The situation which significantly marked the life and future of AFSOUTH were the events following the collapse of the Yugoslav Federation and eventually the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. NATO's involvement began with a political statement made in February 1992, calling on all parties to respect cease-fire arrangements in order to allow deployment of United Nations peacekeepers. In July, the United States launched the operation "Provide Promise," to deliver supplies to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
On 10 July 1992 the Foreign Ministers of the North Atlantic Alliance discussed, at Helsinki, the NATO contribution to the monitoring of sanctions mandated by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Welcoming the Western European Union's (WEU) Ministers' decision to establish a naval monitoring force, they agreed on a corresponding NATO force to be drawn from NATO's Standing Naval Force Mediterranean. They also required the NATO force to act in close co-operation and co-ordination with the Western European Union naval force. Another ‘first' for NATO was to take place in the southern region.
At the time of this decision the ships of STANAVFORMED were making a routine port call at Lisbon, Portugal. The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Gen. John Shalikashvili, directed the ships to deploy to the Ionian Sea to be prepared for future operations. By the evening of 11 July all the ships had left port en-route to the Ionian Sea.
On 15 July the North Atlantic Council and NATO's Defence Planning Committee (DPC) finalised the arrangements for implementing the decisions taken by the Alliance Foreign Ministers at Helsinki. The Council agreed that the NATO force based on STANAVFORMED should commence operations at 0800 local time on 16 July 1992. By direction of the DPC, the NATO units were ordered to conduct "surveillance, identification and reporting of maritime traffic in areas to be defined in international waters in the Adriatic Sea."
On 16 July -- less than five days from the first warning -- the first units of STANAVFORMED entered the Adriatic and commenced their monitoring role in international waters. This Operation was given the name "Maritime Monitor" and it complemented the parallel linked operations conducted by WEU forces, named "Sharp Vigilance." STANAVFORMED started patrolling an area in international waters off the Montenegro coast on 16 July 1992.
Prior and subsequent to the start of the mission, detailed co-ordination arrangements were worked out between NATO and WEU military officials both for patrol aircraft and for surface ships. These included co-ordination of areas of responsibility, methods of operation, communications, support and re-supply. NATO Airborne Early Warning (NAEW) aircraft provided all the involved international units with operational connectivity, including an air radar picture which was integrated with the surveillance conducted by the various Maritime Patrol Aircraft, helicopters and ships on patrol.
Since 15 October, this activity had been conducted together with air monitoring operations in support of the UN Resolution 781, which established a ban on military flights in the air space of Bosnia-Herzegovina; with the exception for those conducted by the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) or in support of UN operations, including humanitarian assistance. NATO agreed to provide the UN with air space monitoring assistance by extending the role of the NATO Airborne Early Warning Aircraft that had been assisting in naval monitoring operations in the Adriatic. The air space monitoring aspect of the combined operation was called operation "Sky Monitor". Information collected as a result of NAEW Force monitoring of the air space was provided to UN authorities. The additional monitoring activity started on 16 October 1992 in respect of the NAEW orbit over the Adriatic. On 31 October an additional NAEW orbit was commenced over Hungary, as the Hungarian government had agreed to the establishment of an air orbit in its air space, and the Austrian government had authorised aircraft transit through its airspace. These were the first ever NATO out-of-area air operational activities.
Operation "Maritime Monitor" ended on 22 November 1992 at 1600 GMT when NATO forces commenced enforcement operations in support of the UN Security Council Resolution 787. This new operation was named "Maritime Guard." This operation was co-ordinated with WEU forces (WEU Operation "Sharp Fence"). All ships bound to or from the territorial waters of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) were halted to inspect and verify their cargoes and destinations, as were all ships proceeding to all other ports of the former Yugoslavia.
Since 31 December 1992, in co-operation with Albanian authorities NATO warships were granted unrestricted access to Albanian territorial waters for the purpose of embargo enforcement. This additional aspect of the overall NATO operation was given the name "Albanian Guard" and represented the first NATO out-of-area naval operation.
