Operation Deliberate Force: Background

French Troops watch a NATO airstrike near Sarajevo (ECPA)
French Troops watch a NATO airstrike near Sarajevo (ECPA)

Operation Deliberate Force: The UN and NATO campaign in Bosnia 1995

Operation Deliberate Force is the first authoritative account of the military events of 1995 that draws on the accounts of the key participants.

Exclusive interviews – with Lieutenant General Rupert Smith, the British commander of UN forces inside Bosnia; Lieutenant General Bernard Janvier, the French commander of UN forces in former Yugoslavia; and Lieutenant General Mike Ryan, the USAF commander of the NATO air campaign – tell, for the first time, the inside story of the military moves that brought the war in three year long Bosnian war to an end. They describe their roller-coaster year, from the disasters of the spring and summer of 1995 through to launching of Operation Deliberate Force in August and September.

Operation Deliberate Force explains …

  • how western policy seemed to be set on a disaster course in the spring of 1995;
  • how covert US links with the Bosnians tragically backfired, encouraging the Muslims to launch a series of futile and costly offensives;
  • key participants in the May bombing of Pale describe the build-up to the turning point in the conflict; the commander of British troops in Gorazde describes how his men fought to stop Serb troops taking the enclave;
  • senior western officers describe the fall of Srebrenica;
  • key participants in the London Conference describe how the international community tried to come up with a response to the massacres in Srebrenica;
  • how the French forced the British to deploy the UN Rapid Reaction Force to Mount Igman;
  • the real background to US involvement in the Croat’s Operation Storm offensive is revealed for the first time;
  • senior western military planners describe the development of their plans to protect the ‘safe areas’ with airpower; for the first time the secret meetings to secure the withdrawal of the UN garrison from Gorazde are detailed;
  • the real source of the deadly mortar attack on Sarajevo that triggered NATO’s bombing is explained;
  • the dramatic escape of the British Gorazde garrison in the tense hours before the bombing started is recounted;
  • the roller coaster of bombing and diplomacy during NATO air offensive is described, culminating in the US cruise missile strike and Dick Holbrooke’s famous visit to Belgrade;
  • the accuracy, or other wise, of various “smart” munitions is detailed;
  • US involvement in the Muslim and Croat offensives in western Bosnia are explained;
  • finally, a “butchers bill” details the human cost of the war in 1995…

“In Operation Deliberate Force, Tim Ripley has assembled  through a remarkably extensive set of candid interviews with central military and political players in the Bosnian tragedy  a deeply depressing catalogue of the new limits to diplomacy and military strategy…… that many of those involved might prefer was not told”

Nik Gowing (Diplomatic Editor, Channel Four News 1989-96)


Blood on the streets. The memorial to the victims of the 28th August mortar attack which triggered Operation Deliberate Force. (Tim Ripley)
Blood on the streets. The memorial to the victims of the 28th August mortar attack which triggered Operation Deliberate Force. (Tim Ripley)



• The 20th Anniversary Edition of Operation Deliberate Force is available from Amazon’s Kindle store. Order it Now and read Operation Deliberate Force for yourself