CNN Balkan Conflict News

Clinton sends first troops to Bosnia


Force will lay groundwork for thousands of soldiers

December 3, 1995
Web posted at: 9:30 a.m. EST (1430 GMT)

MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton said Sunday he has authorized the first deployment of U.S. troops to Bosnia. The vanguard of 700 soldiers will help lay the ground work for an international peace-keeping force of thousands.

Clinton's news came at the end of a five-day European tour during which he rallied international support for the Bosnia mission and delivered a pep talk to U.S. soldiers training in Germany. The president announced the deployment immediately after signing an economic cooperation agreement with European Union leaders, which includes a commitment to rebuild Bosnia.

Clinton "I have authorized the secretary of defense to order the deployment of the preliminary troops ... to Bosnia as I said I would as soon I was convinced that the military plan is appropriate," Clinton said. The president had approved the plan for the advance force but did not give the Pentagon an official go-ahead until Saturday night aboard Air Force One.

Clinton & troops The soldiers, trained in logistics and communications, will head into Bosnia in the next few days. They will form part of a 2,500-strong NATO enabling force charged with laying the ground work for NATO peacekeepers. The majority of U.S. troops -- some 20,000 soldiers -- will be dispatched after the Bosnian peace treaty is signed December 14 in Paris. They will join 40,000 troops from 25 other countries.

During his announcement, Clinton stressed the necessity of a worldwide commitment to the former Yugoslavia. "Our destiny in America is still linked to Europe," he said. "And what we're seeing in Bosnia is an affront to the conscience of human beings everywhere, right in the heart of Europe.

Clinton & troops "The Bosnian people need the help of the international community to realize the promise of peace."

The president also addressed concerns that some Serb leaders -- notably Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic -- are unhappy with the terms of the Bosnia peace accord signed last month in Dayton, Ohio. "When you make a peace agreement, not everybody is happy with it," Clinton said, adding that the United States fully expects Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to secure the support of Bosnian Serb leaders. (323K AIFF sound or 323K WAV sound)

Clinton emphasized that no party in the Balkan conflict was thrilled with the terms of the accord. "Of course the Bosnian Serbs aren't happy with everything in the agreement," he said. "Neither are the Croats. Neither are the Muslims and the others in the Bosnian government."

Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, currently the chair of the European Union, emphasized the importance of "international solidarity" on Bosnia. In addition to peace-keeping efforts, Sunday's agreement focuses on U.S. and European cooperation on trade, crime-fighting and the environment.

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