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Transcript : DoD News Briefing : Tuesday, February 6, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.

Presenters: Lieutenant General Hal Estes, III
February 06, 1996 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, February 6, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.

[NOTE: Also participating in this briefing was Colonel P.J. Crowley, Military Assistant to Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD (PA)]

Colonel Crowley: Good afternoon. I'm Colonel P. J. Crowley, Military Assistant to Ken Bacon, the Pentagon spokesman. A rare pleasure to be here.

We have a two-part briefing for you this afternoon. First we have the Director of Operations for the Joint Staff, Lieutenant General Hal Estes, III, to give an update on OPERATION JOINT ENDEAVOR, how things are going in Bosnia, particularly at the milestone D+45. Then Ken Bacon will join us during the course of the briefing to address other subjects.

With that, I'll introduce General Estes.

General Estes: Good afternoon. It's been a little while since I've been down here. Some would say that's good news, because there hasn't been much to report on. But we've gone through a fairly significant milestone over the weekend, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to come down and sort of provide an update for all of you for how things are going from our perspective in terms of U.S. forces deploying to and involved in the Implementation Force mission.

Some of slides I'm going to show you again today are familiar to you. They've been updated a little bit. This one in particular you've seen before which shows the flow of forces. Recall here, that everything to the left side of this line is really history. This is the date where we are right now, the 6th of February, so you can see there's very, very little amount left of the U.S. force deployment. Within the next ten days or so, all U.S. forces that are deploying as a result of the Implementation Force will be in place in Bosnia. So that's good news.

We've not had any delays since I talked to you last. Recall the yellow you see on here from the early parts of the deployment, due primarily to weather, other factors in getting this thing moving, but at no time were those delays considered major, nor did they prevent us from doing any of the missions that were required by the Implementation Force, or really by the Dayton Agreement, of the Implementation Force. In the U.S. Sector, General Nash had plenty of forces there. On the 19th of January, which was the first key date, recall the forces were to separate two kilometers either side of the ceasefire line on that date. Plenty of force there on that date to accomplish that task.

Then the next significant date which we had happen over the weekend, the 3rd of February, last Saturday, was the date in which certain territories were to be transferred. Let me just talk to that issue a minute on the next slide.

This is, again, a blowup of Bosnia. You can see the dividing lines in the various sectors with what we call the U.S. Division Sector. It's not just all U.S. up there. It's multinational. We'll show you that in here in just a minute. On the next slide I'm going to go to a blowup of the U.S. Sector, but the primarily British division to the west and French to the south.

In particular, the significance of these areas that are to be transferred are shown in general on this chart. There are five shown. The red line you see here is the ceasefire line along which the parties were required to separate on D+30 which happened on the 19th of January.

Then on the 3rd of February areas to be transferred -- and there are five major areas shown. There are more, as you will see, when I focus in on the U.S. Sector, but the major areas are one here, one in the Posovina Corridor, one north of Sarajevo, the corridor into Gorazde, and then one down here to the north of Mostar.

This one is to be transferred to the Bosnian Serbs. These other areas are to be transferred to the Federation of the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims. So it was the transfer of that territory. And by the transfer what I mean is, these areas had to be vacated by all military forces of the opposite side on the 3rd of February. Fairly substantial -- sized areas, especially this, what they call the anvil out here in the British Sector. Those areas were vacated, en toto, by the forces required to vacate them on the 3rd of February without incident.

Recall in the area of Sarajevo, we've had some sniping incidents. Those have been going on for some time. We've had some peaks and valleys in them, but you can't exclude that. There have been some minor incidents there with some sniping, but in terms of these large areas to be transferred we've had no reportable incidents that I'm aware of, and I've see all the reports that have come in, out of the NATO sources over the last, well, since this operation started, for that matter.

Let me focus now on the U.S. Sector, and talk about it in a little more detail.

