Countdown to 75: US Army in Kosovo

File photo of U.S. Army Soldiers patrolling in the Balkans. 1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – File photo of U.S. Army Soldiers patrolling in the Balkans. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe File Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL Checkpoint 65, located on the Kosovo side of the Ground Safety Zone separating Kosovo from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Checkpoint 65, located on the Kosovo side of the Ground Safety Zone separating Kosovo from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Center for Military History) VIEW ORIGINAL U.S. Army personnel distribute school supplies, winter clothes, and mine-awareness packages to Albanian children in a small town in MNB-East. 3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army personnel distribute school supplies, winter clothes, and mine-awareness packages to Albanian children in a small town in MNB-East. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Center for Military History) VIEW ORIGINAL

Although the U.S. Army has traditionally focused on conventional warfare, it also has a long history of conducting irregular operations of almost every nature and size.

In Bosnia, the Army worked with its European allies to enforce a negotiated settlement among rival ethnic groups following a long and violent civil war. But no sooner had relative peace come to the area in the late 1990s that another conflict arose to the immediate south when ethnic violence spilled over into the nearby Serbian province of Kosovo.

By early 1999, more than eight-hundred thousand ethnic Albanians had been driven out of Kosovo by Serbian forces under Slobodan Milosevic, while as many as twelve thousand may have been murdered in a wave of ethnic cleansing that horrified the world.

Working again in concert with European allies, U.S. forces entered Kosovo in June 1999 with the primary objective of bringing peace to that troubled land. The task, code named Operation Joint Guardian, proved exceedingly difficult.

Entrenched ethnic hatred between Albanians and Serbians continued to fuel the conflict, and the general devastation continued for many weeks. Organized as the Kosovo Forces (KFOR), the allies were finally able to enforce a tentative peace by October of that year.

But as of 2007, the current peacekeeping mission has no end in sight, while the path leading to a larger political solution regarding Kosovo’s future has been equally elusive.

The Army’s mission in Kosovo was significantly different from the warfighting customarily associated with military service, but it was no less important and no less dangerous.

We’ll be highlighting U.S. Army Europe’s history over the next 13 weeks as we countdown to our 75th birthday. Follow along with #75Strong!

About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.

Source: US Army (USAREUR)

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