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Shalikashvili Says Young Soldiers, Unit Leaders Pulled It Off

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2, 1996 – Considering the fog, snow, mud, ice and floods, operations in Bosnia have progressed better than we had a right to expect, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the press here on Jan. 1.

U.S. Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili and Defense Secretary William J. Perry visited the base as part of a trip to see how NATO's Operation Joint Endeavor is going.

A day earlier, U.S. Army engineers successfully bridged the Sava River, which forms the border between Croatia and Bosnia. Winter weather and floods delayed the operation.

"We've seen that it can be extraordinarily challenging to operate in the kind of environment in which we are," said Shalikashvili. "I had said early on, ours is not a fair weather military and despite the fact that we had this challenge thrown at us, I'm absolutely delighted that, as always, the young men and women, the young sergeants, the young unit leaders, were the ones [who] pulled it off."

U.S. forces are approaching their Bosnian mission with an attitude of "steady as you go," Shalikashvili said. They're avoiding doing anything foolish that would cause accidents and endanger the whole operation, he said. "That's the kind of attitude that has prevailed so far and that's the kind of attitude that will stand us in good stead as we look ahead to this coming year."

The mission is only beginning, however, and the troops should remember their training and remain vigilant, according to the chairman.

"We have to take this one day at a time," Shalikashvili said. "The weather will continue to pose challenges. If we're not careful, we'll have unnecessary accidents. Certainly, as we have seen, mines will continue to be a problem. We have to remember our training and proceed accordingly."

Avoiding complacency is key, he said. "The thing we need to watch out for now is that we don't get lulled into a false sense of security just because we had a couple of weeks of fairly good operations. We need to have perfect execution every day."

The general said he is confident after meeting with "the young men and women and their leaders, we'll be able to go home feeling comfortable and confident that they know what they're doing, and that they will do it right."

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