February 8, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Army is preparing for the possible deployment of up to 5,000 troops to the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, Pentagon sources said Monday.
The American troops would come from the 1st Infantry Division, also known as the "Big Red One," based in Germany. They would be part of an international peacekeeping force that would back up any accord reached at peace talks between Kosovo separatists and the Serbian government under way in a chateau near Paris.
Pentagon planners said that, "...in a prudent effort to be prepared," the Army is making initial plans for the deployment of "a brigade," or "about 5,000 troops."
Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Henry "Hugh" Shelton told a Senate hearing last week that they anticipated the U.S. troop contribution to be as small as 2,000 or as large as only 4,000.
NATO hopes to begin dispatching as many as 30,000 troops to Kosovo as soon as the end of this month in order to keep any peace agreement from unraveling.
'Keep peace, not make peace'
Cohen warned Monday that Washington would commit troops to the NATO peacekeeping force only if the delegations in Rambouillet, France, came up with a convincing peace accord.
"The agreement must be real," said Cohen. "None of us would contemplate what we call a non-permissive environment, namely we would be there to keep peace, not to make peace."
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana told reporters in Madrid, Spain, Monday that he believed an agreement would eventually be forged in Rambouillet.
"The pressure and the tenacity of the international community (in the talks) ... will continue with maximum intensity," he said, adding that a military involvement would still be necessary.
"If that agreement is not implemented by force on the ground, it will not be effective," Solana said.
U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin agreed that outside muscle would be essential.
"Some peace implementation force will be necessary if we are going to get this agreement to stick and create a secure environment in which the institutions of the Kosovar Albanians can take root and their level of self-government increase," said Rubin.
Cohen said earlier in Germany that the European allies will be responsible for most of the peacekeeping force.
"I am very impressed with the leadership that has been shown by our European friends," Cohen said. "They have stepped up and they understand they must carry the major load as far as any involvement in Kosovo on the ground."
Solana has the authority to order air strikes, if, in his opinion, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic blocks any agreement at Rambouillet. But if the Kosovar Albanians refuse to sign, then NATO's options are limited to end the 11-month conflict that has left 2,000 dead.
"As we have indicated to them, they remain subject to the kind of brutality that they have had inflicted upon them by Serb forces," stated Cohen..
CNN Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, CNN National Security Producer Chris Plante and Reuters contributed to this report.
Kosovo negotiators begin detailed talks
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