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DoD News Briefing: Mr. James Pardew, Representative to Bosnia Peace Talks and Lt. Gen. Wesley Clark, USA, Director, Str

Presenters: Mr. James Pardew, Representative to Bosnia Peace Talks and Lt. Gen. Wesley Clark, USA, Director, Str
November 22, 1995 4:30 PM EDT
Capt. Mike Doubleday, DATSD/PA

Wednesday, November 22, 1995 - 4:30 p.m.

[Note: Participating in this briefing were Lt. Gen. Clark, Mr. James Pardew and Capt. Mike Doubleday]

Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.

Lieutenant General Wesley Clark of the Joint Staff -- he's the Director of Strategic Plans and Policy for the Joint Staff -- is here with Mr. James Pardew, who is Secretary Perry's representative to the Bosnia peace negotiations in Dayton. They're here to give you a rundown on the military annex to the peace settlement that was initialed yesterday in Dayton.

By way of introduction I would just like to point out that I know that everyone is interested not only in this document, but also in another document that is still being worked -- which is the NATO Op Order, which is being put together by General Joulwan's staff in Mons. The subject of this briefing is the military annex, so they are in a position to comment on that aspect of the whole process.

I'll start the proceedings with Mr. Pardew and then General Clark will have a few words to say, and then we'll be happy to answer your questions.

Mr. Pardew: The peace agreement initialed yesterday at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was a major step toward ending the tragic four-year war in the Balkans. But while these negotiations were very difficult, the hard part of this peace process is just beginning; next, the parties must follow through on their agreement and actually begin the implementation process.

General Clark and I returned this morning from Dayton, Ohio, where we participated as members of the U.S. negotiating team seeking a peace settlement in this tragic war in the former Yugoslavia. This team, led by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, consisted of members from the National Security Council, State and Defense Departments, and the Joint Staff. I represented the Secretary of Defense on the team, and General Clark was a representative of the Joint Staff.

Our efforts were particularly dedicated to three original members of the team who were tragically killed in an accident on Mt. Igmon in the early stages of these negotiations. And I would specifically honor the memory of Joe Kruzel who I replaced as part of the negotiating team.

Both of us were engaged in the general negotiations, but our attention was particularly devoted to the military annexes of the agreement and the map. In Dayton, the parties, in fact, invited through this annex, the creation of the Peace Implementation Force (IFOR) under the command and control of NATO. We believe the military aspects of the plan give the IFOR the authority and structure it needs to support the peace process. IFOR will monitor the cease-fire, the withdrawal and separation of forces, and will assist in creating a generally secure environment for the people of Bosnia to resume normal and peaceful lives. The agreement commits the parties to fully cooperate with the IFOR. However, if threatened, this force will be fully capable of self-defense.

During the negotiating process, we were the guests of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the people of Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Perry wishes to express the thanks of the Department to Wright-Patterson and Dayton for the wonderful support that they provided to the negotiators.

At this time I'd like to turn to General Clark for any comments he would like to make, and then we'll be open to your questions on the military aspects of the peace agreement.

General Clark: Thank you, Jim.

We're very happy to be back here today, having concluded this peace agreement. I would tell you that we worked for several months on this agreement. The agreement itself and the military annex -- which you've received -- was not something that emerged in late-night drafting sessions two days before the end of the negotiations out at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Instead, we began with Tony Lake's formulation in early August of what the implementation force should be able to do and how it should approach its tasks. We carried this into the European allies, we went through capitals, we worked repeatedly with NATO on this, we talked to the parties who were involved -- President Milosevic, President Izetbegovic, President Tudjman. We got their views on it. We talked to people who had served in Bosnia with the United Nations, so we had first-hand experience assisting us with respect to the challenges and travails of UNPROFOR and what they had done and what they wished they had been able to do.

So the essence of this agreement -- if you read through it -- is to obligate the parties -- a very high level of obligation to the parties -- to perform certain specific tasks. Establishing a zone of separation, taking your forces out of territories that are being transferred, and then maintaining the cessation of hostilities that was established on the 10th of October.

The obligations are on the parties, but the authority rests with this multinational implementation force -- IFOR -- under NATO control. It has a very, very broad range of authorities which should enable it to do all that's necessary to enforce its specific military tasks in connection with the peace agreement and to assist in the creation of the kinds of conditions in Bosnia-Herzegovina which will enable the political aspects of the peace implementation to be effectively put on the ground and implemented during the period of the IFOR deployment.

