NATO Approves Bosnia Troop Cut
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 1999 About 1,600 U.S. service members serving in Bosnia are slated to return to the United States between December and April.
The NATO-led stabilization force of 30,000 international troops will be reduced by one-third by April 2000, Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Adams, SFOR commander, announced at a Nov. 2 press conference in Sarajevo. The American contingent of 6,200 personnel will be reduced to about 4,600, DoD officials here said.
The SFOR mandate will remain the same -- to provide a secure environment as laid out in the Dayton Peace Accord, Adams said. Reserve elements located outside Bosnia will be available to respond to any increased threats to stability, he added.
The scheduled troop cuts result from the latest review conducted by the North Atlantic Council and reflect the improved security situation in Bosnia, according to Adams. The council reviews force levels and tasks every six months to assess force requirements and mission accomplishments.
At present, the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) of Fort Drum, N.Y., serves as the headquarters element of Multinational Division North. Some forces from Eagle Base near Tuzla and some from Camp Demi near Kladanj will return to the United States. Camp Demi is slated to close.
A brigade headquarters, some division headquarters elements and the majority of one infantry battalion from the 10th Mountain Division will redeploy earlier than previously scheduled, multinational division officials said in a press release.
Elements from the Army's 1st Infantry Division of Fort Riley, Kansas, and a number of Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers from around the nation will also return early, officials said. Russian, Nordic, Polish and Turkish forces in the northern sector will also be restructured.
Though smaller, the multinational division will remain a robust, responsive force capable of effectively handling any threat to peace, stability and progress, its commander, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James L. Campbell, said in a press release.
Last week, the Army announced that three of the next six SFOR rotations will be commanded by Army National Guard divisions. The next U.S. rotation to Bosnia in March will be headed by the 49th Armored Division, Texas National Guard. Virginia's 29th Infantry Division will command Multinational Division (North) in October 2001, followed by Pennsylvania's 28th Infantry Division in October 2002.
The peak U.S. deployment to Bosnia of about 20,000 troops occurred in December 1995 with the activation of the NATO's peace implementation force, or IFOR. U.S. involvement fell to 8,500 troops with the establishment of the NATO stabilization force in December 1996. When SFOR downsized in June 1998, the U.S. contingent dropped to its current level.