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Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on the No-Fly Zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina

October 13, 1993

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Six months ago I provided you with my initial report on the deployment of U.S. combatequipped aircraft to support NATO's enforcement of the no-fly zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I am now providing this follow-up report, consistent with the War Powers Resolution, to keep Congress fully informed on our enforcement effort.

The United Nations Security Council has been actively addressing the humanitarian and ethnic crisis in the Balkans since adopting Resolution 713 on September 25, 1991. As a significant part of the extensive United Nations effort in the region, the Security Council acted through Resolutions 781 and 786 to establish a ban on all unauthorized flights over Bosnia-Herzegovina. In response to blatant violations of these Resolutions, the Security Council adopted Resolution 816, which authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the no-fly zone. NATO and its North Atlantic Council (NAC) agreed to provide NATO air assets to enforce the declared no-fly zone.

As I stated in my April 13 report, this enforcement effort began on April 12, 1993. Since that time, the participating nations have conducted phased air operations to prevent flights over Bosnia-Herzegovina that are not authorized by the United Nations Protection Forces (UNPROFOR). The United States has played a major role by contributing combat-equipped fighter aircraft as well as electronic combat and supporting tanker aircraft to these operations in the airspace over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Militarily, enforcement of the no-fly zone has been effective. Since the operations pursuant to Resolution 816 began, we have seen no recurrence of air-to-ground bombing of villages or other air-to-ground combat activity in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Although nearly 400 violations have occurred, most have been by rotary-wing aircraft. These flights are difficult to detect because they are of short duration and are flown slowly, at low altitudes, and in mountainous terrain. Consequently, such flights sometimes can complete missions after being detected but before being intercepted. In addition, the violators appear to have learned the limits of our rules of engagement (ROE) and have become adept at playing "cat-and-mouse" games with the interceptors. When intercepted, violators heed the warnings to land, but sometimes the flights continue after the interceptors depart.

These enforcement operations have been conducted safely, with no casualties to date. Consideration has been given to strengthening the ROE to enforce the no-fly zone more aggressively. Because the violations have been militarily insignificant, however, the ROE have not been changed.

The United States continues to make extensive and valuable contributions to the United Nations efforts in the former Yugoslavia. More than 50 U.S. aircraft are now available to NATO for the continued conduct of no-fly zone enforcement operations and possible provision of close air support to UNPROFOR in the future. In addition, U.S. airlift missions to Sarajevo have numbered more than 1,900, and we have completed nearly 1,000 airdrop missions to safe areas, including Mostar. U.S. medical and other support personnel are providing vital services in support of UNPROFOR, while our U.S. Army light infantry battalion deployed to Macedonia has become an integral part of the UNPROFOR monitoring operations there. Finally, U.S. naval forces have completed more than 14 months of enforcement operations as part of a multinational effort to implement the Security Council's mandate with respect to economic sanctions and the arms embargo covering the former Yugoslavia.

Although the no-fly zone enforcement operations have been militarily effective and have reduced potential air threats to our humanitarian airlift and airdrop flights, this is only part of a much larger, continuing effort to resolve the extremely difficult situation in the former Yugoslavia. I therefore am not able to indicate at this time how long our participation in no-fly zone enforcement operations will be necessary. I have continued the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces for these purposes pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief.

I am grateful for the continuing support of Congress for this important deployment, and I look forward to continued cooperation as we move forward toward attainment of our goals in this region.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Robert C. Byrd, President pro tempore of the Senate.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on the No-Fly Zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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