Milos Stankovic

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Milos Stankovic MBE (born 1962). Soldier, writer (Trusted Mole), speaker, coach, consultant.

“Milos Stankovic served longer in the Bosnian war than any other British soldier. He was the outstanding liaison officer of his time. He did for Britain in the 1990s what Fitzroy MacLean had done in the 1940s, and in the same turbulent corner of Europe.” Martin Bell, OBE MP.[1]

Early Years[edit]

Milos Stankovic was born in Southern Rhodesia, a British citizen whose father, naturalised British, was a Royalist Yugoslav during WW2. His mother was British and served with the 8th Army at the battle of El Alamein in Egypt 1942-43, Italy 1944 and in Yugoslavia in 1945. The family returned to London from Rhodesia in 1963. Stankovic was educated at Plymouth College in Devon, England, where he studied classics and was head of school and head of the Combined Cadet Force.

Military Service[edit]

He enlisted into the Parachute Regiment in 1981, went to RMA Sandhurst in 1982 and was sent to university by the Army to study Russian at Manchester University and at the Minsk State Pedagogical Institute for Foreign Languages in the Soviet Union. He was the only serving British Army officer to have been partly educated in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He completed the Standard Graduate Course at Sandhurst in 1986 and subsequently served with the British Army in Belize, Northern Ireland, Southern Africa, and with the United Nations forces in Kuwait, Iraq and Bosnia. A fluent speaker of Serbo-Croatian and Russian, he specialised in psychological operations and post-Cold War arms control. He retired from the British Army in 2000 in the rank of major.

Bosnian War[edit]

Operating primarily in a liaison and troubleshooting function under the pseudonym ‘Mike Stanley’,[2] he was the longest-serving British soldier with the United Nations Protection Force during the 1992-95 Bosnian War. In the latter part of his service he worked directly for General Sir Michael Rose [3] and General Sir Rupert Smith,[4] successive commanders of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia in 1994 and 1995. His functions mainly involved mediating, negotiating and troubleshooting with Bosnian Serb political and military leaders. He was also a participant of a covert but sanctioned operation called Schindler's List, named after the film of the same name and book Schindler's Ark, in which endangered Muslim, Croat and Serb Sarajevans were smuggled out of besieged Sarajevo and reunited them with their families. Upon his return from Bosnia he was appointed the MBE for his work there.

Your liaison function in particular between BH Command and Pale was wholly indispensable to the peace process, and I always felt that I knew better than my predecessors the innermost thoughts of the Serbs…it was essential that we had someone who could gain their trust and demonstrate that as peacekeepers we really were impartial. All this came to a culminating point during the cessation of hostilities negotiations when you provided the ‘telephone through the window!’ Without this I doubt we would have got the necessary signatures. General Sir Michael Rose.[5]

Spy Scandal[edit]

In October 1997, while at the Joint Services Command and Staff Course, Stankovic was arrested by the Ministry of Defence Police on suspicion of breaches under Section 2b of the 1989 Official Secrets Act.[6][7] Although he was on police bail for over a year, during which time the MOD Police interviewed several hundred witnesses, no evidence of any wrongdoing was found with which to charge him. In April 1999 the Crown Prosecution Service concluded that there would be no further action against him for lack of evidence. Despite that, he was investigated for a further year by the Royal Military Police’s Special Investigations Branch to determine whether there had been breaches of military law. In March 2000 the Army concluded that there had been no such breaches either. By this stage he had resigned from the Army in order to pursue his case against the Ministry of Defence in the Civil Courts (see Litigation below). The events of those years were recorded by Tim Slessor in his book about dissembling and deception in Whitehall, Lying In State, in a chapter entitled A Soldier’s Story. Owing to the excessive amount of time he spent on police bail or other measures that kept his career and life on hold for two-and-a-half years, Stankovic supports the campaign to restrict police bail to durations that are reasonable.[8]

Writing[edit]

On 14 April 2000 Stankovic published his own account of his experiences as a liaison officer, mediator and negotiator in the Bosnian WarTrusted Mole, A Soldier’s Journey Into Bosnia’s Heart of Darkness.[9] Described by The Sunday Times as "By far the best book to have come out of the Balkan Wars" and critically acclaimed in the United States and Europe, this account of troubleshooting in the extreme environment of the Bosnian War informs the philosophical and methodological approach to the agile resolution of conflict and disputes.

