NATO's Air War for Kosovo: A Strategic and Operational Assessment

By Benjamin S. Lambeth | Go to book overview

Chapter One
INTRODUCTION

Between March 24 and June 9, 1999, NATO, led by the United States, conducted an air war against Yugoslavia in an effort to halt and re/ verse the continuing human-rights abuses that were being commit/ ted against the citizens of its Kosovo province (see the Frontispiece, Map of Kosovo) by Yugoslavia's elected president, Slobodan Milose/ vic. As it turned out, that 78-day effort, called Operation Allied Force, represented the third time in a row during the 1990s, after Opera/ tions Desert Storm and Deliberate Force, in which air power proved pivotal in determining the outcome of a regional conflict. Yet notwithstanding its ultimate success, what began as a hopeful gambit for producing quick compliance on Milosevic's part soon devolved, for a time at least, into a seemingly ineffectual bombing experiment with no clear end in sight. Not only was the operation's execution hampered by uncooperative weather and a surprisingly resilient opponent, it was further afflicted by persistent hesitancy on the part of U.S. and NATO decisionmakers that was prompted by fears of inadvertently killing civilians and losing friendly aircrews, as well as by sharp differences of opinion within the most senior U.S. command element over the best way of applying allied air power against Serb assets to achieve the desired effects. All of that and more, however unavoidable some aspects of it may have been, made NATO's air war for Kosovo a substantial step backward in efficiency when compared to Desert Storm.

This book assesses Operation Allied Force from a strategic and op/ erational perspective, with a view toward spotlighting what was most gratifying about the application of allied air power throughout the ef/ fort, as well as identifying and exploring aspects of air power's per/

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NATO's Air War for Kosovo: A Strategic and Operational Assessment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • Figures xi
  • Summary xiii
  • Acknowledgments xxv
  • Acronyms xxix
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - Prelude to Combat 5
  • Chapter Three - The Air War Unfolds 17
  • Chapter Four - Why Milosevic Gave Up When He Did 67
  • Chapter Five - Accomplishments of the Air War 87
  • Chapter Six - Friction and Operational Problems 101
  • Chapter Seven - Lapses in Strategy and Implementation 179
  • Chapter Eight - Nato's Air War in Perspective 219
  • Bibliography 251
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