British troops join UN force in Croatia

THE first British troops to support UN relief operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina began arriving in Croatia yesterday.

When the full force is in place, it will be a third larger than originally planned - 2,400 troops instead of 1,800. The target date for beginning escort duties - protecting UN convoys - is 13 November. The troops now being deployed will be in Bosnia for six months, after which the Ministry of Defence plans to replace them with new units.

But although the number of troops - and senior officers - is being increased, the force is not taking extra combat equipment such as helicopters or radars to locate mortars or artillery, in spite of the difficulties encountered by a reconnaissance party, which returned on 1 October. Of the extra 600 British troops, 200 will form part of the multinational headquarters and 400 are engineers, who will set up facilities. They will be withdrawn after about three months.

The British force is centred on an armoured infantry battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, reinforced by men from the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish regiment. But it has a logistic 'tail' closer to a brigade.

The British in Bosnia will be commanded by a Brigadier, Andrew Cumming, who will initially be based, on board the logistic landing ship Sir Bedivere off the Croatian port of Split.

The British battalion group will be one of four battalions, along with others from France, Canada and Spain, in a new Bosnian command. This will be called Unprofor II. It will be commanded by a French officer, Major General Philippe Morillon.

Malcolm Rifkind, the Secretary of State for Defence, said in London that the advance party of 90 troops would fly to Split during the next three days.

Asked about the criticism of Cyrus Vance, the UN special envoy, of the time it has taken for the British to get operational, Mr Rifkind said: 'Of course I share Cy Vance's concern. It's very important that these men should get there as quickly as possible. Some extra time is required because of the change of route.'

Brigadier David Jenkins, the MoD's Director of Military Operations, said the initial plan had been to take food to depots across northern Bosnia from the east - from Loznica in Serbia. 'We discovered that it was difficult to run aid across ethnic boundaries. Much better to run with the ethnic grain. We tried to get to Jajce and we couldn't because there's a lot of fighting.'

By the end of the month, Mr Rifkind said, a party of 1,000 troops will have reached Split, where they will meet vehicles and equipment brought by Sir Bedivere and a chartered vessel. Sir Bedivere is due to dock on 27 October.

Brigadier Jenkins said that the Army had considered sending helicopters but that 'at present their survival rate is not high. People have a nasty habit of firing at them'. On the lack of mortar-locating radars, he said: 'If you start engaging in a fire-fight with the local people you're not carrying out the UN mandate.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...

Ashdown Group: Reporting & Analytics Supervisor - Buckinghamshire - £36,000

£34000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Analytics & Reporting Tea...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a world leader ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future