In the spring of 1999, NATO engaged in a precedent-setting air campaign over Serbia and Kosovo known as Operation Allied Force (OAF). This event marked a milestone for air-power, as it was, arguably, the first time airpower alone was decisive in achieving victory in combat. By the end of the conflict, in June 1999, America and its allies had mounted a monumental effort to achieve the immediate goals of halting ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and providing for the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees. Ground forces, introduced following the end of the air campaign, have subsequently been employed to secure the peace.
Several books have already been written about OAF, though not as many as might have been expected given the implications for NATO and airpower that came out of that conflict. Those that have been written focus primarily on the strategic level, the events, diplomacy, and decisions by senior military and political leaders that led to the conflict and determined its conduct. This is not that kind of book. This is about the other end of the spectrum as told by those that flew and fought at the most basic level during the war—the A-10 pilots of the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group (EOG).
This book's objectives are to include firsthand accounts by those who participated and share the observations and conclusions seen from their tactical points of view.
Chapter 1 establishes the overall context of the A-10 involvement in OAF and includes a description of participating units, their aircraft, and their weapons capabilities. It discusses mission types and typical missions, daily operations cycles, and theater geography and force-beddown locations. The appendix adds further political and military context.
Our personal experiences led us to select certain themes around which to organize our book. Those themes, starting with chapter 2, are as follows: mission leadership; beddown, maintenance, and combat support; enemy action; target identification and ROE; the Flat Face-Giraffe hunt; tactical innovation; and "my turn in the barrel." Each chapter begins with a short discussion of the particular theme around which it is structured; the authors then tell their associated stories. In reality, a few of those stories may touch on more than one theme, and some stories may contain ideas that do not specifically fit any theme. However, we believe that all the widely ranging stories, from a new wingman's account of his first combat sortie to a commander's description of relocating his unit while executing combat operations, add value and integrity to the book.