The Defense Department will be reducing the number of U.S. forces operating in Bosnia from 6,900 to approximately 6,200. The current troop level of 6,900 already represents a 20 percent reduction from the 8,500 U.S. troops deployed in June 1998 and is 66 percent less than the peak U.S. deployment of 20,000 troops in 1996. Overall reductions will total approximately 10 percent of the total force structure.
The change in U.S. force structure will be realized through reductions in personnel at the headquarters level, reductions in the manning of the operational reserve and reductions in the force manning required for Multinational Division North (Task Force Eagle).
NATO allied nations have endorsed the implementation of reductions in the force structure of the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which currently numbers about 32,000. The U.S. force reductions, to be realized in April 1999 during a scheduled unit rotation, resulted from an analysis of the current SFOR mission, its key military and supporting tasks, and six months experience of operating under Operation Joint Forge. They do not, however, signal a change in the SFOR mission nor will they affect SFOR's ability to support implementation of the Dayton Accords.
In addition to these short-term reductions, NATO is also conducting a more detailed study of possible force restructuring/resizing for North Atlantic Council review later this year. NATO has achieved great progress in the implementation of the military provisions of Dayton, successfully ending the fighting and ensuring a separation of the former warring factions. At the same time, much remains to be done on the civilian implementation aspects of Dayton for Bosnia to reach the point where peace will be self-sustaining and NATO troops will no longer be required.