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VETERAN OF FOREIGN WARS

THE BALKINS

Home
THE CROSS OF MALTA
MEMORIAL DAY...
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
"LEAST WE FORGET"
THE EVIL AXIS
THE FORGOTTEN WAR
THE VIET NAM WAR
THE CAMPAIGNS
THE BALKINS
THE GULF WAR DESERT STORM
THE USS COLE
SOMALIA
AFGHANISTAN
IRAQI FREEDOM
GREAT LINKS
GREAT LINKS II

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"If there was ever any doubt what is at stake in Kosovo, Mr Milosevic is certainly erasing it by his actions."
US President Bill Clinton, speaking as refugees flooded out of Kosovo.

 "We're going to systematically and progressively attack, disrupt, degrade, devastate and ultimately, unless President Milosevic complies with the demands of the international community, we're going to destroy his forces and their facilities and support"
Nato Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Wesley Clark, speaking as the campaign began
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Nato carried out its threat to bomb Serbia over Kosovo on 24 March 1999, attacking a sovereign European country for the first time in the alliance's history. The first images of the Nato action were the pictures of cruise missiles launched from ships in the Adriatic into the night towards Yugoslavia. By the following morning, reports and pictures of the damage began to emerge, with Serbian television showing pictures of the targets hit, in what was to become a familiar daily pattern.

Installations in the Kosovo provincial capital Pristina were among the first to be hit in the opening days of the Nato campaign. Journalists who later visited the city reported damaged buildings and deserted streets.

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Bombs do not choose. They will hit everything.

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In the Spring of 1999, NATO launched an air war against Yugoslavia to stop Serbs from terrorizing Albanians. The ethnic cleansing of Kosovo expanded and intensified despite military intervention by the international community. The U.S. State Department reported on ten broad categories of human rights violations in Kosovo: forced expulsions, looting, burning, detentions, use of human shields, summary executions, exhumation of mass graves, systematic and organized rape, violations of medical neutrality, and a new type of ethnic cleansing, identity cleansing. At the end of the 20th century, war waged between armed soldiers dressed up in uniform fighting only against each other is extremely rare. The trend now is that 90 percent of war-associated casualties occur in the civilian population. In Hague, the UN has assembled the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia which is investigating the genocide in Kosovo. The War Crimes Tribunal will test the reach of international law and the will of governments to bring high officials to justice.

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K-For troops arrived in Kosovo after a week of delays in getting Belgrade's agreement to the "military technical agreement" - the withdrawal of Yugoslav and Serb forces. Kosovo Albanians who had spent weeks in hiding rushed onto the streets of cities, towns and villages as the 19-nation strong peacekeeping force arrived, cheering the soldiers that they saw as their liberators. Over 10 days K-For led by the UK, Germany, France, Italy and US soldiers quickly took control of the province and prepared the way home for the refugees.

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The battle for hearts and minds was a prominent part of the Kosovo conflict. Nato's daily briefings included a strong political message along with the daily operational progress reports. The alliance also made a point of attacking the Serbian media, not just verbally, but with with bombs and missiles aimed at transmitters, relay stations and, controversially, the headquarters of Serbian Television in the centre of Belgrade. For their part, the Serbian authorities kept up a steady media barrage condemning and ridiculing western leaders, while focusing on the damage caused by air strikes rather than the exodus of Kosovo refugees.
"(Serbian TV) is a source of propaganda that is prolonging this war and causing untold new suffering to the people of Kosovo"
UK International Development Secretary Clare Short

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Within days of the first Nato strikes, hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians were on the move away from their homes, amid reports of atrocities by Serb forces and forced evictions at gunpoint. Neighbouring countries had to cope with a sudden mass influx of thousands of refugees across their borders. TV screens around the world were filled with images of weary and desperate people leaving their homeland

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For 78 days in the spring of 1999, some 1,000 NATO aircraft flew more than 38,000 sorties in an effort to force Serbian forces out of Kosovo

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Burying their dead was one of the tasks awaiting many Kosovo Albanians who returned home. Hundreds of people took part in this mass funeral for 46 Kosovo Albanians killed during the conflict. Their relatives now have to pick up the remaining pieces of their lives.

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A team of 30,000 Nato-led peacekeeping troops, known as K-For, was given the task of policing the province. Their greatest challenge has been stemming the tide of ethnic hatred between the two communities.For the international peacekeepers, the main challenge is to get Albanians and Serbs to live with each other again.

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United Nations investigators have begun the grisly task of unearthing the thousands of dead bodies buried in mass graves. By November - after excavating about a third of the 529 grave sites identified by the International Criminal Tribunal - they had exhumed more than 2,000 bodies. The actual fatality figure is likely to be much higher.

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Valmir Deljiaj, an eighteen-month-old infant girl, was found dead at the Donje Obrinje massacre site in Kosovo. She is partially covered by the body of her mother, Mejhare Deljaij, aged twenty-seven, who died from a gunshot wound to the head.

