The role of Task Force Harvest (TFH) was to collect arms and ammunition voluntarily turned over by ethnic Albanian insurgents, and thereby help to build confidence in the broader peace process suggested by the President of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*.
The key tasks of TFH were:
Collection of weapons and ammunition from the insurgents;
Transportation and disposal of weapons which are surrendered; and,
Transportation and destruction of ammunition that is turned in.
Collection sites were established within the insurgents' operational areas. Weapons were destroyed unless they were unsafe to move. Ammunition were destroyed in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* at a site agreed to with national authorities (Krivolak), taking into account the potential environmental impact. Ammunition unsafe to move was destroyed at the collection point. The operation commenced after the Commander in Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH), who is responsible for NATO operations in the Balkans, assessed the military situation and received reports that TFH forces were deployed and operational.
The operation will be of limited duration and is conducted in three phases:
Phase one: Preparation, pre-deployment and deployment;
Phase two: Weapons/ammunition collection and disposal/destruction (this phase was not to exceed 30 days);
Phase three: redeployment of all personnel.
All NATO nations contribute to Operation Essential Harvest. In particular, troops assigned to the TFH Brigade.
Major national units
Belgium: one transport company
Canada: one infantry company
Czech Republic: one infantry company
France: one infantry battle group
Germany: two infantry companies
Greece: one infantry battle group
Italy: one infantry battle group
The Netherlands: one infantry company
Spain: one infantry company
Turkey: one infantry company
United Kingdom: Brigade Headquarters and one battle group
In addition to the above forces, the Brigade included specialized assets, like an Explosive and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit [Hungary, Norway and Portugal]; Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) assets [US and Italy]; air transport [Italy and United States]; military police [Italy]. Furthermore, several NATO nations deployed additional forces in support of their operational elements. Concept of Operations Insurgents agreed to the weapons collection plan and to voluntarily hand-in their weapons. Part of this plan was a list of weapons and ammunition which the insurgents committed to provide as one of their obligations as a confidence-building measure and one element of a broader peace plan proposed by President Trajkovski. TFH accepted what was passed in within the established time frame.
In accordance with the agreement between the ethnic Albanian insurgents and the government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, it was the responsibility of the insurgents to de-mine weapons caches and bring any hidden weapons to the collection sites. TFH's only mandate was to collect weapons that were voluntarily turned in by the armed extremists; the responsibility to ensure a safe and secure environment remained with the government of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. NATO's role was not to be a guarantor of security and will be re-deploying TFH troops after TFH has completed its mandate.
*Turkey recognizes the republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.