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November 26, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 217
Multi-National Forces in Bosnia

You Signed It!

by Milos Vasic

"Still, when you think about it diplomacy without force behind it is nothing but a rotten branch," Joseph Conrad said at one point. After 5 years of the Balkan crisis and war, the entity known as the international community somehow defined its political goal in the region and finally decided to achieve it. The main tool, as usual in cases like this, is a NATO formation called Implementation Force (IFOR). Their mandate will differ from that of UNPROFOR's at least judging by what General Sir Martin Walker said in an interview given to the BBC on Thursday. He said IFOR will be authorized to prevent clashes by force, impose solutions by force and shoot in self-defense or to protect civilians. IFOR will follow the NATO command structure.

The total number of troops and accompanying staff should reach 60,000. The US will provide 15,000 combat and 5,000 support troops for northern Bosnia (Tuzla, Bijeljina, Doboj); a Nordic battalion would have 4,500; Italian 2,500, French contingent 10,000 around Sarajevo; the British 6,000 in central Bosnia and maybe Herzegovina. Their combat deployment will follow NATO's rules of engagement on the ground which means IFOR will deploy everything: tanks, armor, artillery, air support, engineers, logistics, communication, command posts and some sort of civilian police. IFOR centers will be in the bigger ports (Bar, Ploce, Split Rijeka), airports (Sarajevo, Zagreb, Tuzla, SPlit, Belgrade) and road and rail traffic centers. Hungary has already offered to allow IFOR bases on its territory at Pecs and I assume the other former Yugoslav republics have done the same under the Dayton agreement.

What does that mean on the ground? IFOR has the mandate and intention of deploying across Bosnia. That alone means that problems will surface right off: the Serbs in Bosnia have threatened not to allow foreign troops into their state.

Presumably, on behalf of Bosnian Serbs, Milosevic promised those threats were no good; he only has to convince the Bosnian Serbs to allow IFOR in and accept the situation. For example, the birth places of Ratko Mladic and Momcilo Krajisnik will stay in the Federation. The mandate and agreement is clear: all foreign troops must be out of Bosnia within 30 days. That agreement does not worry the FRY, it is Croatia who has the biggest problem on that point since its troops are in western Bosnia. The choice is clear either the Croatian regular army will withdraw or they will try their old trick of changing uniforms and ID cards.

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