The Balkans

As of the early 21st Century, the Balkans remains an active laboratory for the testing of US weapons, doctrines, and tactics. What we—and our potential enemies—learn from this experience will help determine the effectiveness of our forces for years to come.

The official DoD report: Kosovo/Operation Allied Force After-Action Report - (12/31/1999) - (2.2MB PDF) Also available, and with a brief overview, from the Federation of American Scientists.

Background note on the situation in Croatia, Report to the European Parliament, March 1, 2000. Overview of events in Croatia since the death of Tudjman and the current situation there from the perspective of the European Union.

Dubious Anniversary - Kosovo One Year Later.” Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwarz, The Cato Institute, June 2000. The authors make a case that however well intentioned NATO’s intervention may have been, the result will be our long term involvement in a conflict with no discernable solution.

Kosovo: Review and Analysis of Policy Objectives, 1998-June 1999,” by Julie Kim, Congressional Research Service, July 1999. A good introduction to developments in US policy in Kosovo during 1998 and 1999. It does not cover some of the most controversial aspects of that policy—for example, it makes only a passing reference to Appendix B at Rambouillet and why it, in combination with the additional call for a referendum, helped to trigger the collapse at Rambouillet. But that said, it is a good primer.

Update on the Situation of Ethnic Minorities in Kosovo, February - May 2000” Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Excerpt: “We knew the hatreds ran deep. But we did not believe that the refugees and the victims UNHCR had helped in exile would soon become the oppressors, employing many of the same disgusting tactics that had once been directed at them.” Has the war in Kosovo actually ended? What did we accomplish and when can we leave? Are there broader lessons about using military force to “solve” ethnic and religious conflicts? (117KB .pdf file)

Admiral James O. Ellis’s After Action Report on the Kosovo Operation. (ADM Ellis was Commander JTF NOBLE ANVIL during Operation ALLIED FORCE) Generally accepts that NATO technology was successful all levels of the conflict (although subsequent analysis has cast considerable doubt on this conclusion). However, he also raises a number of important issues, including whether a future clever enemy could exploit our aversion to friendly and civilian casualties, and hints at the debate on why Milosovic actually caved. Notes that “Information saturation is additive to the fog of war” and “We were lucky, but luck is not a principle of war for the next commander.” (435 KB PowerPoint presentation)

The GAO study on the prospects for lasting peace in the Balkans, “Balkans Security: Current and Projected Factors Affecting Regional Stability.” NSIAD-00-125BR. 71 pp. plus 8 appendices (19 pp.) April 24, 2000. UN intervention has suppressed large-scale overt violence, but the “warring parties” have not given up the goals that started the conflict in the first place. The outlook: Business as usual in the Balkans.

Comment 255: “German Antiguerilla Operations in the Balkans (1941 - 1944)” Very complete and detailed report that explains why nothing happening there now should surprise us. From the Army’s Center for Military History.