I admittedly haven’t worked out a lot of the details of the Fourth Balkan War. It’s part of the background, though largely as combat experience for a number of the veterans who form the backbone of the Triarii.
 
The general sweep is that it was, essentially, NATO’s last gasp, trying to defuse a powder keg situation between Kosovo and Serbia, based on news reports a couple years ago about Kosovo seeking to build it’s own army–to Belgrade’s rather strident objections.
 
In-universe, obviously, the powder keg was *mostly* defused. Though it was a lot nastier than most people Stateside got to see.
 
Yet, looking at the overall real-world situation in the Balkans right now, as Shirvan of Caspian Report outlines it, the Fourth Balkan War could very easily have turned into the flashpoint that started the Maelstrom Rising series.

Not only do you have a large Muslim population–and while it seems to have been mostly supplanted by Chechnya in the popular consciousness, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been a prime recruiting ground for Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Daesh–but increasingly Russian, European, and Chinese interests have turned toward the Balkans.

It is still possible that a flare-up in the Balkans now would see Russian, American, and European intervention–with the PRC playing their shadow games the whole time–and without overt flare-ups. It could well be a very close thing, however. It might not see the complete US-European breakdown that comes to a head in Escalation, but there are quite a few reports of harassment and provocations between US and Russian forces in Syria. And with the US largely backing Kosovar interests while the Russians have long backed Belgrade…

Picture this in the Balkans, with a whole lot of other pressures built up:

None of this is saying that if the Fourth Balkan War happens, that it will necessarily be the flashpoint that triggers the next world war. Just like any flashpoint with multiple outside interests involved, the potential is always there. And the realities of Fourth Generation Warfare make it harder to see just when that war might kick off.

Presuming it hasn’t already.

The “Fourth Balkan War” and the Real World

Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Since he got out, he's been writing, authoring many articles and 24 books, mostly Action/Adventure and Military Thrillers, with some excursions into Paranormal Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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