The bodies of Gentiona and Donietta Deliaj, seven and five-years old, being removed from the site of the massacre in the forest near Donje Obrinje, Kosovo. Eighteen members of the Deliaj family were killed in the attack.

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A child in front of his destroyed home in Plocica, Kosovo. Yugoslav forces are alleged to have destroyed thousands of homes, forcing approximately 250,000 people to flee throughout Kosovo.
Burning villages in the Drenica region, Kosovo, as viewed from the village of Plocica, September 27, 1998. Many of the homes in the foreground had already burned. Heavy artillery could be heard in the background as the bombardment by Yugoslav forces of abandoned villages continued.

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An elderly villager weeping at the site of the Donje Obrinje, Kosovo massacre. Eighteen members of the Deliaj family were killed in the attack.

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An ethnic Serbian man surveys his destroyed home in Jelovac, near Klina. There were twelve Serbian and twenty Albanian homes in the village until June 1998, when the KLA kidnapped one Serbian man and expelled the Serbs of the village.

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An elderly Kosovar Albanian woman looks out through the fence of the Kukes 1 refugee camp in northern Albania, near the border with Kosovo. April 1999

Serb police brutally beat this man before he escaped Kosovo to northern Albania. April 1999

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Nato may have won the war, but the peace has yet to be secured for the people of Kosovo.

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Panama

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In 1989 forces of the United States invaded the Central American nation of Panama. This came after the Noriega regime in Panama openly engaged in drug trafficking, and a continued campaign of harrassment against U.S. servicemen and dependants. Election results in Panama were voided as Noreiga's Dignity Battalions (DIGBATs) beat opposition leaders. In October 1988 the Panama Defense Force (PDF) staged an unsuccessful coup against Noreiga. On December 15, 1988 the National Assembly of Panama declared that a state of war existed with the United States. This escalated tensions in the country with a U.S. Marine Lieutenant being killed shortly thereafter.

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Contingency plans having been drawn up earlier in 1988 the NCA gave the orders to initiate Plan 90-2 which became Operation Just Cause. The objectives of this operation were:

Protect U.S. lives, key sites and facilities

Capture and deliver Noriega to competent authority

Neutralize PDF forces

Neutralize PDF command and control

Support establishment of a U.S.-recognizd government in Panama

Restructure the PDF

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Just after midnight, the morning of Wednesday, December 20, 1989, United States military forces launched a massive land, sea, air invasion of Panama. "Operation Just Cause" was the first major military operation since the invasion of Grenada six years earlier, and the biggest since Vietnam. According to George Bush's December 20, nationally televised speech, the reasons for the invasion were to protect American lives, defend the canal, restore democracy to Panama, stop drug trafficking, and bring Panama's leader, General Manuel Noriega, to justice. The invasion, Bush made clear, was against the leader of Panama, not it's people. Nevertheless, Operation Just Cause was roundly condemned internationally by the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

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1989: US forces oust General Noriega

American troops have invaded Panama in a bid to oust dictator Manuel Noriega.

Around 200 civilians, 19 US soldiers and 59 Panamanian troops are believed to have died in the fighting after President George Bush sent forces into the Central American country at 0100 local time (0600 BST). Bush ordered five task forces into the area, all of which encountered heavy resistance. Up to 9,500 US troops joined more than 12,000 soldiers already based in Panama for the mission, entitled Operation Just Cause. They destroyed General Noriega's headquarters but failed to capture the dictator. There are unconfirmed reports that Noriega's forces have also taken several Americans hostage. The US government is offering a $1m (600,000) reward for information leading to the general's capture. President Bush wants him to stand trial in America on charges of drug trafficking. He ordered the invasion after a series of recent attacks which culminated in the murder of an American soldier.

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President Bush wants him to stand trial in America on charges of drug trafficking. He ordered the invasion after a series of recent attacks which culminated in the murder of an American soldier. General Noriega's reckless threats and attacks upon Americans in Panama created an imminent danger to the 35,000 American citizens in Panama. As President, I have no higher obligation than to safeguard the lives of American citizens," President Bush added. And that is why I directed our armed forces .. to bring General Noriega to justice in the United States. I contacted the bipartisan leadership of Congress last night and informed them of this decision

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General Noriega was caught within a week after he was tracked down by US troops at a Vatican embassy. He was brought to trial in Florida the following month where he was sentenced to 40 years in prison. This was later reduced to 30 years by a US judge. He has failed twice in attempts to secure an early release. His most recent parole attempt was turned down back in 2000 after concerns were raised over the security risk his release could pose to the former US President, George Bush. General Noriega is still wanted in Panama on charges of executing army officers in 1989.

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Some American units involved in the operation

5th Infantry Division (Mechanized)

7th Infantry Division (Light)

75th Ranger Regiment

82nd Airborne Division

193rd Infantry Brigade

CSAR

Delta Force

Marine Corps Light Armored Infantry (LAI) Company

Military Police

Navy SEALs

Night Stalkers

Special Forces (Green Berets)

XVIII Airborne Corps

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"Those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for security do not deserve either."

Benjamin Franklin

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