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Bosnia: U.S. Military Operations

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Publication Date: July 2003

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: IB93056

Topic: Military and defense (Military policy)


In Paris on December 14, 1995, the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia signed the peace settlement they negotiated in Dayton, OH. The following day the United Nations Security Council's Resolution 1031 authorized for one year the multilateral NATO-led implementation force (IFOR) under the U.N. Charter's Chapter VII. On December 12, 1996, the Security Council authorized a follow-on force, dubbed the Stabilization Force (SFOR). This authorization been renewed annually. In March 1998, the NATO allies agreed that SFOR will remain in Bosnia until significant progress, according to specified benchmarks, has been made in the implementation of the Dayton Accords.

During 1996, the United States stationed about 16,500 troops in Bosnia, and roughly 6,000 support personnel in Croatia, Hungary, and Italy. All NATO nations contributed personnel, along with 18 non-NATO nations, for an IFOR total of about 54,000 troops. SFOR is now a smaller force of about 18,000 troops. The U.S. contingent has been reduced to about 2,900 in Bosnia, and with about 1,000 additional personnel in Italy, Hungary, and Croatia supporting NATO operations in both Bosnia and Kosovo.

SFOR continues the mission of monitoring and enforcing the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Accords, e.g., demilitarized zones and weapon cantonment. These efforts have been credited a success. With SFOR's duration now dependent upon progress in implementing the Dayton Accords, NATO commanders have lent greater assistance to civilian authorities, local and international, in their efforts to create a stable political environment. SFOR has stepped up efforts to detain war crimes suspects, provided logistical support for internationally monitored elections, and provided limited assistance for refugee resettlement. SFOR now has paramilitary police units - the Multi-national Special Unit (MSU) - to respond to civil disturbances.

Contrary to some initial expectations when NATO deployed to Bosnia, the IFOR/SFOR operations have been notably free of hostile casualties. U.S. forces have sustained only one hostile fatality, a soldier who picked up an unexploded munition.

From FY1992 through FY2003, approximately $13.92 billion has been appropriated for Bosnia-related operations. In keeping with congressional direction, costs for Balkan peacekeeping operations after FY2002 are longer be separately budgeted, but rather covered by the individual armed services regular operating budgets. DOD budget documents indicate that $913 million has been requested for FY2004 Bosnia operations.