On this day 27 years ago, NATO and the UN began Operation Deliberate Force in the Bosnian War. The operation lasted until September 20, and during the 22 days 222 fighter planes dropped 1026 bombs on 386 targets in the area controlled by the Serbian army.

NATO had already flown air missions in the Bosnian war since it began in 1992, initially focusing on reconnaissance and enforcing the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina. In July 1995, the Serbian army overran the Srebrenica and Žepa protection zones, resulting in mass shootings; the Srebrenica massacre is considered genocide by UN courts. The air strike was triggered by the Markale massacre, in which a mortar shell was fired into besieged Sarajevo, killing 37 people.

Operation Deliberate Force flew at targets in Sarajevo, Pale, Tuzla, and Goražde, among other cities, aiming to strategically weaken the Serbian Bosnian army and leadership by destroying military infrastructure. The eight nations involved flew about 3500 sorties from airfields in Italy and Turkey and from aircraft carriers in the Adriatic Sea. The operation can be considered a success, Serbia withdrew heavy weapons and guaranteed a respect of the still existing protection zones. The strategic weakening led to the Dayton Agreement on December 14, 1995, and thus to the temporary end of the Bosnian war. The air strike killed 25-27 Bosnian Serb soldiers and 27 civilians.

The mission was the first by the German Air Force since 1945, and it brought about a paradigm shift in German foreign policy; until then, it had been unclear whether foreign missions by the Bundeswehr were compatible with the Basic Law at all. Since 1992, the Bundeswehr has been deployed abroad virtually without interruption. However, the first active participation in hostilities was not to take place until 1999, in the Kosovo War.

According to the current state of affairs, the deployment is to be considered a violation of international law, as NATO exceeded its treaty-regulated competencies with the deployment. (Taschenbrecker 2018)