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Perry: New Bosnia Role is not 'Mission Creep'
U.S. Soldier on Construction Team Secretary of Defense Says
U.S. Troops Still on Track

(WASHINGTON, March 27—AP) The Clinton administration is denying Republican assertions that the Bosnia peacekeeping mission is expanding its role—a problem that beset the 1993 operation in Somalia. Defense Secretary William Perry rejected that suggestion Tuesday, saying a newly announced shift by U.S. and allied forces from military tasks to assisting civilian reconstruction was envisioned in the 1995 Bosnia peace agreement. "This is not mission creep," Perry said. "This is carrying out the mission we have started from the beginning."

A senior House Republican blasted the move Tuesday, saying the Clinton administration was reneging on promises that the mission of the Bosnia peace implementation force would remain limited. "When Congress agreed to the deployment of United States soldiers in Bosnia, President Clinton assured us that they would not be used for humanitarian purposes," said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., who chairs a subcommittee of the House National Security Committee. "This announcement clearly contradicts the promises made by the Clinton administration a few short months ago."

In fact, the House never did agree to the deployment. The Senate voted grudging support for the resolution provided that the United States help establish a military balance of power among the warring parties. At the Pentagon, spokesman Kenneth Bacon said that the Bosnia peace accord reached last year in Dayton, Ohio, gives the peacekeeping mission authority, though not the requirement, to assist in civilian reconstruction in Bosnia if asked. Now that the main military tasks are essentially accomplished, the allied commanders have more resources to commit to secondary priorities.

"Now (NATO commanders) have some time and resources to respond to some requests for assistance and thatís what they have been doing in a very measured and somewhat limited way," Bacon said. Tasks NATO troops are likely to be involved are mainly those benefiting both the military situation and civilian reconstruction. Examples include bridge repair, restoration of electricity and natural gas service, and repairing runways.

Additional resources
NATO Shifts Role to Rebuilding Bosnia Berserkistan, March 26th
NATO World Wide Web Site
NATO IFOR News Releases
NATO Searchable Handbook


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