Some Republicans upset with new Bosnia planOctober 2, 1996
Web posted at: 11:15 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Clinton's decision to deploy 5,000 U.S. troops to Bosnia on a mission scheduled to extend into next March has some members of Congress questioning White House strategy.
The Pentagon said the troops will provide security during the time when international peacekeepers, including U.S. troops, begin withdrawing when the mission of the NATO-led peace implementation force (IFOR) ends in December.
The Clinton administration maintains there has been no decision to extend the mission of U.S. troops in Bosnia. But some members of Congress have their doubts.
Congress suspects longer-term troop involvement
"This is not mission creep, I mean, this is mission explosion," said Republican Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire to a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday.
Some Congress members are convinced the administration has already decided to keep U.S. troops in Bosnia next year as a replacement for NATO's implementation force.
The Pentagon, too, insists no decision has been made to take part in a follow- on force. But many key officials, including the former NATO commander in charge in Bosnia, say such a mission will be a virtual certainty.
"I believe that a follow-on force after IFOR for a year, a year and a half, two years is what we're talking about," said Retired Adm. Leighton Smith.
Congress was not consulted
But Congress has been sidelined in the planning process, and learned of the dispatch of 5,000 troops from the media.
After Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee, sent an angry letter to Defense Secretary William Perry, the defense secretary agreed to testify on Bosnia before the panel, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili.
Still, that may not satisfy the administration's sharpest critics.
"The whole concept of consultation and working relation with Congress has been abused to the degree where we need to review this whole situation," said Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Some Republicans claim Clinton is breaking his promise to bring U.S. troops back after one year. But the Pentagon argues any future role will involve different troops, with a different mission.
Correspondent Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.
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