Report from Tuzla

Task Force Eagle making progress in peacekeeping mission, by Michael Norris (Feb. 7)


WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- The peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzagovina has so far achieved compliance in three of its four primary objectives, said Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, commander of the 1st Armored Division.

There is a cessation of hostilities. Warring factions have been separated, and there is factional cooperation with IFOR, Nash reported from Bosnia in a videoteleconference hookup with the Pentagon Feb. 1.

The conference, which included more than a dozen reporters, was arranged with the aide of Department of the Army public-affairs specialists, who assisted in the intercontinental phone link and answered queries on the scope of Task Force Eagle's military involvement.

Nash was chief spokesman for a team that included Col. Kline Berduse, commander of the 2nd Brigade combat team; Lt. Col. Greg Stone, commander of the 1st Squadron, 1st Calvary; Col. Hank Stratton, Nash's deputy assistant for joint military commission; and Lt. Col. Clay, an Air Force G-5.

Nash said the task force, however, is still working on establishing "freedom of movement," in the region. Not only are there mines yet to be cleared, but "not all of the minefields have been marked."

Nash said approximately 65 percent of the soldiers are living "under warm, dry cover of a permanent nature" -- constructed box shelters and force-provider tents versus temporary pup tents -- and that half of the shower facilities needed for troops have been installed. He joked, "Everybody's under cover. We've got about 50 percent of our showers in. Eighty-five to 90 percent of the people have taken one."

The general said soldiers were mostly eating tray packs, but that they received a steak dinner the day of the Super Bowl and got A-ration meals at Christmastime. "We're starting to make supplements to the meal to include fresh bread ... and salad," he said.

Nash said the transfer of territory between warring factions is progressing. "We foresee the ... transfer process [in Eagle Force's zone] going well. In fact, the vast majority of forces in most of the Serb population have evacuated those areas. We are in those areas now. We will continue to provide military security and establish the new mark on the inter-entity boundary line."

"There are a number of ways that we achieve compliance," he continued. "One of them has to do with combat power, and one of them has to do with the compliance by the entities through more peaceful means.

"As we said from the very beginning," he added, "the burden for peace in Bosnia rests on the shoulders of those who signed the treaty."

Referring to reports that two soldiers had been injured by anti-personnel mines that day, Nash said the incident occurred in a Serb-cleared minefield that was being inspected by joint forces.

"Frankly I don't have all the details of exactly where the fellow was when he stepped on the anti-personnel mine. But there were Serbs there standing near him, and so I would also tell you that in their mind it was cleared.

"But this is not the first time, as you know, we've had a situation where we've run on something that was previously thought cleared," he said. "And one of the things we try to do is prove these things with our mine rollers -- which we've set off a couple of mines doing. ..."

"In this particular case ... [the soldiers] were looking for anti-tank mines and there was an anti-personnel mine there."

Nash said, "Mines are a major consideration in our operations and have been from day one." He added that so far, 50 to 70 percent of the minefields in his sector had been marked. Nash itemized several surveillance tools he thought were proving themselves, before highlighting what he considered a prime asset.

"The number one thing that we've used so far ... is a traditional weapon system called the American soldier," he said. Soldiers getting out on the ground and being seen and working the area have led to the greatest measure of success, Nash explained.