DoD News Briefing: General George A. Joulwan, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Commander-in-Chief, United States European Command
[Also participating in the briefing is Kenneth Bacon, ASD(PA).]
Mr. Bacon: General Joulwan, as you know, is in the autumn of an extremely distinguished military career, 36 years in the Army. He's spent more than half that time in Europe and is here today to talk to you about Bosnia and other topics that you want to bring up to him as either the commander in chief of our European command or as the supreme allied commander in Europe. So I would turn it over to General Joulwan. It may be his last appearance here.
Q: While we've got you, could we just ask you to fill us in a little later on what the SECDEF is going to say tonight at Brookings?
A: Yes. We may even have the text, although I hesitate to promise it now, but we're working on it. We'll see what we can do.
General Joulwan: Thank you, Ken and, as always, it's good to return to Washington and meet with such an august group and I look forward to your questions. But I thought it might be useful now a year and a half into our Bosnian mission, as the overall military commander for that operation, to give you a little update.
There have been some, I know, stories about what SFOR is or is not doing. I would like to, if I can, give you a quick overview and bring you up to date with where we are and then answer some questions that you might have.
So, if I can, to talk about SFOR I think it's important, when we went from the implementation force or IFOR to SFOR, and I've briefed you on that in the past, we went to these phases, and I'll come back to this at the end, where we transitioned the force from the implementation force to SFOR.
SFOR is different than IFOR in many ways and there are some similarities and I'll talk about those. But the idea under SFOR is to provide a stable environment and, therefore, we are now in Phase II: preventing a spring offensive, maintaining the force presence in selected areas and providing a security framework for civil agencies and for the municipal elections.
At some point, and this is the point at some point I have to give to the North Atlantic Council, we will go to a reduction of the SFOR force, which is about 31,000. It went from 60,000 to about 30,000. We will reduce the force, continue compliance and hand over some tasks to civil organizations. And then in June of '98, which is what I have now for mission completion, we will coordinate the re- deployment of the forces, hand over all the tasks to appropriate civil agencies and, last, SFOR troops out in June of '98.
That is my mission. That is not just the U.S. mission; that is what has been given to me by NATO. The SFOR mission goes until June of '98.
I just wanted to show you this because this is what I briefed the NAC on and that we have to be clear. IFOR was at 60,000, SFOR is about 31,000, so we have a series of military tasks and supporting tasks to civilian agencies under IFOR. When we reduce the force to about half, we still have military tasks to selected priorities but that meant that we would -- I wanted to make clear that we couldn't support with 30,000 what we did at 60,000, but we would try. So I had to make it clear that it was very important, I'll show you how we did that, to maintain our focus as a military side with ensuring that we could carry out those military tasks.
Next slide, please.
We are doing that with 34 nations and it's important this time that it isn't just the NATO nations, but non-NATO nations as shown here and in this 30 to 31, 32 thousand force, less than 25 percent is U.S., 75 percent is NATO and non-NATO. And interestingly on the non-NATO side, about one- third of the force is non-NATO. This is part of our Partnership for Peace program where we have trained under Partnership for Peace with many of these nations over three years. They are now contributing in a very positive way.
Another important fact is the headquarters for SFOR is comprised of 25 nations, the most multi-national headquarters in recent history, and that is very significant and that includes some of our partners. So the concept we had for the NATO side, a Partnership for Peace and combined joined task force, that theory is now in practice in Bosnia. A very important outcome for how do we look to the future in Europe, NATO's new mission, as I call it, and Bosnia is as a very important part of that.
These are the key military tasks outlined to the council that we must be able to do. We have done that. There has been no spring offensive now in Bosnia for the last two years. We have deterred or halted hostilities. We do have self-defense and force protection and freedom of movement. We are contributing to a secure environment, even with less, one-half the force. We are doing joint military commissions. This is very interesting.
UNTAES is the U.N. mission in eastern Slovenia. That's not well understood. We in NATO and SFOR provided air cover for UNTAES and also in extremis extraction if that was needed, but because of our cooperation there, as you all know, there has been a successful election now in eastern Slovenia and so that has been a very successful outcome. And we are watching this very closely in terms of controlling the air space over Bosnia Herzegovina, particularly with air defense, not allowing air defense weapons to come back up.
Those are the military tasks.
