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DoD News Briefing: Lieutenant General Howell M. Estes III Director for Operations (J3), Joint Staff

Presenters: Lieutenant General Howell M. Estes III Director for Operations (J3), Joint Staff
December 05, 1995 11:00 AM EDT

December 5, 1995 - 11 a.m.

Col Kennett: Good morning. I have one announcement before I introduce General Estes. That is, we have a Bluetop for you announcing the creation of BosniaLINK. It's in the latest Department of Defense Information service on the Internet by the World Wide Web. It can be accessed through DefenseLINK or directly, and it will it include operational maps, fact sheets, transcripts of briefings, speeches and testimonies, news releases and biographies of key commanders and leaders. It's also hyperlinked to NATO and State Department information services and we will be updating that throughout the day everyday as new information is available to you.

At this time, I would like to introduce Lieutenant General Howell Estes, III, many of you know he is the director of operations for the Joint Staff. He will be here to talk to us about U.S. operational details as we're beginning to move people into Bosnia to prepare for the deployment. He will be addressing U.S. operational details only. He will be on the record for about ten minutes, after which we'll dim the lights and we'll have a senior military official who will be able to take your questions at that time on background. General Estes.

General Estes: Good morning. I think the format we'll try to follow for these particular sessions as we proceed down the road with this particular operation is that I will come in and try to give you a small piece of sort of the current data what's recently happened, where we are now with the operation, and a little insight of the future from the U.S. force perspective.

You all have heard a lot of terms lately. We've talked about enabling forces. We've talked about support forces. We've talked about main body forces. The Secretary was here yesterday discussing some of the details of these forces. I thought I might use this opportunity to go into a little bit more specifics to be sure that you all have a good understanding of exactly what we're talking about when we talk about these particular groupings.

I think, first of all, it's important for me to talk just a couple of seconds about the timetable. As you all know, it's being expected that this peace agreement is going to be signed in Paris on the 14th of December. I think it's very important to us because it's from that date that, that we will decide as a nation, based on the North Atlantic Council's decision, to deploy the main force in to do that. And so, it's a very key point for us because it's the start of the timing then for what comes to follow in terms of the main body of force that goes to carry out the tasks as specified in this military agreement, to carry out the military mission.

So, it's important for me to talk from that point on for a minute and then talk what's going on prior to that date, which is obviously the period we're in right now. Let me address very, very briefly the important time points for us following the signing of the agreement. The North Atlantic Council will make a decision based on the signing to deploy forces. The U.S. then will make a decision. The President will decide whether or not he's going to commit the main body force to the mission and, assuming that happens, we will deploy the force.

The key data points for us are that we need to deploy forces in so that the U.S. part of this implementation force can be there in time for the NATO forces to accept command and control of the theater at about the 96 hour point from the time we're told to deploy. Now, that's a NATO decision. It's a decision that will be made by General Joulwan and Admiral Smith. But that's basically the timeline we're looking at.

So, it's important that we try to be prepared to get the forces in there in the time required, a fairly short period of time, to allow us to take, allow NATO to take command and control of the theater. That's one piece.

The second piece is that the real big timeline that comes up first is the 30-day timeline from the transfer of authority date. And that's an important time for us and for NATO because that's the point at which the parties have agreed to separate their forces two kilometers on either side of the agreed cease-fire line, and we need to be sure that we have forces in place along that cease-fire line as chosen by Admiral Smith and the NATO commanders. But sufficient force needs to be there to be able to accomplish that task to monitor and enforce the cease-fire line. Because, as I said, the parties have agreed that, at that 30-day point after transfer of authority of NATO taking command of the area in Bosnia, they've agreed to separate their forces. So, it's their job to separate them. It's our job to monitor it and to be sure they stay separated.

So, those are two kind of key pieces that drive a lot of what's going on right now. One, very quickly, we've got to be able to get in as NATO, as a part of the NATO force, to take command and control of the theater. And two, we've got to have sufficient force there in the first 30 days after transfer of authority to be able to accomplish this major task that NATO has, of ensuring the separation of forces at the 30-day point.

