Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on the Deployment of Military Forces for Stabilization of Areas of the Former Yugoslavia
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
In my last 6-month report to the Congress 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), which began its mission and assumed authority from the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) 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 halt 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 increasingly rapid progress toward sustainable peace in Bosnia. We have helped foster more cooperative pro-Dayton leadership in Bosnia-Herzegovina, resulting in much improved performance by the parties in fulfilling their responsibilities to implement the Dayton 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. On June 15, 1998, the Security Council extended the authorization for the SFOR for an additional period terminating June 21, 1999. The mission of SFOR is to deter resumption of hostilities and stabilize the security environment to facilitate the civilian implementation process.
The SFOR has successfully deterred the resumption of hostilities by patrolling the Zone of Separation, inspecting and monitoring heavy weapons cantonment sites, enhancing and supervising Entity Armed Forces (EAF) demining work, and, within existing authorities and capabilities, providing support to international agencies.
The primary way SFOR supports the civilian implementation effort is by contributing to a secure environment. The SFOR works closely with the International Police Task Force (IPTF), which was established on December 21, 1995, under Security Council Resolution 1035. With SFOR support, the IPTF has successfully created indigenous public security capabilities by reforming and training the local police. Both the SFOR and the IPTF, as a result, enhance public security in ways that promote civil implementation of the Peace Agreement. This collective approach works to make the implementation process progressively more self-sustaining without exceeding the SFOR's current level of intensity and involvement.
By contributing to a secure environment, the SFOR has fostered greater progress by civilian implementers, including helping to restore road, rail, and air transportation links, reforming racist and nondemocratic media, and supporting international preparations for supervision of the national elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina in September 1998. In addition, the SFOR has contributed to efforts to bring 31 persons indicted for war crimes into custody in The Hague.
The U.S. force contribution to SFOR in Bosnia is approximately 7,800—roughly one-third of the number of U.S. troops deployed with IFOR at the peak of its strength. The U.S. forces participating in SFOR include U.S. Army forces that were stationed in Germany and the United States, as well as special operations forces, airfield operations support forces, air forces, and reserve component personnel. An amphibious force under U.S. control is normally available as a 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 December 1997, U.S. forces have sustained no fatalities.
A U.S. Army contingent remains deployed in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as part of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP). This U.N. peacekeeping force, which includes some 350 U.S. soldiers, observes and monitors conditions along the borders with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Albania. The UNPREDEP continues to play a key role in preventing the spillover of ethnic conflict from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) into FYROM and the region. In doing so, it has helped FYROM become a bulwark against the southward spread of the conflict in the FRY. Several U.S. Army helicopters are also deployed to provide support to U.S. forces and may support UNPREDEP as required on a case-by-case basis. The Security Council voted December 4, 1997, to authorize an extension of the UNPREDEP mandate through August 31, 1998. We are currently exploring options regarding the extension of UNPREDEP's mandate in light of the growing violence and instability in Kosovo.
A small contingent of U.S. military personnel also served in Croatia in direct support of the Transitional Administrator of the United Nations Transitional Administration in Eastern Slovenia (UNTAES). These personnel were redeployed when the UNTAES mandate expired on January 15, 1998; a follow-on U.N. civilian police operation continues in the region.
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.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Strom Thurmond, President pro tempore of the Senate. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on June 22.
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 https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/226542