No-Fly Zones: Strategic, Operational, and Legal Considerations for Congress [April 4, 2011]   [open pdf - 193KB]

"In conflicts in Kosovo, Iraq, and Libya, the United States has taken part in establishing and maintaining no-fly zones. As no-fly zones represent a significant commitment of U.S. forces, and may prove a precursor to other military actions, Congress may wish to consider issues surrounding the strategy, international authorization, congressional authorization, operations, and costs of establishing and maintaining no-fly zones. The military strategy designed to support U.S. grand strategy, it has been suggested, might be based on these considerations: the operational-level military objectives that need to be achieved, to support the overall grand strategy; and the extent to which a no-fly zone--as one set of ways and means--helps achieve those objectives. Practitioners and observers have debated what constitutes international 'authorization' for the establishment of a no-fly zone. Given the paucity of relevant precedents, and the dissimilarities among them, there may not exist a single, clear, agreed model. The concept of authorization is typically considered to be linked to the ideas of both 'legality' and 'legitimacy'--the three concepts overlap but are all distinct. The precise meaning of each of the terms is still debated. Express authorization from the U.N. Security Council provides the clearest legal basis for imposing a no-fly zone."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41701
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