NATO intervention in Bosnia
The NATO intervention in Bosnia consisted of a series of actions undertaken by NATO to establish and then preserve peace during and after the Bosnian War
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

. NATO's intervention began as largely political and symbolic, but gradually increased to include large-scale air operations and the deployment of approximately 60,000 soldiers under Operation Joint Endeavor.

Early involvement and monitoring

NATO's first involvement in both the Bosnian War and the Yugoslav wars
Yugoslav wars
The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars, fought throughout the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats and Bosniaks on the other; but also...

 in general came in February 1992, when the alliance issued a statement urging all the belligerents in the conflict to allow the deployment of United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

. While primarily symbolic, this statement paved the way for later NATO actions..

On July 10, 1992, NATO foreign ministers agreed, at a meeting in Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

 to assist the United Nations in monitoring compliance with sanctions established under United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 resolutions 713
United Nations Security Council Resolution 713
United Nations Security Council Resolution 713, adopted unanimously on September 25, 1991, after receiving representations from a number of Member States and commending the efforts of the European Community in the region, the Council decided to impose, under Chapter VII, an arms embargo on the...

 (1991) and 757
United Nations Security Council Resolution 757
United Nations Security Council Resolution 757, adopted on May 30, 1992, after reaffirming resolutions 713 , 721 , 724 , 727 , 740 743 , 749 and 752 , the Council condemned the failure of the authorities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to implement Resolution 752.After demanding the...

 (1992). This led to the commencement of Operation Maritime Monitor
Operation Maritime Monitor
Operation Maritime Monitor was a NATO operation during the Bosnian War to monitor compliance with sanctions imposed against the former Yugoslavia under United Nations Security Council resolutions 713 and 757 . The operation began on July 16, 1992 and ran until November 22, 1992...

 off the coast of Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

, which was coordinated with the Western European Union
Western European Union
The Western European Union was an international organisation tasked with implementing the Modified Treaty of Brussels , an amended version of the original 1948 Treaty of Brussels...

 Operation Sharp Vigilance in the Strait of Otranto
Strait of Otranto
The Strait of Otranto connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and separates Italy from Albania. Its width at Punta Palascìa, east of Salento is less than . The strait is named after the Italian city of Otranto.- History :...

 on July 16. On October 9, 1992, the Security Council passed Resolution 781
United Nations Security Council Resolution 781
United Nations Security Council Resolution 781, adopted on October 9, 1992, after reaffirming Resolution 713 and all subsequent resolutions on the situation in the former Yugoslavia, the Council decided to impose a ban on military flights in the airspace over Bosnia and Herzegovina, acting in...

, establishing a no-fly zone
No-fly zone
A no-fly zone is a territory or an area over which aircraft are not permitted to fly. Such zones are usually set up in a military context, somewhat like a demilitarized zone in the sky, and usually prohibit military aircraft of a belligerent nation from operating in the region.-Iraq,...

 over Bosnia-Herzegovina. In response, on October 16, NATO expanded its mission in the area to include Operation Sky Monitor
Operation Sky Monitor
Operation Sky Monitor was a NATO mission to monitor unauthorized flights in the airspace of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Bosnian War. The operation began in response to United Nations Security Council Resolution 781, which established a ban on the use of military aircraft in Bosnian airspace, and...

, which monitored Bosnian airspace for unauthorized flights.

Enforcing compliance 1992-1993

On November 16, 1992, the Security Council issued Resolution 787
United Nations Security Council Resolution 787
United Nations Security Council Resolution 787, adopted on November 16, 1992, after reaffirming Resolution 713 and all subsequent resolutions on the topic, the Council called upon the parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina to consider the draft outline constitution as a basis for negotiating a...

, which called upon member states to "halt all inward and outbound maritime shipping in order to inspect and verify their cargos" to ensure compliance with sanctions. In response to this resolution, NATO deactivated Maritime Monitor on November 22, and replaced it with Operation Maritime Guard
Operation Maritime Guard
Operation Maritime Guard was a NATO blockade, in the international waters of the Adriatic Sea, of the former Yugoslavia.-Scope:The operation began on November 22, 1992...

, under which NATO forces were authorized to stop ships and inspect their cargos. Unlike Sky Monitor and Maritime Monitor, this was a true enforcement mission, not just a monitoring one.

NATO's air mission also switched from monitoring to enforcement. The Security Council issued Resolution 816
United Nations Security Council Resolution 816
United Nations Security Council Resolution 816, adopted on March 31, 1993, after reaffirming resolutions 781 , 786 concerning a ban on military flights over Bosnia and Herzegovina and recognising the current situation in the region, the Council, acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations...

, which authorized states to use measures "to ensure compliance" with the no-fly zone over Bosnia. In response, on April 12, 1993, NATO initiated Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deny Flight was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization operation that began on April 12, 1993 as the enforcement of a United Nations no-fly zone over Bosnia and Herzegovina...

 which was tasked with enforcing the no-fly zone, using fighter aircraft based in the region.