Here is what we've been doing under SFOR for deterring, stabilizing and monitoring. You can see what happens. There's a lot of abbreviations here, but within our multi- national divisions, there are joint military commissions that meet monthly. There are very many multi-lateral meetings that take place at the brigade and battalion level and hundreds of low-level liaison meetings.
I have insisted on this dialogue with all the former warring factions and it has been reinforced at the Rome summit that this has to take place and it has to take place at every level and that is what has been happening. That takes a lot of time and effort and a lot of commanders are involved in this, but it's extremely important.
On ground operations, we're covering 1,400 kilometers of an inter-entity boundary and we do the 150 patrols daily. So to carry out the military side of our responsibilities, it requires a great deal of patrolling and monitoring, which I'll tell you now is nearly 500 weapon storage sites.
In other words, if you recall what IFOR did, we separate the force, demobilized their forces and put their heavy weapons in storage areas. To make sure they stay there, we have these patrols that take place daily, so the 60,000 and the 30,000, it takes an enormous effort. These patrols are from a handful up to a platoon size force. It depends on what occurs, but it's absolutely critical for that secure environment to be maintained, that heavy weapons stay within the storage areas. And there's permission that's required when the former warring factions want to maintain or train with their weapons.
In addition to that, we control the air space over Bosnia and we make sure that it stays clear. We fly intelligence, ground support and other air sorties that go into Bosnia every day, plus hundreds of helicopter flights to make sure that we do the reconnaissance and we make sure that we're monitoring the area. That allows us to do the stabilization.
The point I want to make here is that this is a tremendous military effort that has to take place throughout Bosnia. What we do not want to do is hunker down in some cities -- Brcko, Mostar, Sarajevo -- as was done by UNPROFOR and not be able to control the countryside. We think that's what the police are there for. They ought to be conducting those operations inside the city, though we're giving an enormous amount of support to the IPTF.
So this is the overview of what I mean by stabilization.
Next slide, please.
Now, in a nutshell, how we're supporting the Dayton Agreement, Annex 1A, and there are 10 or 11 annexes and Annex 1A is what pertains to the military and Annex 1B is arms control and the rest deal with civilian agencies. We have demobilized the force, we have taken their heavy weapons and their troops and put them in storage areas and barracks, and we monitor this daily. And any non-compliance is dealt with.
I was just there on Wednesday. There was an attempt by one of the former warring factions to take some air defense weapons out and they started to track NATO aircraft, SFOR aircraft. It was immediately caught by one of these patrols, a very serious offense. The bottom line of all of that, those weapons have been confiscated. Very clear signal. That is why we need to be out doing what we are doing and monitoring the countryside.
Now, I've talked about this before. That's really the responsibility of the high representative. But, as we went from IFOR to SFOR, what happened is, we provide the secure environment for the civilian agencies to do many of these tasks -- reconciliation, the return of refugees, de-mining and -- I might add here -- a tremendous effort by SFOR to work with a Department of State, U.S. Department of State initiative, we now have a very proactive program that is very much -- a great deal of promise. We have actually had lifting of... more lifting of mines in the last month or so than we have had in the last year, and that's because we now have... SFOR said to the parties, "You can't train unless you train to do de-mining."
We will have soon close to 500 de-miners, trained, of the warring factions, that will be lifting out mines. There are three sessions; two of them, I think, complete. One more will be done in June and we will now have, as I said, nearly 500 properly trained people to de-mine the area, and that's done with the help of SFOR.
I'll talk a little bit about municipal elections, but that's really the organization for security and cooperation in Europe [OSCE], as is arms control. War criminals to The Hague is always a question that we get. I have very clear guidance of what I can do.
There's a memorandum of understanding between the ICGY and NATO that outlines what I can do and I have gone as much as I can, as proactive as I can, in helping here, and if political will and political consensus continues to develop, we will be glad to take any other instructions that we have. But, right now, my mandate is clear.
We really are working also on police enforcement, with the IPTF, but police functions are the responsibility of the local parties and the International Police Task Force. We work very closely with them.
This is an area that I think needs to be increased as we go further along in our operations in Bosnia. There should be a police academy graduating so many qualified policemen to standard every year, and the reconstruction and economic development is primarily the responsibility of the World Bank.