In that respect, this implementation force is integral to the agreement. When we started our process, and I was with Tony on the first trip along with Bob Frazier and Joe Kruzel and Sandy Vershbow. We know that the American willingness to commit its sons and daughters to this task was the litmus test of American commitment to achieving peace and maintaining, reestablishing stability in that part of Europe. As we've worked through these three-plus months on this agreement, again and again we've come back to the central role of the implementation force. It is central to the peace agreement. It's the centerpiece of American credibility.

With that, we'd be very happy to take your questions on the force.

Q: General, I notice in the Annex 1A that there are some very short deadlines: I think one month deadlines on redeployment of existing forces and the establishment of the demilitarized zone. Does NATO go into "wait-and-see" if there is compliance on the part of the parties on the ground? The military especially. Or is IFOR going to be obligated to go and to assist -- or to enforce -- a compliance?

A: Let me answer that question this way. First of all, the original intent behind our plan was that once the agreement is signed and the conditions are right for the deployment of the implementation force: the force would go in very quickly. At the same time, it will take a period of days to build up the force that's required for this agreement -- we know this. So what we have done is, we have had the parties take the obligations, not IFOR. And the parties have the obligations to establish that separation of forces along the existing cease-fire line within 30 days -- to be pulled back an average distance of about two kilometers on either side of the cease-fire line. That's the intent. By the end of those 30 days, NATO should be on the ground in sufficient force with sufficient capability to assist in providing the kinds of confidence that's required for the forces to disengage.

Q: If they haven't disengaged, will IFOR wait until there is an effective disengagement, or proceed into a situation where there's still conflict?

A: The IFOR commander is going to have a number of tools at hand to be able to work on this issue, and he's going to do his best to get the parties to disengage. We're going to go in there and we're going to first establish effective communications with the parties through our joint military commissions. These joint military commissions start at the level of the commanders of the armies, and then they work downward through subordinate level joint military commissions. We'll make sure that the parties understand what's required of them.

We're going in, remember, under conditions of a voluntary peace agreement. There has to be what some of our colleagues call "strategic consent" of the parties. There may be resistance from some rogue or isolated elements, but we don't anticipate country-wide resistance, because that wouldn't meet the conditions of the peace agreement itself.

Q: A month ago Secretary Perry said, that when the green light was given, the 1st Armored and other U.S. troops would be in "in a matter of days" and all in place and ready within a week. Do I understand that's slowed considerably now?

A: Nothing has slipped, but there are several steps that have to be taken before this agreement is fully in place. For example, what happened yesterday in Dayton was simply initialing of an agreement. But the agreement doesn't take place until it's been signed, and that will take place in Paris at some date in the reasonably near future.

So there are a number of things that have to occur: UN Security Council resolutions; the North Atlantic Council has to act; and there are several steps before we have...

Q: I'm saying when the green light is given... He told us a month ago almost to the day -- that all U.S. troops would be in in a matter of days and in place within a week. I take it now, from what General Clark is saying, we're talking closer to 30 days.

A: We're not going to get into the specifics of the war plan here. We can't. That plan is still being developed. We'd rather talk to you about the peace agreement. But I would just say this: that having talked with some of the people who are working on the plans, I think you'll be very impressed by the speed and rapidity of action of the NATO force.

Q: General, you said this confers broad authority on the IFOR commander, both to interpret what a violation is and to decide how they'll react to that. I wondered if you could tell us how this authority -- plus the rules of engagement that it implies, in general -- compare with the normal, in both cases for U.S. commanders. And when was the last time U.S. troops were deployed under this tough a scheme?

A: This is a NATO chain of command, and we've been very clear from the outset that there is no dual-key. Unlike the case with UNPROFOR where there was a UN Security Council, a UN Secretary General, a UN Secretary General's Senior Representative in theater, what we have here is the commander of the implementation force who is going to be U.S. Navy Admiral Leighton Smith who is serving in a NATO billet as Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces South. Over him, General George Joulwan -- the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe -- who reports to NATO, the Military Committee. He does have the authority to make these judgments. That's clearly specified in the peace agreement. He'll be receiving other instructions and the rules of engagement, of course, through the NATO chain of command.

