The trials and tales of a lone soldier Medic in the Balkans

Friday, December 12, 2003

Local National Guard unit being deployed to Bosnia

PORTLAND - Jeremy Gulley and his family will move into two new homes next month. His wife, Jennifer, and the boys will move to Blackford County, and he will go to Bosnia with his National Guard unit.

Gulley is the commander of 114-member Bravo Company, 152nd Mechanized Infantry of the Indiana National Guard, with soldiers based in Portland and Winchester.

The unit is being deployed for the first time since World War II and will leave for Bosnia on Jan. 2. The expected return date is late September.

Gulley, who has been in the National Guard for 13 years, recently expressed mixed feelings about being deployed.

"I will miss my family very much," he said. "I'm a new father and I'm concerned the boys won't remember me. But I'll be able to tell them that I did my part and that is very important to me, too. That and stopping the horrible atrocities going on over there is what is letting me go in peace."

He has made video recordings of himself reading bedtime stories to the boys "to help them remember me."

Before Gulley's unit leaves, members will get a special send-off party at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Winchester Fieldhouse. The mayors of Portland and Winchester will inspect the troops, and the Winchester Community High School band and choir will provide patriotic music.

In civilian life, Gulley is the dean of students at Jay County High School.

"We've enjoyed universal support from local employers," Gulley said. And the Jay school district is no exception.

"We are very supportive of Mr. Gulley and his active military service," Supt. Barbara Downing said, "and we are very proud of him."

While Gulley is away the district will put a substitute in his place, someone who is already on staff, and "upon his return he will resume that position," Downing said.

On Jan. 2 the National Guard unit will go to Camp Atterbury near Columbus, Ind., for a month of theater specific readiness training. Then it is on to Germany for a month of mission readiness exercises.

They will reach Bosnia in March and remain there for about six months.

The troops will probably not be allowed visits home during the preliminary exercises.

"In a way I wish we were going to Fort Benning, Ga., someplace farther away," Gulley said. "It would probably be a little less frustrating."

Meanwhile, Jennifer Gulley will be moving into their new home in late January with the boys - Liam, age 2 and Connor, 11 months.

"I think it's going to be harder on Jeremy than on me," she said, "because I'll still be here with the family, and we have a lot of family here to help.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Pawlenty prepares for trip to Bosnia
Dane Smith, Star Tribune

Published December 11, 2003 TRIP11

Gov. Tim Pawlenty's recent discovery that his life insurance policy would be no good in a war zone gave him "a bit of a pause," he joked Wednesday, two days before his trip to Bosnia. But he said he and his wife, Mary, look forward to visiting the 1,100 Minnesota National Guard peacekeepers stationed there and the publicity it will give to those "serving at great sacrifice."

He will leave Friday afternoon for what is believed to be the first visit in recent history by a Minnesota governor to Guard personnel stationed overseas. He is to return Tuesday.

Visits to an orphanage and to Srebrenica, the site of mass killings and atrocities, are also on the Bosnia itinerary, as well as meetings with community officials. "It's an opportunity to reflect on these events and to underscore why we are there," Pawlenty said. Mostly the idea is to try to meet as many Minnesotans as possible, in mess halls and at several scattered outposts, "to let them know in every way we can that we want to say thank you."

The increasing burden on states and their mostly part-time Guard personnel is a challenge facing all governors. Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius visited Bosnia in August.

Minnesota currently has Guard personnel in Iraq, in Bosnia, and searching for missing college student Dru Sjodin. Another 1,100 Minnesotans are scheduled to leave for Serbia's Kosovo Province, near Bosnia, early next year, said Guard spokesman Col. Denny Shields.

Still, Pawlenty said, a perception that the Guard is being stretched too thin is not accurate.

"There's no question that we're asking a lot of our men and women in the National Guard," he said. "The good news is that we have 12,000 [in the Guard]. . . . There are a good number available for other service."

Pawlenty originally had planned a trip near Thanksgiving with a contingent of federal officials on a military plane. He got bumped by congressional officials, and Pawlenty's aides began arranging another trip. However, the timing of that trip, on Dec. 20, presented a conflict for Pawlenty, so he decided to go on his own on a commercial flight. The state is paying his costs, but his contingent is small -- his wife, her assistant and security guards, state officials said.

