December 19, 1995
Web posted at: 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT)
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- As United States troops trickled into Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, on Tuesday, senior commanders met with Bosnian army commanders to prepare for the deployment of the NATO peace implementation force for the Tuzla area.
The talks reportedly centered on where to locate U.S. bases outside the Tuzla air base headquarters, within the American-led zone of separation.
Bad weather and impassable roads have slowed the U.S. deployment, putting it days behind schedule. But Pentagon planners are not concerned. Commanders on the ground "feel the force flow is going according to plan," said Lt. Gen. Howell Estes, the Joint Chiefs operations director in Washington.
The United States plans to have 1,100 troops in Tuzla within two days. Among them will be hundreds of crack paratroopers backed up by Apache helicopter gunships that will initially be based in southern Hungary, then in Tuzla.
The Apache pilots are being trained with computer imagery of the ridges and valleys that make up the zones of separation. (970 K QuickTime movie) The enforcement mission is expected to begin a month from now, after the opposing sides have withdrawn from the zones.
In the meantime, troops arriving from Germany through Hungary will not make their appearance for a few more days. Engineering units are building a floating pontoon bridge to cross the Sava River into Bosnia. Pentagon sources told CNN the date for completing that project has slipped from December 22, to December 24 or 25.
In another development, the U.S. diplomat who mediated the Dayton peace agreement for Bosnia plans to leave the State Department early next year. Richard Holbrooke is expected to return to private industry. Officials said career diplomat John Kornblum will succeed Holbrooke.
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