Captain Chris Miller's experiences in the former Republic of Yugoslavia
The Mission : In and Out of Sarajevo : Back in Germany : Write Me
|The violent disintegration of Yugoslavia prompted the United Nations to deploy peacekeeping forces and begin humanitarian relief operations. Operation Provide Promise involved a joint operation with the US Navy and Air Force protecting humanitarian relief efforts in the besieged cities of the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
The operation began on July 2, 1992, with 21 nations forming a coalition to resupply war-ravaged Sarajevo. Continued Serbian resistance to humanitarian efforts forced the UN to establish no-fly zones over Bosnia and to launch air strikes. Bosnian Serbs remained belligerent and fired on aircraft flying humanitarian missions. When it became too dangerous to land at Sarajevo Airport, Military Airlift Command C-130s were tasked to airdrop supplies from high altitude. After 3-1/2 years, 160,000 tons of food, 18,000 tons of medicine and supplies, and 13,000 sorties, the longest humanitarian airlift effort in history ended on January 9, 1996.
|Reserve and Guard aircrews assigned to Delta Squadron, as well as active duty crews from the 37th TAS, flew as many as six C-130 sorties a day from Rhein-Main Air Base to Sarajevo. Cease-fire violations, including firing at relief aircraft, frequently forced UN officials to suspend operations. Participating crews reported 279 incidents, but the only deaths occurred when an Italian G-222 was shot down in September 1992 killing four crewmembers. Three C-130s from the 37th conducted the first night airdrops over Bosnia, releasing 16 tons of MREs on 28 February 1993. French airdrops began 27 March 1993 and the Germans flew their first airdrop mission a day later. The last airdrop occurred on 19 August 1994. By the end of the operation, aircraft from 21 countries had flown 12,886 sorties into Sarajevo, delivering 159,622 tons of food, medicine, and supplies and evacuating more than 1,300 wounded. The US flew 3,951 C-130, 236 C-141, and 10 C-17 airland sorties delivering more than 62 thousand tons, as well as 2,222 C-130 airdrop sorties.
Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, a Marine aerial refueling squadron, an Army military police unit, a Navy fleet hospital manned with both active and reserve personnel, and on-call Marines from the European theater's Amphibious Ready Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit supplied support to UN forces.
|Operation Provide Promise was the largest humanitarian airdrop operation in the history of the United States. More than 30,000 bundles of humanitarian aid were airdropped, including food, medical supplies and winterization items (blankets, clothes, plastic sheeting, nails, candle, etc.)
At the beginning of the operation, eight aircraft (six US, one German and one French) were loaded with bundles daily. Over winter, because of the additional relief items, the nightly mission generation rate increased to 16 aircraft (12 US, 3 German and 1 French). To accomplish the expanded mission, the 5th Quartermaster Detachment employed more than 200 soldiers, including 30 additional riggers from US Army-Italy, 100 soldiers from other US Army Europe units, 30 Reserve Component soldiers from Georgia, and 20 allied soldiers from France and Germany.
|Because Serb forces continued to take hostile action against other ethnic groups, NATO was forced to initiate an intensive, month-long bombing campaign starting in August 1995. The air strikes produced the desired effect, bringing the Serbs to the table, and a cease-fire went into effect in October. Peace talks began on 1 November 1995, resulting in the Dayton Peace Accords. US Servicemen came to Bosnia in December 1995 as part of the Implementation Force (IFOR), a NATO-led peacekeeping force created under these accords. IFOR had a one-year mandate to oversee implementation of the military aspects of the peace agreement.|
Although the airdrop portion was envisioned as a noncombat operation, and no casualties were incurred, the airdrops were in fact combat. The potential risk to aircraft and crews was too great to be ignored by operational commanders. The Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) had to integrate allied airlift forces along with defensive, offensive, and surveillance assets into a synergistic team to ensure success in a non-permissive environment.
Last updated on 24 May 2006 by Chris Miller
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