OPERATION “ESSENTIAL HARVEST”
(22 August – 26 September 2001)
Preparations for the operation started on the 22nd of August 2001 and on the 27th of August 2001 the Force was fully operational and capable to assume mission status. It lasted 30 days, with the participation of 4.145 men from NATO member-states, under the command of U.K. The task was to disarm the ethnic Albanian NLA .
The operation was authorized on the 29th of June 2001 and commenced on the conditions that the conflicting Parties would have reached an agreement based on political dialogue and sign an agreement on cease-fire and the hand over of NLA armament. The operational Plan was redacted on the 20th of July 2001.
In the context of fulfilling the task of the Mission, five main Weapon Staging Areas were established at Debasr, Gostivar, Tetovo, Raduce and Kumanovo as well other Weapon Staging Areas in other places to hand over arms and ammunition also be transported in other areas. Weapons of a dangerous nature were destroyed on the spot; others were examined, safely stored and transported, under the responsibility of the Hellenic Force in Krivolac.
PARTICIPATION OF THE HELLENIC FORCES:
|Greece contributed the 525th Mechanized Infantry Battalion and supporting Units, amounting to 400 men approximately, named Hellenic Contingent in Skopje. It deployed between the 24th and 25th of August 2001.|
The Force was stationed at Krivolac, in FYROM military camps, which were repaired and converted accordingly, to offer better living conditions to the personnel. And on the 27th of August 2001, the Battalion was ready to assume responsibility, mainly to receive and forward collected arms to Greece, to be destroyed.
The Hellenic Contingent had 180 vehicles and various types of toad trailers.
The return of the Hellenic Contingent was initiated on the 4th of October and concluded on the 7th of October 2001.
Greece also contributed one Greek Officer to the 15-member Team of Advisors escorting the NATO Secretary General Special Envoy to FYROM, Peter Feith, whose mission was to assess the situation and propose a solution. Additionally, ten (10) staff officers were assigned to NCCC PLUS headquarters, including the post of KFOR-REAR Deputy Commander.
|The establishment of Thessaloniki-Skopje main re-supply axis was provided for by the Plan, showing once again the strategic value of the Hellenic territory and particularly Thessaloniki for concentrating huge military forces and conducting operations in the broader area.|
Since the beginning of “ESSENTIAL HARVEST” operation, 15 a/c (4 from Italy, 3 from Germany, 6 from U.K., and two from the Netherlands) transporting 1972 people, 9 ships (3 from Italy, 4 from U.K., 1 from Germany and 1 from the Netherlands) carrying 880 vehicles, 87 containers and 40 trailers, as well as 2 trains (1 from Hungary and 1 from the Chez Republic) passed through the port and airport of Thessaloniki. The road network from Thessaloniki to Skopje and vice versa was extensively used, while the Hellenic Police provided security and escort services to the convoys.
The following weapons and means were collected and destroyed in Greece: 2 Armored Personnel Carriers, 1 T-55 tank, 17 anti-aircraft launchers, 161 mortars, 483 heavy and light machine-guns, small A/T rocket launchers, 3.210 rifles, sub-machine guns and carbines and 2.944 spare parts. All above weapons and guns were destroyed in “Chalibourgiki” Steel Industry bringing in 69.780 kg of steel. The destruction of ammo took place in FYROM. A total of 397.625 rounds of different caliber were destroyed.