Bacon Says No Increase in U.S. Troop Strength in Kosovo
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2000 There will be no increase in the number of U.S. troops in Kosovo, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said here April 13.
"There is nothing in the plan that calls on the United States to add to the six maneuver battalions currently in its sector," Bacon said, speaking about NATO's recent troop-to-task analysis. "I think it is highly unlikely that the United States will be contributing more troops under this plan."
The United States has set a force cap of 7,000 service members for the Kosovo mission. Currently, there are 5,900 U.S. troops in Kosovo, 450 in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and 10 in Greece supporting the mission.
In late March, DoD ordered the deployment of a long-range reconnaissance company from V Corps in Germany. Bacon said the unit is slated to arrive in Kosovo this month. DoD also deployed 14 tanks and six Paladin 155-mm artillery pieces to link up with 1st Armored Division soldiers already deployed at Camp Able Sentry in Skopje, FYROM. They are expected to arrive by train in the next few days.
NATO's new troop-to-task analysis confirms the alliance's current requirement for 31 maneuver battalions, Bacon said. While the alliance is not requesting more troops, NATO has sent a request to member countries for five battalions, about 3,500 troops, to replace units due to leave Kosovo and to fill the need for an operating reserve, he said.
NATO needs to replace four battalions, a French battalion and an Italian battalion temporarily deployed in the French sector, and a Canadian battalion and a Dutch battalion that are set to leave, Bacon said. NATO's request for a fifth battalion is to meet the need for an operating reserve battalion. This was included as part of the required 31 battalions, but it has not yet been filled, he said.
The operating reserve battalion would be under the KFOR commander's control, Bacon said. "This would be a swing battalion that could be deployed in emergencies to various areas within Kosovo."
About 39,000 international troops are deployed in Kososo. Bacon said NATO has asked countries to respond to the request for troops by April 20.