NATO’s first peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans involving the former Republic of Yugoslavia came in 1992, but the entire region had been a hotbed of conflict and rivalries due to ethnic and religious tensions for decades. So it came as no major surprise that NATO’s second foray and bringing order to the region, this time in 1998 as a response to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s efforts to quash violent insurgencies by the Kosovo Liberation Army, began on October 13, 1998—the very day after the official “conclusion” of the first NATO mission in the Balkans.
The entire NATO mission was mired in controversy, in part because its genesis was a United Nations Security Council Resolution of 23 September 1998 calling for a ceasefire; with the U.N.’s nose under the tent, so to speak, there was constant debate whether NATO military actions thus required U.N. Security Council approval. NATO issued activation orders for the employment of air strikes on October 13, 1998, but negotiations continued as fighting continued on the ground. The NATO air strikes began March 24, 1999 and continued until June 11, when Yugoslavian President Slobodan Miloševi%u0107 accepted a proposed peace plan. A NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR) comprised of British, French, Germany Italian, and U.S. forced dubbed KFOR moved into areas previously held by the Yugoslav Army. Amazingly, as of 2016 there were still KFOR soldiers performing peacekeeping duties in the region.
The requirements for wear of the NATO Medal for Kosovo Service by U.S. Servicemembers are the same ones used for medals related to NATO operations: 30 days of qualifying service (the days need not be consecutive) in a given tour of duty, which is usually 180 days. The period of eligibility is from October 13, 1998 to December 31, 2002.
Although a clasp reading “KOSOVO” is awarded with the medal and suspension ribbon, the clasp is not authorized for wear with any U.S. military uniform. Also, members of the U.S. Armed Forces may be awarded only one NATO Medal for a given period of service even if they met all the qualifications for another NATO Medal; the NATO chain of command will choose which medal best represents the U.S. Servicemember’s contributions to the NATO effort.