Forces agree on how to make peace

FULLY integrated international military forces working to a common doctrine and who have trained together, are needed to overcome a desperate shortage of troops for peace-keeping and humanitarian operations worldwide, a 'workshop' comprising representatives from 32 countries heard yesterday.

The command and control arrangements for the United Nations operation in Bosnia are a 'shambles' which would earn no marks at all in any staff college examination, the workshop was told. Operations in Somalia, former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are taking place in extremely hostile conditions and more tasks of this type are likely.

The International Workshop on Co-operation in Peace-keeping immediately began discussing - in English, French, German and Russian - details of joint training and communications at the British army's new think-tank at Upavon, Wiltshire. Lieutenant-General Sir Peter Duffell, Britain's Director-General of Doctrine and Training, said it was a 'very remarkable and historic gathering. We need to see we're moving closer to achieve a common doctrinal approach for multi-national peace-keeping operations.'

No less than 32 sovereign states from Nato, the former Warsaw Pact and the Commonwealth of Independent States immediately set to work. Officers from Austria and Azerbaijan, Belgium and Belarus discussed details of practical co-operation, in particular command and control, standard operating procedures, Rules of Engagement, training and language.

The regional organisations - Nato, the Western European Union, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the CIS had separate representatives. The UN has 70,000 troops on peace-support operations, and further tasks, including one under the CSCE umbrella in Transcaucasia, are on the cards, the workshop heard. More would be needed, but it would no longer be possible to rely on a small number of nations to provide them. Sixty-six states are already providing peace-keeping troops, of which 24 are providing contingents of 1,000 or more.

Co-operation between Nato and its former enemies began under the umbrella of the North Atlantic Co-operation Council. But doctrine, training, common procedures and communications are being worked out under the Partnership for Peace initiative.

The workshop is close to achieving a common set of definitions. There has been much confusion between 'peace-keeping' and 'peace enforcement', which, the workshop agreed, were utterly different things. Peace- keeping required a clear political objective, an existing peace process, the will of the international community to provide the necessary resources and the parties to the conflict had to accept that there was a peace to keep, while peace-keepers had to remain totally impartial.

It was completely different from peace enforcement against a belligerent who did not consent to a peace process. That might require overwhelming military force to end a conflict quickly - in short, waging war. Peace enforcement was not the business of troops in UN colours.