Another Briton to head peace forces in Bosnia

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The Independent Online
Major General Rupert Smith, commander of the First British Armoured Division in the 1991 Gulf War, is to replace Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose as commander of the United Nations forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the UN confirmed yesterday.

At present Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Operations and Security) at the Ministry of Defence, General Smith will take over in January. The unusual appointment of a second Briton to the high- profile UN command reflects well on Britain's performance and on the large number of British troops - 3,500 - in Bosnia. There has been a Canadian, a Frenchman, a Belgian and now two Britons.

His career took him straight from Haileybury public school to Sandhurst and then into the Parachute Regiment.

General Rose has lived in a world of diplomacy, deception and guile, dependent on the political tolerance of his bosses and unspoken understandings with the opposition.

General Smith's experience includes running the Higher Command and Staff Course at the Staff College, Camberley, where he taught generals how to fight battles ruthlessly, a dictum he put into effect when he led the British armoured division in the Gulf war.

Military sources said yesterday that General Rose is the only holder of the Bosnia job 'who's actually made it for the full 12-month term'. And Britain was asked by the UN to provide a replacement despite criticism for not being tough enough from some quarters.

When General Rose arrived in Sarajevo he was expected to 'get tough', and was hailed for implementing the ceasefire in February. During the last year, his position has been assailed by the local forces, and both the United States and the Muslim-led Bosnian government have criticised him for being unwilling to launch air attacks against the Bosnian Serbs.

Throughout his posting, General Rose has understood that the UN forces are only able to operate in Bosnia because of a measure of consent by the local parties.

He has also refused to cross the 'Mogadishu line' - shooting back at the locals if they violate agreements - and has resisted pressure to engage in 'peace enforcement' - which in his view equals limited war.

General Rose is expected to have a couple of months' leave, and then to take up another position at the same rank. One suitable job could be vice- chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments), main adviser on deployments of British troops world-wide.