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Operation Eagle Eye
Operation Joint Guarantor / Determined Guarantor

In October 1998, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia agreed to a ceasefire in Kosovo. On 15 October 1998, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Chief of General Staff of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia signed in Belgrade an agreement establishing an air verification mission over Kosovo, to complement a proposed Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) verification mission. On 16 October 1998, the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia signed in Belgrade an agreement establishing a verification mission in Kosovo, including the undertaking of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to comply with UNSC Resolutions 1160 and 1199 adopted earlier in 1998.

NATO subsequently established 2 separate missions to support these efforts in parallel: Operation Eagle Eye and Operation Joint Joint Guarantor, the latter of which eventually transitioned to Operation Determined Guarantor. Operation Eagle Eye consisted of NATO verification flights over Kosovo. Operation Joint Guarantor, and later Determined Guarantor, was the establishment of a standing NATO Extraction Force, a contingency force ready to intervene in an emergency to extract OSCE and other designated personnel from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia soil on request by the OSCE Verification Mission in the event that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was unable or unwilling to fulfill its obligations. On 24 October 1998, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1203, which endorsed and supported both OSCE and NATO verification missions.

Operation Eagle Eye

Operation Eagle Eye was the result of the NATO-Kosovo Verification Mission Agreement, signed in Belgrade on 15 October 1998, and under which the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia agreed to the establishment of an air surveillance system comprised of NATO non-combatant reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. A NATO "activation order" dated 30 October 1998, marked the official launch of this high-tech verification mission.

Eagle Eye was conducted under the authority of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). Responsibility for the successful execution of the operation lay with the Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH), whose headquarters was in Naples, Italy. The air component commander of the operation was the Commander of Allied Air Forces Southern Europe (COMAIRSOUTH), who exercised that authority through the 5th Allied Tactical Air Force, Combined Air Operation Center (5ATAF CAOC). The other component of the operation was the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre (KVCC). The Combined Air Operation Center, located in Vicenza, Italy, tasked and controlled national air assets contributing to Eagle Eye.

The Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre (KVCC), located at Kumanovo in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, conducted liaison, planning, coordination and exchange of information with the OSCE verifiers. The KVCC was formally inaugurated on 26 November 1998.

The entire operation was broken down into verifying, assessing, and reporting. Verifying involved the use of unarmed aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor the activities of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia security forces, the removal or cantonment of weapons systems, the respect of the ceasefire by all parties, the free movement of civilians, ground monitors and humanitarian organizations, the delivery of humanitarian supplies, and any air-observable compliance or non-compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1199. Assessing was achieved through the collection, validation, and analysis of available data. Films and images from Eagle Eye's manned and unmanned surveillance platforms were delivered to NATO processing stations. A global analysis on the NATO collected information was conducted at NATO and national information centres, resulting in a daily report produced by NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). This daily report, covering all elements of UN Security Council Resolution 1199, was sent to the North Atlantic Council, which in turn determined if all parties were or were not in compliance. The NATO assessment was shared with OSCE and with the UN. This reporting, through the chain of command to the North Atlantic Council, meant that NATO and the OSCE could share information to facilitate their respective overall assessments of compliance.

Several NATO nations offered aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Air assets were provided by France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Unarmed aircraft conducting or supporting the missions included: U-2s, Canberras, RC-135s, C-160s, P-3s, Breguet Atlantique, and UAVs. Several non-NATO nations also offered to support the verification mission. US Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, based at the Hungarian air base at Taszar, along with U-2s flying from other sites in Europe, conducted surveillance flights on behalf of NATO's Operation Eagle Eye to verify Yugoslavia's compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1199. The aircraft, which normally flew surveillance missions over Bosnia, flew several missions over Kosovo under Hungarian and US authority in support of NATO. The first U-2 verification flight was flown from Aviano air base, Italy on 17 October 1998, in anticipation of the beginning of routine multinational missions.

On 19 October 1998, a reconnaissance team of the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre deployed near Skopje and on 21 October 1998, the North Atlantic Council approved the Eagle Eye operations plan. On 30 October 1998, the North Atlantic Council approved the execution of Operation Eagle Eye.

The first flight by British aircraft participating in Operation Eagle Eye took place on 11 November 1998. The United Kingdom's Royal Air Force deployed 2 Canberra reconnaissance aircraft to Gioia del Colle Air Base, Italy to participate in the NATO verification missions over Kosovo, the southern province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

A result of the withdrawal of OSCE monitors from Kosovo and the halting of Kosovo Verification Mission operations due to the non-compliance of the Yugoslav government, who continued to build up their forces beyond acceptable levels, creating an unacceptable level of risk to the peace support verification mission, Operation Eagle Eye flights over Kosovo ceased on 24 March 1999. On 24 March 1999, NATO inaugurated Operation Allied Force, which saw the launching of airstrikes against Kosovo and elsewhere in the Federal Yugoslav Republic.

Operation Joint Guarantor / Determined Guarantor

Eagle Eye flights were parallel to and coordinated with the ground verification conducted by a 1,400-member team belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Information used to determine compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1199 was collected on the ground by observer teams belonging to the OSCE and by the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM). Reports from OSCE and KDOM teams were shared with the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre.

To support the OSCE mission, NATO established an Extraction Force under Operation Joint Guarantor, and subsequently maintained this force under Operation Determined Guarantor. The NATO contingency force stood ready to intervene in an emergency to extract OSCE and other designated personnel from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia soil on request by the OSCE Verification Mission in the event that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was unable or unwilling to fulfill its obligations. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, according to an agreement reached with the OSCE on 16 October 1998, assumed the primary responsibility for the safety and security of the OSCE mission and its personnel.

NATO's Extraction Force was primary composed of European NATO Allies with France as the lead nation. The US did not contribute to the Extraction Force or Operations Joint Guarantor and Determined Guarantor. The Force's headquarters and standing elements were stationed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and comprised about 2,300 persons. The combined headquarters consisted of about 300 personnel from 10 NATO nations. Standing elements of the force came from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and the United Kingdom. French component consisted of an infantry battalion, 12 helicopters, and an engineer company. The German component consisted of an infantry company. The Dutch component consisted of 3 CH-47D Chinooks, an engineer company, and ambulances. The Italian component consisted of an infantry company and 6 helicopters. The UK component consisted of an infantry company and an engineer company.

On 13 November 1998, NATO's North Atlantic Council (NAC) approved the plan for Operation Joint Guarantor. The Kosovo Verification Coordination Center at Kumanovo was formally established on 26 November 1998. On 4 December 1998, the NAC approves the execution of Operation Joint Guarantor and on 6 December 1998, the deployment of Extraction Force elements to the FYROM began. On 10 December 1998, the Headquarters of the Extraction Force was activated at Kumanovo and on 15 January 1999, the Extraction Force was declared to be fully operational.

OSCE monitors subsequently departed Kosovo in March 1999, as peace talks in Paris broke down. The Extraction Force was subsequently maintained as part of Operation Determined Guarantor, and the force constituted the basis on which a force ready to implement a peace agreement was progressively built. This eventually became NATO's Kosovo Force, which was authorized on 9 June 1999 as part of Operation Joint Guardian.




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