Serbia’s biggest security risk is the unresolved status of the southern province and its unilaterally declared independence, warns army chief Ljubisa Dikovic.
In an interview for the daily Vecernje Novosti, the general also announced that special units will be formed to deal with crisis situations.
“Terrorism is the world’s number one enemy, which threatens us as well. We will form equipped, trained and efficient armed forces, which will be a strong deterrent in all security challenges,” Dikovic said.
He stressed that the Serbian Army (VS) is fully prepared to protect citizens from all threats and dangers.
Asked what “better organization of rapid reaction forces” implies, Dikovic recalled that Serbia once had a corps of special units, which was disbanded in 1999.
“In order to solve all security challenges, today we sorely need forces capable of solving the problem in a record time and preventing it from spreading,” Dikovic said.
There is a big risk of conflict in the Balkans, he warned, and added that it was important that Serbia has units that can respond effectively in crisis situations.
“We will therefore create a larger formation of these forces, they will have the best equipment and will be supported by helicopter units, which is why we are buying helicopters, that we will arm and equip for combat operations,” Dikovic said.
At the same time, he said he wanted Serbia to acquire air defense systems, – “but only according to the needs.”
The plan is, the army chief added, to, along with modernizing the Neva system and the Kub missiles, also buy “some of the more modern missile systems.”
“Our goal is to always be ready to protect the airspace of Serbia in peace, but also to gain the capacity to strike at a potential aggressor,” Dikovic said.
He emphasized that President Aleksandar Vucic cares about Serbia having a well-equipped and trained army ready to respond to any attempt at endangering the security of citizens.
Dikovic also spoke about the announced project to provide housing for members of the security sector, to say that he believes the construction of 30,000 apartments will be a powerful stimulus to all who plan to join the Serbian Army, but would also solve one of the biggest problems it is facing.
“We must not allow people from the defense system to leave the army without a roof over their heads. Building the apartments, increasing the wages and improving the overall status, will make us once again a desirable employer among young and ambitious people,” Dikovic said.
Commenting on his recent statement, made at the Military Academy – that he did not believe the time would come to openly and frankly talk about the 1999 war – Dikovic reiterated that neither he nor his colleagues expected to be able to speak publicly about this, not even in scientific institutions.
“I really did not believe that I would see the day when the state would raise at the highest level, a monument to a soldier who gave his life in the defense of the country, but that is what I experienced in Debeljaca, where a bust was unveiled to a Kosare (Battle) hero, Tibor Cerna,” Dikovic said.
He emphasized that it was an obligation of all of us to remember those who fell, because they lost their lives fighting for freedom and general well-being.
“To have people who fought against NATO and who have this experience, and not to transfer it to young people engaged in the same craft, would be a great disadvantage. That kind of knowledge, of course, is also important to foreign countries who are to this day interested in the methods of our fight against NATO,” Dikovic pointed out, referring to the 1999 war.