Interview with lieutenant-general Ljubisa Dikovic, Chief of General Staff of Serbia

2012-06-03 serbia
Author: Radenko Mutavdzic Photo by Jovo Mamula
Interview with lieutenant-general Ljubisa Dikovic, Chief of General Staff of Serbia

The most important thing for each army is to know how to carry out its mission and objectives and to be able to carry them out, therefore the issue of operational capability is essential. That is why for SAF when choosing partners for cooperation with other armed forces , the main priorities are training, personnel training, joint exercises and exchange of experience in multinational operations. Joint exercises in the field play a crucial role where it becomes obvious that all soldiers "speak the same language."

The first message in a conversation with the Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Ljubisa Dikovic is that the Serbian Army remains committed to reforms. He points out that the important changes that have taken place over the past few years must be received by each individual in the system, to integrate them in everyday life and consciousness making them part of their relationship to the profession.

In continuing with the process of reform, general Dikovic points out the priorities and ways of improving training, evaluation, verification of declared units for participation in multinational operations, establishment of lessons learned, improving work planning in the Serbian Armed Forces, development of military doctrine, the development of religious services, storage optimization, storage and maintenance of movable assets, geotopographic digitization of materials and much more is necessary for the further strengthening of the Serbian Army.

General, before I ask you other questions, what are your first comments about the allegations put forward by the Fund for the Humanitarian Law?
- These days a lot was said about the claims of the Humanitarian Law which possess the so-called dossier of Dikovic Ljubisa. All these are a series of lies and I consider this to be an attack on the Serbian Army which is a stable and respected institution and an attack on the Chief of General Staff. For example, the allegations state that in 1994 and 1995, that as a commander of the 16th border battalion I committed certain acts; however on 30th August 1994 I handed over the duty, so I was not on that duty in 1995.

Furthermore, it reads that in 1998 I ordered that a vehicle be driven from Belacevac in Raska to be sold there, and in that very year the 37th Motorized Brigade was been in Kosovo and Metohija, but was sent there in 1999.
Paradoxically, the opinion of the Humanitarian Law is that I am responsible for the deaths of the members of the Yugoslav army in 1999, and not the terrorist organization that carried out the attack and kill people.
Appearances such as this deepens the hatred in former Yugoslavia. As if anyone cares to be made early in the conflict never heal, but to constantly be a source of instability and the fact that someone is profiting.

The Chief of General Staff will continue the reform process started. To make them more successful, what are the qualities you would like your associates to have in terms of future staff changes?
- I appreciate the moral values, expertise, creativity, capacity for teamwork ... The best contributors are those who patiently and steadily move forward. And the most important results of the work. They are the primary measure of success of individuals and teams.
The optimal organization and teamwork are essential prerequisite for the functioning of any organization or command units.

Several things, however are crucial for building a capable army by training, education, training ...What changes will be made in these areas?
- Training in the Serbian Army is focused on achieving capabilities that enable successful execution of missions. Our units are trained to be ready to perform main tasks in a mission. It is therefore crucial to insist on quality training that will have as a result a trained soldier, an outstanding officer and a capable unit. Also, we will monitor developments in training at the regional level and in partner countries, to what is good and valuable apply to us.
As of last year we began carrying out exercises in the Training Center via simulation. It is a powerful, relatively inexpensive instrument that provides objective analysis of opportunities for combat operations and procedures of the individual units and to assess the optimal decisions of command.
As for education and training, in addition I will advocate eve further for a fair and principled selection of candidates, so that, for example, to provide the best soldiers are trained for non-commissioned officers or officers to indicate the best command staff and GS training.

The units preparing for multinational operations undergo a special form of training? What are the test results at the national level, given that this year our units will be verified of international teams?
- There are two types of units declared to participate in multinational operations: units declared according to the concept of operational capabilities and those especially declared units for participation in multinational operations, the United Nations and the European Union.
These units are trained according to programs for training and preparation according to plans of the Army Command in cooperation with the Centre for Peace Operations as the coordinator of all preparing for participation in multinational operations.
The evaluation at the national level was conducted in November last year. It was the first such action of the Serbian Army, and was attended by an international observer team. The results are favorable and indicate that the unit applied by international standards, procedures and operating techniques, it is necessary to carry out tasks in multinational operations.
This year an international review team will conduct evaluation so we do not expect any problems. Training programs of the Serbian Army declared contain all the necessary thematic units, according to modern standards, lessons learned and experiences of the armed forces of other countries from participation in multinational operations.

