Talk:Operation Backstop

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GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Operation Backstop/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Nick-D (talk · contribs) 22:52, 11 December 2013 (UTC)


This is certainly an interesting topic for an article. I have the following comments and suggestions:

  • "In November, Croatia, Serbia and the Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija – JNA) agreed upon the Vance plan" - what year was this?
    • 1991. Fixed.
  • "left their equipment to the RSK" - would "handed their equipment" be accurate here? It seems clearer, if it is accurate.
    • Amended as suggested.
  • "The bulk of the staff work was taken over by the Canadians" - what does "taken over" mean in this context? Did the Canadians take on this work due to dissatisfaction with the work performed by the Argentine officer and his staff?
    • That's a case of poor choice of words. The Canadians were assigned the bulk of the staff work in the sector from the outset of the peacekeeping operation. I suspect it might have something to do with English being the working language.
  • What's the relevance of the paragraph on CANBAT 2? This isn't tied into the rest of the article at present.
    • No not really, except in terms of adding to the CANBAT 1 extra resources in the field. That was the only reason I added the info. Do you think it would be better to trim this down or remove the info altogether?
      • I'd suggest removing it: when I first read this paragraph I thought that there would be a direct connection, but it never unfolded. Nick-D (talk) 10:42, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
  • "assigning the top priority to the scenario considered the most feasible" - what this scenario was isn't clearly explained at the moment
    • Reworded a bit. Please have another look.
      • Looks good Nick-D (talk) 10:42, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
  • "Presumably the Army of the RSK (ARSK) would retrieve its heavy weapons from the UNPROFOR storage and resist the HV" - how would this have worked? (did they have the right to retrieve the weapons whenever they wanted, or under certain conditions, or would they have taken them by force?). Placing weapons under care of the UN also hasn't been previously mentioned, so this is a bit jarring.
    • The storage depots were under so-called "double key system" i.e. guarded by both UNPROFOR and ARSK and theoretically both parties needed approve removal of any items from the depot. In practice, the ARSK just took whatever they wanted leaving UNPROFOR to complain. This happened on several instances - having to take a trip to the depot proving the only nuisance for the ARSK. Still, the removal would be by force, even though the UNPROFOR guards never resisted the ARSK in practice. Tweaked wording a bit indicating the removal by force.
      • I'd suggest introducing (briefly) the weapons storage arrangements earlier in the article. Nick-D (talk) 10:42, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
        • Explanation added. Please have another look.--Tomobe03 (talk) 01:48, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
  • The rules of engagement for the UN force are a bit unclear: under what circumstances was it permitted to get into a shooting war? It's also not clear how it's size and capabilities compared to that of the various factions in the region.
    • That would be pure guessing per WP:CRYSTAL. both RSK authorities and Croatian authorities maintained police forces in the Sector West, south and north of the ceasefire line respectively. In practice, a substantial (though undisclosed) part of the "police force" was military in police uniforms (as it became quite evident in 1995 Operation Flash) In terms of likely numbers of the opposed forces, once again, there's a lot of guesswork. In 1991, the HV launched Operation Hurricane-91 which was essentially using the same main axes of attack as the Op Backstop was designed to contain. In that case the HV deployed nearly 15,000 troops. Still, at the time, the Yugoslav Army was still in the area, contributing to a defending force of nearly 14,000. During the Operation Flash, which fit neatly in Op Backstop assumptions, the HV deployed 7,200 troops against 4,500 ARSK troops. Just looking at 7 to 14 thousand on one side and two companies on the other (no matter how well trained) seems to justify Filipović's remark. Unfortunately, the sources offer very little in terms of HV ORBAT in 1993 in the area. As far as the rules of engagement - the UNPROFOR was authorised to "use force to respond to armed incursions in the UNPAs". What exactly would have happened is quite unclear. Similar events occurred elsewhere, except the territories captured by the HV were not exactly UNPAs, but so called "pink zones" - not designated as UNPAs, but not under HV control either. When the HV captured such territories (see Battle of the Miljevci Plateau) the UNPROFOR did not respond at all. -- I added an attempt to clarify the force size ratio, but could not offer any specific figure simply because there is none. I'm not quite sure what to add to the rules of engagement to make them clearer given their unclear wording. Any suggestion?
