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20 - 1999: A Year of Major Changes


The year 1999 was certainly the busiest and most exciting time in AFSOUTH's history. As we have seen, the Naples NATO Headquarters was responsible for the military verification mission with which the international community cleared the way for a peaceful solution of the Kosovo crisis. AFSOUTH led the first ever major NATO air campaign, a success which will have an impact on the future use of air power. Meanwhile, it conducted the first ever NATO humanitarian operation, in Albania, while supporting similar efforts with its troops in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) (2). Immediately after the end of Operation "Allied Force," it was again AFSOUTH, as Joint Force Command, that supervised the deployment of the NATO-led Kosovo Force and a mine-sweeping operation in the Adriatic Sea, cleaning up ordnance jettisoned during the air operation.
 
 
While conducting so many demanding operations and planning for their possible developments, AFSOUTH managed to implement very significant changes in its structure, enlarging its area of operation and activating new headquarters and a new maritime force. With all of that in mind, it is remarkable that the same staff was also able to keep running most of the routine training programs, including several PfP exercises; and to revitalise important engagement programs like port visits to non-NATO countries in the Mediterranean.

While conducting so many demanding operations and planning for their possible developments, AFSOUTH managed to implement very significant changes in its structure, enlarging its area of operation and activating new headquarters and a new maritime force. With all of that in mind, it is remarkable that the same staff was also able to keep running most of the routine training programs, including several PfP exercises; and to revitalise important engagement programs like port visits to non-NATO countries in the Mediterranean.

The latter was the visible evidence of the emerging southern region strategy for the following millennium: remaining prepared for the basic NATO missions and preventing future crises through dialogue and co-operation while improving capabilities to conduct the full spectrum of peace support operations.

A role which finds its place in the new Alliance Strategic Concept, approved at NATO's 50th Anniversary summit in Washington:

"Through outreach and openness, the Alliance seeks to preserve peace, support and promote democracy, contribute to prosperity and progress, and foster genuine partnership with and among all democratic Euro-Atlantic countries….NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue process is an integral part of NATO's co-operative approach to security. It provides a framework for confidence building, promotes transparency and co-operation in the region, and reinforces and is reinforced by other international efforts."

If only because of geography, no other NATO command is better placed to perform these vital duties than AFSOUTH.

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