Now, let's talk a little bit about what's going on now and why that's so, what the state of play is now with the forces. You heard me talk about enabling forces, support forces, and main body forces. The forces that we will deploy once the peace agreement is signed and the decision is made to deploy a force is obviously the main body force. That's the bulk of the force. We are not deploying main body forces now. We have no authority to do it. The decision has not been made to do it. So, it's important to make that point.


So, what's going on now? Right now, as you heard the Secretary describe yesterday and General Shalikashvili and the Secretary described on the Hill over the hearings that they've had over the last couple of days and weeks really, we are in the process now of supporting the NATO decision to deploy the enabling force. Now, enabling force means exactly what it says. It is the minimum force required to enable us to quickly bring in the main body force once the agreement is signed. And so, it's command and control people. It is logistics people, intelligence people, the very minimum necessary to put in place so that we can quickly bring in the main body force to accomplish the task for the reasons I gave you just a couple of minutes ago.

Let me turn to a slide here now and talk for just a minute about the enabling force itself. This is a slide that the Chairman used on the Hill. It's the same slide. There's no reason to change it because nothing has changed. It's exactly the same, but I want to review it for you to be sure there's good understanding of what we're talking about.

Why is the enabling force going? Well, I really just described that to you. It's going to enable the main body to move in quickly. That's why it's going. It's to do these kinds of things: communication, command and control, intelligence, and little civil military relations. It's going into Bosnia and Croatia. Those are the two locations. And the locations which everybody is focused on is where is it going in Bosnia and some U.S. forces will go to the major headquarters you see here. Obviously, the U.S. headquarters is going to be at Tuzla. We will have enabling forces going to Tuzla. In fact, as you all have been reporting, a first elements of the 1st Armored Division have arrived in Tuzla. They arrived this morning Sarajevo time.

We'll also have forces going to the ARRC headquarters, IFOR headquarters, some support down with the French division and with the UK division. So again, these are the primary locations where NATO forces are going, not just U.S. elements of the NATO force, but all NATO forces so that we can set up these primary headquarters, the initial elements so that, when the time comes to deploy the main body, we can quickly move in with these headquarters and stand up and take control of the theater. That's the purpose.

The numbers of forces you see are listed here, about 3,000 NATO, and the U.S. portion of that is shown here; Bosnia, around 700; and the same with Croatia. I didn't talk about what's going on with enabling force in Croatia. If you look up here at Zagreb, it shows the commander for support. This is the NATO commander for support for the operation of the NATO force in Bosnia-Herzegovina. We need to set up the initial command and control, and ability to provide that support because, once the main body starts to move, we will have to provide that support as quickly as the force moves in after the decision is made to deploy the main body.

So, that's the other element, the commander for support and that's what the majority of these people are doing as they're going to Croatia, to provide the necessary elements for that particular command position.

Let me turn now to a very brief description -- I apologize this may be a little hard to see on the camera. But let me just say that the enabling force is coming out of Germany and it's going by two means. If it's going to Bosnia, it's all going by air as depicted by the arrows that you see here. So, some of it's coming out of Italy. Some of it's coming out of Germany. But, it's all flying into either Tuzla or Sarajevo. There are no road or rail movements for U.S. forces in the enabling force going to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The enabling force movement of U.S. forces going to Zagreb are going by rail or by road. Good access in there, and there's no reason in the world why we shouldn't use the standard road and rail networks getting into, getting into Zagreb for that. There may be an occasional flight. Don't lock me into the fact that, if a flight goes in there, I told you it was only road and rail. Primarily, it's going road and rail. It's not to rule out that none will go by flight. But the important point is that all of the 700 or so going into Bosnia-Herzegovina will fly in, in the enabling force.

Okay. So, that's the first piece and that's the part that, based on the President's decision and the Secretary of Defense's authorization, the Chairman issued a directive to the U.S. forces to move this enabling force and that flow has started. It has begun. The first Americans arrived yesterday. The flow will continue on into the future to the locations I showed you in the previous slide.

As we get detail on exactly when the flow is complete, I will pass that to you. But I do not have that information at the moment and I'm not sure it's important. The key thing is that the enabling force needs to be there during this period between now and the signing of the peace treaty.

Q: General, are you taking questions yet?

