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Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on the Deployment of Military Forces for Stabilization of Areas of the Former Yugoslavia

December 19, 1997

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

In my report to the Congress of June 20, 1997, I provided further information on the deployment of combat-equipped U.S. Armed Forces to Bosnia and other states in the region in order to participate in and support the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led Stabilization Force (SFOR), and on the beginning of the withdrawal of the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR), which completed its mission and transferred authority to the SFOR on December 20, 1996. I am providing this supplemental report, consistent with the War Powers Resolution, to help ensure that the Congress is kept fully informed on continued U.S. contributions in support of peacekeeping efforts in the former Yugoslavia.

We continue to work in concert with others in the international community to encourage the parties to fulfill their commitments under the Dayton Peace Agreement and to build on the gains achieved over the last 2 years. It remains in the U.S. national interest to help bring peace to Bosnia, both for humanitarian reasons and to arrest the dangers the fighting in Bosnia represented to security and stability in Europe generally. Through American leadership and in conjunction with our NATO allies and other countries, we have seen real and continued progress toward sustainable peace in Bosnia. We have also made it clear to the former warring parties that they are ultimately responsible for implementing the Peace Agreement.

The United Nations Security Council authorized member states to establish the follow-on force in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1088 of December 12, 1996. The SFOR's tasks are to deter or prevent a resumption of hostilities or new threats to peace, to consolidate IFOR's achievements and to promote a climate in which the civilian-led peace process can go forward. Subject to this primary mission, SFOR has provided support, within its capabilities, to civilian organizations implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement.

During its mission. SFOR has successfully deterred the resumption of hostilities by patrolling the Zone of Separation, inspecting and monitoring heavy weapons cantonment sites, and providing support to civilian agencies. The SFOR has made significant achievements in demining, as well as major progress in efforts to restore road, rail, and air transportation links within Bosnia and Herzegovina. The SFOR has contributed to efforts to bring persons indicted for war crimes into custody in The Hague. The SFOR's support to civilian peace implementation tasks has been significant.

United States force contribution to SFOR in Bosnia remains approximately 8,500. United States forces participating in SFOR are U.S. Army forces that were stationed in Germany and the United States. Other participating U.S. forces include special operations forces, airfield operations support forces, air forces, and reserve component personnel. An amphibious force is normally in strategic reserve in the Mediterranean Sea, and a carrier battle group remains available to provide support for air operations.

All NATO nations and 20 others, including Russia and Ukraine, have provided troops or other support to SFOR. Most U.S. troops are assigned to Multinational Division, North, centered around the city of Tuzla. In addition, approximately 3,000 U.S. troops are deployed to Hungary, Croatia, Italy, and other states in the region in order to provide logistical and other support to SFOR. Since June 1997, U.S. forces have sustained a total of three fatalities, none of which was combat-related.

A U.S. Army contingent remains deployed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as part of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP). This U.N. peacekeeping force observes and monitors conditions along the border with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Albania, effectively contributing to the stability of the region. Several U.S. Army helicopters are also deployed to provide support to U.S. forces and UNPREDEP as required. Most of the approximately 350 U.S. soldiers participating in these missions are assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry, 1st Armored Division. The U.N. Security Council voted December 4, 1997, to authorize a final extension of the UNPREDEP mandate through August 31, 1998, at which time UNPREDEP will be terminated.

A small contingent of U.S. military personnel is also serving in Croatia in direct support of the Transitional Administrator of the United Nations Transitional Administration in Eastern Slovenia (UNTAE). These personnel are expected to be redeployed when UNTAES's mandate expires on January 15, 1998, and a follow-on U.N. civilian police operation continues in the region.

In order to continue the progress we have seen in the last 6 months and to create conditions for a self-sustaining peace, yesterday I announced that the United States would in principal take part in a security prescence in Bosnia when SFOR withdraws this summer.

I have directed the participation of U.S. Armed Forces in these operations pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, and in accordance with various statutory authorities. I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed about developments in Bosnia and other states in the region. I will continue to consult closely with the Congress regarding our efforts to foster peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Strom Thurmond, President pro tempore of the Senate.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on the Deployment of Military Forces for Stabilization of Areas of the Former Yugoslavia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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