Let me, if I can, leave that up, and let's show you what we've done here. I'm not going to cover all of this, except on the point of economic development, this is being done by SFOR troops, engineers. I think it's over 60 bridges. We've got four airports ready to be opened. We've opened up the railroad that links Bosnia with Peljesac on the Croatian coast, 2,500 kilometers of road.
These are not only U.S. engineers and NATO engineers, but Hungarians, Romanian Engineers, just a tremendous effort here. Italians have come in, Italian military, to do tunnel work, to open up the railroads.
So when someone says perhaps SFOR is not as proactive, that is just not true. We have been working very hard. Our commanders at the local level, I just visited MND Southwest with the British sector. The Canadians are deeply involved, millions of dollars in the small projects, clinics, schools, et cetera. That's working extremely well.
We are helping facilitate the efforts of many of the international agencies in the non-governmental organizations and, as I say, they're restoring schools and clinics, et cetera. So a tremendous effort, and much more needs to be done.
This needs to be done in a focused, coordinated way, in what I call a synchronized implementation plan, but that is really the work of our high representative and civilian agencies. I want to just show you that we are absolutely working in every one of these areas.
If you list all the 10 or 12 annexes, SFOR is involved in every one of them, with some sort of personnel trying to assist and help.
In the support for Brcko, which is another issue, SFOR was very, very proactive in February, and I saw the movement of forces. I visited Brcko personally to make sure that the emphasis was there when the Brcko decision was announced. Therefore, it was accepted.
We have an active SFOR presence in Brcko today. There is an SFOR U.S. patrol or platoon on the bridge that goes over the Sava River joining Brcko with Croatia. We have a battalion located right within the zone of separation and along the IEBL, which is a kilometer or so from the town of Brcko, constant patrolling, daily coordination with the administrator there now and the IPTF, and we provide a secure environment for the IPTF and local police to do police functions.
These are the individuals charged to do those police functions, and it leads me back to that first part. What we don't want to do is get the military hunkered down in places like Brcko, Mostar, et cetera. We will provide the secure environment. The police will do the police functions.
As you recall, many of those in the past on UNPROFOR were in the so-called safe areas, and they lost the countryside to the former warring factions. We don't want that to happen in this case, so we really need some effort here for a more robust local police and IPTF training and numbers.
In our support to municipal elections, I just met with Ambassador Frowick. He is very pleased. I might add, the entire North Atlantic Council last month went to Bosnia, to Sarajevo. The Secretary General and I were there. We met with not only the commander of SFOR but all the agencies that were involved, to include the high representative. We also met with the presidency.
In the meeting with the high representative and all the other agencies, each of those agencies lauded and praised the cooperation of SFOR. They are very pleased with that cooperation and, in fact, they marvel that we are doing the same sort of level of support to them as we did under IFOR, even though we have one-half the force.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the municipal elections. As you remember, last September, we gave an enormous amount of support to the OSCE. We're even doing more so now. We are trying to provide a secure environment, voter roots. We are also working to make sure the polling areas are secure.
We give emergency assistance, mapping. We've given personnel to this Joint Elections Operation Center. These are key people. They are the ones that come from our CIMIC or reserve organizations, civil military officers, and they are extremely valuable for what we are doing. We are helping in printing, voter education, distribution of material.
There's a great group there. It's called the BLGA group. Now, the BLGA group is an acronym for Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, and Austria. That multinational group has transport, trucks and other transport. They've put millions of miles on their vehicles in support of this election.
So I get somewhat concerned when someone talks about diminution of support for the civilian agencies. We are very much involved. We are dealing air transport, communications, and we are even looking at the post-election period.
I'm not sure what all the commitments will be for the election, but we are also planning, if need be, to bring in additional forces if our commanders say that's required. And we've already put an alert out to the nations, and they are prepared, if need be, if the assessment in September is there, to bring in additional forces.
That, to me, is very proactive. And I must say, the ambassador responsible for coordinating this, Ambassador Bob Frowick, is very pleased with the effort we're making.
Now, the way ahead. This is a very busy chart but what I have tried to show here, how we went from IFOR to the stabilization force in December of '96. We've been through Phase I of that that I mentioned before. We're now trying to provide this secure environment for compliance for de- mining and all the other things you can read there and we are at this about a little over 30,000.
