Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

Serbian peacekeepers sending off to Lebanon

Today in the Niš Barracks “Knjaz Mihailo“ there has been a ceremony on the occasion of sending off 130 members of the SAF infantry company into the UN UNIFIL mission to Lebanon.

The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Serbia Nebojša Rodić, Head of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces General Ljubiša Diković, Deputy Commander of Joint Operational Command General Major Goran Radovanović, Army Commander Lieutenant General Aleksandar Živković, Niški Episcope Jovan and other guests.
Minister of Defence Nebojša Rodić presented the Commander of the Infantry Company deployed to a peacekeeping mission Major Srđan Radivojević with the national flag of the Republic of Serbia and on that occasion he said that the flag be the symbol which in the course of history had always led all the Serbian officers and soldiers, while Major Radivojević promised to the Minister that the unit will give its best to perform the tasks assigned to it in the zone of UNIFIL peacekeeping operation responsibly, professionally, representing the army and the state with honour and dignity.

Minister of Defence Nebojša Rodić has pointed out that since the renewed engagement of the Serbian Armed Forces members in multinational operations, the Republic of Serbia continually increases the number of its members.
- So far our members have been successfully engaged in UN peacekeeping missions in East Timor, Burundi, Chad and the Central African Republic. At the moment we are engaged in the UN operations in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Lebanon, Republic of Cyprus, and in the area of the Near East. SAF members are also engaged in the two UN led peacekeeping operations in Somalia and in the “Atalanta“ operation in the waters of the Indian Ocean. By integrating into this important field of activities of the European Union, the Serbian Armed Forces contribute to the process of European integrations and accession of the Republic of Serbia to this union, said Minister Rodić.

As he remarks, by participating in the peacekeeping operations, besides fulfilling our internationally accepted obligations stemmed from the membership of the Republic of Serbia in the UN organization, we additionally train our soldiers and officers for the defence of our homeland as well.

- Based on the decisions of the National Assembly, led by our own moral principles and military ethics we are determined, together with many other countries, to make a contribution to international peace and security, achieving at the same time our international political interests. Today, for the first time after Sinai in 1967, the Republic of Serbia deploys the unit at the level of company to the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon. The task will be realized by using the SAF armament and combat techniques in joint operations with partner armies. At present, the tasks are being realized by a total of 120 members of the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces in eight peacekeeping operations but very soon this number may rise to 214. I am convinced that the members of infantry company will perform their duties with honour, faith, responsibility and utmost dedication and that, above all, they will represent the Serbian Armed Forces in the manner which becomes Serbian soldier and return from the mission enriched by a great experience to share it unselfishly with their colleagues“, emphasized the Minister of Defence.

Addressing the officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Serbian Armed Forces the Minister pointed out that the previous work performed by their predecessors had been evaluated with the best marks.

- Their work was highly evaluated by the highest UN representatives and partner countries with which we had performed the tasks. I expect that you will do the same and that you will not forget that you are from the region of the Iron Regiment, from the town of Constantine, that you will not forget your history but be proud on your ancestors and serve as a paragon to your descendants. Be ready to make sacrifices for one another and perform your tasks successfully as becomes the members of the Serbian Armed Forces to the pride of the Republic of Serbia which you represent, pointed out Minister Rodić.

The Chief of the Centre for Peacekeeping Operations Colonel Milivoje Pajović has pointed out that the members of infantry company are deployed to UN UNIFIL peacekeeping mission in Lebanon with the intention to prove, one more time, our capability, skill and willingness to contribute to regional and world peace in international environment.

The fact that the infantry company is the biggest SAF unit deployed in the multinational operations up to now is a great honour for the Company Commander and above all it is the responsibility to realize the tasks in full. “The company is completely ready for performing the task - declares Major Radivojević – we have completed our expert, material, psycho-physical preparations, immediate preparations for departure and now we are ready and wait for the setting off“. One of squad leaders, Staff Sergeant Dejan Stefanović says that he and his colleagues have been preparing themselves for this mission for three years. In Lebanon he will perform the patrolling tasks, tasks of securing the bases and convoys, and escorts. Private Aleksandar Sazdanović will perform the tasks of signalman but he has no doubts that he will acquire a new life experience and puts himself and a whole company to the test.

Private First Class Marija Bogataj has been in Serbian Armed Forces since 2008 and she has worked hard to qualify as nurse. “My task is – says Marija – to give first aid in case of some injury. The most often injuries are bleeding, sprains and alike. I think that we are ready to stand together with every soldier of every country, we are ready for this mission because we had a very good training and now we are going to represent our country and the Serbian Armed Forces in the best way. Private Ignjatović Ivana highlights that she likes the uniform and that she is happy to be the part of the team who is going to perform the tasks in peacekeeping mission. “My family heartily supports me – says Ivana – we had a quality training, we did all the preparations, improved foreign languages and now I can hardly wait to see whether I am able to endure some other conditions as well“.

Parents, relatives and friends of commanding officers and soldiers bid farewell to their loved ones and wished them a nice trip. Tanja Kostadinović, the sister of Staff Sergeant Dejan Stefanović, and his father Mihajlo are proud of Dejan. Milica Kuculović from Vlasotince has come to bid farewell to her son Marko. Milica says that on one hand she is worried but on the other she is happy and proud of her son and wishes all the best to him and his colleagues.

Infantry company which is being deployed to Lebanon belongs to the composition of the 31st Infantry battalion from Zaječar and 39th Logistic battalion of the Third Army Brigade from Niš. In the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon the Serbian Armed Forces have so far had two unit rotations at the level of platoon. Our forces are engaged within the Spanish contingent. The first phase of the operation comprising a combined transport of the main equipment and men for the purpose of UNIFIL multinational operations in Lebanon has already been completed. By means of road and railway transport the armament from Niš was transported to the Port of Bar while the main infantry company equipment composed of cargo, terrain and combat vehicles was transported by ship to the Port of Beirut. Tomorrow morning the third phase comprising the transport of 130 soldiers by charter flight from Niš Airport to the airport in Beirut will be realized.