Our units are currently participating in five UN missions and one EU mission. We have one platoon in Cyprus, and the next in Lebanon. Are we ready to increase our participation in multinational operations, and will there be?
- Continuous building of operational capacity to carry out missions Serbia has assigned to its Army. This year, we are ready to actively participate in multinational operations of the United Nations and the European Union. We have the ability to repeatedly increase the number of engaged members and that is what is most important.
In a multinational UN operation in the Republic of Lebanon - UNIFIL in the current year we plan to increase the number of soldiers from five to more than one hundred (113) faces. They will mainly be on duty staff officers in command of Multinational Brigade Infantry Company at the time and the Engineering team for demining in the composition of the Spanish Battalion.
There are plans to continue participation in a multinational UN operation in the Republic of Cyprus - UNFICYP. In Cyprus we will hire staff officers, military observers, members of the patrols and infantry platoon.
In 2012, there is planned involvement of the Serbian Army in multinational operations mandated by the EU under the Common Security and Defence Policy.
It is the mission of the European Union for the training of Somali security forces in Uganda - EUTM Somalia, where the planned participation of the Serbian Army, medical team, and the military operation European Union naval forces in Somalia (EUNAVFOR Somalia - Operation ATALANTA) engaged on prevention, and combating piracy and armed robberies along the coast of Somalia, where our officers will be on board the armed forces of Greece and France.
The Stand by Arrangement defines the capacity of the Serbian Army which are available to the United Nations in the event of an urgent hiring of personnel for multinational operations in the United Nations: medical team (six people), surgical team (six people), staff officers (15 persons) and military observers (10 persons).

We already have enough experience for assessing the quality of professional soldiers and others on voluntary military service. What they are ordering?
- The military machine, in addition to men who have traditionally turned to the draft, and today we have women. I am pleased that those in this machine stand shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues.
Each soldier must be trained and disciplined, but there should be a better management of military professional skills. QT is based precisely on the high quality of its professional members. Therefore the criteria are not and should not be the same for professional soldiers and soldiers on voluntary military service.
Soldiers of the Army of Serbia should work with their elders, respect for hierarchy, but with the same dignity, the same daunting task - that Serbia is safe, strong and respected! For good soldiers will always be room in the Serbian Army.

You recently returned from a visit to Brussels.You have been to Brussels before, but now for the first time as the Chief of General Staff? What were the topics of discussion?
- I was at a meeting of Euro-Atlantic Partnership Military Committee in Brussels, where joint involvement and better mutual understanding of partner countries were the key topics. It is important to look at practical experiences and problems faced by other countries in multinational operations and experiences of others, to enhance the ability of the Serbian Army to perform its mission.
During my stay in Brussels I spoke with General Hakan Siren, Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, General Martin Dempsey, Chief of Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of the United States, and Army General Nikolai Makarov, Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
Just the names and functions of military figures I spoke to speak clearly about the fact that the Serbian Army is recognized as a competent and attractive partner.
We exchanged views on possibilities for improving cooperation in defense, the security situation in the region, preparations for the participation of the Serbian Army in multinational operations of the European Union, joint training and development and other topics.

Do you have enough experience of other armies use and opportunities for cooperation, bearing in mind their interest in our experiences?
- The international military cooperation and exchange of experiences in various fields and is valuable for the Army of Serbia and to our colleagues from abroad. There is still room for improvement, but the number and quality of the actual impact of activities, international military cooperation in Serbia have never been as dynamic and effective as in the last few years.
The Army of Serbia will continue to work with the armed forces of countries from all continents, from all over the world and thereby contribute to strengthening the position and credibility of the Republic of Serbia on the international level.

What forms of international cooperation are preferred, bearing in mind the strengthening of the operational capabilities of the Army? Are you satisfied with the intensity of cooperation within the "Partnership for Peace" framework?
- For each army it is most important to know how to carry out its mission and objectives and to be able to carry them out. The issue of operational capability is essential. That is why the Serbian Army in choosing which countries it will cooperate with set such priorities as training, personnel training, joint exercises and exchange of experience in multinational operations. Especially important are the common practice in the field. It is best felt that all soldiers "speak the same language."
Regional cooperation is of special importance, because it yields obvious benefits to improving the operational capabilities of the Army of Serbia by sharing experiences, while also it contributes to a better understanding of the situation in the region.
Within the framework of "Partnership for Peace" we often cooperate in the field of education and training, modernization of weapons and military equipment and participate in joint exercises. Our interest in this cooperation is stronger and more diverse, in accordance with the commitments of the Republic of Serbia.

We also want to cooperate with the east. What is the plan when it comes to Russia and China?
- There is mutual interest in intensifying cooperation between the Serbian Army and the Russian armed forces, especially when it comes to vojnoekonomskim issues, joint training of special forces, military medicine and military education. There have been several visits of the expert working groups and delegations, which have gained insight into the capabilities of combat systems repair and ordnance. Was formed mixed Serbian-Russian Military-Technical Cooperation Group. We will continue training of Serbian Army officers in eminent Russian military schools, and GS komandnoštabnom training and specialized courses and educate officers in the Russian Defense University.
Republic of Serbia and the Serbian Armed Forces have traditionally friendly relations with the People's Republic of China and its army. It is known that China and Serbia are the 2009th year established a strategic partnership. In terms of defense cooperation, it since 2000. Recorded a rising trend, especially when it comes to vojnoobrazovnoj and Military Cooperation. Agreement on defense cooperation was signed during a visit by Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac China, in November 2008. year. I am confident that the positive trend to continue good cooperation.