Meanwhile, the Dec. 20 trip to Bosnia is still going forward. Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau will be on board the military flight with about 30 others, including state officials, Guard personnel and a few business leaders, Shields said.

This will be Pawlenty's first trip as governor outside the continent. He has been to Canada on trade missions and to explore the purchase of cheaper prescription drugs. Former Govs. Jesse Ventura, Arne Carlson and Rudy Perpich were all fairly frequent overseas fliers, mostly to boost trade and economic development initiatives. Pawlenty recently postponed a European trade mission, but he expects to reschedule it for spring or summer.

Pawlenty said that he also would like to travel to Iraq to see Minnesota Guard members but that he has been told there are not procedures in place for visits by state officials.

Clark to take hiatus from campaign to testify at Milosevic trial

ELIZABETH WOLFE, Associated Press Writer Thursday, December 11, 2003


(12-11) 12:17 PST WASHINGTON (AP) --

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is breaking from his presidential campaign on Saturday to travel to the Netherlands to testify in closed session at the U.N. war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

The Democratic candidate, who as supreme commander of NATO led the 1999 bombing campaign to drive Milosevic out of Kosovo, arrives in Amsterdam on Sunday and is scheduled to testify for several hours the following morning at The Hague.

Clark will continue his testimony on Tuesday against the deposed leader, who was ousted in 2000 and later extradited to the U.N. war crimes tribunal. Milosevic faces 66 charges of war crimes committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The majority of the trial has been public, but the U.S. government was granted a request that Clark's appearance be closed for security reasons. The tribunal will publicly broadcast Clark's testimony on Friday and post it on the Internet, though the State Department could try to have sensitive parts edited out, said tribunal spokesman Jim Landale.

"The point about the delay is for the representatives from the State Department to be able to, if they feel that something has come up which touches on national security interests, they can request redaction," Landale said.

The three-judge panel would decide whether to grant any requests to edit.

Clark announced last month that the trial's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, had asked him to appear and that the U.S. government had authorized the trip.

In addition to leading the 78-day bombing campaign, Clark served as director of strategy, plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the mid-1990s when the United States was trying to negotiate an end to the war in Bosnia. Clark has said his work involved spending dozens of hours in negotiations with Milosevic.

Campaigning Thursday in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, Clark cited his record of supporting affirmative action in the military in arguing that he deserves the support of black voters.

"I've fought for it, I've fought with African-Americans, I've served under African-Americans, I'm proud to have been there," Clark told a group of about 200 supporters, most of them white.

He was joined by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., a Korean War veteran who made his earlier endorsement of Clark official.

Rangel used the appearance to poke fun at Howard Dean, who appeared in Harlem Tuesday to accept former Vice President Al Gore's endorsement.

"What I did hear was, that Dean and Gore told the cabbie to 'take us to Harvard,' and he dropped them off in Harlem instead," Rangel said. Dean and Gore are Ivy League graduates.

Associated Press Writer Sara Kugler in New York contributed to this report.

Soldiers may risk mental illness

Much research has focussed on soldiers on active duty
Peacekeeping missions may affect soldiers' mental health, doctors have warned.
Researchers writing in the British Medical Journal surveyed soldiers in Northern Ireland in the early 1990s and showed high levels of psychiatric illness.

They warned those now serving in Kosovo or Bosnia might also be affected.

But the Ministry of Defence said it had introduced measures over the last decade to improve soldiers' wellbeing.

Anxiety and isolation

Researchers from Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine in London surveyed 150 soldiers from all ranks of an infantry battalion two weeks before they were deployed to Northern Ireland and again two weeks before the end of a six month tour between 1993 and 1994.

Their mental health was assessed using a recognised test which asked about anxiety, loneliness and social interaction.

It's unfair to compare how we look after soldiers in 2003 with a survey carried out almost 10 years ago

Ministry of Defence spokeswoman
It was found there were high levels of psychological illness, with soldiers three times more likely to suffer physical and psychological symptoms after their tour, with 32 more soldiers were affected after.

Symptoms of anxiety and social isolation increased significantly, but ratings for depression did not change.

The researchers say many studies have looked at how fighting wars can damage soldiers' mental health but the effect peacekeeping missions has not been examined. They say more work should be done.

