Helion's Operation Allied Force: Air War Over Serbia Vol.1

Author/Artists: Bojan Dimitrijevic & Lt-Gen Jovica Draganic


Helion  Publishing


$24.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 96 pages, softcover, over 100 full color images
ISBN 978-1-914059-18-6

Note, though the title says Serbia, the book constantly refers to Yugoslavia so I'll use that in this article. This latest book from Helion covers the air war over Yugoslavia during 1999. Rightly called the last European war of the 20th Century, the conflict was the result of Yugoslav military action in the province of Kosovo. The war was initially between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Yugoslav military. The KLA was a rebel group whose purpose was to allow Kosovo to break away from the rest of Yugoslavia. The KLA targeted Yugoslav authorities (police and military), causing the Yugoslav military and paramilitary groups to target not only the KLA, but also Kosovo Albanians and sympathizers. Thus began a conflict where it is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 civilians and KLA combattants were killed.

Naturally, all this got the attention of the media and there were reports of many atrocities committed by both sides in the media. The world, however, tended to side with the KLA as Yugoslav repression seemed to be excessive in their eyes. This all brought the UN into the picture. A resolution was passed where all Yugoslav military and police would leave Kosovo to be replaced by UN peacekeeping forces. Well, this did not go down well with the Yugoslav president as it was felt the UN was meddling in internal affairs.

So it was initially decided that a show of force by the UN/NATO was in order to bring the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic to agreeing with the NATO resolution. Well, it simply did not work out as planned. Initially it was thought that things would be over within a week when in reality it took months. During that time, a lot of Yugoslav infrastructure was destroyed, the Yugoslav Air Force and air defenses were severely damaged/destroyed and NATO got what it wanted.

This is a story of the unprecedented air build up in neighboring countries by not only the US but other NATO countries. The authors have very much done their research on this one and we get to understand the thinking behind those controlling the actions. We also see what worked and what didn't. One thing you will come away with from reading this is how resourceful the defenders were and also how heavily outmatched they were in all respects. Due to how recent these events were and the widespread photo coverage on both sides, we are treated with a bevy of full color images, something that is fairly unusual in this series.

Overall, it is a great read and most highly recommended.

October 2021

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