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This Day In History: NATO Conducted First Military Action

February 28, 2017

This day in history, February 28, 1994, in the first military action in the 45-year history of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, U.S. fighter planes shot down four Serbian warplanes engaged in a bombing mission in violation of Bosnia’s no-fly zone.

NATO was founded by the U.S., Canada and 10 European countries in 1949 as a safeguard against Soviet aggression. 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 conflict 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.

The NATO troops took over from a U.N. peacekeeping force that had failed to end the fighting since its deployment in early 1992, although the U.N. troops had 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 maintaining the peace in the region.