I have to report to the North Atlantic Council in June on a six-month assessment and I need to give them a recommendation when we go from Phase II, which is stabilization, to Phase III, which is the deterrent phase, and when will we reduce. That will be based an on analysis I will do in June. Much will depend on the elections and what support we need for the elections. Those elections will take place in September. Also, will Brcko and Mostar be included in those elections and we're doing that analysis now. But at some point, we will reduce the force and the exit, according to the NATO mission to me, not anyone nation, the NATO mission to me for SFOR, that mission ends in June of '98.
So that's what it looks like and I will be giving six and 12- month reviews to the North Atlantic council.
So in conclusion, I think we're now 31,000, not 60,000, a great input from our Partnership for Peace and other non- NATO nations. We have 34 nations now contributing to the stabilization force. We have completed the military tasks and will maintain those military tasks of Dayton. We are proactive in our support of civilian agencies. There is an urgent need for a civilian implementation plan and truly a development of local police forces. That's going to be important.
We need a comprehensive look at how we do all of this, what is the security environment going to be, how do we bring back the 200,000 refugees that Madam Ogata, the high commissioner for refugees, says are coming back. How do we put all that together? Police forces are a key role in all of that, but that is a civilian function, those are given, the IPTF are given by the international community and we need to get some rigor and some discipline in turning out qualified police forces that are in place and professional by June of '98.
So I have been telling the nations of NATO and the troop contributing nations and the leadership here that we ought not to skip ahead to June of '98, but let's say what can we do in the next 14 months, how do we create the best conditions we can in the next 14 months and not just rely and skip ahead to June of '98. If we do that, I think we can create the best conditions to make an informed recommendation of what happens in June of '98 and I think it's time to get on with it.
So, ladies and gentlemen, that's my quick overview. I'll be glad to answer any questions you might have.
Q: General, you've already answered my first question in that you've indicated that you've made no decision yet on whether to cut U.S. forces. You asked for six months more. How many U.S. troops are there?
Q: 8,500. And, also, on the business of war criminals, you mentioned political will as you have before and yet you seemed almost anxious for the military -- you've said before that the military has no part in doing police duties and yet you say here we'll be glad to take any other instructions. Are you saying the military are not only prepared but anxious to do that?
A: No, I hope I didn't leave you with that impression. But what we need to get is if there is political will, then I think what we need to do is get that will and that clarity of mission clearly stated. We think, or at least I think - let me put it that way -- that these war criminals belong in the Hague.
My reaction is that this should be done by the parties themselves. That's what Dayton talks about. The parties have that responsibility. Also, what needs to be looked at are the local police and the IPTF needs to assist and help them in doing that. And if they want the military to do it, then what they need to do is have a clear mandate and instructions for that to happen.
Q: Mr. Karadzic goes back and forth to work every day, still over all these months, he's never run into a bunch of NATO soldiers who recognize what his hairdo looks like? Are you guys sort of hiding...?
A: We've heard those reports before, but I will tell you that we have checked them out. That really is not the case. I know it's nice to say that, but it's really not the case, and let me leave it at that.
There is no known, that I know of, where there's been an SFOR patrol or something like that that has come in contact with Mr. Karadzic that I know of. And I will tell you that there's also a very large group that protects him and so I think all of that needs to be focused and brought into proper focus. But we're not out there avoiding indicted war criminals.
What I will tell you, though, is that the mandate says that if we come in contact in the performance of our duties, then we will detain them and turn them over to proper authorities and we would engage if the tactical situation permits. Soldiers are not really trained to do that and so I think that that needs to be understood and what we would hope would happen is that the parties themselves, that the political pressure would be put on the parties themselves, as Dayton specifies, to turn them over. If they want the military to do more than that, then they have to give me the proper instructions.
Q: On that particular matter, there was a report several months ago of a formation of a specific police force for the apprehension of these war criminals and we haven't heard anything much about it since. Do you think that's a workable approach or one you would favor?
A: Well, again, that needs to be -- that's the political will that needs to be determined and that needs to be decided by the nations themselves.
Q: Just to ask about an incident about a month ago of a mine being planted in the path of the Pope, something that could have greatly de-stabilized the whole area, do you know if that was an intention to assassinate the Pope and who did it?
