Visiting Serbian Peacekeepers in the South of Lebanon
Thursday, 19.7.2018 | Multinational Operations
More than a month ago, 177 members of the Serbian Armed Forces joined the peacekeeping forces in the multinational operation UNIFIL in Lebanon.
The most important task of the Serbian peacekeepers in Lebanon is to maintain peace along the Blue Line, and the bases where they are posted are located in the Sectors East and West. Praises and very positive impressions of commanders of the Spanish and Italian contingents to which our blue berets are assigned, confirm the fact that our troops execute their task professionally and responsibly, which is supported by their colleagues from the armed forces also engaged in that missions.
Although they have just commenced their engagement within the 13th rotation, it seems at the very first glace that our peacekeepers have adjusted well to their daily tasks and life and dynamics that are dictated by the stay in a mission. Everybody already knows and praises their military skills, and they do not complain about the accommodation and food, but the only thing that they all agree about is that they find being away from the family very difficult. However, with the Internet and social networks the communication with the loved ones at home is considerably easier.
The daily tasks dictate the dynamics of life and work in the mission, and all peacekeepers are aware that the security situation can change at any moment. Corporal Goran Glišić, Deputy Squad Commander in the 2nd Rifle Platoon stresses that as well and points out that there have been no problems until now and that they have not noticed any drastic changes during the patrols.
– Everything is peaceful for the time being and in order. We communicate with the local population in English language, although they speak Spanish language a little as well – says Corporal Đošić adding that monitoring the peace between Lebanon and Israel is their main tasks.
His colleague in the Base 7-2, Deputy Commander of 3rd Squad in 2nd Rifle Platoon, Corporal Nenad Krstev underlines that they have already adapted to all the conditions offered by the base and that they are satisfied.
– During the day, when the patrol is done, we get back to the base. Afterwards, we have some free time. The priority is to monitor the border, or the Blue Line which is the line of demarcation between Israel and Lebanon. Up till now, in this month and a half, there have been no problems. We hope that it will remain like that in the period to come. We will try our best from our side – Corporal Krstev emphasises.
There are several female members of the Serbian Armed Forces among the peacemakers, and one of them is Lieutenant Marina Nikolić, otherwise posted in the South Base as a doctor in the surgery. She decided for the mission after having heard good impressions from her colleagues from previous rotations who had described it as a nice experience.
– The job requires me to leave the base often, to assist the civilian population. There is a lot of work for a female doctor especially in the villages with predominantly Muslim population, which is evident now since they come more often now that I am here – stresses Lieutenant Nikolić adding that her daily work does not greatly differ from the one in the unit, but that visiting villages where there were incidents, always presents a challenge.
According to Corporal Aleksandar Cvetković from Vranje, good preparations prior to the deployment to the mission facilitated their quicker adaptation.
– Our primary task in the base is to secure the base and we are engaged 24 hours a day so to speak, but we do have some time to rest. In particular, I work in the video surveillance room where I oversee the cameras. I have got the easier part of the job, but the responsibility is higher – says Corporal Cvetković adding that the teams are in sync and they do their job very well.
Corporal Goran Pešić, also from Vranje, is posted as shooter-medic, and he says that the engagement in the mission requires strictly obeying the procedure and caution 24 hours per day.
– There have been no incidents and we hope that there will be none – stresses Corporal Pešić. Speaking about the daily life in the mission, he says that he communicates with his family via Internet, social networks and he says that his wife deserves the greatest credit for the care about the children and household since she takes care of everything while he is in the mission.
The most responsible commanding officer of our contingent, Senior National Representative in the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon, Lieutenant Colonel Branislav Stevanović, points out that our peacekeepers are engaged within the Spanish contingent on specific tasks characteristic for this area of the operation.
– These are the patrols within which observation posts are established, and control of movement along the Blue Line, particularly in the places where incidents occurred in the previous period between Israeli Armed Forces and Lebanese population. Our task is to control the situation in the area of operation, to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces in establishing a control regime along the Blue Line and to maintain stability in as long period as possible in the area of operation- underscored Lieutenant Colonel Stefanović.
The members of the 13th rotation will also remember their stay in the country of cedars by the visit of a delegation of the Ministry of Defence and Serbian Armed Forces led by Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin accompanied by the Army Commander Lieutenant General Milosav Simović, 4th Army Brigade Commander Slobodan Stopa and Head of Department for International Military Cooperation Colonel Milan Ranković.
The two day visit was an opportunity for the meetings with the most responsible commanding officers in the UNIFIL, and for the conversation with our “blue berets” engaged in that mission. Minister Vulin assessed then that the job of a peacekeeper was very difficult, but that our soldiers had a need to adopt knew experiences, learn something, represent their country, and help people.
Currently, the Serbian Armed Forces participate with 322 members in five UN led multinational operations and four EU led operations which places the Republic of Serbia at the ninth place of the contributors in Europe. There are 300 members of the Serbian Armed Forces deployed to the missions of the United Nations..