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Bosnia Drawdown to Begin After December 20

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 8, 1996 – Most of NATO's peace implementation force will stay in Bosnia until after Dec. 20, 1996, according to Defense Secretary William J. Perry.

"Gen. [George] Joulwan has asked that we keep forces over there to allow for a fully effective IFOR up until Dec. 20," Perry told the press April 30. He said the drawdown would proceed as quickly after Dec. 20 as Joulwan believes prudent.

According to DoD officials, the North Atlantic Council gave the implementation force the mission in Bosnia until Dec. 20. Joulwan, as supreme allied commander Europe, will retain sufficient capability to accomplish the mission until that date.

Initially, plans called for starting the drawdown in the summer, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said at a news briefing April 25. But the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe asked NATO to keep a full force until Bosnia's September elections, he said. The troops are needed to ensure the freedom of movement crucial to encourage campaigning and voting, Bacon said.

The bulk of the force will remain in place until the elections. Some drawdown may occur between the elections and Dec. 20, but that is still being discussed, a DoD spokesman said.

It will take a month or possibly longer to get all the troops out after Dec. 20, according to Bacon. How long the withdrawal will take will depend on the weather and other logistical considerations. Leaving Bosnia should be much faster than sending the forces in, he said.

"We moved in during one of the worst winters in recent years," he said. "If we're lucky, we'll have a milder winter that will make leaving easier." (05/08/96: 96250)

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