Mission: Peace

Rules, goals in Bosnia please U.S. military

From Military Analyst Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith (USAF Ret.)

January 1, 1995
Web posted at 11:00 a.m. EST

(CNN) -- On Wednesday, the 20th of December, the two CNN military analysts, Marvin Covault and I, met for two hours with the key staff members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Shalikashvili, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined us for the last 45 minutes of the meeting. Let me outline briefly the highlights of the meeting.

The top military leaders of the United States are clearly quite pleased with a number of aspects of the Bosnian mission.

First, the rules of engagement are exactly what the military wanted. Soldiers who are attacked or threatened with attack have the authority to use lethal force quickly and massively.

Second, the military is not being asked to do the jobs of refugee resettlement, monitoring of elections, control of civilian traffic, supply of food, clothing, fuel or other needs to the civilian population.

Third, there are no hard time lines for moving forces into Bosnia; hence, the military can enter Bosnia slowly, deliberately and in the safest possible way.

Fourth, there is a clearly defined departure date (December 1996) for military forces.

Fifth, the mission is peacekeeping and not peace enforcement and if there are major attacks on the Implementation Force, American forces will withdraw.

Sixth, there is a solid understanding that "mission creep" will be firmly resisted.

Seventh, there is a clean NATO chain of command.

Eighth, there is a warm working relationship among the senior commanders from the United States, Britain and France.

Ninth, the best of the newest equipment is being provided to the American forces on the ground in the air and on the sea.

Tenth, so far, there is excellent cooperation from neighboring states, especially Hungary, Albania, Croatia, Serbia.

My second powerful impression from this meeting in the Pentagon is that the American military leaders both in the field and in the Pentagon not only are very competent but also are working well together. General Colin Powell and General Shalikashvili have stressed "Jointness" between and among the military services, and this emphasis seems to be paying off well in the Bosnian operation.

Third, it is becoming clear to me that the Bosnian operation is helping to define a new grand strategy for America that is a careful balance between the pursuit of important national interests (the "realpolitique" approach) and the furtherance of American values (free expression, democratic institutions and processes, minority rights, etc.) in other parts of the world.

In my article next week, I will discuss this newly emerging American grand strategy.

Perry M Smith, Major General USAF (ret.)
author of "Taking Charge" and "Assignment Pentagon."