Fusilier Garry O'Brien receives a bouquet of flowers and a kiss from a grateful Kosovar girl as he drives through a ransacked village.

Fusilier Garry O’Brien receives a bouquet of flowers and a kiss from a grateful Kosovar girl as he drives through a ransacked village.


On 12th June 1999, after Serbian leader Milošević accepted the conditions, the NATO-led peacekeeping Kosovo Force (KFOR) began entering Kosovo. KFOR had been preparing to conduct combat operations, but in the end, its mission was only peacekeeping. It was based upon the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps headquarters commanded by then Lieutenant General Mike Jackson of the British Army.

During the Kosovo war which lasted from 1998 – 1999, more than 12,000 Albanians were killed, mostly civilians including children and women. During this period Serbian army, police and paramilitaries systematically raped about 10,000 women.

The first NATO troops to enter Pristina on the 12th of June 1999 were Norwegian special forces from FSK Forsvarets Spesialkommando and soldiers from the British Special Air Service 22 S.A.S.

In 2010, James Blunt described in an interview how his unit was given the assignment of securing Pristina during the advance of the 30,000-strong peacekeeping force and how the Russian army had moved in and taken control of the city’s airport before his unit’s arrival. Blunt shared a part in the difficult task of addressing the potentially violent international incident.

According to Blunt’s account there was a stand-off with the Russians, and the NATO Supreme Commander, Wesley Clark, gave provisional orders to over-power them. Whilst these were questioned by Blunt, they were rejected by General Jackson, with the now famous line, “I’m not having my soldiers responsible for starting World War III.