Home VFW Post 4709 VFW Auxiliary 4709 History Membership Mobile Applications News & Information Programs Scouting Texas Veterans Information The Wars Community

 

KOSOVO

The Kosovo War was an armed conflict in Kosovo that lasted from 28 February 1998 until 11 June 1999. It was fought by the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Kosovo Albanian rebel group known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and NATO.

The KLA, formed in 1991, initiated its first campaign in 1995 when it launched attacks targeting Serbian law enforcement in Kosovo, and in June 1996 the group claimed responsibility for acts of sabotage targeting Kosovo police stations. In 1997, the organization acquired a large amount of arms through weapons smuggling from Albania, following a rebellion which saw large numbers of weapons looted from the country's police and army posts. It was regarded by the United States, the United Kingdom and France as a terrorist group until 1998, when it was de-listed without explanation.

In 1998, KLA attacks targeting Yugoslav authorities in Kosovo resulted in an increased presence of Serb paramilitaries and regular forces whom subsequently began pursuing a campaign of retribution targeting KLA sympathizers and political opponents in a drive which left 1,500 to 2,000 combatants and civilians dead and led to the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees. After attempts at a diplomatic solution failed, NATO intervened billing the campaign in Kosovo as a "humanitarian war", while Yugoslav forces continued to commit atrocities during the two month-long aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia. Despite initial western claims of hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians killed or missing, subsequent investigations have recovered the remains of only several thousand victims.

The war ended in the Kumanovo Treaty, with Yugoslav forces agreeing to withdraw from Kosovo to make way for an international presence. The Kosovo Liberation Army disbanded soon after this, with some of its members going on to fight for the UÇPMB in the Preševo Valley[81] and others joining the National Liberation Army (NLA) and Albanian National Army (ANA) during the armed ethnic conflict in Macedonia, while others went on to form the Kosovo Police.[83] The conflict was at the centre of news headlines for months, and gained major coverage and attention from the international community and media. The NATO bombing and surrounding events have remained controversial.


NATO losses

Military casualties on the NATO side were light. According to official reports, the alliance suffered no fatalities as a result of combat operations. However, in the early hours of May 5, an American military AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed not far from the border between Serbia and Albania.

Another American AH-64 helicopter crashed about 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Tirana, Albania's capital, very close to the Albanian/Kosovo border. According to CNN, the crash happened 45 miles (72 km) northeast of Tirana. The two American pilots of the helicopter, Army Chief Warrant Officers David Gibbs and Kevin L. Reichert, died in that crash. They were the only NATO ground casualties during the war, according to NATO official statements.

There were other casualties after the war, mostly due to land mines. After the war, the alliance reported the loss of the first US stealth plane (an F-117A stealth fighter) ever shot down by enemy fire. Furthermore an F-16 fighter was lost near Šabac and whose remains are on display in Museum of Aviation in Belgrade, 32 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from different nations were lost. The wreckages of downed UAVs were shown on Serbian television during the war. Some claim a second F-117A was also heavily damaged, and although it made it back to its base, it never flew again. A-10 Thunderbolts have been reported as casualties, with two shot down and another two damaged. Three soldiers of the United States Army have been snatched by Yugoslav Forces across the Macedonian border.


The slide to war (1996–1998)

Rugova's policy of passive resistance succeeded in keeping Kosovo quiet during the war with Slovenia, and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia during the early 1990s. However, as evidenced by the emergence of the KLA, this came at the cost of increasing frustration among Kosovo's Albanian population. In the mid-1990s, Rugova pleaded for a United Nations peacekeeping force for Kosovo. In 1997, Milošević was promoted to the presidency of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (comprising Serbia and Montenegro since its inception in April 1992).

Continuing repression convinced many Albanians that only armed resistance would change the situation. On 22 April 1996, four attacks on Serbian security personnel were carried out almost simultaneously in several parts of Kosovo. A hitherto-unknown organisation calling itself the "Kosovo Liberation Army" (KLA) subsequently claimed responsibility. The nature of the KLA was at first mysterious.

