Belgrade will open a regional training centre next year to strengthen its participation in multi-national operations.
By Igor Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 29/08/14
About 200 members of the Serbian army serve in the six UN missions and two EU missions. [AFP]
Belgrade is opening a regional military training centre to strengthen the region's presence in international peacekeeping missions. The centre will be established at the South military base, about 300 kilometres south of Belgrade, and will open next year.
"The ministry of defence and the Serbian Army are committed to developing and strengthening regional co-operation and exchanging experiences with members of the armed forces of other countries. Therefore, our objective is to open the South centre to train members of the armed forces in the region and beyond," Serbian Minister of Defence Bratislav Gasic told SETimes.
The project, supported by the United States, will be an unprecedented training centre in the region.
"Unlike similar training centres for multi-national operations, like Krivolak in Macedonia, which is primarily designed for field training, and Butmir in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where training is carried out predominantly through lectures, the centre at the South base will integrate the application what was learned in the field," Gasic said.
In July, South hosted the Platinum Wolf 14 exercise, which involved soldiers from Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Azerbaijan and members of the Ohio National Guard. Another exercise, Platinum Wolf 15, will take place at the base in November.
The South military base opened in November 2009, and can accommodate about 1,000 people.
Professor Zoran Dragišić, a member of the Belgrade Faculty of Security, said that the base's transformation into a regional training centre is important.
"It is important for the promotion of the whole country, and Serbia will benefit financially," Dragisic told SETimes.
Vojkan Kostic, editor of the Belgrade Security Observer, told SETimes that the participation of Serbian troops in peacekeeping missions "raises Serbia's prestige in the world, and shows that the country is able to be a part of a global security system."
Serbia recorded a large increase in its participation in UN and the EU peacekeeping operations this year.
There are 214 members of the Serbian army in six UN missions and two EU missions, and by the end of the year there will be up to 500 troops in the rotation.
According to the army, Serbia is ranked 8th in Europe and 52nd in the world with its participation in peacekeeping missions.
Serbian soldiers are deployed in UN peacekeeping missions in Congo, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Cyprus, Lebanon and the Middle East. Serbian soldiers are also present in EU missions in Somalia and the Indian Ocean. Currently, the largest group of Serbian soldiers is situated in Lebanon.
How do you believe Serbia's training centre will improve military units throughout the region? Add your thoughts in the comment area.