      • OK fair enough. I imagine it's tricky to sort out the orders of battle in conflicts such as this, and then comparing the "quality" of the various forces is harder still. Nick-D (talk) 10:42, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Army of Republika Srpska is linked twice
    • I found only one such instance - please note that the Army of Republika Srpska and the ARSK are two different armies.
  • When local RSK authorities, led by Veljko Džakula, in the Sector West demanded explanation of the move - who did they ask for an explanation?
    • Hadžić (RSK president) - added clarification
  • "The 2nd Battalion of the PPCLI replaced the 3rd Battalion in April as the CANBAT 1" - when did the change over take place?
    • The source doesn't say anything beyond "in April".
  • Overall situation in the Sector West deteriorated after Jordanian General Shabshough replaced Zabala in March - why was this the case? Did the new commander make mistakes or was a less capable diplomat?
    • Actually, Zabala was quite proactive seeking to deal with any problems early on, while his successor was not, remaining a passive observer. I added some clarification.
  • When did CANBAT exercise Operation Backstop?
    • The sources are unclear about that, specifying no date. The sources indicate that this was done by 2PPCLI (which arrived in March), but before Hague became deputy commander of the sector (in April), giving March-April frame for the exercise, but no specific date. What do you suggest be done in this respect?
      • That's a shame given that this seems a significant aspect of the topic of the article. If the sources aren't specific, I'd suggest going with that range. Nick-D (talk) 10:42, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
        • Timeframe noted. Could you have another look at that too?--Tomobe03 (talk) 01:51, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
        • There is a possible identification of the time of the operation, albeit not explicit one. Hewitt (p56) says "During Operation Backstop, a Canadian patrol had been sent to the Dragovic road for two days to catch Croatian Serbs who had sneaked across the frontier during the night..." while Filipović (p64) says "Nekoliko dana poslije, 12. travnja na dragovićkoj cesti opljačkana je zagrebačka obitelj, 400 metara od nadzorne točke Charlie..." (Several days later, on 12 April, a family from Zagreb was robbed on Dragović road, 400 metres away from Checkpoint Charlie..." later noting the checkpoint was maintained by the CANBAT. This seems to indicate the Operation Backstop took place sometime around 12 April, but I'm afraid saying that in the article would constitute violation of WP:SYNTH Thoughts?--Tomobe03 (talk) 10:35, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
          • I agree that that would be Synth - there could be other reasons for the Canadians to have been in the area, especially as they appear to have been the most mobile of the forces. Nick-D (talk) 10:32, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Would the UN forces have been provided with air support had fighting taken place? There was a powerful NATO force in Italy which could have been called upon, and would evened things up. Nick-D (talk) 23:21, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
    • Nothing is impossible, of course, but that would be quite unlikely. NATO did enforce a no-fly zone in neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina (see Operation Deny Flight) since April 1993, but did not act against aircraft fleeing from Bosnian airspace to Croatia (RSK, specifically) claiming no authority had been given to do so. That changed after an UNSCR resolution in October 1994. For this reason, I believe the NATO CAS would not be likely - but I suppose Canadians might request assistance as a NATO member anyway - so I can't rule it out really.
      • OK. I imagine that if a NATO force had come under heavy attack some kind of air support would have (eventually) been forthcoming, but if the sources don't mention this there's not much you can do - the plans may not have even been declassified. Nick-D (talk) 10:42, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the review. I tried to address the issues you raised here. Could you please have a look at those edits and the responses provided here? Cheers--Tomobe03 (talk) 11:29, 13 December 2013 (UTC)


GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose is "clear and concise", without copyvios, or spelling and grammar errors:
    B. MoS compliance for lead, layout, words to watch, fiction, and lists:
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. Has an appropriate reference section:
    B. Citation to reliable sources where necessary:
    C. No original research:
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Major aspects:
    B. Focused:
  4. Is it neutral?
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, etc:
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content:
    B. Images are provided if possible and are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions:
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:
    All my comments are now addressed: great work with this article. Nick-D (talk) 10:32, 18 December 2013 (UTC)