Implementation Force Supports Recovery Efforts in
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 2, 1996 Multinational troops monitoring peace in Bosnia are starting a new phase of their mission, according to U.S. Army Gen. George S. Joulwan, commander of NATOs peace implementation force.
Forces will continue their primary Bosnian mission of providing a secure environment. Peace implementation forces also will now help civilian organizations and local authorities clear roads, repair bridges and restore water, power and communications, the general said. This will ensure freedom of movement throughout the country.
Currently, about 80 percent of the major routes in Bosnia-Herzegovina are open, Joulwan said. The roads are free of mines, and bridges are passable. Implementation forces will help with the remaining work, including mine removal.
"We are there to assist, to monitor and to help train the former warring factions to remove them," Joulwan said. "Where we can, we are putting in some bridges and working on the road. That clearly is part of our mission because our intent is to have freedom of movement all the way out to the international border."
Helping with civilian reconstruction efforts should not be perceived as an expanded role for the force, according to Defense Secretary William J. Perry. "This is not mission creep," he told the press. "This is carrying out the mission we have stated from the beginning."
The mission, set out in the Dayton agreement, includes creating secure conditions for other organizations to implement peace settlement terms, such as holding free and fair elections. The mission also includes ensuring free movement of refugees and humanitarian organizations and helping agencies perform their missions.
Military help in the civil affairs arena will be based on capabilities and resources available, Perry said. It will not interfere with the military mission. "Its only in the last few weeks that weve had a whole force in place and gotten far enough along with the military mission that we have some resources available," he said.
With the scheduled withdrawal of former warring-faction troops and heavy weapons to barracks and cantonments under way, implementation force officials say troops will be able to take on more civil tasks.
Implementation force commanders will be permitted and encouraged to become more involved in civil restoration projects so long as their military mission is not affected, a NATO spokesman said recently in Sarajevo. In addition to helping restore roads and bridges, civil support may include providing transportation, medical care, maintenance and communications, and reconnaissance surveys, the spokesman said.
Civil-military cooperation officials are coordinating reconstruction efforts with the more than 200 international agencies present. Joulwan said about 450 civil affairs personnel, including over 300 from the United States, are the glue knitting the effort together.
Since December, civil affairs specialists including economists, lawyers and criminologists have been working with such organizations as the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross. They help identify projects necessary to rebuild the civil infrastructure, and they coordinate with the nongovernment organizations and humanitarian agencies to obtain the materials, money or manpower necessary.
Troops from more than 30 nations, including a Russian brigade, are now under Joulwans command in Bosnia. Deploying the multinational force took more than 2,500 air flights, about 350 trains and 50 ships, he said.
So far, the mission has been a remarkable success, Joulwan said, but it has not been easy. "We had to deploy in the worst winter in this century in the Balkans in the most difficult terrain. We put a force of about 60,000 on the ground."
Initially, the peace force established a four-kilometer exclusion zone where all foreign forces were removed, Joulwan said. This has been expanded to a zone 10 kilometers wide and 1,000 kilometers long, he said, and NATO peace forces will now begin to establish their presence throughout the rest of the country.
Joulwan said the implementation force has laid the foundation for peace in Bosnia. "If theres a momentum for peace in the country, if there is no spring offensive, if reconstruction begins, if refugees return, then I think we have done an enormous amount to start this country rebuilding and piecing itself together again," he said.