Anger over Dutch Srebrenica medal

#1
Survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre have criticised the Dutch government for giving an insignia to UN peacekeepers who served in the city.Survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre have criticised the Dutch government for giving an insignia to UN peacekeepers who served in the city.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6207254.stm

They hardly covered themselves with glory did they?

msr
 
#2
Might not have covered themselves in glory but not sure what exactly they could have done differently.

Were I the CO of a reduced battalion armed with small arms facing a huge, numerically superior Serb force armed with artillery and tanks (not to mention supported by waves of irregular Chetniks) AND my mandate and ROE limited my actions, I'm not honestly sure that I would have given the order to do a Rorke's Drift either.

What always gets me about the Srebrenica saga, quite apart from anything else, is the fact that people seem to think that the DUTCHBAT commander on the ground should have ignored impartiality and de facto declared war on the Bosnian Serbs on behalf of the UN. It doesn't matter whether such a policy might have been better or not, the fact is that the Dutch squaddies on the ground were in no position (and nowhere near high enough in the food chain) to make that kind of decision.

As a final point, another interesting phenomenon is the way that people who are critical of British forces in Iraq are usually the same ones who rant against the Dutch about Srebrenica, basically saying: Brits break ROE in Basra: hang 'em! Dutch DON'T break ROE in Srebrenica: Hang 'em!

As usual, it's the poor old squaddies (of every rank) who get slandered. The Dutch on the ground are virtually blameless IMO - it's the high-end diplomats and politicos who formulated the UNPROFOR mission and it's associated ROE who must bear responsibility for these kind of events.
 
B

Biscuits_AB

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#3
Didn't the Dutch CO ask for Air Support only to be told to wait and then wait and then no?

Wedge says it all.
 
#4
Perhaps its not so much as breaking the ROE that the Dutch got slammed for but the way in which they pulled back in to their compound, even to the point that they where prepared to leave the one non Dutch unit on its own to the mercy of the Serbs.

They could have done a lot more, they did not. Consensus from eye witnesses was that they pulled their tails between their legs and ran for safety.
 
#5
I think he actually had to fax HQ UN in New York, only to be then told that he'd faxed the wrong form.

Remember seeing it in a documentary a while back.
 
#6
NATO were supporting the air war so any air tasking would have had to been agreed by NATO.

Normally tasking had to be agreed first through the CAOC at Sarajavo and then NATO Command. Not sure where UN came into this as they did not have aircraft or aircraft under command.
 
#7
Also the Dutch FAC pulled back into the compound along with all the rest of the Dutch which made eyeballing targets very hard... couldn't see bugger all from the compound but the village.

Only 1 other FAC was left outside the compound for a while and they would not release aircraft to that group, plus the Serbs started targeting the bunker they were sat in watching the proceedings so they had to pull back as they had no support - i.e. Dutch were back in the compound.
 
#8
Redshaggydog said:
they pulled their tails between their legs and ran for safety.
Although I've done my fair share of Ops, I've never been in a situation anything like as dire as Srebrenica. Therefore I don't think it's for me to call the soldiers there cowards. Maybe if the toms had received different orders they would have got stuck in. Who knows? And as for pulling back to the UN compound, if they weren't going to fight to protect the town (indeed, COULDN'T realistically fight in the absence of any heavy support), what were they meant to do?
 
#9
I'm glad you guys see this in the right perspective.
A few Dutch Srebrenica vets have commited suicide just because they couldn't cope with the fact they didn't do anything about the massacre.
It's like in many war situations; politics seems to be the squaddies biggest enemy.
The Dutch were vastly outnumbered,but they did ask for air support but some frog general refused to give one,so it would turn out a massive suicide if they would do anything without said air support.

On the other hand i don't think it's wise to hand out a pin/medal because it opens old wounds again.
 
#10
Perhaps the same as the unit who tried to help Gorazde? They held back the Serbs for a while even though they were 90% less of a size than the Dutch.

The Dutch ROE allowed them to defend themselves, they pulled back in so that this was not pushed... (my assessment). I know that the Dutch General was not impressed with what happened.

It is conjecture though on what might have happened. Would the Serbs have continued if the Dutch had tried to stop them, risking prolonged airstrikes? Or would they have simply run over the Dutch creating more casulties? Not sure, as it turns out later the Serbs were forced to come to the table after NATO air power was used to lift the siege of Sarajavo (although this proves nothing either way).
 
#11
I would also not have liked to be in the Dutch unit concerned, I can understand why they have problems, it must be very hard to reconcile what you had to do because you were ordered to do it against what you now know happened even if your input may not have stopped any of it.
 
