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Serious Debate on Extending NATO's Mission
Pushing Beyond December Withdrawal
is Issue Facing Washington, Europe

Serious Debate on Extending NATO's Mission (WASHINGTON—AP) The United States and its European allies will soon begin a debate on whether to extend the troop deployment in Bosnia beyond the end of the year, NATOís commander told lawmakers Thursday.

Gen. George Joulwan, a four-star U.S. Army general who commands NATO forces in Europe, said that as of now, NATO and Clinton administration policy is to end the deployment by Dec. 20. By mid-April, Joulwan told the House National Security Committee, NATO policy makers will begin discussions about whether some allied forces will need to remain in Bosnia.

U.S. Troops in BosniaBut first, IFOR, the NATO peace implementation force, must concentrate on its military mission, he said. The key date is D-plus 120, four months after the signing of the Dayton peace accords, when IFOR expects to escort remaining warring forces into containment areas. "Eighty percent of the roads in Bosnia have been opened up by IFOR. We hope to have 100 percent by D-plus 120, by about April 18. That is our goal," Joulwan said. "Then we will do an assessment to say where to go from there. That will determine what sort of force, if any, we will have after a year."

Diplomats from some European allies, particularly Nordic countries, are lobbying for an extended NATO presence, including U.S. troops. One senior diplomat from a Nordic country, speaking on condition of anonymity, said unless U.S. ground forces participate in that extended deployment, Britain and France would withdraw their troops and the peace effort would collapse. Congress appears to have little patience with suggestions of an extended mission for American ground forces.

Rep. Herbert Bateman, R-Va., said Europe should take primary responsibility after the end of the year, "with some logistical support from us perhaps, to maintain at least some military presence there ... that it appears itís going to require." Joulwan said his concern is that debate about extending the troop deployment will sap the current mission of its sense of urgency over the remaining nine months of the deployment. "If you start talking about this follow-on on force, much of this momentum—and you have to have momentum for peace—will dry up," Joulwan said.

Additional resources
Perry: New Bosnia Role is not 'Mission Creep' Berserkistan, March 27th
NATO Shifts Role to Rebuilding BosniaBerserkistan, March 26th
NATO World Wide Web Site
NATO IFOR News Releases
NATO Searchable Handbook

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