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Myers Praises U.S.-NATO Peace Mission In Bosnia-Herzegovina

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2004 – The U.S. military's top officer praised the peacekeeping efforts of U.S. and NATO troops serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina during a recent visit there.

"These soldiers exceed the highest standards," Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers remarked during a May 4 press conference, noting his pride in the U.S. troops here and saying he is "equally proud of our partners from various other coalition countries."

U.S. and NATO troops have been serving in the Balkans, principally in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the past eight years to help preserve the peace and prevent civil strife in the region.

American and NATO troops deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the general said, "have made the current peace possible and helped clear the way to a bright and hopefully prosperous future for the people of this country."

Myers said the United States is a steadfast NATO partner that "remains dedicated to the goal of peace throughout the Balkans." U.S. forces, he added, "will remain a strong, steady presence" in Bosnia-Herzegovina as its people "begin to take a larger role in their own futures."

American troops will remain in the country, the general explained, "so that we can monitor progress and assist local authorities as more responsibility shifts to them."

Myers said the U.S. Defense Department was heartened that Bosnia-Herzegovina's government recently enacted military reform legislation.

"This is an important step in moving the country towards full integration with the international community," Myers noted.

In a question-and-answer session, Myers fielded queries about news reports and published photos of alleged detainee abuse by U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

He said the "absolutely appalling, despicable" actions of a few soldiers in no way represent the majority of the members of the American armed forces.

Anyone found to have committed wrongdoing would be brought to justice, Myers said, pointing out that it was some American soldiers who had told authorities about alleged abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

The people of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the general pointed out, should know firsthand about the true, compassionate character of U.S. soldiers.

"If anybody knows that, it's the people of this country, who have been working with American troops now for eight years," Myers noted.

The general contrasted the upright reputation of American troops with that of extremists who are attacking U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. Extremists in Iraq have no moral standards and "actually celebrate the killing of innocent men, women and children," he said.

U.S. and coalition forces possess a very strict moral code, Myers pointed out, and "bring not only tenacity on the battlefield, but their courage and compassion along with them."

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Biographies:
Gen. Richard B. Myers

Related Sites:
Joint Chiefs of Staff
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
State Department Background Notes on Bosnia-Herzegovina



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