Throughout 1993, the role of NATO forces in Bosnia gradually grew. On June 10, 1993, NATO and the UN agreed that aircraft acting under Deny Flight would provide close air support
Close air support
In military tactics, close air support is defined as air action by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are close to friendly forces, and which requires detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.The determining factor for CAS is...

 to UNPROFOR at the request of the UN. On June 15, NATO integrated Operation Maritime Guard and Western European Union naval activities in the region into Operation Sharp Guard
Operation Sharp Guard
Operation Sharp Guard was a multi-year joint naval blockade in the Adriatic Sea by NATO and the Western European Union on shipments to the former Yugoslavia. Warships and maritime patrol aircraft from 14 countries were involved in searching for and stopping blockade runners.The operation began on...

, and expanded its role to include greater enforcement powers.

Growing role of air power 1994

On February 28, 1994, the scope of NATO involvement in Bosnia increased dramatically. In an incident near Banja Luka
Banja Luka incident
The Banja Luka incident on February 28, 1994, was an incident in which six Republika Srpska Air Force J-21 Jastreb single-seat light attack jets were engaged, and four of them shot down, by United States Air Force F-16s southwest of Banja Luka, Bosnia....

, NATO fighters operating under Deny Flight shot down four Serb jets. This was the first combat operation in the history of NATO and opened the door for a steadily growing NATO role in Bosnia. In April, the role of NATO airpower continued to grow during a Serb attack on Gorazde
Goražde , is a city and municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Drina river. It is located between Foča, Sokolac and Višegrad, and is administratively part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the center of the Bosnian Podrinje Canton.-Location:Goražde is situated on the...

. In response, NATO launched its first close air support mission on April 10, 1994, bombing several Serb targets at the request of UN commanders. NATO launched several other limited air strikes throughout the year, acting in coordination with the United Nations.

Operations in 1995 and Operation Deliberate Force

NATO continued its air operations over Bosnia in the first half of 1995. During this period, American pilot Scott O'Grady
Scott O'Grady
Scott Francis O'Grady is a former USAF Captain and former United States Air Force fighter pilot who gained prominence after the June 2, 1995 Mrkonjić Grad incident, in which he ejected over Bosnia when his F-16C was shot down by a Bosnian Serb SA-6 while he was patrolling the no-fly zone...

 was shot down over Bosnia
Mrkonjic Grad incident
The Mrkonjić Grad incident was the shooting down of a United States Air Force F-16C by a Bosnian Serb Army SA-6 surface-to-air missile near Mrkonjić Grad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on June 2, 1995...

 by a surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 fired by Bosnian Serb soldiers. He was eventually rescued safely, but his downing caused concern in the United States and other NATO countries about NATO air superiority in Bosnia and prompted some calls for more aggressive NATO action to eliminate Serb anti-air capabilities.

Srebrenica and the London Conference

In July 1995, the Bosnian Serbs launched an attack on the Bosnian town of Srebrenica
Srebrenica is a town and municipality in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska. Srebrenica is a small mountain town, its main industry being salt mining and a nearby spa. During the Bosnian War, the town was the site of the July 1995 massacre,...

, ending with the deaths of approximately 8,000 civilians in the Srebrenica massacre
Srebrenica massacre
The Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide, refers to the July 1995 killing, during the Bosnian War, of more than 8,000 Bosniaks , mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by units of the Army of Republika Srpska under the command of...

. After the horrifying events at Srebrenica, sixteen nations met at the London Conference, beginning on July 21, 1995 to consider new options for Bosnia. As a result of the conference, UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali gave General Bernard Janvier, the UN military commander, the authority to request NATO airstrikes without consulting civilian UN officials, as a way to streamline the process. As a result of the conference, the North Atlantic Council
North Atlantic Council
North Atlantic Council is the most senior political governing body of NATO established by Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The NAC can be held at the Permanent Representative Level , or can be composed of member states' Ministers of State, Defense, or Heads of Government. The NAC has the...

 and the UN also agreed to use NATO air strikes in response to attacks on any of the other safe areas in Bosnia. The participants at the conference also agreed in principle to the use of large-scale NATO air strikes in response to future acts of Serb aggression.

Operation Deliberate Force

After the London Conference, NATO planned an aggressive new air campaign against the Bosnian Serbs. On August 28, 1995, Serb forces launched a mortar shell at the Sarajevo marketplace
Markale massacres
The Markale massacres were two bombardments carried out by the Army of Republika Srpska targeting civilians during the Siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian War. They occurred at the Markale located in the historic core of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.The first happened on February...

 killing 37 people. Admiral Leighton Smith, the NATO commander recommended that NATO launch retaliatory air strikes under that plan, Operation Deliberate Force . On August 30, 1995, NATO officially launched Operation Deliberate Force with large-scale bombing of Serb targets. The bombing lasted until September 20, 1995 and involved attacks on 338 individual targets.

The Dayton Accords and IFOR

Largely as a result of the bombing under Operation Deliberate Force and changes in the battlefield situation, the belligerents in the Bosnian War met in Dayton, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

 in November 1995, and signed the Dayton Accords, a peace treaty. As part of the accords, NATO agreed to provide 60,000 peacekeepers for the region, as part of the Implementation Force (IFOR). In December 1995, under Operation Joint Endeavor, NATO deployed these forces. These forces remained deployed until December 1996, when those remaining in the region were transferred to the Stabilization Force (SFOR). SFOR peacekeepers remained in Bosnia until 2004.
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