Head of Bosnian mission is realistic about future
August 30, 1996
Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT)
From Correspondent Patricia Kelly
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- With a little more
than two weeks to go before the elections in Bosnia, NATO's
top military commander, U.S. Gen. George Joulwan, has been
touring Bosnia, assessing the readiness of his Implementation
Force (IFOR) troops in case of trouble.
Eight months ago NATO gave Joulwan the authority to put
60,000 troops from all over the world into Bosnia. His
mandate to oversee the transition from war to peace expires
on December 20.
But it's the outcome of the Bosnian elections that will
determine how and when this NATO-led multi-national force
goes home. Joulwan is not ready to say when that might be.
As the elections loom closer, Joulwan gets regular updates
from his commanders on the ground. (272K AIFF or WAV sound)
"Bosnia is a dangerous place," he said. "It will remain a
dangerous place and our troops understand that. I would be
less than candid if I didn't tell you I was concerned as we
come up to the elections because of the possible tension that
will exist between the different factions and different
parties as they carry out the right to vote. But we are
prepared for this."
After a rocky start, the general is pleased with cooperation
between civilian and military authorities. (272K AIFF or WAV sound)
Everywhere he goes, Joulwan tells his troops they must not
get complacent. They must stay focused on providing security
as the September 14 elections loom closer.
"I hope that we will not have conflict, but we are prepared
in the event it does occur," he said.
IFOR could start moving out as soon as the elections are
over. "The rate of redeployment will depend on the assessment
we make at the time whether it's a steep slope or whether
it's going to be more gradual," he said.
Keeping troops in Bosnia beyond December 20 needs approval
from higher up in NATO -- the politicians. But it's a good
bet that many of these soldiers and airmen will still be
where they are now well into next year.
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