The severity of the economic crisis affects the priorities in equipping the Army so we must choose carefully. What are our priorities in equipping, what are our most urgent needs for this or next year, and in what aspects should we be more cautious when long-term plans are in question?
- In the period until 2014. The priority will be "Model M21 equipping infantry soldiers", the acquisition of modern equipment connections, special equipment and declared units.
There are plans to modernize the radar-computer resources and the antiaircraft missile systems, operations, aircraft, tanks and artillery pieces.
We need modern combat systems for the Air Force and I hope we will, in cooperation with relevant government institutions to find the answer to this question, in the interest of Serbian citizens.

There are numerous actions to confirm that the Army and the people are one. Are these relationships sufficient to ensure the unity necessary for the more difficult moments, kind have historically had too much?
- I sincerely hope that the worst moments behind us and that we have progress. During the reform process in the Serbian Army, one of the key issues was that the Army does not become isolated institution, separate from the citizens whose security guarantee. Answer partly lies in the implementation of civilian democratic, but it is important to recognize that the citizens of the Serbian Army as their own. Role in this has a voluntary military service, we provide assistance to citizens in emergency situations caused by weather and other disasters, humanitarian action ...
More than 600 members in 2011. was engaged in various tasks of providing assistance to civil structures, and these days, helping to Pester and roads on the south of Serbia cleared of snow.
Army of Serbia where the citizens need, and trust in the Army of Serbia shows that we are on track and that the relationship between citizens and the Army strong.

What is the greatest influence on the morale of the members of the Army? Part of this of course is their living standard, but the military calling is a special one?
- Military profession is reflected in a pervasive sense of duty and loyalty to one’s fatherland. No one decides to become a professional soldier exclusively for personal gain. Military profession requires that soldiers to be fully focused. A soldier swears to honor their country, they pledge allegiance, and that stands as a guarantee of their military safety.
There are many factors that affect the morale - I will mention the military spirit as being the most important. Suffice it to recall Zivojin Misic, who at one time in his life had to give up even a uniform, but he remained a soldier in his mind. Also, it is important to work with good people, to have mutual respect and collegiality, understand human needs, to have proper evaluation of performance, prudent management of the service ...
Of course, that the member of the Army cannot commit themselves to this vocation, it is important to have a good living standard, under what conditions he lives and what the family can afford. I'm sure that will improve the standard of the Army of the extent to allow economic growth and the budget of Serbia.

At the Military Academy you were a cadet, and then moved to become a platoon commander and company commander, later you were head of the Department of the Army. What are your most striking memories from those days? If you could compare these periods, which what would you say forms a future soldier?
– There are many events from the period when I worked at the Academy, as a commander of a cadet platoon, and head of the class and my department and it is difficult to single out the most memorable events or moments. However, the recognition I received from their cadets after graduation is what I cherish, who told me I sold him the secrets of military craft, and that taught them how to successfully cope with some "pitfalls" of this profession.
The commander is the leader and he must be in practice. Commander of cadets learn how to be good soldiers and good officers. Male and female cadets of the Military Academy during the school still has to permeate the military spirit. For them to build and nurture a sense of duty, conscious discipline and loyalty to the fatherland, the Serbian Army and the profession. Gave Andre rightly describes as a sworn officer discipline and honor guards.
Also, the intellectual curiosity of these young people should be encouraged. Each officer has to think about the army, to investigate and verify the principles of command and thus improves the military thought.

And your later experience in command, even in the most difficult period of war in 1999, completes the idea of modern Serbian officers? What is the Serbian Army officer is required at this time?
- The officer should be able to respond to the challenges of the times in which we live. In addition to expertise and respect for the Code of Honour, Officer 21st century must be broadly educated, willing to constantly improve, acquire new knowledge, testing, and move forward the limits of their abilities. Models should be in the Serbian military tradition and strive reaching the world's best standards in our profession.

In a speech at the ceremony handing over duties of the Chief of General Staff, the officers of our army told you that you will be "the greatest soldier among soldiers"?
- This means that each member of a professional army, including myself, must first be a good soldier, and then build on this solid foundation in accordance with their capabilities and ambitions: to be a technician, specialist, engineer, doctor of science, to gain ranks. .. Personal example, people in management positions is that crucial.
I will always understand the soldiers and officers, be the first to work in places where it is difficult. I will fight for honor and prestige of the military profession.

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