Jane Ogden, a reader in health psychology who carried out the research, told BBC News Online: "Soldiers on these kind of missions do have an enormous amount of time when they are cooped up and not doing anything. But they may then have to go out and risk being exposed to dangerous situations."

Dr Geoff Lawrenson, a GP at Colchester Garrison in Essex who co-ordinated the anonymous survey when he was serving in Northern Ireland, added: "There are certain aspects of service life, such as cramped living conditions and the periods of inactivity followed by periods of stress, which contribute to psychological problems.

"The problems that affected soldiers in Northern Ireland are those that affect security operations in Bosnia or Kosovo."

He said initiatives to improve communication with families and the opportunity for "rest and relaxation" had been introduced in the last nine years.

"I hope these have prevented the majority of psychological problems. But we need more research on this, other than that which we carried out."

'Unfair comparison'

But a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Defence rejected the findings as out of date.

She said soldiers had up to 24 months between tours of duty, and support and links with home had been improved while they were away.

"It's unfair to compare how we look after soldiers in 2003 with a survey carried out almost 10 years ago.

"The welfare of our service personnel is an important factor for all commanders. We recognise that they are often placed in potentially dangerous locations, but we seek to ensure that they are provided with the best support possible and prepared for the mental challenges they might face."

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

New book says international community failed in Bosnia (12/8/2003)

Francine Friedman
Bosnia-Herzegovina is an example of what can go wrong when the international community fails in nation building, says a Ball State University political science professor.

In her upcoming book “Bosnia-Herzegovina: A Polity on the Brink,” Francine Friedman examines how various governments miscalculated the events in the early 1990s that led to the dismantling of Yugoslavia and the subsequent fighting in the Balkan nation.

“In the early 1990s the international community was celebrating the downfall of communism and the end of the Soviet Union,” Friedman said. “We thought we could concentrate on our own economies, education and ecology and not worry about Cold War conflict.

“It turns out that instead of countries looking with one vision toward the future, we saw an increase in tribalism,” she said. “Yugoslavia is a sign post of what went wrong. When its government fell apart, various factions wanted freedom and self-determination. That eventually led to a bloody war between Bosnia’s Serbs, Croats and Muslims.”

Friedman said growing nationalism led the political leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, formerly one of the six republics within Yugoslavia, to seek sovereignty in 1991 and independence the following year.

Friedman contends many of the former communist party leaders used nationalism to spark a three-year ethnic war between the Croats, Serbs and Muslims.

“All the things that were said about the various ethnic and religious groups being at odds for centuries are nonsense,” Friedman said. “The communists wanted to hold onto their power base. They turned one group against another.”

The Clinton administration brought the warring factions together in 1995 to negotiate the Dayton Peace Accords, ending the strife and creating a new government for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

However, nearly a decade later, troops under the direction of NATO are still in the country to enforce the peace.

Friedman has spent several summers in the Balkans doing research on the book. Years of ethnic fighting has left the once beautiful country scarred.

“It was a horrible war,” she said. “We saw things like concentration camps and ethnic cleansing that weren’t supposed to happen anymore. They are still discovering mass graves while former government officials and military leaders are on trial for war crimes.”

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Bosnia adopts key defence reform for NATO

SARAJEVO (AFP) Dec 01, 2003
Bosnia on Monday adopted the first central defence law since the 1992-95 war, unifying the command of the country's separate ethnic armies in a key step toward joining NATO, officials said.
The law establishes a central defence and command headquarters to control the armies of Bosnia's two highly-independent entities -- the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb-run Republika Srpska.

It sets in motion reforms demanded by the international community before Bosnia can be considered for NATO's Partnership for Peace Programme, one of the main steps toward membership of the Euro-Atlantic military alliance.

"Bosnia-Hercegovina made history today when it passed the state law on defence," the international community's high representative to Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, said in a statement after the law was passed.

Membership of NATO offered Bosnia "the best chance of long-term peace and security," he added.

"Today's decision gives hope to all those who want to see this country become a functional state on the road to Europe."

The adoption of the new law came as NATO defence ministers agreed Monday to slash the alliance's peacekeeping force in Bosnia by almost half, from 12,000 to 7,000 by next March.

Diplomats said the reduction anticipated the takeover of the Bosnian security mission by the European Union, which could have a force on the ground by the end of next year.

