Operation Joint Guard
On 20 December 1996, NATO transitioned its operation in support of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina from implementation to stabilization. As a result, Operation Joint Endeavor ended and Operation Joint Guard began. NATO's Implementation Force (IFOR) was similarly replaced by a Stabilization Force (SFOR). The US Task Force Eagle, comprised at that time of 20,000 soldiers led by elements of the 1st Infantry Division, continued to be the US component of the NATO mission. On 20 June 1998, the decision was made to scale down the size of SFOR and NATO transitioned from Operation Joint Guard to Operation Joint Forge.
On 1 June 1997, the Headquarters, 16th Air Expeditionary Wing was designated and activated at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The 16th Air Expeditionary Wing provided direction, control, support, administrative control, and uniform code of military justice authority for more than 1,300 United States Air Force personnel stationed throughout Europe in support of Operation Joint Guard and then Operation Joint Forge. These units, located in Istres, France; Rimini and San Vito, Italy; Tuzla and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Zagreb, Croatia; Taszar, Hungary, and Rhein Main, Germany comprised the lion's share of the USAF contingent of NATO's Stabilization Force (SFOR). Since its inception, 16th Air Expeditionary Wing worked a number of high-profile initiatives in support of the SFOR mission. These included the relocation of KC-135 operations from Pisa, Italy to Istres, France; the installation of air navigation aid equipment at Tuzla, Air Base, Bosnia-Herzegovina to support Russian and SFOR partner air operations; quality-of life-improvements for U-2 crews and support personnel at Istres France, and the holiday visit of President Bill Clinton to the Operation Joint Forge area of responsibility.
Through careful planning and skillful execution of every mission, the soldiers' of the 1st Infantry Division and multi-national allies continued to monitor the militaries of the former warring factions and provided a climate of stability in the war-torn land of Bosnia-Herzegovina. On 22 October 1997, the 1st Armored Division again assumed command of MND(N) and Task Force Eagle. The 1st Armored Division had been the first element leading American forces assigned to IFOR Soldiers, and the soldiers of the Division were familiar with the mission and Bosnia-Herzegovina and quickly adapted to the role and the challenges of establishing a secure and peaceful environment in MND(N).
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