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Disjointed War. Military Operations in Kosovo, 1999

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All military operations have problems, and NATOs Operation Allied Force was no exception. Nor did it accomplish every objective. But whatever problems plagued the operation, the outcome was a clear victory for NATO. Operation Allied Force compelled the Yugoslavs to end the ethnic cleansing and expulsion of Kosovar Albanians, withdraw their forces from Kosovo, accept an international military presence in the province, and permit the unconditional return of refugees. Arguably, it also compromised Slobodan Milosevics ability to hold on to power and ultimately resulted in his incarceration. All of that said, problems abounded during the NATO military operation, and this report focuses on these problems because they offer a rich trove of lessons for future operations. Specifically, we focus on a subset of problems, those implicit in our title Disjointed War. Allied Force was a joint multiservice operation, but it was not fought that way at least to the extent that it could and should have been. This was especially true when it came to joint planning and operations in integrating air and ground capabilities. Operation Allied Force was also a combined, multinational operation. Fighting as an alliance brought essential political benefits, but it also induced a host of issues that had important operational military implications. These joint and combined difficulties caused confusion, probably made the operation less effective than it could have been, and possibly delayed victory. Had Milosevic not capitulated and had the allies eventually decided to launch a ground offensive, this disjointedness could have had severe consequences.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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