On 17 April 1993 the UN Security Council approved its resolution 820, which strengthened the previous resolutions to include additional restrictions to the merchant traffic to and from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and authorised the use of force to implement that decision. The NATO maritime forces operating in the Adriatic Sea started enforcing this resolution on 29 April 1993.
Shortly before, on 31 March 1993, the UN resolution 816 had extended the air ban to cover all flights not authorised by UNPROFOR and authorised member states to take all necessary measures, in event of further violations, to ensure compliance with the ban. The North Atlantic Council (NAC) approved NATO's plans for the enforcement of the ban on 8 April 1993. NATO Operation "Deny Flight" was set to begin at noon GMT on Monday, 12 April 1993 with aircraft from France, the Netherlands and the United States.
At a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting on 10 June 1993, in response to UN Security Council Resolution 836, it was also agreed NATO would provide protective air power in case of attacks against UNPROFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This led to the deployment of additional ground-attack aircraft to the Southern Region.
With the option to use military force to enforce the embargo the conduct of two parallel but separate operations was no longer operationally effective. Therefore, a joint NATO/WEU Operation "Sharp Guard" began on 15 June 1993, to replace operations "Maritime Guard" and "Sharp Fence.". From that day "Sharp Guard" forces, under Combined Task Force 440 (CTF 440), prevented all unauthorised shipping from entering the territorial waters of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and all arms from entering the former Yugoslavia. This operation was coupled by a parallel WEU operation on the Danube River.
Notwithstanding the effectiveness of the maritime embargo the ground situation in Bosnia did not improve as expected. On 2 August 1993, the NAC decided to make immediate preparations for stronger measures, including air strikes, against those responsible for the strangulation of Sarajevo and other areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and for wide-scale interference with humanitarian assistance.
On 9 February 1994, the NAC issued an ultimatum: heavy weapons either not removed in 10 days from a 20 km. exclusion zone around Sarajevo or turned over to UN control would be subject to NATO air strikes, to be conducted in close co-ordination with the UN Secretary General. Furthermore, it authorised CINCSOUTH to launch air strikes, at the request of the UN, against artillery or mortar positions in or around Sarajevo (including outside the exclusion zone) which were determined by the UNPROFOR to be responsible for attacks against civilian targets in that city. The efforts of NATO and the UN resulted in the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Sarajevo or the placing of them under UN control.
On 28 February 1994, four NATO fighters shot down four fixed-wing aircraft violating the UN "No-Fly" zone. NATO Airborne Early Warning aircraft detected unknown tracks South of Banja Luka early that morning. Two NATO aircraft were vectored to the area and intercepted six GALEB/JASTREB aircraft. In accordance with the rules of engagement, two "land or exit the No-Fly Zone or be engaged" orders were issued which were ignored. While this was happening the violating aircraft dropped bombs. The NATO fighters engaged the planes, shooting down three of them. A second pair of NATO fighters arrived and shot down a fourth violator. The remaining two violators left the airspace of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The first NATO combat operation had taken place.
On 22 April 1994, the NAC decided that if the UN safe areas of Bihac, Srebrenica, Tuzla or Zepa were attacked by heavy weapons from any range; or there was a concentration or movement of such weapons within 20 km of these areas, then they would be declared military exclusion zones. NATO would back up such declarations with air power. It also decided that the Bosnian Serb actions around the Gorazde safe area met the conditions identified by NATO on 2 August 1993 as grounds for air strikes. It required the Bosnian Serbs to immediately cease attacks against the safe area and to pull their forces back 3 km from the centre of the city by 0001 GMT on 24 April 1994 and from that time to allow UNPROFOR and humanitarian assistance free access to the city. Additionally, it declared a 20 km military exclusion zone around Gorazde and required all Bosnian Serb heavy weapons to be withdrawn by 0001 GMT on 27 April 1994. As a result of UN and NATO co-operation, effective compliance with the NATO ultimatums occurred and air strikes were not required.
