Promotion of the book "The Battle for Paštrik - Memories of the Participants in 1999" at the Book Fair
Today, at the booth of the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Armed Forces at the Book Fair, the book “The Battle for Paštrik - memories of the participants in 1999” has been presented, which is the seventh book from the “Ratnik” edition collecting memories of the participants in the battle for Paštrik during NATO's 1999 aggression, at the first line of defence from the attempts of a land invasion of the enemy in Kosovo and Metohija, at the border of Albania and FR Yugoslavia. The book gives shocking stories about the days when the stones of Paštrik were burning, but the heroes of the defence remained in their positions, not giving a bit of their fatherland.
Commander of the 549th motorized brigade retired Major General Božidar Delić and commander of the forward command post that was formed immediately after the Operation ‘Arrow’ had been launched, retired Brigadier General Stojan Konjikovac, spoke at the book promotion.
General Delić pointed out that the 549th mechanised brigade did not accidentally appear in Prizren, as the very beginning of the NATO aggression was not a surprise.
“We have never experienced a strategic, operational or tactical surprise, because those big and powerful usually follow a pattern, so we could predict their actions”, he said, pointing out that the brigade had displaced all material and technical means in February, not leaving a bullet behind. The war strength of the unit was about 14,000 troops – General Delić pointed out, adding that his main demand from the commanding officers was to keep the soldiers safe, and that the officer should go first.
When 1999 turned, and the first bombs dropped, in two weeks the brigade resolved all the problems in the rear and broke the Shiptar terrorist units, so the entire 549th mechanised brigade came out to the state border.
- The main attack started on the Gorožupa direction. In the first attack, the terrorist forces were moving in four echelons, one after the other. At that moment there were about 450 of our people on that direction, Delić said, adding that they received the first strike until reinforcements arrived.
- Each unit gave infantry companies from their composition which were put at the disposal of Lieutenant Colonel Konjikovec by the evening and each of them won its kilometer at mount Paštrik, with an order to defend the first line decisively, Delić said. He emphasized that the medical care was well organized and that four surgical rooms were formed in Prizren.
Bearing in mind everything that was happening these days, the day and night bombardment from NATO aviation, the attacks of terrorist forces and artillery firings from the territory of Albania, it is a miracle that soldiers and officers managed to withstand it.
- The other units were sent to Paštrik, but they could not withstand these extremely difficult conditions. When I reported the superiors, I told them: “This can be endured only by my fighters from the 549th Brigade”, General Delić concluded.
Speaking about the book, General Stojan Konjikovac pointed out that it contains the testimonies of the fighters saving the events on Paštrik from oblivion. Also, it “best reminds our people of what they are and what they should be”.
- In the war, the strength of the 549th motorised brigade with reinforcements was about 14,000 fighters. It was located in the first echelon of the Pristina Corps, and played the role of the main forces for defence of Kosovo and Metohija from the direction of Albania. After the withdrawal of the OSCE and humanitarian organisations, we knew that the attack was coming soon, which we received fully prepared, General Konjikovac said.
The hostile operation ‘Arrow’on mount Paštrik lasted from 26th May to 14th June.
- The aim of the operation was to break up our forces at the border and the enemy to conduct land invasion on the territory of Kosovo and Metohija. When the attack began, there was no single day without a fight and attacks of enemy aviation and artillery. The hardest day was on 31st May when they used all the forces to accomplish their goal, but our soldiers persisted and remained in their positions. The enemy introduced strategic aviation – B-1 and B-52 aircraft targeting the positions of the 549th motorised brigade 24 times during the operation. But there was no displacement of units, General Konjikovac pointed out.
In the Operation ‘Arrow’, the brigade had 25 killed and 126 wounded, and the enemy had much more casualties. In the zone of defence of the brigade, 87 fighters were killed and 300 were injured.
The brigade continued with the successful holding of the defence line until the signing of the Military Technical Agreement in Kumanovo on 9th June 1999, and it was first to be decorated with the Order of the People's Hero.
General Konjikovac pointed out that members of the 549th motorised brigade did not bring reproach upon their ancestors and that the descendants could be proud of them.
Generals Delić and Konjikovac are grateful to the Ministry of Defence for publishing the “Ratnik” edition and evaluated the appearance of the books from this edition as very important, because in this way the memory of the heroic fight for the homeland in Kosovo and Metohija is kept, and it reinforces the historical memory that strengthens the identity of the Serbian people and its country.
On 27th October at 4 pm, at the booth of the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces, promotion of another book from the “Ratnik” edition - “Pristina Corps - memories of the participants in 1999” is to be held. General Retired Vladimir Lazarević, Lieutenant General Retired Mladen Ćirković, reviewer Mile Bjelajac, PhD, and editor Dragana Marković will be speaking about the book.
You can see the announcement of activities at the booth of the Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces here.