NATO's Gamble

Combining Diplomacy and Airpower in the Kosovo Crisis, 1998-1999
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Published:October 15, 2007
By Dag Henriksen (Author)

Selected for the 2008 Royal Air Force Reading List

In this revealing work, Dag Henriksen discloses the origins and content of NATO's strategic and conceptual thinking on how the use of force was to succeed politically in altering the behavior of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). The air campaign, known as Operation Allied Force, was the first war against any sovereign nation in the history of NATO and the first major combat operation conducted for humanitarian purposes against a state committing atrocities within its own borders. This book examines the key political, diplomatic, and military processes that shaped NATO and U.S. management of the Kosovo crisis and shows how air power became the main instrument in their strategy to coerce the FRY to accede to NATO's demands.

The book further shows that the military leaders set to execute the campaign had no clear strategic guidance on what the operation was to achieve and that the level of uncertainty was so high that the officers selecting the bombing targets watched NATO's military spokesman on CNN for guidance in choosing their targets. Henriksen argues that structures preceding the Kosovo crisis shaped the management to a much greater degree than events taking place in Kosovo and that the air power community's largely institutionalized focus on high-intensity conflicts, like the 1991 Gulf War, hampered them from developing strategies to fit the political complexities of crises. Because fighting and wars in the lower end of the intensity spectrum are likely to surface again, study of the Kosovo crisis offers lessons for future international conflicts in which the combination of force and diplomacy will play a very significant role.

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Product Details
  • Subject: Military History
  • Hardback : 304 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (October 15, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 1591143551
  • ISBN-13: 9781591143550
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 19.2 oz
  • "I believe NATO owes its deepest appreciation to Captain Henriksen for his in-depth research and his incisive analysis of Operation Allied Force. NATO's Gamble chronicles the mistakes in planning that NATO is destined to make again unless today's leadership resolves to learn from the past." — General Joseph W. Ralston, USAF (Ret.), former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
  • "NATO's Gamble is an excellent case study of the application of airpower in our modern circumstances. It gives a well-researched and accurate account of those difficult days as we undertook Operation Allied Force. Dag Henriksen shows clearly the complexities that surround the apparent simplicity of the air weapon when it is used. I commend this book to political and military practitioners in particular and to all interested in the policy and strategy for the use of military force." — General Sir Rupert Smith, Deputy Supreme Commander Allied Command Europe during Operation Allied Force

Dag Henriksen is Head of the Department for Airpower and Technology at the Royal Norwegian Air Force Academy. A native of Trondheim, Norway, he holds a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow.

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