OCTOBER 17, 1995
Calling for the U.S. to commit 20,000 troops to a 60,000-strongU.N. peace implementation force in Bosnia, Secretary of StateWarren Christopher, joined Defense Secretary William Perry, andJoint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General John Shalikashvili, ata meeting before a skeptical Armed Services Committee. Kwame Holmanreports on the meeting that had Congress questioning how manybillions of dollars the U.S. would be spending, and whether theU.S. would leave Bosnia after 12-months.
KWAME HOLMAN: Secretary of State Warren Christopher, joined byDefense Secretary William Perry and Joint Chiefs of Staff ChairmanGeneral John Shalikashvili, went before a skeptical Armed ServicesCommittee this morning. Christopher said the U.S. and its troopswould be vital to reaching and maintaining a peace agreement inBosnia.
WARREN CHRISTOPHER, Secretary of State: There will not be a peaceagreement in Bosnia unless NATO and the United States, in particular,take the lead in its implementation. The Bosnian government hassaid to us quite directly that it will not sign a peace agreementwithout a commitment by the United States and NATO to help implementit. If we ask NATO to act in Bosnia, the United States cannotfail to contribute troops to the mission. The United States isthe bedrock of NATO's strength and resolve. We cannot say to ourallies we've come this far together but now you're on your own.That would mean abdicating our leadership of the alliance; itwould genuinely impair the future of NATO and the stability ofEurope.
KWAME HOLMAN: Defense Secretary Perry said U.S. troops would compriseabout 20,000 of the 60,000-strong peace implementation force tobe called IFOR.
WILLIAM PERRY, Secretary of Defense: We are not going over thereto fight a war. All of the warring parties will have signed apeace agreement before this force goes in. But after almost fouryears of conflict and the hatreds that are fanned by that conflict,and also recognizing there's a lack of central control of someof the paramilitary forces, we recognize that peace implementationwill not be easy, and IFOR will not be risk-free.
KWAME HOLMAN: But Senators questioned what level of peace wouldexist in Bosnia once agreements are made and the IFOR is deployed,possibly as soon as Thanksgiving.
SEN. DAN COATS, (R) Indiana: But doesn't a real peace agreementinclude agreement by the three warring factions to certain pre-requisites?
SEC. WARREN CHRISTOPHER: Yes.
SEN. DAN COATS: And if they agree to that, then why--"if"they agree to that, why is there the need then to put a peaceimplementing force in place consisting of 60,000 troops?
SEC. WARREN CHRISTOPHER: Well, Senator, even though parties agreeto things, history has shown that frequently they need some helpin implementation.
SEN. DAN COATS: And history has shown that they need an extraordinaryamount of help in the Balkans, isn't that true?
SEC. WARREN CHRISTOPHER: Yes. That's certainly one of our greatworries here, Senator, is the Balkans have been the seedbed ofconflict in the past, and that's one of the justifications andperhaps the most important justification for ensuring that thisis done right. We won't go there unless there is a real peace,but we'll go there to help the parties make sure that they implementand achieve a real peace.
SEN. DAN COATS: Well, see, that's where I have a problem. We won'tgo there unless there is a real peace, but we're going to go thereto ensure that there is a real peace. The two seem contradictoryto me. If there is a real peace, we wouldn't need 60,000 troops.
KWAME HOLMAN: Only one member of the Armed Services panel expressedsupport for sending U.S. troops to Bosnia without prior congressionalauthorization. Part of Congress's reluctance is concern aboutAmerican casualties.
SEN. JAMES INHOFE, (R) Oklahoma: I'd like to have any one of youtell me if we're going to have hundreds of young Americans dyingover there, is the mission as you described it in your openingstatement justification for their deaths?
SEC. WILLIAM PERRY: The U.S. has vital political, economic, andsecurity interests in Europe. The war in Bosnia threatens thoseinterests, and the U.S. vital security interest is served by stoppingthis war, and to do that, we require U.S. participation in IFOR.This will not be without risks. It will not be without costs.But allowing the war to continue also has risks and costs, andin my judgment, those risks and costs would be greater.
KWAME HOLMAN: Then there were questions about the length and conditionsof the proposed U.S. deployment.
SEN. SAM NUNN, (D) Georgia: Can we--if this peace agreement takesthree, two, three, four months to be able to finalize, are wecapable of militarily being able to deploy this force in the middleof the winter?
GEN. JOHN SHALIKASHVILI, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: Obviously,it becomes more complex, but we--I don't want to be cute aboutit--but we are not a fair weather force. We have operated in harshestof winter conditions in our history, and we will be able to deploythat force and sustain that force and do it and ensure it doesits job even if winter conditions exist.
SEN. CHARLES ROBB, (D) Virginia: I come back, however, to thequestion of the one-year timeframe. What military justificationdo we have for that kind of constraint, other than political concernsand the pressure placed upon you and others by Congress?
GEN. JOHN SHALIKASHVILI: From a military perspective, as I evaluatedthe tasks we wish this force to accomplish, it was my judgmentthat it, in fact, can be done in 12 months or less. Secondly,when tied to the equipping and training issue, it was my judgmentthat that too can be accomplished in less than a year. And soI felt it was important that we, therefore, set a target of oneyear and then bring the force back. In the absence of that, youjust find yourself staying there and that's how very often missioncreep comes in. The force needs to be brought home, and they needto resume normal training, and be ready for, for other operations,and I just think one year--I saw no military justification forthat force to stay longer than one year. And that's why that wasmy recommendation.
SEN. DIRK KEMPTHORNE, (R) Idaho: Sec. Christopher, just a finalquestion to you. Do you feel that to date, the administrationhas made a compelling case to the American people to support thisdeployment of U.S. troops?
SEC. WARREN CHRISTOPHER: We obviously have that obligation. We'rebeginning to fulfill that obligation. I assume there will be additionalhearings. This is really the kickoff of the implementation hearing,so no, I don't think that we've yet made the case, but I thinkthe case is there to be made, and we intend to make it.
KWAME HOLMAN: Administration officials will begin making thatcase to the House of Representatives tomorrow.