Again, what I've done is, this is a blowup of where the U.S. is in the northeast part of Bosnia. You can see, again, just to review. The blue lines here show the separation of the brigade areas for all of the forces that are in the U.S. Sector. U.S. Brigades are to the north in the Posovina Corridor here; this being Federation territory in the green; the darker tan here is the Bosnian Serb territory. So the U.S. is in the Posovina Corridor. This passage through here between this section of Bosnian Serb territory and that which is out here to the west, to the western part of Bosnia Herzegovina. Our division, our second brigade is to the south.

The Russian brigade which became fully operational this month, about 1,500 in terms of size, has done an excellent job, has come in with virtually no surprises to anybody. They've come in extremely well trained, well prepared for the mission, deployed in without incident. We had some minor delays of a day or so due to weather, uncontrollable by the Russians or by us in terms of the use of the airport here at Tuzla, but they've moved out into their sector and have now taken control of the sector. General Nash reports everything's going extremely well. So we're very pleased to have the Russians in the sector.

Out to the west is the multinational brigade. Many countries involved. Many of the Nordic, the Polish contingent is a part of that particular area, is just finishing up, it's the last part. Of course the Turkish brigade down here to the south. So a very, very multinational makeup even in the U.S. Sector.

The point I wanted to make now though about the transfer of territory here, you can see here in a little bit of a blowup. In our sector the areas we're worried about, there are some very small areas, and I'm pointing to them. If you can't see them on camera or here in the room, they're a series of small, and then these two larger areas, one here and one up here. Most of those areas are areas that are being vacated by Serbs so the land can be transferred back to the Federation, but a couple of them -- namely one here and one here, are the opposite. It's the Federation [forces] that are vacating the area to be occupied by the Serbs.

Now the military forces of the opposite side cannot occupy these vacated areas until D+90, so we've got a 45 day period here in which IFOR is responsible for the general security in these vacated areas. Recall by vacated, we're talking about the military forces of the side that has to turn the land over, has to be vacated out of the area. When we say vacated, we're not talking about all people. We're talking about military forces of the opposite side.

So on the 3rd of February, we are not monitoring the red line as you see it running around here any more. We're now monitoring the black line that's shown here. It has now moved from the former ceasefire line, which is what we had the forces separated along on the 19th of January; to now we're on the inter-entity boundary line as specified by the Dayton Agreement, and that's the one that encompasses these lands to be transferred. So now the forces are separated two kilometers either side of that line.

The other requirement for the former warring parties is that within ten kilometers of that line they're required to report the total capability they have for military forces. That requirement started on the 19th of January, along the ceasefire line, and they were required to provide updates to that as the forces move around to the IFOR so that IFOR has a very good idea of exactly what forces are within ten kilometers of the line that they are, in fact, trying to monitor, and I was going to say enforce. Fortunately, to date we've not had to worry about enforcement. I can't think of a single reportable incident where we've had to go out and have had a problem because somebody didn't want to move on the right side of the line, or move outside the two kilometer area.

So that's the current situation. The IFOR forces in the U.S. Sector are now monitoring along this black line -- the inter-entity boundary line. They are also patrolling these areas to be transferred, and that will continue for the next 45 days. At the end of the 45-day period, the opposite side will be able to move its military force up to within two kilometers, if they choose to do that, of the boundary line.

That's the current situation, and that is the task of IFOR. That is the major task around this entire perimeter that runs from western Bosnia all the way across to the east and then down to the south, to monitor this inter-entity boundary line to ensure the forces remain separated.

One of the issues, of course, we're working hard on -- and I say we're working. General Nash and his people are working hard on -- is building of base camps. This is not to say that we don't have camps built for the forces that are there because we have about 15,000 U.S. forces in Bosnia at the moment. It's not to say they're not in base camps, but these are the final camp locations. When I talked to you earlier about wooden floors and lights and capabilities for doing laundry and tents with remote television in them and things of that kind, phone banks for the troops to use to call home, we're talking about these more semi-permanent locations. Not normal field conditions.

You can see there are 23 camps being built. The camps in dark green, of which there are six now, are complete. There are another eight under construction, and that's in the light green; and another nine, I think I've got that right, that are going to be constructed, and those are the ones shown in blue. So a total of 23 camps.

One of the interesting things you can see here is, initially we were going to put all the camps inside the Federation territory. We were going to do that for force protection. But because this has gone so well, you can see a number of these final camps are going to be in Bosnian Serb territory. That's a great success story. We did not think we would be this far along, be able to accomplish that at this stage of the game. We fully intended to do that a little later on, but because everything's gone so well, there's been generally very good cooperation on the part of all the former warring parties in terms of the compliance, in particularly the U.S. Sector, but in all sectors, for that matter. When you look at en toto what they were asked to do, this is the result of that, and I think it's a great success story in and of itself.

The camps -- hopefully we'll have them all done sometime here in the month of March. We'll keep a close eye on this because we want to be sure we get the troops in somewhat better conditions. Many of you that have been over there or talked to some that have, conditions are tough, to say the least. Mud a huge problem. It's gotten a little bit colder, so some of the mud we saw as we first moved in is frozen, but that doesn't make it any easier. You've still got very difficult conditions for the soldiers to deal with over there, and we want to be able to give them at least a place to go and sleep where they can get out of some of that into these more semi-permanent camps.

The next issue I want to talk about just for a very brief moment here is the issue of bridging. Recall all the emphasis we had on trying to get the two bridges across the Sava River, because it became the land route into Bosnia for U.S. forces. Without that, we were stuck with the air routes and were limited in the amount of things we could move, just by the nature of airlift. Although the airlift was extremely successful in getting the initial units in, which you are all aware of.

The initial bridge, of course, went up at Zupana, you can see on the chart here, in about this vicinity. There are actually two ribbon bridges across the river now. This is a picture of one of them. This is at Zupana. You can see the permanent bridge and it's a little hard for you all to see in the back, but this is where it was severed. There's about an 800 meter section down, a fairly substantial part of the bridge down, so it would be very difficult to repair without going in and doing a permanent fix and actually rebuilding the bridge, which would be a substantial amount of money.

One of the things that the U.S. forces are doing now in conjunction with its NATO allies, is looking at other options along the Sava River where the permanent bridges are. I've marked them here, the ones that are being looked at, in terms of what are the opportunities for going in with what the Army calls a Bailey Bridge. In plain English it looks like an extremely large erector set for something that might be more descriptive to you. It's large pieces, some of them ten feet long in terms of steel girders. They're literally lashed together to repair a bridge that's basically there, but maybe one or two spans out. The Bailey Bridge system works well, depending on the amount of distance to be covered. That's what they're looking for now. They go and look and inspect the bridges to be sure the part that's left is, in fact, adequate and doesn't require any additional repair, and then look at the spans that are down to see what might be done to replace some of those spans.

I think if we get one bridge back up in a permanent nature here in the next couple of months, we will be successful. That's what they're looking for. They're not going to repair every bridge I've shown you on the chart. What I'm trying to describe for you here is that they're looking at a number of locations, the objective being to try to span the river in a more permanent fashion here in the next couple of months so we can get out of this ribbon bridge mode, this temporary bridge mode, because as the spring thaw occurs we're going to have big fluctuations in the river again. While these bridges could survive that, we want to try to get out of the temporary mode and into more of the permanent mode for obvious reasons in terms of working the resupply for U.S. forces.

This will be an emerging story that you all will see as this operation starts to take hold and the surveys are done to identify the best location to do this.

This last slide is something I promised you early on, and that was to come back and talk to you about Special Forces a little bit. I told you that as we had happen in Haiti, the Special Forces play an extremely important role in this kind of an operation. You'll recall in Haiti we had Special Forces out in the countryside in what we called A Teams and B Teams. They really controlled, from the standpoint of security, very large sections of territory. Here the role is a little different, although somewhat the same, but slightly different.


The basic missions that the special forces have for the U.S. in the Bosnia area are shown here. Civil affairs teams, that's primarily what we did in Haiti. You can see what they're doing, although here, these teams are going out and they're more focused on specific problems, rather than trying to say we are the only military force in a given sector and we're trying to provide security for that sector. It's not what these civil affairs teams are doing in Bosnia, but they're certainly contributing to the overall security posture of the Implementation Force.

These civil affairs teams are located in a number of different locations in Bosnia, as are the liaison teams. The liaison teams, you can see the words shown on the slide. Their job, really, is to act as liaison for the other countries that are there operating in different sectors, because many of them don't speak English. So these teams know the culture of those units, they speak their language and they have communications. So they're able to relay communications back and forth between the divisions and these various groups that are out there supporting those divisions in a given sector.

Somewhere here I have some information about how many those are. There are nine of these liaison teams out now. With the Czech Republic, the Egyptians are going to have one, Malaysians, some of the Nordic countries, the Pakistans, Poland, Russia, Turkey. So those are the countries we're working with, and many of those countries are supporting British and French division sectors, so we'll have these teams down there doing that job. So it's much larger than just supporting the U.S. forces. They're supporting the Implementation Force mission by doing this liaison mission.

Psychological Operations. Very important to create the right mental set in Bosnia for peace. Is it Herald the Peace? There's a newspaper that these psychological operations people put out, they've put a number of editions out now. It's spread throughout Bosnia. A very large number of copies are made to talk about what the Implementation Force is doing and what to do if you have a problem, and to try to defuse issues and basically to kill rumors, of which there's no question there are a number of them. So this is viewed as sort of a way for the spokespeople of IFOR to get the word out. They have radio stations they're using as well, television stations, and they're attempting to do the kinds of things you see here. Ease concerns. Ease people's concerns. Keep the tensions down. A very important job.

A last mission for the SOF, the Special Forces in Bosnia is the aviation support. This is primarily resident back in Italy, but is there to provide support if required. Of course the support, many of these Special Forces supporting the Implementation Force are out in various places. They have a means of getting support into them as well. So transportation logistics becomes a very important part of the helicopters that the Special Forces have supporting the IFOR.

Again, as you look at it I think you understand the implications of this. The point I would make is these Special Forces are spread all across Bosnia working with all factions, working with all the countries. You could almost say they're the glue that's holding the IFOR together because of the kind of mission they're doing with the liaison team. There's about in the neighborhood of 500 or so in the country, and it's a difficult mission, but these young men and women are doing an absolutely superb job. We saw it in Haiti. It was a tremendous story down there with the success. I think many people became more aware of the tremendous capabilities of these A Teams and B Teams and these liaison teams... The A Team, as I recall, was about 10-12 people, it's about half that in each of these liaison teams because they're working primarily with friendly forces when they go out to do what they're doing.

So a great success story I think here, and it's something I wanted to be sure you all were aware of so you knew exactly what the Special Forces were doing and the contribution they were making to this particular mission.

With that, I think that's all the comments I have. I'll be glad to take your questions.

Q: You mentioned right off the bat, in about ten days I think you said everyone will be there. What will be the final count you anticipate now?

A: It's a little hard to say. We've said we didn't want to go over 20,000. Approximately 20,000 was the number the President agreed to in terms of the total makeup of U.S. forces in Bosnia. Just to review again, 5,000 in Croatia, and we said another 7,000 in what we call the rim countries which would be primarily Hungary and Italy. We are not going to go over the 20,000, it does not appear. It may be a little less than that. But right now with the forces we see going in, there's still some more to go, a couple of armored task forces, a battalion-sized force is what you saw, and some sustainment still to go in, and we'll just have to wait and see what it ends up.

We could make predictions. The predictions I'm getting out of the theater are going to be reasonably close to the 20,000 number, but I'll come back down to you and talk to you when we get a little bit better definition as the remainder of the forces are, in fact, moved forward to the staging base in Hungary at Kopasvar that we've talked about. I'll come back to you and give you a full count once they're all in. Once we have the last of the force in, I'll come down and say the deployment's complete. Here's what the numbers are.

Q: What's the count today?

A: The present count is about 15,000 in Bosnia at the moment, almost exactly. In fact we're just a couple of numbers short of that this morning. I expect by this time, since the numbers trail by a day and a half, we're probably closer to 15,500 would be a guess.

Q: Can you tell us what's being done to prevent a repeat of the tragedy we witnessed just a couple of days ago, the sergeant.

A: Sergeant Dugan. When I first came down here and discussed the fact that we had a fairly extensive session on the mine problem. Our concern for mines hasn't changed from that time. In fact if anything, it's heightened because at the time I told you the biggest dangers to U.S. forces were rogue elements, mines, and then what we called non-combat injuries. We haven't had any problem so far, and I hesitate to say this, with rogue elements, to speak of. Not to the degree we thought was possible.

The non-combat injuries, we've had a few, but nothing substantial. We've had the normal kinds of things. We had a soldier die of a heart attack en-route, that I think you're all aware of. We had somebody step on, another soldier step on a hot rail as he was deploying in from a train and electrocuted himself, was critically injured. So there's been that kind of thing.

But the mine issue for Bosnia becomes the big problem because it is, in fact, the issue of the day. I absolutely don't want to diminish this problem in any way, shape or form by saying that the numbers of mine incidents are less than we expected. Any mine incident is significant to us. U.S. forces have been involved in seven mine incidents or unexploded ordnance. I kind of want to lump that together, and I'll describe that for you, why I'm doing this in just a minute when we talk very briefly about Sergeant Dugan.

We've had seven incidents involving mines or unexploded ordnance. Sergeant Dugan is our lone fatality so far. A tremendous tragedy. Loss of any life is a tremendous tragedy, obviously. Four wounded. Equally tragedies. Anybody that gets wounded when you go on a peace mission is considered a loss to us. We wanted everybody in, and everybody that came in to leave. That was General Nash's goal.

What's being done about the problem? I talked with you all for about 30 minutes about all of the things that have gone on in terms of equipment that proceeded in with the forces as they came, and I'll review that here for you in just a second to let you know exactly where we are. But recall one of the key elements for U.S. forces was the training that we gave them before they went. It's an absolute hard and fast requirement before people go to Bosnia that they go through the counter-mine training that's conducted. It's about a four-day course. It runs the full gamut of what to look for, what happens if you find yourself under conditions of mines, and things of that kind.

As a result of the seven incidents that we've had, there are a couple of things that have occurred. One of them is that we have gone back and made sure that we have the best equipment over there that the Army or Marines have. In fact the USAREUR commander, the U.S. Army in Europe Commander, General Crouch, has specifically come back and talked to the program manager for the counter-mine business in the U.S. Army and said is there anything out there that might be out there with civilian companies or maybe with other countries that we just aren't aware of that might be able to come help us with mine detection.

I think in terms of what the U.S. has, it's the best there is in the world, but that doesn't mean that this is not a very serious problem. We have learned in Bosnia, as we've learned in other places, that this equipment is good, but it's not 100 percent effective.

We have had cases in Bosnia where we have done everything we know how to do about clearing mines from a road, and had a vehicle run down that road later and set a mine off. So it's not 100 percent effective.

What the soldiers have found out is, and again, this is not a new lesson, it's better to go slow and do this mine-clearing operation in a very slow, deliberate way. It may take a little longer, but it will increase the overall ability to find mines.

I don't want to, again, make it sound as though we're going to find every single mine on every single road. It's virtually impossible. I'll give you an example of why.

One of the problems we're having with anti-personnel mines, for example, is they've gotten in the frozen ground, and the fuse freezes. So you can put pressure on that, and because of the ice on it, it doesn't detonate the mine. That works while the ground's frozen. So we operate over that area for a month or two now, and then sometime three months from now over an area we went over many times, we have a mine incident and everybody says what happened? This is what happens. That's why we're taking as large of precautions as we can with the equipment we're taking over there.

A number of the vehicles we have, you'll recall we deployed them with a very substantial armor force -- with the Bradleys and the tanks, the M-1s. One of the reasons we went in with that force was to make a positive statement when we got there, so people would know we were there, for obvious reasons. But second, and equally important, was to provide force protection for our forces. In some of the incidents we've had, in fact a number of them, we've had no casualties because the mines, be it anti-tank or anti-personnel, have gone off because of pressure of the vehicle going over them, we've blown a track off a vehicle, but we've not sustained injury to people in the vehicle as a result of this.

So all of this is important. We're bringing more mine clearing equipment in.

Let me just very, very quickly describe... You'll recall one of the pictures I showed you was something called a mine plow and mine rollers. These are tanks with literally a large plow mounted on the front so if there are mines on the surface they can push the mines off to either side to clear a path. A mine roller does exactly what you think. It rolls down the road in front of a tank and detonates the mines.

There are 60 of these particular mine plows, mine rollers, and combat engineer vehicles in Bosnia doing this. We're deploying an additional ten mine rollers into Bosnia.

Robotic vehicles. There's a robotic system that we can mount on to an M-60 tank chassis, and for some purposes a five-ton truck chassis has been used, and the purpose of this robotic vehicle is it can be controlled, as the name implies, from a distance, and we can send these vehicles down the road with mine plows on them, or also, the five-ton truck is literally used to detect and mark mines. It has a very large mine detector out in front of it, and also has the capability to mark the mines. It has infrared systems to help identify the change in heat source which might be shown from a mine being under the surface.

So right now there are a total of three of these kinds of remote systems over there. We're going to add another eight, for a total of 11. These will also help.

Armor kits for vehicles. When the Army deploys, it has a certain number of vehicles with armor protection. It has some, due to the nature of the business they do, that don't have armor protection. We have seen now that the mines are as big a problem as we thought they'd be, so we think it's important that since we're finding that even over areas we've been over before, we're having occasional mine incidents, we need to provide protection for as many of the vehicles as is humanly possible. So that is underway now. There are a series of procurements that the U.S. Army is doing to provide additional armor protection for the bellies of vehicles to protect the soldiers that are inside. That procurement system is taking place, various pieces of equipment starting to arrive this month, and through the middle part of the summer as we try to increase the numbers of armor protection for our vehicles.

Individual protection equipment is another thing. This can be for something as simple as a Kevlar blanket that you literally put on the floor of a vehicle. It's not armor plating put on a vehicle, but you can think of it as the same. It's just laid in the vehicle. Laid in the seat, so that if something happened, at least the soldiers would be protected. We're trying to get more of those, 3,000 to state the number exactly, is what we're looking for there.

This is the kinds of things that General Nash and his people are looking at as we try to take on this issue of mines in a very, very forceful way. Not that we weren't paying extremely close attention to it early on, and not that we've had a lot of incidents, but one incident is too many when we get a soldier injured. That's why you see this renewed effort.

Q: Having said that, talking about how the equipment can be protected, how do you handle personnel who are out on foot who may reach out and pick up something?

A: That's one of the problems that you have. Again, I can't tell you what tactics General Nash is doing, but that's one reason we took all of the Bradleys in there. We want the forces inside those protected vehicles when they're out on patrol, to protect them from mines. Also to protect them from rogue elements if that were a problem.

Occasionally you're going to have to get somebody out of a vehicle. When you do that, and there are places where you can't get vehicles. So we've just got to ensure that everything humanly possible, with all of the equipment we've talked about, plus I showed you when I was here talking about this once before, they have a regular mine detector that's on the end of a boom with a head set that listens for metal. As I described to you, there's enough metal even in a plastic mine that these mine detectors are sensitive enough that they can hear that.

But again, these are not fool-proof systems. They're not 100 percent guaranteed. All I'm saying is that I think everything humanly possible is being done to deal with this issue.

Q: Sergeant Dugan apparently did not step on a mine, but he picked something up and tried, perhaps, to defuse it, and basically broke the cardinal rule. What can you do about that kind of thing?

A: I can't judge what Sergeant Dugan did or didn't do. I wasn't there. I don't know that we'll ever know exactly what happened. As you know, as has been reported, General Nash is doing an investigation. It is not one of these investigations you hear about in six months. I think it's a very short term, that you'll get a report. And I really think it's a mistake to speculate. I wasn't there. I don't know what happened. We do know that Sergeant Dugan was fatally injured. That in itself is extremely important to all of us.

So General Nash is trying to figure out exactly what occurred so we can try to prevent this thing from happening.

This was not an inexperienced soldier, as you know. As a sergeant first class he had been around a long time. He knew the dangers of doing those things. So there's something missing here. He wouldn't have just done something that didn't make sense that some younger soldier, less experienced might do. But again, this is part of the mine training, part of the unexploded ordnance training. We'll just have to wait and see what General Nash's investigation comes up with to try to explain what happened on Saturday.

Q: Earlier you referred to mines and unexploded ordnance, and there was some relation to the Dugan case.

A: Well, there could be. The fact of the matter is, it's been reported he didn't step on a mine. And again, I'm not trying to pre-judge what General Nash's investigation is going to say. I don't know what happened. But we initially thought he stepped on a mine. That's what was reported. That's what was reported to me back here, that that's what had happened to Sergeant Dugan. Then it was well, maybe that isn't what happened, and we're going to investigate this thing and make sure we thoroughly understand so one, we can try to prevent this kind of incident from happening again, and protect soldiers that may be involved in similar circumstances.

So let's wait and see what comes out of this. Again, I know when you hear somebody stand up and say we're doing an investigation and we'll get back to you, it portends a long time. I don't think it will be long before you hear some detail from the Implementation Force, in particular General Nash's people about this incident.

Q: Is there a problem or a concern about soldiers from the NATO force, from whatever country, collecting unexploded ordnance or other things as souvenirs?

A: Sure.

Q: Things that perhaps might not look as threatening as an anti-personnel mine.

A: This is all part of the discussion. You don't pick up anything. This is part of a standard rule when we go into an area like this -- especially in combat. You might have booby trapped areas. It's best not to pick something up that might do you some harm unless you're specifically in there charged with doing it and you know what you're doing.

Again, I'm not trying to speculate on what happened with Sergeant Dugan. Don't misread what I'm saying, because I don't know. I wasn't there. But the fact of the matter is that we've had an incident in Sarajevo with the Italians and the Portuguese where apparently something exploded. The circumstances are still a little fuzzy to me on exactly what happened there.

But again, the country's had a lot of ordnance over the years. We've had four years of war there. There's a lot of unexploded ordnance around, and it's dangerous, and it needs to be cleaned up. If it's in the way of the U.S. forces doing its mission, we are going to clean it up. But remember, it's the job of the warring parties, the former warring parties, based on the Dayton Agreement, to take this action. They are responsible, in particular, for mine clearing. We've had great success and great support from both, all the sides for that matter, in this effort. But it's a very, very, difficult problem in the wintertime. It's going to be a continuing problem, and we're going to have to keep after this and keep the pressure on this particular business as we try to get rid of the unexploded ordnance and mines in Bosnia.

Q: Based on the number of mines that U.S. forces are finding, how good a job have the warring parties done in identifying where mines are and in getting rid of them as they withdraw?

A: I've not heard one complaint about the warring parties' efforts to try to clear these mines. In fact in many... I can think of two incidents in which U.S. forces were being led by Serbians through an area when we had a mine incident. They didn't even know it was there. So we're getting very, very close support, I think, from the former warring parties, and I have seen nothing to say from any of the report I've seen in the U.S. Sector, that there is a view that we are not getting the support from the former warring factions in doing what they were required to do by the Dayton Agreement. There are physical requirements to prevent it. Frozen ground. It's not that they don't want to. They are doing everything they can do at this point in time, and I think, as I said, we need to continue to keep pressure on this as time goes on to work the problem and make it their responsibility. It is their responsibility to deal with this issue.

Thanks very much. We'll see you all probably next week.

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