I was looking at this list of US military operations for which the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is awarded and the last on the list says “Former Republic of Yugoslavia”, with start date of 2014 and no end date established yet.
I don’t find anything on the web about it but maybe I don’t know where/how to look.
Do you have a source for that? or is that a guess?
Also, the author who added “former Yugoslavia” to the wikipedia page linked in the OP put it on the list for specifically USA operations. Operations in which the USA is participating as a member of NATO are listed separately. So apparently that author thought this was a USA solo operation. I don’t know if that is the case or not.
It’s still issued to US troops in the US led NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo. (Cite) The Bosnia mission morphed in some mostly ignored ways.
In December 2004, the NATO peacekeeping mission ended when the US wanted to withdraw…from peacekeeping. The mission was handed over to the EU along with some non-EU partners like Turkey. Mostly it was a change of who was in control with most of the forces still coming from the same nations involved under the NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR) mission. That EU peacekeeping mission is still ongoing - Operation Althea. The US didn’t entirely withdraw though.
Two roles stayed with NATO and the US. Those roles were hunting for PIFWiCs (Persons Indicted For War Crimes)(cite) and counter-terrorism. A small US manuever task force was maintained under the NATO HQ to perform those roles. It took “doorkickers” to actually do the job. That ended in late 2006 marking the end of Operation Enduring Mission.*
The mission morphed again. 2006 was also the year Bosnia became a NATO partner. The focus became assisting them with defense reform under their Partnership for Peace plan to integrate them into the alliance and prepare them for possible membership in the future. There’s a striking piece still listed in NATO HQ in Sarajevo’s responsibilities - counter-terrorism.
The ethnic cleansing being conducted against the Bosniaks (formerly Bosnian muslims) drew a lot of foreign fighters to support their cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, pork eating but nominally Muslim brothers. Many of those were experienced mujahadeen from the ended war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Many of them stayed when the war in Bosnia ended. The transition to peace saw a lot of the underlying ethnic tension expressed through increasing religious expression. There were some pretty radical pockets as a result. Unsurprisingly, Al-Queda in Bosnia and Herzegovina became a thing. Bosnia contained some of the historical, and still functioning, smuggling routes from the Middle East into Europe. Unsurprisingly, NATO continues to say counter-terrorism is part of it’s role in an area where an affiliate of a major transnational terror organization sits astride the smuggling routes feeding most of NATO.
The US also continues to authorize the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for that mission.
*** Giant warning **
For those suddenly interested by usually unknown information to start looking into AQ in BiH or extremism in the region there’s something to be aware of. Serb ultra-nationalists used the [Battle of] Kosovo Myth as a justification for ethnic cleansing. The fall of the Kingdom of Serbia to the Ottoman empire is mythologized as part of the titanic struggle between the Christian West and Muslim East. In the aftermath of 9-11 some groups justify ethnic cleansing as part of that centuries long ethnic and religious struggle. There’s both a serious reality about AQ-BiH and some wildly ugly rhetoric that’s on par with justifications of the holocaust. There’s also some in between where groups try to disguise the ugly while overstating some facts or understating/omitting other facts to bias the reader towards the ugly. It can be really hard to sort out reality from rhetoric.
*** End Warning ***
I don’t know if that name was ever official. I do know the sarcastic Colonel, now retired Brigadier General, who was chief of staff for that last rotation. He threw the Enduring Mission name out because they needed something to call it during planning. It stuck, at least informally, and the 36th Infantry Division mission used “Operation Enduring Mission III” to describe that last post SFOR deployment from 2005-2006.
The current mission of NATO HQ in Yugoslavia continues the counter-terrorism mission. That piece is current. The cite with their mission was last updated on NATOs site last month. The quote from that cite gives a pretty good summary of why US forces are still in Bosnia which provides a partial answer to the thread title about why we’re there if not the award.
There’s also a patchwork of when the AFEM was authorized for various named operations in the FROY. If you look at the first cite where it’s authorized for NATO HQ in Sarajevo there’s a footnote that covers another change in 2014. Prior to 2014 US troops on the KFOR mission under Operation Joint Guardian got the Kosovo Campaign Medal. In 2014 that stopped and now they get the AFEM even though it’s the same named operation. For whatever reason, someone was relooking what awards got given for participation in KFOR. At they same time they reauthorized the AFEM for Bosnia after a significant time gap where it wasn’t authorized for US troops in Bosnia. The mission probably wasn’t much different in Bosnia between Dec 2013 and Jan 2014. I assume someone was just relooking the Balkans and figured they should be awarding it.
I’d guess the justification for the award was counter-terrorism related maybe with a dose of the ongoing land mine threat thrown in for good measure. Don’t over think the award itself. Even with 27 years of service, the bureaucratic processes behind things like that can be obtuse. I also assumed everyone would give me the head turned to the side, “what the fuck are you talking about” look my cat used to give me if I simply said the reason was probably counter-terrorism. I personally experienced the “we’re going to Bosnia now?!?” effect when I deployed there post 9-11 towards the end of the Stabilization Force mission. Ignorance about US involvement in the Balkans abounds.
This is GQ but I feel like this statement has a bit of a political slant so, just to offer an alternate view of the matter, I would also note that there are police officers deployed to 19,505 cities, towns, and villages in the United States, employing somewhere between 150k and 1m officers (probably about 300k). This also costs about $100 billion a year to maintain.
But, that cost is in theory offset by the smooth functioning of society and its ability to rely on the safety of travel routes, the honesty of those they deal with, etc. allowing their activities to proceed unfettered, raising the percentage growth of the US GDP by some percentage greater than if there was no policing force active in the country. The first deployment of a United States military abroad was by Thomas Jefferson to hunt pirates in Tripoli, because they were attacking US merchant ships.