Bosnia was divided into two entities under the 1995 Dayton accords that ended the brutal conflict between the country's Croat, Muslim and Serb communities which cost well over 200,000 lives.

The entities have their own parliaments, presidents and armies, but under huge international pressure they agreed earlier this year to bring their separate armed forces under a central command.

A NATO official said the security mission in Bosnia was increasingly a task for police, adding however that "NATO is not going to disengage" and may retain a liaison office in Sarajevo.

NATO is also considering the use of its recently-launched Response Force, which can be deployed to hotspots within five days, as a deterrent in case problems flare up in Bosnia after it pulls out.

The foreign ministry in Sarajevo said the planned reduction in the NATO-led peacekeeping force reflected the progress the country had made since the war.

"This decision shows that stability in Bosnia and in the region has improved, and we welcome it," ministry spokeswoman Miranda Sidran told AFP.

Under the law adopted Monday the supreme commander will be Bosnia's tripartite central presidency composed of a Croat, Muslim and a Serb member. It also introduces the post of a defence minister within the central government.

The separate Republika Srpska army and Muslim-Croat Federation army composed of Croat and Muslim components, are to have a common general staff, the same uniform and flag, but they will remain ethnically distinct.

Ashdown said the law showed that Bosnian institutions had the power to change the terms of Dayton, which has been criticised in some quarters as too inflexible to cope with the country's post-war development.

"By passing the state law on defence, Bosnia-Hercegovina has shown that it can change Dayton, using provisions of Dayton itself," he said.

The US-brokered peace agreement, reached after marathon negotiations in Dayton, Ohio, created a complex state structure with multiple layers of power.


02 Dec 2003 14:46:17 GMT
Hague tribunal tries its most senior Muslims yet


(Adds defence no opening statement, witness)

By Abigail Levene

AMSTERDAM, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Prosecutors opened their war crimes case on Tuesday against the highest-ranking Bosnian Muslims yet to stand trial at the U.N. Hague tribunal, pledging to give the world a fuller picture of the 1992-95 Bosnia war.

Former army commanders Enver Hadzihasanovic and Amir Kubura deny responsibility for the deaths of Croats and Serbs, many of whom prosecutors say were killed by foreign Islamic fighters.

At least 200 Croats and Serb civilians were killed during Muslim attacks on Croat forces in central Bosnia between January 1993 and January 1994. Prosecutors say captives were forced to dig trenches under fire or used as human shields.

"This trial...will show war crimes were committed by both sides of the conflict in central Bosnia. This trial will give the world a more complete picture of the war in Bosnia," prosecutor Ekkehard Withopf told the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

Serbs accuse the tribunal of bias against them, saying it prosecutes more Serbs than members of other ethnic groups. But though most of those prosecuted are Serb, the court has indicted senior figures from all three of Bosnia's ethnic groups.

Bosnia's Muslims and Croats began the war as allies against the Serbs but then fought each other for territory in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Retired General Hadzihasanovic and Brigadier Kubura sat silently as Withopf showed photographs of murdered Croats, catalogued brutal beatings which smashed victims into unconsciousness or killed them. The prosecutor also spoke of "a beheading that can only be described as a ritual beheading".


They are charged with crimes including cruel treatment, destruction and plunder on the basis of superior criminal responsibility, meaning they are accused of failing to prevent or punish atrocities committed by their subordinates.

"This is the first pure command responsibility case in the history of this tribunal, the first trial of commanders for criminal responsibility purely based on their subordinates' conduct," Withopf said.

The prosecution says many of the crimes were committed by "mujahideen" -- Muslim holy warriors -- who flocked from Islamic countries to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims during the bloody conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

Prosecution witnesses will say mujahideen were used to spearhead operations of the 3rd Corps of the Bosnia-Herzegovina army, in which the two accused were commanders, Withopf said.

"The evidence will prove both accused...exercised effective control over the mujahideen," he told the court.

Hadzihasanovic, 53, and Kubura, 39, were transferred to The Hague in August 2001. Hadzihasanovic pleaded not guilty to seven counts of war crimes and Kubura to six counts before both were provisionally released in December 2001 ahead of trial.

