KFOR - Kosovo
OP Kinetic December 1999 - June 2000
In the late 90’s, Kosovo was facing a grave humanitarian crisis. Military and paramilitary forces from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were fighting day and night. Ethnic tensions were at their highest and claimed the lives of many. Most of who were ethnic Albanians who were persecuted by the Serbians. Nearly one million people had fled Kosovo to seek refuge where their lives would not be endangered. After repeated defiance of NATO, Serbia continued its abuse of the ethnic Albanians, leading to intense air strikes throughout Kosovo and in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. After three months of almost daily air strikes, Serbia capitulated and allowed for the establishment of KFOR to maintain a secure environment in Kosovo, including public safety and order; to monitor, verify and when necessary, enforce compliance with the agreements that ended the conflict; and to provide assistance to the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Canada’s participation in KFOR began with the deployment of the Lord Strathcona Horse (LdSH(RC)) in June 1999.
Reconnaissance Squadron, under the command of Major Tim Datchko, was given the task of replacing the LdSH(RC) in Kosovo once their tour was completed. The size of the Squadron was significant, with a large echelon and an enhanced Assault Troop of 43 soldiers, it numbered 183 all ranks. Augmenting the Squadron were Reservists from the Governor Generals Horse Guards (GGHG), The Ontario Regiment, The Windsor Regiment, The Queen’s York Rangers and the 1st Hussars. Also deploying to Kosovo, but not under command of Reconnaissance Squadron, was a troop of Leopards under the command of Lieutenant Ray Miksa from B Squadron. The tank troop would provide the direct fire support to the 1 RCR Battle Group.
In theatre the Squadron formed part of the Multi-National Brigade (Centre), a British brigade based on 19 Mechanised Brigade from Caterick, UK. The Squadron later reverted to being under command of 7th Armoured Brigade, the famed Desert Rats. Initially the Squadron was tasked to monitor the crossing points on the Serbian border, but as hostilities increased in the Presovo Valley in the US sector, the Squadron assumed more tasks in that region. The Squadron was also involved in the major riots that broke out in the French controlled town of Mitrovica, named the most dangerous city in Europe, between Albanians to the South and Serbians to the North. After the riots ended, Assault Troop spent a significant amount of time conducting foot patrols in the city to restore order.
The deployment of Reconnaissance Squadron was to be the last for The Regiment to Kosovo as the Canadian mission ended in June 2000. The Squadron were the last Canadian combat troops in Kosovo and left on 3 June 2000, driving their vehicles through Macedonia to Thessaloniki, Greece.