The SAS in Kosovo

How SAS squads are Directing Air Blitz

by Adam Powell

Elite SAS squads are directing the terror that NATO planes are raining down on the Serbian war machine.  Operating deep inside Kosovo, soldiers from the most deadly regiment in the world are the eyes and ears of NATO.

Highly trained specialists use lasers to give Allied planes pinpoint guidance to Serbian paramilitaries, fuel dumps, vehicles and command and control posts.  Their involvement and importance to NATO is so significant that Hereford, home of the legendary Stirling Lines camp, is almost empty of their presence.

Just trainers and regular Army and support staff remain behind while Britain’s elite carries the war effort into Slobadan Milosevic’s back yard.  Last night sources close to the secretive regiment used coded language to confirm that many SAS soldiers were in Kosovo.  One said, “the joggers are out of town at the moment, for the laser show, I believe, and a bit of plane-spotting.”  In plain language – the hard-looking men usually seen training around the city are nor directing the Allied planes onto Serbian targets.  Specially trained troopers will be, “forward aircraft controllers” and use high-tech equipment to guide pilots to their targets, using sophisticated TACBE radios on secret frequencies.

It is believed on squad of SAS men have been in Kosovo from the start of the conflict and in recent days another has been sent to a secret base in Macedonia.  They will be sent onto Kosovo by helicopter under cover of darkness, armed to the teeth, and will then spread out and head for their targets.  Operating in teams of four, the soldiers will steer clear of any contacts with the Yugoslavs [as best they can.]  They are likely to be travelling in their ‘pinkies’, heavily armed Land Rover 110s, in groups of two or three teams.  They will also be on the alert for any downed Allied airmen and ready to rescue any that are likely to fall into Serb hands.  If there are any problems, rescue teams from Macedonia will fly in with guns blazing to pull them out.  The terrain in Kosovo, unlike the Gulf, is perfect for this kind of SAS operation.  The mountainous landscape provides opportunities to wreak damage and then slip away into the night, “there will probably be teams of four at the smallest, for each pinkie.”  “They will be carrying their own rations and will be completely self-sufficient, very seldom will they go anywhere near habitation and they will steer well clear of anywhere they might run into people.”  “They will not have tents or anything like that, they will by living in hides, dependent on their vehicles, everything will be done with the utmost secrecy.”

Daily Press, 16th April, 1999

SAS Swoop on Serb Butcher

In a daring daylight operation SAS soldiers yesterday seized the Serb commander who made Sarajevo a city of death.

General Stanislav Galic commanded the troops who poured shells, mortar bombs and sniper fire into the besieged Bosnian capital, killing thousands of civilians.  But his arrogant belief that he would escape justice was shattered as he drove through Banja Luka, the largest city in the Serb part of Bosnia.

His car was suddenly boxed in by two other vehicles and he found himself surrounded by 20 SAS men. As morning commuters watched in astonishment, the elite soldiers smashed a window of his car, forced open the door and wrestled him to the ground.  The shocked Serb was hooded and bundled into an SAS car. Within hours he was onboard a NATO aircraft bound for The Hague, where he will stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The arrest of the 56-year old Galic, on an indictment issued secretly by the UN war crimes tribunal, was hailed as a stunning triumph for justice, “This shows that the international community has not forgotten one of the most gruesome episodes of the Bosnian war”, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in a joint statement with Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon.

Of the main Serb figures in the conflict, only Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are still at large. The arrest of Galic has raised hopes that the net is closing on them too.  Galic, branded the Butcher of Sarajevo, headed the Bosnian Serb army’s Romanjia corps for most of the three-year siege of the city, which began in 1992. His troops turned every street into a killing ground, claiming the lives of men, women and children alike.  Children died as they played, women as the queued for bread, men as they gathered wood or tended their gardens. Families died in their homes as apartment blocks were shelled or bullets came through the windows.  Horrified TV viewers around the world saw the nightmare conditions in the city, where desperate residents hung blankets across their streets in a bid to block the view of the snipers.  In the worst single incident, in February 1994, a mortar bomb hit the crowded central market, killing 68 people and injuring 200.

More than 10,000 of the city’s trapped population, mostly Moslems, were slaughtered by the Serbs during the siege. Another 50,000 were wounded.

Galic left the army in 1997 and had been working openly as an advisor to former Bosnian Serb president Nikola Poplasen, who was sacked earlier this year by the international peace coordinator but has refused to step down.

His arrest followed a prolonged intelligence operation that is said to have involved sophisticated satellite tracking procedures. Any indication that he was a prime target could have sent him into hiding.  Banja Luka, in the British patrolled sector of Bosnia is one of the Serbs’ key strongholds, and the operation to snatch such a prominent figure was fraught with danger.

The city was the scene of some of the most ferocious fighting of the civil war, with some 200,000 Moslems driven out, and tensions are still high there. In March this year the British diplomatic office was burned to the ground in protest at NATO’s Kosovo campaign.

Local authorities reacted with fury to the capture of Galic, branding it a “terrorist action”. But Mr. Hoon said last night, “This is a very significant achievement, bringing this man to justice. The operation went extremely successfully and Galic was apprehended without any trouble”. The NATO led SFOR peacekeepers in Bosnia have now arrested 15 suspected war criminals, with two others shot dead during operations to seize them.

Eleven of the operations have taken place in the British sector and involved British Special Forces.  The earlier arrests included General Radislav Krstic, who was accused of genocide for the massacre of thousands in Srebrenica in 1995 and Momir Talic, accused of the bloody pursuit of Moslems and Croats in northwest Bosnia in 1992.  Also held were Radislav Brdjanin who was a close political associate of Radovan Karadzic, and Milojica Kos, indicted for war crimes in one of the worst ‘internment camps’ set up by the Serbs. A further 16 suspects have voluntarily surrendered to the UN tribunal.

Some 4,200 UK soldiers – including an SAS contingent – are stationed in the Banja Luka region. Their duties include manning police stations and guarding communications sites.

Taken From

Daily Mail (UK), December 21, 1999