NATO missions underline the importance of BiH integration with European institutions, an analyst says.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 08/01/13
The 26 soldiers will be the first from BiH to be assigned to the International Security Assistance Force. [AFP]
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is sending its first military combat unit to Afghanistan.
The parliament approved deployment of 26 military police members to Afghanistan to serve for 10 months with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). BiH already has a small contingent of soldiers providing security for the NATO force there.
Dusanka Majkic, president of BiH's Parliamentary Committee for Defence and Security, said that the soldiers will experience great security challenges in this mission.
"They may be exposed to a variety of security threats, such as suicide bombings, setting up the improvised explosive devices, the use of antitank mines, conducting rocket mortar attacks and sniper fire. Everybody knows that this mission can be extremely dangerous and we hope that our guys will successfully perform a mission and return safe their homes after they finish the job," Majkic told SETimes.
International forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001, fighting the Taliban and dismantling the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation. There are about 130,000 international troops stationed in the country. NATO countries have announced plans to withdraw most troops by the end of next year and train Afghan security forces.
General Miladin Milojcic, Chief of Joined Staff of Armed Forces of BiH, said that this mission is a great challenge to the Armed Forces of BiH.
"Soldiers were trained in Germany and US and are fully prepared. We expect that the mission went through without any problems," General Milojcic told SETimes.
Denis Hadzovic, director of the Sarajevo-based NGO Centre for Security Studies, said that the deployment is just another sign that BiH needs to fulfill in its path to Euro-Atlantic integration.
"BiH undertook the certain obligations with its commitment to join the NATO alliance. Sending the combat troops in Afghanistan is just one of those obligations. Until now, our soldiers are participating in securing the military barracks and in the destruction of the explosive devices. However, the guys in this unit are highly trained and ready for this job. In the future, we can expect that BiH participate more often in such missions," Hadzovic told SETimes.