It is widely believed that the KLA received financial and material support from the Kosovo Albanian diaspora. In early 1997, Albania collapsed into chaos following the fall of President Sali Berisha. Military stockpiles were looted with impunity by criminal gangs, with much of the hardware ending up in western Kosovo and boosting the growing KLA arsenal. Bujar Bukoshi, shadow Prime Minister in exile (in Zürich, Switzerland), created a group called FARK (Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosova) which was reported to have been disbanded and absorbed by the KLA in 1998.[citation needed] The Yugoslav government considered the KLA to be "terrorists" and "insurgents" who indiscriminately attacked police and civilians, while most Albanians saw the KLA as "freedom fighters". In 1998, the U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization, and in 1999 the Republican Policy Committee of the U.S. Senate expressed its troubles with the "effective alliance" of the Democratic Clinton administration with the KLA due to "numerous reports from reputable unofficial sources ".

In 2000, a BBC article stated that Nato at War shows how the United States, which had described the KLA as "terrorist", now sought a relationship with the group.
U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard referred to the KLA as terrorists.[108] Responding to criticism, he later clarified to the House Committee on International Relations that "while it has committed 'terrorist acts,' it has 'not been classified legally by the U.S. Government as a terrorist organization.'" On June 1998, he held talks with two men who claimed they were political leaders.

Meanwhile, the U.S. held an "outer wall of sanctions" on Yugoslavia which had been tied to a series of issues, Kosovo being one of them. These were maintained despite the agreement at Dayton to end all sanctions. The Clinton administration claimed that Dayton bound Yugoslavia to hold discussions with Rugova over Kosovo.

The crisis escalated in December 1997 at the Peace Implementation Council meeting in Bonn, where the international community (as defined in the Dayton Agreement) agreed to give the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina sweeping powers, including the right to dismiss elected leaders. At the same time, Western diplomats insisted that Kosovo be discussed, and that Yugoslavia be responsive to Albanian demands there. The delegation from Yugoslavia stormed out of the meetings in protest.

This was followed by the return of the Contact Group that oversaw the last phases of the Bosnian conflict and declarations from European powers demanding that Yugoslavia solve the problem in Kosovo.


War begins

KLA attacks intensified, centering on the Drenica valley area with the compound of Adem Jashari being a focal point. Days after Robert Gelbard described the KLA as a terrorist group, Serbian police responded to the KLA attacks in the Likošane area, and pursued some of the KLA to Čirez, resulting in the deaths of 16 Albanian fighters and four Serbian policemen. The first major act of war had occurred.

Despite some accusations of summary executions and killings of civilians, condemnations from Western capitals were not as voluble as they would become later. Serb police began to pursue Jashari and his followers in the village of Donje Prekaz. A massive firefight at the Jashari compound led to the massacre of 60 Albanians, of which eighteen were women and ten were under the age of sixteen. This March 5, 1998 event provoked massive condemnation from the western capitals. Madeleine Albright stated that "this crisis is not an internal affair of the FRY".

On March 24, Yugoslav forces surrounded the village of Glodjane and attacked a rebel compound there.[113] Despite superior firepower, the Yugoslav forces failed to destroy the KLA unit which had been their objective. Although there were deaths and severe injuries on the Albanian side, the insurgency in Glodjane was far from stamped out. It was in fact to become one of the strongest centers of resistance in the upcoming war.

The KLA's first goal was thus to merge its Drenica stronghold with their stronghold in Albania proper, and this would shape the first few months of the fighting.
A new Yugoslav government was also formed at this time, led by the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Serbian Radical Party. Ultra-nationalist Radical Party chairman Vojislav Šešelj became a deputy prime minister. This increased the dissatisfaction with the country's position among Western diplomats and spokespersons.

In early April, Serbia arranged for a referendum on the issue of foreign interference in Kosovo. Serbian voters decisively rejected foreign interference in this crisis.[115] Meanwhile, the KLA claimed much of the area in and around Dečani and ran a territory based in the village of Glođane, encompassing its surroundings. So, on May 31, 1998, the Yugoslav army and the Serb Ministry of the Interior police began an operation to clear the border of the KLA. NATO's response to this offensive was mid-June's Operation Determined Falcon, an air show over the Yugoslav borders.