A: Well, the information that we have is that (a) the mines were there, they were discovered by the local police, as I recall. Whether we could track it to an organization targeting the Pope, I'd have to say let me take that and see if I can get some more information for you. But that it was on a bridge that the Pope would use, that much we know.
But let me turn that around a little bit, if I can, in that we had for the Pope's visit probably the best coordination that we've ever seen between the former warring factions. I mean, thousands and thousands of people on hundreds and hundreds of busses came freely across the borders and across the inter-entity boundary, so I know it can be done.
And I think we need to hold them accountable, the former warring factions and the parties, to provide that sort of secure environment, and that takes not just the military, that takes the political will that says this can be done. And this was a good example, I think, of the coordination. Not one incident that I know of between any bus or anything else that was held up for any reason.
Yes, in the back.
Q: On municipal elections, part of the Dayton Agreement is that the voters of some particular ethnic group should be able to go back to their original (inaudible). I see in your bullet [on the charts] you have secure environment and also voter routes, does that mean you anticipate protecting routes by which different groups can go back there?
A: This is part of the coordination that we need to make sure we know what routes are going to be used, also to be free of mines and so there is that concern and what we don't want to do are voters to use routes that have not been cleared. And so that's part of a coordination that I think is needed between all the different agencies, to include SFOR, in a coordinated plan.
That is what we are trying to work. So I think going back, part of this going back to minority areas to vote and we're coordinating that with OSCE now, but we're giving it an enormous amount of intellectual help as well as security.
Q: Do you have any sense of how many extra troops you will have to ask for to protect these groups?
A: Well, that's a question we're working right now. I'd hate to speculate until I know all the requirements, but we have looked in the range of up to and including four to six battalions if it comes to that, but we're not at that stage yet. But I find that the nations are -- I've done it with enough time, they understand the requirement, I just have to make that part of this six-month review that I'll give in June. But we are looking forward to --
Q: How many people are we talking about?
Q: Are there Americans in that?
A: I'm not sure yet. I would say that may be upwards of, I would say maybe two or three thousand personnel. I'm not sure how many Americans. It's a NATO commitment that I'm talking about. But all of that is yet to be seen. I do not want to give a number yet because we don't know all the requirements.
Q: Since you are here with your NATO hat on, I would like to ask you a question about Russia.
Q: We learned today from a secret CIA report published by the Washington Times that there have been some cases in which Russian nuclear missiles spontaneously slipped into some sort of combat mode. What do you make of that? Could you put that into context for us, particularly about whether it concerns you about potential breakdown of command and control of the Russian nuclear forces.
A: We are looking at that. I don't have anything more than that. I think the Pentagon is trying to work on a response. We are going to look at it from the NATO side. We have been watching with some concern the storage of nuclear warheads and, for the most part, we have got some positive feedback that it has been done correctly. I think part of the NATO response in the January '94 summit was this whole issue of weapons of mass destruction and counter- proliferation, and I think that has been part of our concern in NATO for some time. And that initiative is getting a large look right now.
Q: But the conventional wisdom from the west has been that the strategic rocket forces that oversee the Russian nuclear arsenal have been taken care of?
Q: And the morale has been good and that there is no lessening of control. These reports that we have been getting, and this is just one over several months, seem to indicate a trend going in the opposite direction. Would you still say that those are under the firm control of --
A: Well, we're looking at that because of that report, looking at it very closely. But I would say that the reports that we have seen up to this date have been that the nuclear warheads have been properly cared for, but this brings another bit of information and we are going to assess that and look into it.
Q: One of your -- obviously one of the critical functions is the disarmament or -- and indication are that that's not going ahead very well, partially because no one can get the warring factions to tell how many they had to start with, so you don't know how far they are coming down. What is the status of the disarmament?
A: Here is where the clarity is required, and it is the primary function for arms control, as I tried to point out, belongs to OSCE, not SFOR. We have a responsibility to make sure that demobilization and the storage of weapons and heavy -- in storage sites, but the negotiations for how things are counted and how that applies in the arms control field and the timing of all of that is out of Vienna and the OSCE.
We have provided, we SFOR, at the direction of the North Atlantic Council, provided the information we have of what is in those 500 heavy weapons sites. We have given them that. But how that is negotiated with the former warring factions is really the OSCE doing that. But we are very much in support of providing the data and the information to OSCE.
