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U.S. Department of State
96/02/03 Remarks to US Forces in Bosnia
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release February 3, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
TO THE UNITED STATES FORCES IN BOSNIA
Tuzla Air Base
February, 3 1996
Admiral Smith, General Nash, men and women of the United States Armed
Forces: As a refugee from the Dayton process, I am honored to join you
today, to see firsthand what American leadership, American know-how, and
American spirit can do here in Bosnia.
You've accomplished a tremendous amount in the time that you've been
here. Already you've rebuilt a ruined airport, carried out the biggest
river bridging by our armed forces since 1945, and prepared the way for
those still to come -- 6,000 Americans and hundreds of troops from other
countries. And in what is surely a first for northern Bosnia, I
understand that our technical experts were able to bring the Super Bowl
to over 80 percent of our troops last weekend.
You know that in North Dakota, where I come from, the year has four
seasons: summer, fall, winter and mud. By far the longest season was
mud. No wonder I feel at home here. But I also see that your arrival
here has brought a fifth season -- a season of hope.
Thanks to your enormous efforts, Bosnia's warring armies have pulled
back from trenches that some feared would divide this country for ever.
You have made it possible for prisoners to be reunited with their
families. You have turned guns into scrap metal. You have shown that
the promise of the Dayton Agreement, and the desire of the Bosnian
people for peace, can be fulfilled.
This is D-plus-45 -- the 45th day of the NATO mission. I've just had an
invaluable briefing from Admiral Smith and General Nash. I can say to
you, to the American people, and I will report to the President, that we
can be gratified and pleased that the level of compliance with the
military aspects of the peace agreement is very good. Across this
troubled land, soldiers are pulling back from territory they once fought
to conquer and wanted to keep. The people of Sarajevo and Gorazde are
no longer trapped within confrontation lines. The flash of shell-fire
no longer lights the night sky. Many, many people said it would never
happen. But thanks to the work you and your colleagues have done it
Peace in its fullest sense has not yet come to Bosnia. But this is no
longer a country at war. You have succeeded in the first, critical
phase of your mission.
You still have a tough job ahead. We're reminded every day that it
comes with its share of dangers. But your mission is clear: Every day,
you make this base a safe entry point for the soldiers still to join
you. Every day the hunt for mines, your most deadly enemy, goes on.
Every day, Lieutenant Colonel Swain's Apache squadron keeps up
reconnaissance over the zone of separation. Every day that you are here
doing your job is another day that the Bosnian people can go about the
business of building peace, beginning the reconstruction of their
Today and tomorrow I will visit Sarajevo, Zagreb and Belgrade. I'll be
meeting with the Presidents of the three countries with which we
negotiated at Dayton. My message to each of them will be the same.
Every single provision of the Dayton Accords must be implemented fully
and swiftly. They are not dependent on each other. It's an obligation
of each of the Presidents to carry out the provisions of the accord.
And we intend to see that they do it. If they don't do it, they won't
have the benefits that come under the agreement. Full implementation is
necessary to build confidence among the people of Bosnia that peace will
last. It is necessary so that you can do your job effectively.
While you keep the peace, reconstruction is beginning around the
country-- restoring the homes, the schools, the lives this war
shattered. Free elections will be held -- we're determined they will be
held -- giving citizens the voice they lacked when war raged. War
crimes investigators will uncover evidence of the atrocities whose
evidence I'm sure you see as you move around this tragic country. For
if this generation of Bosnians does not see justice, future generations
may well seek revenge, and the cycle of violence will continue.
The impact of what you are doing reaches far beyond this command center,
beyond the American sector, beyond the Sava River. As you help Bosnia
come back together, you are bringing Europe together. Twice this
century, American troops have had to fight and sustain devastating
casualties to keep this continent from being dominated by a hostile
power. Fifty years ago, in fact, the "Blue Falcons" of the 325 Airborne
flew into Normandy on Gliders and fought across a divided Europe. Now
they are patrolling in the Russian sector outside Tuzla, and standing
with soldiers from every power and region of Europe and from around the
world in the cause of peace. I couldn't help when I walked through the
honor guard today to be thrilled by seeing soldiers from so many
different countries. You're in the lead, but you are involving others
in a positive and effective way, and I thank you for that as well. In
this area alone troops from twelve countries share your duties, your
hardships and, I understand, even your MREs.
During my three years as Secretary of State, I have traveled to seventy-
nine countries. I have had the privilege of seeing our armed forces
defend American security and American ideals, massing at the border of
Kuwait, patrolling the Korean DMZ and building roads in Haiti. In every
instance American troops are doing a superb job. Now here in the mud,
under the often gray skies, are America's finest -- the greatest hope of
the war-weary people of Bosnia. You, and the families at home who
support you, are the best that our nation has to offer the world.
So to every Balkan capital, and back to the United States, I will take a
message from Task Force Eagle. With determination, decisive force,
"Mickey Mouse" boots and armored Hum Vees, America's armed forces are
bringing life to the Dayton Agreement. They are bring life back to this
country. They are bringing life to the vision of the world America
seeks, a world at peace, where American interests and American values
will and must prevail.
On behalf of the President and all the American people, I want to thank
you as deeply as I possibly can for what you do. I thank you for your
sacrifices. I thank you for performing so superbly day in and day out.
The soldiers I've talked to here today have made it clear to me that
they understand their mission. They know that what they are doing is
important. They are determined to carry it out. I salute them for what
they do for their country.
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