Air strikes were instead required on other occasions. On 5 August 1994, the Bosnian Serb Army (BA) seized a number of heavy weapons from the Ilidza Weapons Collection site in the Sarajevo Exclusion Zone, despite having been warned by UNPROFOR not to do so. At the request of UNPROFOR, NATO launched aircraft on the afternoon of 5 August to attack heavy weapons that were violating the Sarajevo Exclusion Zone. Two U.S. A-10 aircraft attacked an M-18 Tankbuster. Following the air strike the BA returned the heavy weapons they had taken. The air strike option against limited targets was used in several other circumstances.
However, it was only after the London Conference on 25 July 1995 that NATO commanders were authorised to plan for a more effective use of the offensive air power. As a consequence, on 30 August 1995, NATO aircraft began a series of airstrikes on Bosnian Serb military targets, after UN commanders determined that a mortar attack on the UN-designated safe area of Sarajevo on 28 August 1995 came from a Bosnian Serb position. During this air strike operation, called "Deliberate Force," a French Mirage jet with two crewmembers was shot down by a surface-to-air missile near Pale. The Bosnian Serbs eventually returned the crew on 12 December 1995. Airstrikes continued until early on 1 August 1995, when UN and NATO commanders decided to temporarily suspend them to permit meetings between UN and Bosnian Serb officials.
On 5 September 1995, NATO aircraft resumed attacks on Bosnian-Serb military targets in Bosnia and, on 10 September 1995, a U.S. Navy ship launched Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (T-LAMs) against Bosnian Serb air defence assets in northwestern Bosnia. Thirteen missiles were launched by the U.S.S Normandy on station in the Adriatic.
On 14 September 1995, at 2000 GMT, air strikes were suspended to allow the implementation of an agreement with Bosnian Serbs, to include the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the Sarajevo exclusion zone. The initial 72-hour suspension was eventually extended to 114 hours.
On 20 September 1995, Gen. Bernard Janvier (Commander, UNPF) and Adm. Leighton Smith (CINCSOUTH), agreed that, at the end of the suspension period, resumption of the air strikes of Operation "Deliberate Force" were not necessary, as Bosnian Serbs had complied with the conditions set out by the UN.
While operations "Deny Flight" and "Sharp Guard" were in progress, AFSOUTH planners worked day and night to be ready to support a wide range of operational options to help solve the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After an initial study aimed at defining what force would be needed to impose cessation of hostilities; an initial formal plan was produced based on the assumption that a peace plan, brokered by the special envoys Vance and Owen, would succeed. NATO would have deployed a force to make sure that the plan was indeed implemented. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached and AFSOUTH planners were directed to produce a new contingency plan to be prepared to assist the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Eventually, as a consequence of the air strikes of "Deliberate Force." This plan was not used, but it constituted the basis for a third major plan, designed in parallel with the negotiations which led to the Dayton Peace Accords.
In the light of the peace agreement initialled in Dayton on 21 November 1995, the North Atlantic Council authorised on 1 December 1995 the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) to deploy Enabling Forces into Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. SACEUR tasked the Commander-in-Chief Southern Europe to assume control of assigned NATO land, air and maritime forces as the Commander if the Implementation Force (IFOR) and employ them as part of the enabling force. Movement of these forces began on 2 December 1995.
On 5 December 1995, NATO Foreign and Defence Ministers endorsed the military planning for the Implementation Force (IFOR). On the same day the Acting Secretary General announced that 14 non-NATO countries - which had expressed interest in participating - would be invited to contribute to the IFOR. These countries were Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Ukraine. All the NATO nations with armed forces pledged to contribute forces to IFOR. Iceland provided medical personnel.
The Peace Agreement (General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina) was formally signed in Paris on 14 December 1995. On 15 December 1995, the United Nation Security Council authorised a multinational military Implementation Force (IFOR), under unified command and control and composed of ground, air and maritime units from NATO and non-NATO nations. The IFOR was to ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of the Peace Agreement.
