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Clinton Commits U.S. Troops to Follow-on Force

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 1997 – U.S. service members will be a part of any follow-on force in Bosnia after June 1998, President Clinton announced Dec. 18.

Clinton said U.S. participation will occur pending approval of a NATO action plan. NATO military authorities are working on the plan and will present it by February 1998, Pentagon officials said.

"The details of that plan, including the mission's specific objectives, its size and duration, must be agreed to by all NATO allies," said Clinton.

The president said the plan must include some key criteria for U.S. participation, the most important objective being the plan must be achievable and tied to concrete milestones. "We should have clear objectives that, when met, will create a self-sustaining secure environment and allow us to remove our troops," Clinton said.

The force must be able to protect itself, the United States must retain command, and the cost must be manageable.

"Our European allies must assume their share of responsibility," Clinton said.

Finally, any NATO plan must have substantial support from the U.S. Congress and the American people.

Clinton said he made the decision because he believes the job in Bosnia is not done. He said, with NATO help, life in Bosnia is returning to normal. "The progress is unmistakable, but it is not yet irreversible," he said. "Bosnia has been at peace only half as long as it was at war. It remains poised on a tightrope, moving toward a better future, but not at the point yet of a self-sustaining peace."

Clinton said the world must intensify civilian and economic engagement in Bosnia. This includes deepening and spreading economic opportunity. It also means reforming, retraining and re-equipping the police force. Clinton said the parties in Bosnia must restructure the state-run media to meet international standards and encourage an alternative, independent press.

Clinton said he wants more refugees to return home and to make indicted war criminals face trial at the International Tribunal in the Hague, the Netherlands.

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