#12
I think that there's a lack of empathy here for blokes on the ground - especially amongst people who've never been near conflict in their lives. It's just a shame that some of us are quick to call other nation's soldiers cowards while getting deathly offended when people say the same to us (Fall of Singapore being an example). Doesn't just apply to Britain but just about anywhere. The Dutch may have ultimately been right or wrong but who the f*ck is some journalist sat on his arrse in London/New York/Amsterdam/Sarajevo to call them cowards?
 
#13
Chaps, this unit also HELPED the Chetniks divide the Bosniac women from the men and boys after they had 'surrendered' their mandate, knowing full well what would happen. Granted they were locked into the worse CoC since 1945, denied any real airsupport other than some flybys, but they abandoned their professionalism and moral standing.

They do not deserve this award - but they do not deserve to carry the can, many in the UNPROFOR CoC should stand trial up to and including National Govt's.

For those on this thread who defend them stating the usual - would ANY British unit have done the same? I think not, not judging by Gorni Vakuf and the like.
 
#14
armchair_jihad said:
For those on this thread who defend them stating the usual - would ANY British unit have done the same? I think not, not judging by Gorni Vakuf and the like.
No one's actually said that on this thread.

Gornji Vakuf and the rest of the 'triangle' was bad enough before the establishment of the Federation but totally different from the situation in Srebrenica and the rest of the Drina region bordering Serbia proper.
 
#15
wedge35 said:
Gornji Vakuf and the rest of the 'triangle' was bad enough before the establishment of the Federation but totally different from the situation in Srebrenica and the rest of the Drina region bordering Serbia proper.
Not disputed, however the preformance of the Dutch was below even UNPROFOR adverage standard, UK Forces I believe would not have behaved in such a craven manner even with a CoC willing, and working towards, the collapse of the haven.
 
#16
In fact there was a UK unit on the ground who were the last UN unit to pull back to the compound, only because they were being targeted by the Serbs directly and did not have any support from the Dutch (who had pulled back and of the FAC party, were told by the commander not to assist).

Cowards is perhaps too strong a word but certainly the CO of the Dutch Batt failed in his duty however you look at it.
 
#17
Gents
I can’t really comment on the Dutch as I wasn’t there, however I was in a unit that supported the RGBW and then the RWF in Gorazde in 94/95.

Even though the Serbs insisted that Warrior would not be allowed into the enclave and that the route in for Saxon would be from the North West along totally inadequate mountain tracks (not the main road from the South West) resulting in 2 separate incidents of Saxons falling of mountains killing their occupants.

Even though convoys from Kieseljack where regularly held hostage for days and stores stolen and in some cases British soldiers assaulted.

Even though soldiers in the enclave regularly went without electricity and fuel (in the height of a Bosnian winter) and chefs where reduced to cooking on wood fuelled stoves.

The commanders of both battalions left the Serbs in no doubt that British troops would protect the integrity of the enclave.

I left theatre before the NATO mandate and the Serbs eventually took RWF soldiers hostage (if I recall), however, I am quite certain that it was the British presence and attitude that avoided another Sebrenicia and what happened to the other less publicised enclaves
 
#18
As has been mentioned in a number of previous posts, the Dutch at Srebrenica did ask, repeatedly, for air support, and were told by some French officer flying a desk somewhere that they had not filled out the correct forms or some such b*ll*cks - I could be very uncharitable and suggest that this was entirely in keeping with the pro-Serb policy displayed by the French (such as shovelling intelligence the way of Belgrade...).

A friend of mine with family links in the Netherlands and friends in the Dutch military recounted how the episode was regarded as particularly shameful by the Dutch people and caused outrage in the Dutch Army, regardless of the 'difficult circumstances' in which the Dutch CO found himself. 'Cowardice' was and is the general consensus on the Dutch performance at Srebrenica.

Comparisons in these circumstances are always a little unsound, but I cannot see that a British battalion could have performed any worse. I could make the suggestion that Dutch Marines might well have behaved in a different manner.

However, the issuing of medals is just crass.
 
#19
Speaking as a member of the RWF Battle group and one who was taken hostage, the Dutch rolled over and took it up the Arrse. Guttless waste of rations much like the Ukraines.
 
#20
Red_Dragon said:
Speaking as a member of the RWF Battle group and one who was taken hostage, the Dutch rolled over and took it up the Arrse. Guttless waste of rations much like the Ukraines.
Correct. I was also in Gorazde, and I can clearly remember the CO's message from his O Group. We would fight to hold it, and that the British public would not expect anything less.

In fact on the day the hostages were taken that is exactly what the British troops did. Holding the main hill feature against Serb assaults with a small group of BIH until the muslims could reinforce.
 

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