Q: When was the last time a commander had, in military terms, this kind of authority to decide basically whatever he wants in response?

A: I'm not sure he's going to have the authority to decide whatever he wants. I think there's sort of an interpretation of your question which I think disregards the fact that he's been given some very specific responsibilities to work with. He's got to ensure the forces are separated, he's got to ensure the territories are transferred and the forces are out of there, and he's going to work to ensure the compliance with these voluntary confidence-building measures that are part of Phase Three. So in that regard, he does have what we believe is adequate authority to ensure that this is done.

Q: Knowing the schedule as you know it, how likely is it that American troops would be in country as part of the peacekeeping force by Christmas?

A: I wouldn't want to speculate on that.

Q: General, you said you didn't anticipate countrywide resistance, but you did mention rogue elements. What risks might be posed for U.S. troops by the rogue elements?

A: I think you're going to find a number of risks, and Jim, I'd ask you to come in on this, too. But I think that we've got to recognize that a deployment of 60,000 some-odd troops, including 20,000 Americans, in conditions in Bosnia in the winter time is inherently a dangerous business. It's a risky business. Those of us who have been in the United States Army in Europe know what it's like driving around our training centers over there on icy tank trails and so forth, and I want to tell you that we're going to be working very hard to maintain our safety, if there were no resistance whatsoever over there, because the conditions are going to be difficult for us.

But beyond that, of course, this is a country that's been torn apart by terrible tragedy and fighting. It's a country that's seen more than its share of banditry, people out of control, armed groups, paramilitary groups of various types. While our assessment would be that the parties have considerably tightened their control in their regions over the last four years of fighting, on the other hand, we couldn't discount the possibility that some elements will provide some resistance.

A: But we don't want to over-dramatize this risk. Every military operation carries with it risk. Safety risk, and in any case, you may have rogue elements. I want to emphasize that this agreement requires the cooperation of the parties. They have initialed this as agreeing to the conditions set forth here. They will sign this agreement before the implementation force is deployed. So our participation in this requires, I won't say requires, but as a prerequisite to our deployment, the full cooperation and agreement of the parties in the implementation process.

Q: What happens if the Bosnian Serbs who have not initialed the agreement resist it? Do you force compliance, or do you call off the operation?

A: Let me answer that. As I mentioned before, we expect the parties to cooperate, including the government of the Republic of Serbksa. President Milosevic had the full authority for all the Serbs to negotiate and signed for the entire Serb delegation. The military annex and the stabilization annex were initialed by an authorized member of the Serb delegation. The initialing constitutes agreement with the content of those annexes.

The agreement does not become official until it is signed, but we fully expect the Serbs in Bosnia to complete the agreement by signing in Paris. In addition, we anticipate public statements and implementation actions by the government of the Republic of Serbska which will demonstrate a cooperative attitude toward the deployment of the implementation force and a general support for the provisions of the overall agreement. So again, this is an agreement which requires cooperation, and we expect them to sign it, and we think they will.

A: If the conditions aren't met that we've set for the implementation of this peace agreement, if we don't truly have the consent of the parties and they're not truly seeking peace, then we're going to have to take that into account in terms of our deployment. These are prerequisites for continuing with the mission.

Q: What if you get general compliance, everybody signs, but nonetheless there are sectors in the country that do not comply with the many stipulations here. Then will you force them to comply somehow, and can you explain how you might do that?

A: Somewhere between a lone sniper firing at an armored vehicle and a countrywide state of general war, there will be a line drawn that differentiates what a rogue element is and what resistance is. The commander's going to have to use his judgment and the authorities that he's given and the tools that he has. Those tools start always with an even-handed approach, assuring that the parties understand what their obligations are under their governments, working through the joint military commissions to get the right orders passed down to the parties, and making them aware of what the consequences will be should they not comply. Then should they not comply, they'll suffer those consequences.

Q: Can I ask about the question which the Republicans in Congress, particularly Senator Dole has made much of, which is the issue of the training and equipping, if necessary, of the Bosnian forces to bring about stable balances in the region. The regional stabilization agreement refers to the possibility of doing so, but when you read the Annex 1A, the military aspect, it says quite clearly, "All foreign advisers and trainers are to be withdrawn." It says that the only legitimate [units] to go into the area are either UNPROFOR or IFOR. There's another clause which says, "All such troops as will be agreed by NATO." As I read that, that means that any trainers that go in there, have to be agreed by NATO as a whole, that nobody can do it unilaterally; and moreover, that any trainers that go in there, have to be part of IFOR. Is that your reading of it?