A: Hold off on questions and let me run through this and then we'll take your questions a little later.

Let me talk a minute now about the support force because that's the second category and what does that mean? What this is, this is the U.S. national enabling force, to say it in another way. It is going to enable us to rapidly move the main body force along land lines of communication which run in the direction I'll show you on a slide here in just a minute, down into, down into the Tuzla area. It's going to allow us to do that on the timelines that I set for you earlier in terms of setting up command and control, and having enough main body forces there to, in fact, monitor the cease-fire separation of forces at the 30-day point after transfer of authority.

So, let's go to the next slide and let me just talk this issue for a minute. The President, again, has authorized, the Secretary of Defense has approved and the Chairman has sent a message out to the forces authorizing the movement of these support forces. Now, we've got a fancy term for the military called "reception, staging, onward movement and integration." So, if you hear RSO&I, it's a term I promise you I'll never use again. But if you hear it, that's what it is. These are U.S. only support forces which are being positioned in Hungary at a railhead and an airhead, Kaposvar and Taszar. Kaposvar being the railhead, Taszar being the air drome for the railhead and the airhead which we will use to support the U.S. forces.

And so, it has been authorized that approximately 3,000 U.S. military may move via rail and primarily, via rail into this area to allow for preparation to take place so, when the main body is authorized to move, we have a support location forward for which we can support the main body in Tuzla.

So, that's the reason this is moving and I hope that's clear on those two key elements. Both of these things need to happen. The NATO enabling force that's going in and this U.S. enabling force so that we can quickly move the U.S. main body when the time comes and the decision is made. These are the only U.S. forces that have been authorized the full and direct support of the operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

I want to take just one minute and talk this issue of what we would say are the numbers. This issue continually comes up. The Secretary talked about it yesterday. There was a lot of discussion on the Hill when testimony was given by both the Secretary and the Chairman on this issue, and I want to try to again address this point.

The important number for all of us to remember is that, within Bosnia-Herzegovina, there will be an IFOR, an implementation force, of 60,000. And of that, the U.S. is approximately one-third. That is the number. It's not just what we would call "combat forces" from the 1st Armored Division. This is Americans from the U.S. military in Bosnia, approximately 20,000. That number has been consistent since we first started talking about this operation. It has not changed. Within the former Yugoslavia, which includes primarily Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro [later corrected to say Macedonia], we are going to have an additional 5,000 support forces.

So, in the former Yugoslavia, this includes the 20,000 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, there will be 25,000, which means that, if there are 20,000 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are 5,000 in Croatia and Macedonia. That's 25,000. And that's the 25,000 that you heard talked about time and again.

Now, the support forces that are going, I described earlier into Hungary and into Italy, are an additional piece and we've been asked to try to explain what that number is. The additional support force required for this operation is the 7,000 number that you heard before. They are not inside the former republics of Yugoslavia, but they are in direct support for the U.S. elements associated with the IFOR. And so, the combination of all those numbers, the 25,000 in Yugoslavia, the former Republics of Yugoslavia and the 7,000 is the 32,000 number you've heard.

Beyond that, you could add up other numbers if you wanted to. People want to talk about the carrier at sea, the amphibious ready group, the Marines at sea, and the aircraft that are in Italy. Those are forces that would be there anywhere. We continue to have amphibious ready groups deployed in the Med. We have for years. They're going to be there in the future. The same thing is true with the carriers. They are there. They would be there anyway and so they are not an additive force in direct support of this operation. And so, I hope that again explains where we're getting the numbers from and articulate them then to you as accurately as I possibly can about what's going to be where.

I don't think anybody is going to argue however that what we're talking about here and the thing we've got to keep focused on is how many are in Bosnia-Herzegovina. That's the key number because the rest of this is going to be support for those forces, and I don't think anybody is going to want us to send ground forces into Bosnia and not properly support them.

What's going to drive a change in support is if this number changed. And what we're telling you is this is the number. Approximately, 20,000. That's the, that's the key number which drives everything else.

I think with that, I will stop at this particular point and we'll take just a couple of seconds break and turn the lights up and we'll come back to your questions and I thank you for your attention.

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