal military weapons than any other LOT in the North Western Sector.  They are also used frequently as an example of the LOT concept to high profile visitors and training teams.

At the end of 2006 there remains 13 NZDF  personnel in Bosnia.

2007

28 February

  • The European Union announces that EUFOR’s numbers will be cut to 2,500 over the next few months.

30 March

  • The battle groups in each Task Force in Bosnia cease operations and leave theatre.  Personnel numbers in EUFOR have reduced from 6000 in January 2007 to 2000.

5 April

  • The New Zealand LOT mission ends, leaving only three staff officers at EUFOR HQ in Banja Luka who will remain there until June 2007.

28 April

  • The three Task Forces are replaced by a new Multinational Battle Group (MNBG) in Sarajevo, though all 3 Task Force headquarters remain operational until 28 April 07.

1 May

  • Drawdown commences in earnest, with the UK-led Multi-National Task Force North West (MNTF-NW) commencing drawdown and site closure. This will be complete in mid-August.

28 June

  • The 47 remaining LOT’s in Bosnia continue operations, with the three Task Forces having been replaced in part by five Regional Co-ordination Centres (RCC) who look after LOT houses in their area. 
  • HQ EUFOR in Sarajevo will continue and carry out many of the functions previously conducted by the Task Forces, such as the command of the 47 LOT houses.

29 June

  • A ceremony marking the end of fifteen years of New Zealand assistance in Bosnia is held in Sarajevo.

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This page was last reviewed on 27 November 2008 and is current.

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