Q: General, if SFOR withdraws entirely by June of '98 and is replaced by some kind of military force, how long do you think the peace there would last? What is your best guess?
A: That is a good question. I would really like to say it depends on what we do in the next 14 months. If we could get some momentum behind clear objectives that we want to see -- opening up of airports, of getting police, properly trained police, of really having a plan for the return of refugees -- that would lead me into a better discussion of what would happen in June of '98. No one would believe what we did in -- if 15 months ago we would say this is where we would be in Bosnia, very few in here would have believed that.
Q: Well, 15 months ago you said you were going to be out of Bosnia.
A: Well, but we also said that we would accomplish certain things. We have done that. You know, the political authorities said we were going to stay 18 more months and so we have adapted to that. What I am trying to get at it that let us focus on what can be done in the next 14 months and really, much of that depends on the civilian agencies.
And that is why I am saying there has to be some plan of implementation of how do you do that. And let me say that I have given a three-star general to this agency to help in bringing back the return of refugees. Here is some attempt to say here is a plan to do that.
We also have tried to give some help on the international police task force about here is a broader look at the security that is going to be required in Bosnia for some time to come. How do you do that? And we have given that information. We have tried to be as proactive as we can. But I think what is going to depend on June of '98 on what will have to remain after that is going to be dependent on what you do in the next 14 months.
Q: There have been reports of low morale among the U.S. contingent in SFOR and one of the reasons given by some people on the ground is that the United States forces are simply not able under their rules to take as much part in, for instance, the engineering works and the civil engagement works that you mentioned in your economic activities chart. Could you comment on this? Are the U.S. troops constrained from joining in these operations?
A: I know of no low morale that you talk about in Bosnia. I have been there and I am going again. I don't see that. I see a great deal of focus on what they are doing. There have been some instances, a great deal of effort in the civil area of assisting the local populace. And so I don't sense that. I see a great deal of it, for example, also in the British sector. The ODA, I guess -- I'm not sure what that stands for, but it is an agency that is really actively involved in helping construct schools and clinics, et cetera.
Q: But there are reports of the U.S. troops simply not being allowed to do as much as other nations' troops are because of the terror of casualties here back in Washington.
A: Well, I think they are very pro-active. They are building roads, bridges. I have not seen those reports so I am sorry. I have seen a very high morale, upbeat force that we have in Bosnia and I am very proud of what they are doing.
Q: One more question.
Q: Change of subject again to the negotiations inside NATO for a new re-structure. Spain want to have a subregional command that includes all its territory, including Canary Island and Baleares Islands. How realistic is that and what of problems of coordination with the Atlantic command and the Southern command?
A: That discussion is going on right now and I think it will be decided before the summit in July. There are several key issues there. As Spain comes into the integrated structure, more into the integrated structure, how we handle all of Spanish territory is going to be important. There must be unity of command on the air and on the land and that has to be linked to all of Allied Command Europe, which is my command.
The other issue is what happens with the maritime piece, and that is where the concern is by the SACLANT or the Atlantic command. So that will be worked out. I am convinced that it will be worked out to the agreement of both Spain and Portugal and will be a stronger alliance as a result.
Q: Has there been any progress on the AFSOUTH dispute?
A: Not that I know of.
Q: One more on NATO. There is a lot of optimistic reports that the deal is about made with the Russians. Can you report anything about that?
A: No, except that Secretary Solano will be meeting again with Primakov, who I think will be here. Rodionov, I guess, is coming tomorrow. But he will be meeting with Primakov. He just met with him recently in Luxembourg. I think there is a great deal of agreement; and I am very pleased, by the way, that some of the foundation for that is what we are doing in Bosnia with the Russians, the fact that we have a liaison cell at my headquarters in Mons, Belgium.
We have had a lesson learned session. The second one in Germany in April went extremely well. They flew in a delegation from Moscow, a military delegation headed by their three-star airborne commander. Troops came up from Bosnia -- Russian and American. We are building the foundation for the future. And on that I think a great deal of trust and confidence is coming.
There are some tough issues left -- what the Russians would call infrastructure. That needs to be worked out. But, again, I am convinced that we are going to work it out and I am very optimistic of the Russian-NATO relationship for the future in Europe.
Thank you all very much.