Briton to lead Nato troops

Click to follow
The Independent Online
BRITISH TROOPS will play a dominant role in the large Nato ground force which allied countries plan to deploy in Kosovo to enforce any peace deal.

From the multinational formation of some 35,000 troops, Britain will contribute about 8,000, equipped with tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery. It is also likely to provide the officer in overall command and most of the command structure.

The whole force will be deployed under Nato's Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). Its headquarters, in Rheindahlen, Germany, would relocate to Kosovo.

ARRC is commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Mike Jackson, and about half of the 1,000 headquarters staff areBritish. It would be supported by a further 2,000 British troops, mainly from 1 Signals Brigade.

Lt-Gen Jackson is a former Parachute Regiment commander and has valuable experience in former Yugoslavia. He commanded the British contingent of the Nato Implementation Force (Ifor) when it was sent to Bosnia in 1995.

The remaining British contribution will be built around the 4 Armoured Brigade, based at Osnabruck in Germany, together with artillery, engineers and logistic support. All have been placed on 72 hours' notice to move.

Plans provide for the bulk of troops to start arriving in Kosovo about 10 days after a deal is signed. The Serb delegation to the Rambouillet talks, however, has said it would oppose any Nato ground troops being stationed on its soil.

If the force does go, the first British soldiers into Kosovo are likely to be from the King's Own Royal Border Regiment, which already has a reinforced armoured infantry company with Warrior fighting vehicles near Skopje in Macedonia.

They are part of the 2,300-strong extraction force, under French command, there to facilitate the emergency evacuation of unarmed monitors now in Kosovo on behalf of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Units from 4 Armoured Brigade placed on standby are: the King's Royal Hussars, equipped with Challenger main battle tanks and Scimitar reconnaissance light tanks; an armoured battalion of the Irish Guards; and a company of the Green Howards, both also with Warriors.