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Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on the Deployment of United States Military Personnel to the Kosovo International Security Force

December 15, 1999

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

In my report to the Congress of June 12, 1999, I provided information on the deployment of combat-equipped U.S. military personnel as the U.S. contribution to the NATO-led security force in Kosovo (KFOR) and to countries in the region to serve as a national support element for them. 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 Kosovo.

The U.N. Security Council authorized member states to establish the international security presence in Kosovo in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999, for an initial period of 12 months. The mission of KFOR is to provide a continued military presence in order to deter renewed hostilities; verify and, if necessary, enforce the terms of the Military Technical Agreement (MTA) between NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY); enforce the terms of the agreement of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to demilitarize and reintegrate itself into civil society; provide operational direction to the newly established Kosovo Protection Corps; and contribute to a secure environment to facilitate the work of the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) by providing, until UNMIK assumes these functions, for public security and appropriate control of the borders.

Currently, the U.S. contribution to KFOR in Kosovo is approximately 8,500 U.S. military personnel. This number is higher than previously reported due to normal personnel rotations and will return to approximately 7,000 U.S. military personnel when those rotations are completed. In the last 6 months, all 19 NATO nations and 15 others, including Russia and Ukraine, have provided military personnel or other support to KFOR.

In Kosovo, the U.S. forces are assigned to a sector principally centered around Urosevac in the eastern portion of Kosovo. For U.S. KFOR forces, as for KFOR generally, maintaining public security is a key task, and U.S. forces conduct security patrols in urban areas and in the countryside throughout their sector. Approximately one-half of KFOR's total available personnel is directly committed to protection tasks, including protection of ethnic minorities. The KFOR forces are under NATO command and control and rules of engagement.

In addition, other U.S. military personnel are deployed to other countries in the region to serve in administrative and logistics support roles for the U.S. forces in KFOR. Specifically, approximately 1,500 U.S. military personnel are operating in support of KFOR in Macedonia and Greece and, on occasion, in Albania.

Since my report to the Congress of June 12, the FRY, in accordance with Resolution 1244 and the MTA, withdrew its military, paramilitary, and police forces from Kosovo. The KLA agreed to June 21, 1999, to a ceasefire, to withdraw from the zones of conflict in Kosovo, and to demilitarize itself. On September 20, 1999, KFOR Commander Lieutenant General Sir Mike Jackson accepted the KLA's certification that the KLA had completed its demilitarization in accordance with the June 21 agreement. The UNMIK thereafter established a civil emergency services entity known as the Kosovo Protection Corps that is intended to provide civic assistance in emergencies and other forms of humanitarian assistance. The UNMIK is in the process of considering applications from former KLA personnel for service in this Corps.

The UNMIK has made progress in establishing the international civil presence to provide an interim administration for the people of Kosovo. The KFOR, within its means and capabilities, is providing broad support to UNMIK. As UNMIK is still developing its structures in Kosovo, KFOR continues to support UNMIK at all levels, including public administration, and is represented at the Kosovo Transitional Council and the Joint Civil Commissions. The KFOR personnel provide a security presence in towns and villages. Checkpoints and patrols are organized in key areas in Kosovo to provide security, resolve disputes, and instill in the community a feeling of confidence. In addition, KFOR is providing assistance in the areas of demining, humanitarian relief, international civil police training, and the maintenance of civic works resources. Ethnic tensions in Kosovo, however, remain a concern, particularly in areas where Kosovar Serbs and Kosovar Albanians live in close proximity. Until UNMIK is able to field a full complement of civil police, public security remains principally a KFOR responsibility.

NATO has planned for the KFOR mission to be formally reviewed at 6-month intervals with a view to progressively reducing the force's presence and, eventually, withdrawing. Over time, KFOR will incrementally transfer its security and policing responsibilities as appropriate to the international civil administration, local institutions, and other organizations.

I have taken these actions pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I appreciate the continued support of the Congress in these actions.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to J. Dennis Hastert, 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 United States Military Personnel to the Kosovo International Security Force Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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