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The Influence of UN and NATO Theater-Level Commanders on the Use of Airpower Over Bosnia During Deny Flight: 1993-1995

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Doctoral thesis,

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This study examines the role that theater-level commanders in the UN and NATO played in influencing the use of airpower over Bosnia between the spring of 1993 and the end of 1995. It also uncovers factors explaining why the top UN and NATO commanders in the region acted as they did. The central thesis of this study is that the commanders needs to balance the various responsibilities inherent in command powerfully affected their actions when they tried to influence the use of airpower. Stress on these commanders was greatest when they felt forced to make tradeoffs that put their forces at risk without a corresponding payoff in terms of mission accomplishment. In attempting to strike the proper balance between force protection, mission accomplishment, and obedience to civilian political control, commanders drew on their own expertise and that of their staffs. Not surprisingly then, the traditional division between soldiers and airmen over the utility of airpower manifest itself in a split dividing UN army generals from senior NATO airmen, and also helps to explain each groups actions. Because this case is presented in a chronological fashion, it offers the first coherent account of operation Deny Flight the NATO air operations over Bosnia from April of 1993 until December of 1995. From start to finish, the theater-level commanders acted as more than mere executors of policy. They helped to define their own missions, strove to control the use of airpower, and generally struggled to maintain operational autonomy, so they could fulfill their responsibilities for mission accomplishment and force protection.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Government and Political Science

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