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Montenegrin forces to serve in Afghanistan

Military engagement in NATO’s combat operations may soon become mandatory for all members of Montenegro’s armed forces, media reports said.

The Montenegrin government has announced a plan to make participation in NATO’s military operations mandatory for everyone serving in the country’s armed forces, according to the news network Balkan Insight.

Amendments to the law defining the use of Montenegrin army units in international operations are due to be finalized before the end of March 2016 and then sent to the parliament.

According to Balkan Insight, if adopted, the new law will abolish the principle of voluntary service abroad, which has been in place in Montenegro since 2010, when the country joined the NATO-led ISAF mission in Afghanistan.

A highly placed official with Montenegro’s Defense Ministry told Balkan Insight that the country’s servicemen will be forced to take part in NATO’s missions.

“Deployment will now be mandatory, which means that soldiers will have to go to Afghanistan, for example, or to some other NATO operation in future, if their superiors decide. Otherwise, they risk losing their jobs,” the official said.

Most Montenegrins, including servicemen, have already reacted angrily to the government’s plans to involve Montenegro in the alliance’s military engagement in Afghanistan. Opinion polls which were recently conducted by the Ministry of Defense showed that only 30 percent of military personnel are ready to consider the possibility of participating in NATO’s military operations.

In order to increase the number of those willing to take part in NATO missions, the authorities have offered a wide array of benefits, including higher salaries and the resolution of housing-related problems.

According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Montenegro will begin talks on joining NATO in mid-February. Montenegro has accepted last year’s invitation to join the alliance, a decision that provoked a wide public outcry.

Along with neighboring Serbia, Montenegro was subject to a NATO bombing campaign in 1999 as part of the short-lived Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It gained independence from its neighbor in 2006.—(Sputnik News)

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