Kosovo To Form New Army

Kosovo’s government have voted to create the country’s first army. The move has not been well received by Serbia who Kosovo gained independence from a decade ago. The decision to create a national army comes twenty years after the Kosovo War which saw UN and NATO intervention.

Kosovo currently has a small defence force, the Kosovo Security Force, which numbers 4,000 active personnel with several thousand more reservists. Serbia bay contrast has a 28,000 strong Army. Kosovo’s 2008 constitution originally called for the formation of a national standing army but the government has waited until now to formally create an army.

While the move has been condemned by Serbia, who does not formally recognise Kosovo’s existence, the UN and NATO have also expressed concerns with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg saying “I regret that this decision was made despite the concerns expressed by NATO. The North Atlantic Council will now have to re-examine the level of NATO’s engagement with the Kosovo Security Force” in a statement.

In another statement Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General said:

“The Secretary-General calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that could raise tensions and cause a further setback in the European Union-facilitated dialogue for the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.”

Currently the Kosovo Security Force is tasked with crisis response, territorial defence, firefighting and civil defence. Kosovo will now establish a ministry of defence and aim to turn the security force into a 5,000 strong regular army with 3,000 reservists.  Agim Çeku, Kosovo’s Security Forces Minister, said the army’s mission will be “to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kosovo, its people and their property and protect the interests of the Kosovo Republic”

The Kosovo Security Force is currently little more than light infantry armed with the HK G36 as their standard service rifle and having no artillery, only infantry anti-tank weapons. Their armoured vehicles consist of a fleet of 350 Turkish-built Otokar Cobra IMVs. As such the Kosovo Army will require massive amounts of investment to procure equipment and train troops. A €98 million annual budget has been agreed by the government to train and equip the new force.