On 16 December 1995, the NAC approved the overall plan for the Implementation Force and directed that NATO commence operation "Joint Endeavour" and begin deploying the main Implementation Force into Bosnia that same day. The Force had a unified command and was NATO-led, under the political direction and control of the NAC and under the overall military authority of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. George Joulwan; the responsibility as Commander-in- Theatre was assigned to Adm. Leighton W. Smith, Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe, who assumed command of IFOR. The deploying land forces were put under the command of the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps, led by LtGen Sir Michael Walker.
The IFOR mission was to monitor and enforce compliance with the military aspects of the Peace Agreement. UNSCR 1031 provided the mandate for a one-year IFOR mission as described in the agreement. The NAC authorised IFOR for this period. The military tasks included:
Ensuring self defence and freedom of movement
Supervising selective marking of boundaries and Zone of Separation (ZOS) between the parties
Monitoring and - if needed - enforcing the withdrawal of forces to their respective territories, and establishing of Zones of Separation
Assuming control of the airspace over Bosnia-Herzegovina and of the movement of military traffic over key ground routes
Establishing Joint Military Commissions, to serve as the central bodies for all Parties to the Peace Agreement
Assisting with the withdrawal of UN forces not transferred to IFOR
They were all smoothly carried out. In addition, the deployment of the IFOR created a more secure environment which facilitated the work of humanitarian organisations and the accomplishment of the non-military aspects of the settlement.
The transfer of authority from the Commander of UN Peace Forces to the Commander of IFOR took place on 20 December, effective at 11 a.m. local time. On that day; after all NATO and non-NATO forces participating in the operation came under the command and/or control of the IFOR commander, Adm. Leighton Smith; over 17,000 troops were available to IFOR.
On 18 February 1996 SACEUR reported the completion of the initial deployment of IFOR to the NATO Secretary General. Thirty-two nations had been part of the deployment, with nearly 50,000 troops provided by NATO nations and approximately 10,000 provided by non-NATO contributor. The movement of IFOR had involved more than 2,800 airlift missions, some 400 trains and more than 50 cargo ships.
The following non-NATO countries contributed to the deployment of IFOR: Albania, Austria, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Morocco, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the Ukraine. Slovakia contributed civilian personnel.
On 18 June 1996 the UN Security Council lifted the heavy weapons embargo on the Former Yugoslavia. As a consequence, the NATO/WEU embargo enforcement operation "Sharp Guard" was suspended. For more than three years, NATO and WEU had effectively enforced both economic sanctions and an arms embargo. This helped contain the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and create the conditions for the Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina. During "Sharp Guard" no ships were reported as having broken the embargo. To achieve this result (during the period 22 November 1992 to 18 June 1996) about 74,000 ships were challenged, almost 6,000 were inspected at sea and more than 1,400 were diverted and inspected in port.
On 31 July 1996 Adm. T. Joseph Lopez relieved Adm. Leighton Smith as the Commander of IFOR. On 18 September 1996 the NATO Secretary General announced that the NAC agreed to new command arrangements for IFOR, to allow for the phased withdrawal of Headquarters ARRC and Headquarters AFSOUTH from Bosnia and Herzegovina and their replacement by a Headquarters based on Allied Land Forces Central Europe (LANDCENT). Purpose of this reorganisation was to prepare for the execution of the last phase of the IFOR's mission and the eventual redeployment of forces following completion of their mission.
On 1 October 1996 the United Nation Security Council adopted Resolution 1074, which provided for the termination of sanctions against Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, once the elections provided for in the Dayton Peace Agreement were held. As a consequence, NATO and WEU formally terminated operation "Sharp Guard."
On 7 November 1996, in accordance with a NAC decision for the execution of the last phase of IFOR's mission, Headquarters AFSOUTH transferred its command authority to Headquarters LANDCENT which became the new commanding Headquarters of operation "Joint Endeavour" in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The land force was renamed "Stabilisation Force" (SFOR).