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]

"As a character he is brave and enduring. He is calm and thoughtful under pressure. He is his own man walking his own path." General Sir Rupert Smith KCB DSO OBE QGM[2]


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’,[3] 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 [4] and General Sir Rupert Smith,[5] 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 KCB CBE DSO QGM, Adjutant General.[6]

"Major Stankovic has been mine and my predecessor's Liaison Officer with the Bosnian Serb Army since June 1994. He has worked for me for the past four months. The relationships he has established with key figures, not least the Bosnian Serb Army commander, his knowledge of the language and the background to the war has been invaluable...He has been under considerable pressure, operating alone in isolated circumstances where the threat of hostile activity is ever present and occasionally occurs. Major Stankovic has performed excellently. The intelligence he has gathered, his representation of me and his advice have all been of critical importance...As a character he is brave and enduring. He is calm and thoughtful under pressure. He is his own man walking his own path." General Sir Rupert Smith KCB DSO OBE QGM, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.[7]

"I have no doubts whatsoever. In Bosnia he played an absolute blinder." General Sir Mike Jackson KCB CBE DSO DL, Chief of the General Staff.[8]

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.[9][10] 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. The Army Board reflected the lack of substance of the allegations and the failure of two investigations to find any evidence of wrongdoing in an unusual letter to Major Stankovic that is not normally written to officers retiring from the Services:

"On the occasion of your retirement from the Army, I am directed by the Army Board to thank you most sincerely for the loyal service you have given since you were commissioned. The Army Board recognises that, in carrying out your duties as an officer, you will have had to make many sacrifices, putting the interests of your Country, the Army and your soldiers before your own. This is very much appreciated and the Army Board wishes formally to express its gratitude for the service you have given and for the excellent contribution you have made." Major General Alistair Irvin, Military Secretary,[11]

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.” [12]

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.[13] 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.

Recent Years[edit]

Consulting & Advisory. 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.

The Warrior & The Caregiver. Who cares for the carer? Stankovic's training in psychological warfare found extension and expression as a performance coach in civilian life combining his unusual experiences of overcoming adversity with depth psychology coaching systems such as the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI) and powerful shamanic coaching techniques, both of which have their foundation in archetypal application. He trained as a coach in the US, principally on Hawaii, in California and at Sedona in Arizona. Between 2008 and 2014 he suspended his working life to care for his elderly mother until her death in August 2014. He ascribes his transition from a warrior- to a caregiver-centric archetype as the central experience that helped him to understand and cope with the unique psychological demands involved with caring for an elderly parent up to their death or a chronically ill member of one's family. Central to the psychological health of the carer are coping strategies for dealing with changes in personal core identity that occur when caregivers transition from their pre-caregiver identities into caregivers, and from that identity, once the care role has ceased, to a post-caring identity. The smoothness and duration of the shift into each phase is determined by psychological self-knowledge, which he believes plays a vital role in helping untrained family caregivers better understand themselves and their own reactions to the unique and challenging pressures that domestic caregiving creates. This issue becomes increasingly relevant as the population ages, the State is unable to fund care for the aged and the duty of care falls to family members. In the quest to find coping strategies to avoid carers becoming casualties themselves, he draws his inspiration from the motto of No 1 Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton: "Knowledge dispels fear", and from the inscription at Delphi: "Know thyself. Everything in moderation."

Campaign. 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.[14] Organised and led by Westbourne Communications,[15] the Justice Delayed Justice Denied campaign includes many prominent activists from Parliament, the legal profession, the media and from civil and human rights campaigners. The aims of the campaign were set out in a letter to newspaper editors on 2 December 2014.[16]

Injustice in Slovenia[edit]

Stankovic is in protracted conflict with the Slovenian government on behalf of his late mother, Mrs Dana Constance Stankovic (née Dushmanitch). Her father, Vladimir Dushmanitch, married Constance Rowan of Ayr, Scotland in 1920. They had met on the Salonika front in 1918 where he was serving as an artillery captain and ADC to Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and she was an ambulance driver with the Scottish Women's Hospitals Ostrovo Unit. After the marriage the family moved to Belgrade where he practised law. They had four children of which Dana was the third born on Armistice Day 1922. In 1937 Vladimir Dushmanitch bought a plot of land at Bohinj in Slovenia where he built a summer and winter chalet. The property was seized by the Nazis in 1941 and thereafter appropriated by the Communist Party of Slovenia and used as the President's private retreat, and still is. In 2007 the Slovenian government attempted to sell the property to Heather Mills, Sir Paul McCartney's former wife, for €430,000.[17] Milos Stankovic's lawyers, Barker-Gillette, immediately informed Ms Mills' lawyers that living descendants of the rightful owners still had a claim on their property and that she was about to acquire Nazi-looted property. She backed out of the purchase.[18] Milos Stankovic pursued the claim on the family property directly with the President of Slovenia on the basis that Slovenia's accession to the EU was contingent upon the return of property to its rightful owners. In correspondence with the Slovenian government,[19] Stankovic was told that the Slovenian government deemed that the descendants had 'missed the boat' by not applying for return of the property in 1991 during the break up of Yugoslavia and had decided, illegally according to Stankovic, to retain control of the property. Stankovic continues to fight against the Slovenian government's theft of his family's property.

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. ^ Letter, General Sir Rupert Smith, 8 January 2015, referencing his report of 23 April 1995.
  3. ^ In Harm's Way by Martin Bell, Soldier by General Sir Mike Jackson
  4. ^ Fighting For Peace by General Sir Michael Rose
  5. ^ Utility of Force by General Sir Rupert Smith
  6. ^ Correspondence General Sir Michael Rose to Major Mike Stanley 29 January 1995
  7. ^ Letter, General Sir Rupert Smith, 8 January 2015, referencing his report of 23 April 1995.
  8. ^ Ministries of Deception by Tim Slessor, p228, Aurum Press Ltd. 2002
  9. ^ [1], publications.parliament.uk, House of Commons Hansard Debates for 10 December 1997 (pt 13)
  10. ^ [2], publications.parliament.uk, House of Commons Hansard Debates for 14 Jul 1999 (pt 15)
  11. ^ Formal letter from the Military Secretary on behalf of the Army Board, 27 July 2000, Ministries of Deception by Tim Slessor, p266, Aurum Press Ltd. 2002
  12. ^ Approved Judgment by The Honourable Mr. Justice Saunders, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, 9th November 2007, Case No: HQ 0006034
  13. ^ Trusted Mole - A Soldier's Journey Into Bosnia's Heart of Darkness by Milos Stankovic MBE, HarperCollins 2000, ISBN 978-0-00-653090-9.
  14. ^ War hero backs change in bail law, Times 27th October 2014
  15. ^ http://www.westbournecoms.com
  16. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/dec/01/pre-charge-bail-scandal-must-be-ended
  17. ^ Daily Mail, 26 July 2007
  18. ^ Daily Mail, 27 July 2007
  19. ^ Correspondence between Milos Stankovic and the Office of the President of Slovenia