ENN Issue 9a
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ENN Issue 5a
SPECIAL REPORT: Clash in Yugoslavia

November 10, 2009

Overview / Beaches of Blood / Operation Failure / Terrorism Attacks on NATO

Situation Overview

The Croatian capital of Zagreb is under siege with many of its residents hiding in cellars and any other place they can find for safety, as Serbian military units continue to move into the city.  Outside the capital, NATO forces continue to consolidate their positions and plan their next course of action.  The road has been a long one and it initially looked as if NATO might lose it's first war as Serbian units overwhelmed the Croatian and NATO units that arrived before the battle and then raced into the capital.  That battle lasted several hours and saw many dead on both sides as NATO worked to stop any further movement west by Serbian forces.  Now the front lines have stabilized for the most part and NATO is working at cutting off the Serbian military units inside Croatia from the air. 

F15 escorting a B2 stealth bomber enroute to Serbian airspace

Fighter-bombers roam over the countryside, dropping bridges into rivers, destroying truck convoys, and attacking key Serbian positions throughout the region.  NATO aircraft are operating from airfields in Italy, onboard US aircraft carriers now off the coast of the former Yugoslavia, and from neighboring Slovenia.  NATO sources are now saying that only a few small Serbian units have reinforced the Croatian capital since it's initial capture, regardless of what the Serbian leader and media are saying.  It appears the air war has gone to the American led NATO side following several attempts by Serbian fighters to interfere in the fighting.  These attempts only resulted in the loss of Serbian aircraft while NATO suffered only minor losses attributed primarily to surface to air missiles which were fired in abundance, according to NATO pilot reports.  With the loss of air superiority, NATO has switched to a massive campaign designed to deny Serbian forces their much needed supplies in Croatia.  There have been reports of carpet bombings from American flown B-52s and B-2 stealth bomber strikes on strategic sites in Serbia itself, all aimed at opening a path for NATO ground forces to take back all of Croatia, which NATO says they fully intend to do.

On the ocean front, the war has gone exclusively for NATO, with claims that the entire Serbian surface fleet has been sunk along with several submarines.  In some instances, NATO allowed the Serbian crews to abandon their ships before opening fire.  The submarines were sunk with a loss of all onboard.

For now, NATO seems content with solidifying its positions and building up ground forces while simultaneously pounding Serbian military targets from the sky.

It is uncertain when the ground war will commence, but given the scope of the NATO reinforcements sent to the region, it won't be a long wait.

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Beaches of Blood 

A United States Marine force, landed along the rocky shoreline east of Split in an attempt to cut off the Serbian supply route, came to a near disaster.  A combination of poor execution, mishaps, and faulty recon missions is being blamed for the heavy losses the Marines suffered in the first opposed, forced landing of US Marines in nearly seven years.

The countryside didn't help the situation, as the rocky shoreline along the Dalmation mountains slowed the landing's progress even as it was coming under fire from a small Serbian detachment watching the coastline.  The Marine commander feels that being cooped up at sea for such a lengthy amount of time also contributed to the near fiasco.  Sources reported that the Marines suffered surprisingly heavy losses in the first 30 minutes, despite having overwhelming air and offshore fire support from the escorting naval task force. 

Amphibious ship (LCU) shown run aground on shoal near landing beach

Another factor in what appears to be a growing list of complications was the damage suffered by an amphibious ship (LCU) carrying the Marines' artillery when it ran aground on a shoal, eliminating that much needed firepower from reducing the enemy forces on the beach head.  These situations all contributed to the disaster that unfolded along the beach, where unconfirmed reports also stated several Marines fell to their deaths while scaling up one side of the steep sea wall behind the beaches.  

Although not as bloody as the landing at Omaha beach in 1944 by US army forces, this battle will be studied for a long time to determine what went wrong and how not prevent the mistakes that lead to so many dead American Marines laying on the beach.

Enemy casualties are estimated at 65% and NATO has given priority to its air forces hitting targets within the 22nd MEU area of operations in an attempt to extradite the 22nd from its current situation.

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Operation Failure

Public reaction to reports of the U.S. operation to rescue a trapped British airborne unit behind enemy lines has been mixed.  In the United States, critics from both the right and left wings have criticized the loss of roughly 45 British troops - an entire platoon -  to 'friendly fire' and the loss of three U.S. Apache and transport helicopters.  The right wing criticized the President for failing to provide sufficient funds for training the US military for these types of operations, claiming the President has been coasting on the success of the Brunei affair.

Meanwhile, the left wing opposes the intervention in Croatia that has turned into a full scale war, and claim that the Yugoslavian invasion was likely triggered by the aggressive U.S. response to the limited intervention by Serbia on behalf of the striking steel workers.  They pointed out that U.S. actions around the world are raising tensions in such places as Angola, Indonesia, and Somalia.  However, public support remains relatively high, with 54% supporting the U.S. involvement in Croatia with only 28% opposing it; the remaining 18% are taking a 'wait and see' attitude.  However, it appears support will soften if losses continue to mount without any success in stopping the Yugoslavian advances.

In the UK, the public appears to have accepted the losses as an unfortunate accident.  One interviewee compared the operation to the rescue at Dunkirk, remarking that at least no British troops were left behind to be captured by the Serbs whereas many soldiers had been left to surrender to the Germans in 1941.  Another citizen said that the U.S. helicopter losses demonstrated they were doing everything possible to rescue the British soldiers, even at the risk of their own lives. However, a number of people criticized the British government for failing to adequately arm the troops to defend themselves or for allowing the troops to get trapped in the first place.  Polls show that only 22% blame the U.S. for the loss, 37% blame the British government, and 41% hold Yugoslavia responsible.

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NATO Troops Suffer Terrorist Attacks

The recent war has sparked a rash of terrorist attacks all across the region.  On October 17th, 20 U.S. infantry men were killed when their barracks came under fire from terrorists firing rocket propelled grenades in Tuzla, Bosnia.  The terrorists got away, leaving the barracks in flames and dead sprawled across the scene.

The British SFOR base in Danja Luka, Bosnia suffered a suicide bombing on October 19th.  The bomber drove a van through a security fence and crashed into the battalion headquarters, killing the driver and many officers of the British mechanized infantry battalion stationed there, including the commanding officer.

Now all NATO and military stations throughout the region are on high terrorist alert and security has been beefed up.  It remains to be seen if this will deter future attacks, but appears to be working for the moment.

Some have claimed that the Serbians are behind the attacks, but that has not been officially confirmed.  NATO states they are investigating all leads to the attacks and will leave 'no stone unturned' when following information.

If Serbia is implicated, as some think will happen, it remains to be seen what kind of retaliation NATO can inflict against a country they are already at war with.

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Kelly Crawford (ENN)

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