Shalikashvili Cites Ingredients for Bosnia Success
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 30, 1996 Success in Bosnia is due to having a clearly defined, well-manned, well-equipped mission that has not been micromanaged, according to the nation's senior ranking officer.
Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with implementation force commanders, civilian and military leaders and U.S. troops in Bosnia April 25. The chairman also participated in NATO Military Committee meetings in Brussels.
At a press conference, Shalikashvili said NATO officials had reviewed the "solid accomplishments" of the Bosnia operation. "It's our view that these accomplishments have been made possible because IFOR had a very clear mission, very well spelled out in the military annex of the Dayton Agreement," he said. "IFOR was provided with sufficient well-trained and well-equipped forces, and finally, because there has not been any micromanagement of the operation."
Shalikashvili noted this was the first NATO meeting since 1966 his French counterpart Gen. Jean Philippe Douin attended. At that time, French President Charles DeGaulle withdrew from the NATO military structure. In December 1995, French officials announced their intent to rejoin. About 10,000 French troops are participating in the Bosnia peace enforcement operation.
For the next five months, implementation forces in Bosnia will focus first on completing their military tasks and, as time and resources permit, supporting civilian reconstruction efforts, Shalikashvili said. Commanders have the authority to assist civilian agencies as long as it does not interfere with carrying out their primary military responsibilities, he said.
"It's important that we guard the success that we have achieved, and that takes constant attention," Shalikashvili said.
As more military tasks are completed, there will be more opportunities to assist civilian agencies in such areas as general security and freedom of movement, he said. Implementation forces can make a major contribution to reconstruction efforts by spreading the climate of overall security necessary to hold successful elections, enable refugees to return and allow humanitarian organizations to do their job, he said.
The way to avoid mission creep, Shalikashvili said, is to stick to the military mission stated in the Dayton agreement. "We must remain clear on what are proper tasks for military units and avoid the pitfalls of getting involved in something for which our soldiers are not properly trained or suited," Shalikashvili said. "We will not mount military operations, [for example] to apprehend indicted war criminals, but we will take them into custody if they fall into our hands."
Shalikashvili said NATO officials recommended there be no troop reductions during this phase of the operation. "It was felt very strongly that at the time of elections, we need to have all the troops we now have in order to provide that secure climate that will be key to successful elections," he said.
Operations in Bosnia are proving to be an exercise in cooperation, Shalikashvili said. Troops from 30 nations, including NATO and Partnership for Peace members and others not formally allied, are developing ways of working together. Nations are learning what works and where changes are needed, he said.
"Interoperability is mostly about common understanding and common procedures -- not about having common equipment," the general said. "It is about being able to communicate -- being able to understand what the other one says, not just because we speak a common language, but because we speak in common terms and use common procedures. This is not done overnight, but operations such as Bosnia go a long, long way to draw us closer together."