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

April 13, 1993

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

As part of my continuing effort to keep the Congress fully informed, I am providing this report, consistent with section 4 of the War Powers Resolution, to advise you of actions that I have ordered in support of the United Nations efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Beginning with U.N. Security Council Resolution 713 of September 25, 1991, the United Nations has been actively addressing the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. The Security Council acted in Resolution 781 to establish a ban on all unauthorized military flights over Bosnia-Herzegovina. There have, however, been blatant violations of the ban, and villages in Bosnia have been bombed.

In response to these violations, the Security Council decided, in Resolution 816 of March 31, 1993, to extend the ban to all unauthorized flights over Bosnia-Herzegovina and to authorize Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations, to take all necessary measures to ensure compliance. NATO's North Atlantic Council (NAC) agreed to provide NATO air enforcement for the no-fly zone. The U.N. Secretary General was notified of NATO's decision to proceed with Operation DENY FLIGHT, and an activation order was delivered to participating allies.

The United States actively supported these decisions. At my direction, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent an execute order to all U.S. forces participating in the NATO force, for the conduct of phased air operations to prevent flights not authorized by the United Nations over Bosnia-Herzegovina. The U.S. forces initially assigned to this operation consist of 13 F-15 and 12 F-18A fighter aircraft and supporting tanker aircraft. These aircraft commenced enforcement operations at 8:00 a.m. e.d.t. on April 12, 1993. The fighter aircraft are equipped for combat to accomplish their mission and for self-defense.

NATO has positioned forces and has established combat air patrol (CAP) stations within the control of Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft. The U.S. CAP aircraft will normally operate from bases in Italy and from an aircraft carrier in the Adriatic Sea. Unauthorized aircraft entering or approaching the no-fly zone will be identified, interrogated, intercepted, escorted/ monitored, and turned away (in that order). If these steps do not result in compliance with the no-fly zone, such aircraft may be engaged on the basis of proper authorization by NATO military authorities and in accordance with the approved rules of engagement, although we do not expect such action will be necessary. The Commander of UNPROFOR (the United Nations Protection Force currently operating in Bosnia-Herzegovina) was consulted to ensure that his concerns for his force were fully considered before the rules of engagement were approved.

It is not possible to predict at this time how long such operations will be necessary. I have directed U.S. armed forces to participate in these operations pursuant to my constitutional authority as Commander in Chief. I am grateful for the continuing support that the Congress has given to this effort, 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. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on April 14.

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

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