Operation Eagle Eye

Operation Eagle Eye consisted of NATO verification flights over Kosovo, the southern province of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Through this multinational peace-support operation, the Alliance was able to contribute to verification of compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199 (Sept. 23rd 1998).
 
Eagle Eye was the result of the NATO-Kosovo Verification Mission Agreement, signed in Belgrade on October 15th 1998, and under which the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia agreed to the establishment of an air surveillance system comprised of NATO non-combatant reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. A NATO "activation order" dated October 30th, 1998 marked the official launch of this high-tech verification mission.
 
Eagle Eye flights were parallel to and coordinated with the ground verification conducted by a 1400-member team belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
 
A result of the withdrawal of OSCE monitors from Kosovo and the halting of KVM operations due to the non-compliance of the Yugoslav government by continuing to build up their forces beyond acceptable levels, creating an unacceptable level of risk to the peace support verification mission, Operation Eagle Eye flights over Kosovo ceased on 24 March 1999.
 
Operation Eagle Eye Mission
Operation Eagle Eye comprised three mission elements: 
  • Verifying: This included verifying - with the use of unarmed aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles - the activities of security forces, the removal or cantonment of weapons systems, the respect of the ceasefire by all parties, the free movement of civilians, ground monitors and humanitarian organizations, the delivery of humanitarian supplies, and any air-observable compliance or non-compliance with Security Council Resolution 1199.
  • Assessing: This was achieved through the collection, validation and analysis of available data.
  • Reporting: Through the chain of command to the North Atlantic Council. NATO and the OSCE shared information to facilitate their respective overall assessments of compliance.
Operation Eagle Eye Organization
Eagle Eye was conducted under the authority of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). Responsibility for the successful execution of the operation lied with the Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH), whose headquarters is in Naples, Italy. The air component commander of the operation was the Commander of Allied Air Forces Southern Europe (COMAIRSOUTH), who exercised that authority through the 5th Allied Tactical Air Force, Combined Air Operation Center (5ATAF CAOC). The other component of the operation was the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre (KVCC).
 
The Combined Air Operation Center, located in Vicenza, Italy, tasked and controlled national air assets contributing to Eagle Eye.
The Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre (KVCC), located at Kumanovo in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, conducted liaison, planning, coordination and exchange of information with the OSCE verifiers. The KVCC was formally inaugurated on 26 November 1998 at the presence of NATO's Secretary General, Dr. Javier Solana [SECGEN's remarks], the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Former Yugoslav Replubic of Macedonia, Mr. Blagoj Handziski, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Wesley Clark, and of CINCSOUTH, Admiral James O. Ellis, Jr. The KVCC comprised personnel from nine NATO nations (U.S. United Kingdom, France, Canada, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Norway, and Germany) and was commanded by Brig. Gen. David Montgomery, UK Army.
 
Operation Eagle Eye Background Information:
  • Summer 1998: Tensions between ethnic Albanians and Serb forces generate intense fighting in Kosovo. The armed conflict generated hundreds of civilian casualties and the displacement of 300,000 people from their homes.
  • September 23, 1998: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1199, which demands to all parties to end hostilities and maintain a ceasefire in Kosovo.
  • October 12, 1998: NATO's highest decision-making authority, the North Atlantic Council, issues an activation order allowing for limited air strikes and a phased air campaign if Yugoslav authorities refuse to comply with the UN demands.
  • October 15, 1998: Yugoslav President Milosevic commits to cease hostilities and withdraw mobilized forces in Kosovo. The agreement also allows the international community to verify if parties honour their commitments.
  • October 17, 1998: First U-2 verification flight is flown from Aviano air base, Italy, in anticipation of the beginning of routine multinational missions. 
  • October 19, 1998: A reconnaissance team of the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre deploys near Skopje.
  • October 21, 1998: The North Atlantic Council approves Eagle Eye operations plan.
  • October 24, 1998: The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1203, which endorses and supports both OSCE and NATO verification missions.
  • October 30, 1998: The North Atlantic Council approves the execution of Operation Eagle Eye.
  • November 26, 1998: The Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre is formally established at Kumanovo (FYROM).
  • March 24, 1999: The verification flights end.
Operation Eagle Eye Verifying Compliance
The information used to determine compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1199 was collected on the ground by observer teams belonging to the OSCE and by the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission (KDOM), and in the air by Eagle Eye's NATO airborne surveillance platforms. Reports from OSCE and KDOM teams were shared with the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre.
 
Films and images from Eagle Eye's manned and unmanned surveillance platforms were delivered to NATO processing stations. A global analysis on the NATO collected information was conducted at NATO and national information centres, resulting in a daily report produced by NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). This daily report covering all elements of Resolution 1199 was sent to the North Atlantic Council which in turn determined if all parties were or were not in compliance. The NATO assessment was shared with OSCE and with the UN.
 
Operation Eagle Eye Contributing Forces
NATO's member states were involved in Operation Eagle Eye through the provision of air and ground crews, or through the manning force required to operate headquarters, the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre, the Combined Air Operation Center and liaison cells.
 
Several NATO nations offered aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Air assets were provided by France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, the UK and the USA. Unarmed aircraft conducting or supporting the missions included: U-2s, Canberras, RC-135s, C-160s, P-3s. Breguet Atlantique and UAVs. Several non-NATO member nations also offered to support the verification mission.

Visit the Official website of Operantion Eagle Eye.