On this day in 1994, in NATO’s first military action since its formation, U.S. fighter planes acting under United Nations sanction shoot down four Serbian warplanes engaged in a bombing mission in violation of Bosnia’s no-fly zone.
In the aftermath of WW2, The United States, Great Britain, 9 European countries, and Canada founded NATO in 1949 as a safeguard against aggression from an emboldened USSR. After 40 years of successful containment, with the end of the Cold War, NATO members approved the use of its military forces for peacekeeping missions in countries outside the alliance, and in 1994 agreed to enforce U.N. resolutions enacted to bring about an end to the bloody conflicts and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. In 1994 and 1995, NATO planes enforced the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina and struck at Bosnian Serb military positions and airfields on a number of occasions.
On December 20, 1995, NATO began the mass deployment of 60,000 troops to enforce the Dayton peace accords, signed in Paris by the leaders of the former Yugoslavia on December 14. The NATO troops took over from a U.N. peacekeeping force that had failed to end the fighting since its deployment in early 1992; U.N. troops had however proved crucial in the distribution of humanitarian aid to the impoverished population of Bosnia.
The NATO force, with its U.S. support and focused aim of enforcing the Dayton agreement, proved more successful in saving countless lives and maintaining the peace in the war-torn region.