A: We said clearly what the policy of this government is, and we're going to work very hard for an arms control regime in that area that reduces the need for those forces to be built up or trained. Beyond that, we'll be working very closely with our allies and other interested parties as this policy emerges.

Q: But am I wrong in believing that the agreement as written and as initialed by the parties precludes unilateral insertion of training forces?

A: What we have in that agreement is adequate authority to do the things that need to be done to meet the military stabilization, both in Annex 1A and 1B, and they are adequate, and they could be done.

Q: Will Admiral Smith move from Naples to somewhere in the old Yugoslavia? If not, who will be his on-site commander?

A: That's part of the plan. I don't think we ought to get into that.

Q: Can you address the question of how we will know when this mission has succeeded specifically?

A: We believe that the task, the implementation of this agreement.... What are we doing here? We're implementing a peace agreement. We think that agreement can be implemented reasonably in about a year. What does that mean? It means creating that stable environment to return Bosnia back to a normal situation for people to live normal lives, that they would have a reasonable degree of protection, self defense capability, and that the fighting would stop. I don't have a checklist of things. I think we'll know it when we see it.

Q: That's not how this Administration has been approaching the problem in the last few times. There was a very specific exit strategy in Haiti. It's not something you know when you see it. You're going to have very specific goals, you've set a rough time table. What do you tell the American public, or Congress, for that matter? Will there have to be certain elections met? Will there have to be a certain specific measurement that sets military parity in the region? How do you tell?

A: What we've said here, Eric, is this is a time-based exit strategy. We've said we'll be in there for approximately 12 months. During the 12 months that we're in there, there are some very specific military tasks to be accomplished. Those include the initial separation of forces, the transfer of the territories, and then the encouragement of a scheme of confidence-building measures and the adherence to that which further puts the country into a state of peace rather than a state of two armed camps. Of course all through that period we are capable of enforcing the cessation of hostilities agreement which they signed.

Now there are some ancillary and supporting tasks also that NATO will be working with, but the basic strategy here is that we're going to provide a force which will bring a condition of stability to this country for 12 months -- a time sufficient, we believe, to put in place a number of measures which could move that troubled country back on a path toward realization of its political goals of a unified, democratic society. So what we would anticipate is a broad array of things happening. We would see that there would be elections being held under OSCE or some other international supervision; there would be an economic reconstruction program underway; there would be elections, both in the entities locally, entity-wide maybe and nationwide. So there's a broad array of things that would occur during this 12 month period. But this is a time-based exit strategy.

Q: Explain that phrase, time-based. Are you saying that...

A: We've said the force is going to be in there for approximately 12 months. We've taken that 12 month period and we've looked at the tasks that have to be done to set the conditions to meet the political goals and the economic goals that are in the peace plan, and so we, that's the reason why, as someone asked in the earlier questioning, why is it that a lot has to be done so quickly. It needs to be done quickly. This is a country that's been at war for four years. We've looked at the 12 months and what can be done in the 12 months, and that's why we want the separation of forces in 30 days, the transfer of territory in 45 days, and so forth.

Q: If at the end of 12 months you look around and it's not a stable environment, you still leave.

A: We believe that we can create a stable environment in 12 months. The point here is that this is not an open-ended commitment. We've set things to do, we're going to move forward and do them, and we think they can be accomplished in the time period that we established.

Q: General Clark, you mentioned earlier that you felt you had the support of the American people. Can you tell us what you base that remark on?

A: I don't remember saying that.

Q: You said it was important to have the support of the American people.

A: I must be drawing a complete blank on that. I don't remember saying that.

A: Well, in any military operation you need the support of the American people, and we believe the American people will be behind this peace process that's started under the conditions that we've established.

Q: If you listen to the Republican leadership in the Congress, they would tell you flat out that this mission does not have the support of the American people. How would you answer that, sir?

