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Operation Noble Anvil
Operation Flexible Anvil
Operation Sky Anvil

Operation Noble Anvil was the US joint operation in support first of NATO's Operation Determined Force and subsequently Operation Allied Force. Determined Force and Allied Force were NATO contingency operations in response to growing violence in Kosovo during 1998, culminating in NATO airstrikes on Serbian forces from March until June 1999.

In August 1998, US General Wesley Clark, then commander of US European Command (EUCOM) and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), initiated Operations Flexible Anvil and Sky Anvil to conduct Kosovo-specific mission planning in response to the growing crisis there. Operation Flexible Anvil, led by Joint Task Force Flexible Anvil, would look at the possibility for tomahawk land attack cruise missile strikes and carrier-borne air strikes led by Commander, US Sixth Fleet. Operation Sky Anvil, led by Joint Task Force Sky Anvil, would look at the possibility for air-launched cruise missile and other air strikes led by Sixteenth Air Force. These missions were eventually tasked to support Operation Determined Force. The 2 joint task forces were composed of forces assigned to EUCOM, which could and did respond immediately. Also, while the task forces were titled as "joint" they were effectively separate retaining the makeup and character of the parent service and responsible only for the planning of operations in their specific domain. Creation of the 2 task forces did, however, allow General Clark to directly command of the planning capabilities resident in US Sixth Fleet and Sixteenth Air Force, effectively removing Commander, Naval Forces Europe and Commander in Chief, US Air Forces in Europe from the chain of command.

NATO officers were also excluded from the first round of planning. This meant that the US specific plans for potential limited strikes in Kosovo were presented to and approved by the National Command Authority before NATO's activation order for Operation Determined Force was approved by the North Atlantic Council on 13 October 1998. The Operation Flexible Anvil and Sky Anvil plans were subsequently made available to NATO. With the agreement reached with Serbia's President Milosevic on 15 October 1998, in which he agreed to abide by the provisions outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 1199, NATO began to take a more active role in establishing a plan for potential strikes in the event of a failure to comply. However, its focus was placed more heavily on the non-combat aerial verification mission, Operation Eagle Eye, which began on 30 October 1998. As negotiations continued on a final settlement of the Kosovo question and as Serbian authorities appeared to be working toward compliance, Operations Flexible Anvil and Sky Anvil ended in December 1998 and the Joint Task Forces were inactivated.

A crisis remained in Kosovo, however, and General Clark realized that the inability of NATO to decide on a comprehensive course of action with regards to Serbian authorities combined with the fact that if combat operations started that additional forces only the United States could provide would be required, led to the establishment of a new contingency mission and a true joint task force. Operation Noble Anvil began in January 1999 to provide support to Operation Determined Force and was led by Joint Task Force - Noble Anvil. The Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe, Admiral James Ellis (also Commander, US Naval Forces Europe), was placed in command of the task force, which would oversee both naval and air strikes should the order be given. In addition, a US Army task force, Task Force Hawk, was also placed under the command of Joint Task Force Noble Anvil.

The situation in Kosovo and at the negotiations continued to deteriorate throughout early 1999, and on 23 March 1999, all efforts to achieve a negotiated, political solution to the Kosovo crisis having failed, it was NATO's position that no alternative was open but to take military action. NATO's Secretary General directed the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Clark, to initiate air operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Operation Determined Force ended on 23 March 1999 and air operations commenced on 24 March 1999 marking the start of Operation Allied Force. The US component of this new operation remained Operation Noble Anvil, with Joint Task Force - Noble Anvil leading the US contingent as part of the larger NATO operation. For a total of 78 days, NATO conducted military operations against the forces of President Milosevic in Kosovo and Serbia proper, after which a peacekeeping operation was deployed into Kosovo as part of Operation Joint Guardian. In June 1999, Operation Allied Force ended and in July 1999 Operation Noble Anvil also ended.




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