Litigation[edit]

In October 2007, ten years after his arrest, Stankovic's case against the Ministry of Defence Police finally came to trial in the Royal Courts of Justice. There were only three torts in law upon which he could rest his claim ('unfairness' or 'destroyed career' are not torts in law). These were: unlawful arrest, trespass to property and malfeasance in public office (abuse of power) – a tort that had been heard only ten times previously in civil courts and had failed on seven of those occasions. Although the trial judge, The Honourable Mr. Justice Saunders, found that the MOD Police had had reasonable grounds for suspicion and subsequent arrest, and that they had not abused power during their investigation, he did find that the trespass to Stankovic's property had been excessive. Furthermore, the trial process revealed additional hitherto unseen disclosure, which finally named Stankovic's original accuser - a former British Army officer. In clearing Stankovic's name, The Honourable Mr. Justice Saunders summed up as follows on 9 November 2007:

“Looked at objectively, there is no doubt that what happened to the Claimant has been unfair and the consequences serious…he was an impressive and realistic witness. He did not overstate his case...He proved himself to be courageous and resourceful in Bosnia and suffered the effects of his time there more than most.” [10]

Recent Years[edit]

Since leaving the British Army he has worked in over sixty-five countries on five continents as a risk management consultant, and has specialised in new business development in the Russian Federation. He has been honoured three times by the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles for his work with CBS TV and advised the BBC on developing proactive protection measures for BBC teams in Iraq. His expertise in psychological operations and cross-cultural communication have led to the development of innovative approaches in the fields of mediation and negotiation using agile and iterative processes for Conflict Resolution and Alternative Dispute Resolution. He uses his expertise both in consulting and in performance coaching. He is also MD of Paveway Performance Limited.

Charity[edit]

The MCC Centre of Excellence, Sri Lanka. In the wake of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, in 2005 he became only the third person, and first person solo, to complete the Greystoke Mountain Marathon in under ten days. At 315 miles in length and incorporating 100,000’ of ascent and descent it is Britain’s toughest mountain marathon taking in 202 fell tops over 2000’ in height within the Lake District National Park. In completing the challenge he raised sufficient funds to initiate the building of a centre of academic and sporting excellence for children and young people in Seenegama, Sri Lanka, funded for the most part by the Marylebone Cricket Club.

The Braveheart Programme Military Charity. In 2009 he co-founded The Braveheart Programme, a British military charity that funds scientific research using the very latest neuro-imaging technology at Oxford University’s Department of Neuro-Science to seek neurological markers for Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) among the veteran population. It is ground-breaking research that promises not only to help further understanding of this age old wound of war, but will also have beneficial spin-offs to civilians suffering from PTSD. The Charity is currently funding a 60 month research project at Oxford University.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Foreword to Trusted Mole - A Soldier's Journey Into Bosnia's Heart of Darkness, by Milos Stankovic MBE, HarperCollins 2000 ISBN 978-0-00-653090-9
  2. ^ In Harm's Way by Martin Bell, Soldier by General Sir Mike Jackson
  3. ^ Fighting For Peace by General Sir Michael Rose
  4. ^ Utility of Force by General Sir Rupert Smith
  5. ^ Correspondence General Sir Michael Rose to Major Mike Stanley 29 January 1995
  6. ^ [1], publications.parliament.uk, House of Commons Hansard Debates for 10 December 1997 (pt 13)
  7. ^ [2], publications.parliament.uk, House of Commons Hansard Debates for 14 Jul 1999 (pt 15)
  8. ^ War hero backs change in bail law, Times 27th October 2014
  9. ^ Trusted Mole - A Soldier's Journey Into Bosnia's Heart of Darkness by Milos Stankovic MBE, HarperCollins 2000, ISBN 978-0-00-653090-9.
  10. ^ Approved Judgment by The Honourable Mr. Justice Saunders, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, 9th November 2007, Case No: HQ 0006034