Kosovo Air Operations:

Need to Maintain Alliance Cohesion Resulted in Doctrinal Departures

GAO-01-784: Published: Jul 27, 2001. Publicly Released: Aug 9, 2001.

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance achieved the goals of Operation Allied Force--Yugoslavian forces were removed from Kosovo; refugees returned; and a peacekeeping force was put in place, with no allied combat fatalities. Through it all, the NATO allies stayed united and learned much about working together as a combat force. These achievements did not come easily, however, and the departures from accepted U.S. military doctrine were troubling for many U.S. military commanders and planners. The Department of Defense (DOD) has tried to address these and other issues by changing its doctrine. Nevertheless, GAO has two observations on the nature of conducting military operations in a multinational environment. First, the challenges of dealing with the constraints of working within a multinational environment may not be completely resolved through the development of new joint multinational operations doctrine and revisions to joint and service doctrine. These revisions to doctrine are likely to be unable to provide conclusive solutions to these issues because each multinational operation will differ according to the nations that participate and the extent of their interests. Second, future multinational operations, particularly those in which vital interests are not at stake, are likely to continue to emphasize avoiding collateral damage and multinational force casualties. These concerns will weigh as heavily in the decision-making processes on achieving the military objectives. Therefore, military commanders of multinational operations should not expect to always apply decisive military force with a strict adherence to military doctrine. To balance the variety of interests and concerns that arise during multinational operations, these operations may not be conducted as effectively or efficiently as operations that more closely follow U.S. military doctrine, which may lead to higher costs.

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