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Letter to Senate Democratic Leader Thomas Daschle on the Plan for Implementation of the Balkan Peace Agreement

December 11, 1995

Dear Mr. Leader:

Just four weeks ago, the leaders of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia came to Dayton, Ohio, in America's heartland, to negotiate and initial a peace agreement to end the war in Bosnia. There, they made a commitment to peace. They agreed to put down their guns; to preserve Bosnia as a single state; to cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal and to try to build a peaceful, democratic future for all the people of Bosnia. They asked for NATO and America's help to implement this peace agreement.

On Friday, December 1, the North Atlantic Council approved NATO's operational plan, OPLAN 10405, the Implementation of a Peace Agreement in the Former Yugoslavia. On Saturday, General George Joulwan, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, who will be commanding the NATO operation, briefed me in Germany on the final OPLAN.

Having reviewed the OPLAN, I find the mission is clearly defined with realistic goals that can be achieved in a definite period of time. The risks to our troops have been minimized to the maximum extent possible. American troops will take their orders from the American general who commands NATO. They will be heavily armed and thoroughly trained. In making an overwhelming show of force, they will lessen the need to use force. They will have the authority, as well as the training and the equipment, to respond with decisive force to any threat to their own safety or any violations of the military provisions of the peace agreement.

U.S. and NATO commanders believe the military mission can be accomplished in about a year.

A summary of the OPLAN is attached. Of course, members of my staff and the Administration are available to answer your questions and further brief you on the OPLAN as you require.

I consider the Dayton peace agreement to be a serious commitment by the parties to settle this conflict. In light of that agreement and my approval of the final NATO OPLAN, I would welcome a Congressional expression of support for U.S. participation in a NATO-led Implementation Force in Bosnia. I believe Congressional support for U.S. participation is immensely important to the unity of our purpose and the morale of our troops.

I believe there has been a timely opportunity for the Congress to consider and act upon my request for support since the initialing in Dayton on November 21. As you know, the formal signing of the Peace Agreement will take place in Paris on December 14.

As I informed you earlier, I have authorized the participation of a small number of American troops in a NATO advance mission that will lay the groundwork for IFOR, starting this week. They will establish headquarters and set up the sophisticated communications systems that must be in place before NATO can send in its troops, tanks and trucks to Bosnia.

America has a responsibility to help to turn this moment of hope into an enduring reality.

As the leader of NATO—the only institution capable of implementing this peace agreement— the United States has a profound interest in participating in this mission, which will give the people of Bosnia the confidence and support they need to preserve the peace and prevent this dangerous war in the heart of Europe from resuming and spreading. Since taking office, I have refused to send American troops to fight a war in Bosnia, but I believe we must help now to secure this Bosnian peace.



NOTE: A summary of the operation plan for the implementation of the peace agreement in the former Yugoslavia was attached to the President's letter.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Senate Democratic Leader Thomas Daschle on the Plan for Implementation of the Balkan Peace Agreement Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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