CNN Balkan Conflict News

Joint Endeavour

First NATO troops due in Bosnia Sunday

December 1, 1995
Web posted at: 3:10 p.m. EST (2010 GMT)

From Correspondent Jamie McIntyre

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pentagon sources say the first elements of the NATO enabling force will go into Bosnia Sunday, and the bulk of the 2,600-member force will be in place by Thursday.

NATO on Friday approved the "action order" authorizing the dispatch of the advance teams, which will pave the way for the main NATO force to move into Bosnia after the December 14 signing of a peace treaty in Paris.

Pentagon sources said only a small number of security, communications, and headquarters troops will move Sunday. "It will be between 10 and 12 troops, a handful," said a senior defense official. Other sources at NATO said that up to 200 troops may depart from the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps in Rheindalen, Germany, where they are on 24-hour stand-by. And Reuters news service quoted NATO sources as saying the first units could begin moving in on Saturday.

The enabling force is made up of some 2,600 logistics and support troops, charged with setting up bases both in Bosnia and Croatia. Some 1,200 of the troops will be American, 700 in Bosnia and 500 in Croatia. The other troops will be from Great Britain and other countries.

The main troop deployment plan is expected to be endorsed by NATO's ministers next week in Brussels. Upon approval, the heavily armed peace-keeping force will pour into the region through five entry points.

Gen. George Joulman

U.S. General George Joulwan, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said that he expects the full compliment of troops to arrive within 30 days of the start of the mission, dubbed Operation Joint Endeavour.

A NATO statement released Friday emphasized that the troops "will operate under NATO command and with NATO rules of engagement." Unlike the United Nations peace-keeping forces that have been in the former Yugoslavia for more than three years, the NATO troops will be heavily armed and will have the authority to shoot first rather than wait to be fired upon.

About 90 percent of the 22,000 U.N. troops in Bosnia are expected to switch to the NATO force.

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