A: Well, there are a lot of uncertainties that have been... We've all watched this tragic war unfold on television night after night, and there are legitimate concerns of the American people; there are legitimate concerns of our political leaders. We're trying to bring peace to this terrible region, and we have just begun that process by getting this peace agreement off the ground.

Yes, we have a lot of things to say to the American people and we'll be talking to the American people over the next several days and weeks as this process unfolds. But at the end of the process, if we have the cooperation and the things that we've set out to achieve before our troops are committed, we think the American people can get behind and participate in the successful process of peace in the Balkans.

A: I think the American people have seen this situation go on long enough in the Balkans. I think the first step in bringing public awareness to this and public support behind it is to have a peace agreement. We have that document right now, and that's what we're discussing today. Now we've got to get the conditions that show the full consent of all parties and a movement toward compliance with that agreement. As we move toward that process we do believe that the American people will support our soldiers, our airmen, our sailors who are deployed over there.

Q: What is the role of the IFOR, if any, in the military build-down on the part of the Serbs? And secondly, will you be monitoring the external borders of the (inaudible)?

A: The IFOR doesn't have a role in monitoring the build-down of the Serbs, nor does it have a role of securing the external borders. There may be presence on some of the external borders; we have supply lines that will be running through those borders; we have the authority to be anywhere within Bosnia-Herzegovina, including in Serbska anywhere, so we'll be there, but the answer to your question specifically is no requirement.

Q: General, given your premise that there are requirements for the continuance of the mission, what would trigger a decision that the mission could not continue?

A: I think what we've said here is we're going to go into a situation that is a peace enforcement mission, after the conclusion of a peace agreement. So if there is a change of heart of the parties, then we'll reevaluate that.

Q: What makes you think, General and Mr. Pardew, what makes you think that the Serbska government is going to get on board in Paris, is going to sign up, going to do what this agreement says it's going to do, seeing as they laid off last night on signing? And in that case, will NATO will go ahead with a potentially hostile Serbska?

A: I think I've said several times and I'll say it again. This agreement requires the cooperation of the parties. There is no guarantee that the government of the Republic of Serbska will fully support this agreement. But their representative initialed the agreement. They've got a period of time to consider the agreement. We would expect them to come to the conclusion that this is in their interest. We think it is in their interest. The leaders of the Serbs believed that it was in their interest. We expect them to come forward and sign at the proper time. We would like to see some commencement of the measures that are set forth in the agreement to start to work toward peace. We believe that it is in the best interest of the Republic of Serbska and the Federation -- the two entities in Bosnia- Herzegovina -- to fully support this peace process.

Q: On a technical point, for those of us not fully conversant with the acronyms which we'll have to learn in the weeks ahead, can you tell me the difference again, the difference between the boundary line and the zone of separation, or does one gradually become the other?

A: The technical terminology is agreed cease-fire line and the inter-entity boundary line. The agreed cease-fire line becomes the inter-entity boundary line except in those cases where territory is transferred.

So in other words if we stop in place, that's the agreed cease-fire line and the inter-entity boundary. It's all one line. But at the 45 day point, the forces of the entity that's giving up territory are supposed to be out of there, and they'll move to a new line. There will be a zone of separation around that line, and that is, in that case, the cease-fire line will not be the same as the inter-entity boundary.

Q: Are there any other key acronyms that we should take on board? (Laughter)

A: There probably are.

Q: ...disarmament. As I read it, over a certain period of time only those in barracks will be able to carry arms, is that right?

A: That is not explicitly stated in there. First let me explain that in the initial operation there is a two kilometer zone of separation on either side of the cease-fire line. In that region, there's not supposed to be any military at all. None.

Where that line is moved to become the inter-entity boundary line, there will be a different zone of separation there. Again, that's a demilitarized zone, about two kilometers on either side of the line. Those are the areas where the IFOR will take measures to enforce the fact that there are no heavy weapons in that area. It's a demilitarized zone, no forces, no military installations, and so forth.

Beyond that what we've called for in phase three is a return of the forces, and the parties have obligated themselves to do this, to their barracks or contonement areas or other designated areas. The IFOR commander will work with the parties, and he will specify what those areas are, and he'll get the forces back in there. That's not to say that forces won't come out and exercise and so forth, and if you see our Annex 1B, there are provisions in there for confidence-building measures such as notification of exercises and other things.

Press: Thank you.

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