During this time, the Yugoslav President Milošević reached an arrangement with Boris Yeltsin of Russia to stop offensive operations and prepare for talks with the Albanians, who, through this whole crisis, refused to talk to the Serbian side, but not the Yugoslav. In fact, the only meeting between Milošević and Ibrahim Rugova happened on 15 May in Belgrade, two days after Richard Holbrooke announced that it would take place. One month later, Holbrooke, after a trip to Belgrade where he threatened Milošević that if he did not obey, "what's left of your country will implode", he visited the border areas affected by the fighting in early June; there he was famously photographed with the KLA. The publication of these images sent a signal to the KLA, its supporters and sympathizers, and to observers in general, that the U.S. was decisively backing the KLA and the Albanian population in Kosovo.

The Yeltsin agreement included Milošević's allowing international representatives to set up a mission in Kosovo-Metohija to monitor the situation there. This was the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM) that began operations in early July. The American government welcomed this part of the agreement, but denounced the initiative's call for a mutual cease fire. Rather, the Americans demanded that the Serbian-Yugoslavian side should cease fire "without linkage...to a cessation in terrorist activities".

All through June and into mid-July, the KLA maintained its advance. KLA surrounded Peć, Đakovica, and had set up an interim capital in the town of Mališevo (north of Orahovac). The KLA troops infiltrated Suva Reka, and the northwest of Priština. They moved on to the Belacevec coal pits and captured them in late June, threatening energy supplies in the region. Their tactics as usual focused mainly on guerilla and mountain warfare, and harassing and ambushing Yugoslav forces and Serb police patrols.

The tide turned in mid-July when the KLA captured Orahovac. On 17 July 1998, two close-by villages to Orahovac, Retimlije and Opteruša, were also captured. Similarly, less systematic events took place in Orahovac and the larger Serb-populated village of Velika Hoča. The Orthodox monastery of Zociste three miles (5 km) from Orehovac—famous for the relics of the Saints Kosmas and Damianos and revered also by local Albanians—was robbed, its monks deported to a KLA prison camp, and, while empty, the monastery church and all its buildings were leveled to the ground by mining. This led to a series of Serb and Yugoslav offensives which would continue into the beginning of August.

A new set of KLA attacks in mid-August triggered Yugoslavian operations in south-central Kosovo south of the Priština-Peć road. This wound down with the capture of Klečka on August 23 and the discovery of a KLA-run crematorium in which some of their victims were found. The KLA began an offensive on September 1 around Prizren, causing Yugoslavian military activity there. In Metohija, around Peć, another offensive caused condemnation as international officials expressed fear that a large column of displaced people would be attacked.

In early mid-September, for the first time, KLA activity was reported in northern Kosovo around Podujevo. Finally, in late September, a determined effort was made to clear the KLA out of the northern and central parts of Kosovo and out of the Drenica valley itself. During this time many threats were made from Western capitals but these were tempered somewhat by the elections in Bosnia, as they did not want Serbian Democrats and Radicals to win. Following the elections, however, the threats intensified once again but a galvanizing event was needed. They got it on September 28, when the mutilated corpses of a family were discovered by KDOM outside the village of Gornje Obrinje; the bloody doll from there became the rallying image for the ensuing war.


Military decorations

As a result of the Kosovo War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation created a second NATO medal, the NATO Medal for Kosovo Service, an international military decoration. Shortly thereafter, NATO created the Non-Article 5 Medal for Balkans service to combine both Yugoslavian and Kosovo operations into one service medal.

Due to the involvement of the United States armed forces, a separate U.S. military decoration, known as the Kosovo Campaign Medal, was established by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

note: The source of this material was the online Wikipedia.  The site policy is that if content is copied/borrowed, the name of the site must remain on the page.  Wikipedia is the source of the information of this page.
 

Copyright © 2016 VFW POST 4709, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED