Main Body Deployed for NATO Operation Joint Endeavor
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 1995 "Enabling forces are in place; the main forces are ready. Therefore," said U.S. Army Gen. George Joulwan, "let's go."
GoDay was Dec. 16. Joulwan, NATO's supreme allied commander Europe, officially activated Operation Joint Endeavor. It was the final step needed to send 60,000 troops from more than 25 nations to implement peace in Bosnia.
Earlier the same day, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1031, establishing the multinational military implementation force of ground, air and maritime units from NATO and nonNATO nations under NATO's command and control. NATO's 16member decisionmaking body, the North Atlantic Council, then approved the deployment of 60,000 troops from more than 25 nations.
After issuing the activation order, Joulwan told reporters, "Our mission is clear, limited in time and scope, and with robust rules of engagement. The force has trained to mission, is well equipped and is superbly led. I have every confidence in their ability to execute the mission."
During the next 96 hours, NATO forces would flow into Bosnia ready to assume command and control of the theater from the U.N. Protection Force Dec. 20.
Nearly 2,200 of the planned 2,600 enabling forces were in Bosnia and Croatia by Dec. 17, according to DoD officials. Support forces were building up in Hungary at a railhead in Kapasvar and an airfield at Taszar.
"Routeopening forces are going in to allow the land route from Hungary to Tuzla to be opened," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Howell Estes III, operations director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a Pentagon briefing. "They have to secure the route that goes from the railhead at Kapasvar, about 30 kilometers north of the Hungarian/Croatian border, down to the Sava River on the border between Croatia and Bosnia."
A bridging unit will put a ribbon bridge on pontoons across two sites on the Sava River, Estes said. The river is about 965 feet wide where the bridges will be placed.
"This is a very typical kind of a bridge crossing," Estes said. "We don't expect any difficulty whatsoever in bridging this river. The forces that are doing this are extremely well trained. They've looked at the conditions here and see absolutely no problem with getting his bridge across in very short order."
After the travel routes are opened, an initial entry force made up of an assault command post and a light infantry unit will go into Tuzla, Estes said. The initial entry force will be followed by a strike aviation brigade, two brigade combat teams that are the primary ground forces which will carry out the peace implementation tasks and finally, the division support forces. The deployment of these forces is expected to be complete about 10 weeks after GoDay, Estes said.
After fog and snow hampered operations at the Tuzla airfield, C130 aircraft began delivering troops Dec. 18. As of that date, Estes said, there had been about 240 flights moving people from the United States or Germany to forward locations. About 4,000 people and about 5,000 short tons of equipment had been moved, he said.
Buses and trains are also ferrying troops and equipment into Hungary and Croatia, Estes said. Thirty trains had arrived as of Dec. 18, and another 35 were en route.
Although it may not look as if much has been happening, Estes said, "there is a large rampup of things moving that will eventually go into Bosnia based on NATO's time table."
"The commanders responsible for these forces feel the force flow is going according to plan and they will be able to carry out the tasks they'll be asked by NATO to carry out," Estes said.