Though not the first Muslims to be tried in The Hague, they are the highest-ranking. Awaiting trial is a more senior Muslim officer, Sefer Halilovic, who served as chief of the supreme command staff of the Bosnia-Herzegovina army.

In 1998, the tribunal imprisoned two Bosnian Muslims for rape, torture and murder at the Celebici prison camp in Bosnia.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is the highest-profile figure in the tribunal's custody. He has been on trial since February 2002 for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

Defence counsel for Hadzihasanovic and Kubura declined to make an opening statement on Tuesday and judges moved straight to hearing witnesses. The trial continues on Wednesday.
Bosnia drill helps medics, firefighters prepare for real life

By Ivana Avramovic, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Ivana Avramovic / S&S
Using the Jaws of Life, firefighters cut the car door to free a trapped car accident victim while Task Force Med Eagle medics extract the passenger during a joint exercise on Saturday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ivana Avramovic / S&S
Firefighters remove the car roof to extract those injured during an exercise with Task Force Med Eagle on Saturday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A couple of medics crawled into the back of the car to stabilize the necks of the casualties - practice dolls.

Ivana Avramovic / S&S
Brown and Root firefighters extinguish a burning car during an exercise with Task Force Med Eagle on Saturday at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EAGLE BASE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — The firefighters rushed to the scene of the car accident to put out the fire. Air and ground ambulance crews followed within seconds to rescue the occupants trapped inside two civilian vehicles.

In a simulated scenario that was as close to real life as possible without anyone getting hurt, Task Force Med Eagle medics and Brown & Root firefighters practiced conducting a rescue for the first time during this Stabilization Force rotation.

“We wanted to simulate off-base accidents which could be very common, especially this winter while we’re here,” said Capt. Christine Ostendorf of the task force and the officer in charge of the exercise.

“It gives my medics an idea of what to expect. I’m trying to give them some experience if we really have to do something like this, so they really know what they’re doing.”

The medics and civilian firefighters had practiced different scenarios in several mini-drills, and had a chance to incorporate everything in Saturday’s exercise.

The situation seemed chaotic to inexperienced observers, but the firefighters and medics running around cutting up vehicles to extract the mannequins serving as passengers and then giving them medical treatment knew exactly what they were doing.

“In a situation like this, it’s always going to be pretty hectic,” said task force member Sgt. Mistica Olson, the ground ambulance driver, who also crawled in the back of a car involved in the accident to help stabilize the neck of a casualty.

“We had a lot of patients to cover and a lot of ground to cover.”

Sgt. Anne Moss, the medic in charge on the scene, said traffic accidents are the biggest threat the medics face in Bosnia. “Should this ever occur, we want to be able to respond,” she said.

The exercise was critical not only because it gave the National Guardsmen more training, but also because Danish medics had been providing ground ambulance services before they pulled out of the mission in July.

“We had to do quite a few things to come up to speed with what they [Danish] were providing,” Ostendorf said.

The medics did a lot of driving off base to get used to Bosnia’s narrow and busy roads. They also took time to learn how the firefighters cut a car apart to extract casualties.

And the simulated exercise also gave them a look into communications on the scene.

“If anything were to happen, we have an understanding of how we all have to work together,” Olson said. “If this was a real-life accident, that’s exactly what we’d do. For the most part we were able to clear the scene with our patients.”

While all involved said they were pleased with the exercise, it also gave them a chance to pinpoint what they want to perfect.

“We’re at the crawl stage with that relationship [between medics and firefighters],” Moss said. “We wanna get to the run.”
Here's a great article in the normally dismal British newspaper the Guardian at least its a better British paper then the independent.


Monday, December 01, 2003

Is this the End of SFOR?

NATO seeks to expand Afghan role; wind down Bosnia mission

PAUL AMES, Associated Press Writer Sunday, November 30, 2003


(11-30) 23:07 PST BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) --

NATO wants to expand its mission in Afghanistan, but the alliance's leaders have warned they will need more support from member nations to do the job right.

Secretary General Lord Robertson, who has offered to expand NATO's mission in Afghanistan, says the alliance's credibility will be undermined if the 19 allies don't deploy sufficient troops and equipment for a wider Afghan mission.

He was expected to raise the issue during a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers that begins Monday in Brussels. The meeting will also focus on preparations to wind down the NATO mission in Bosnia.

NATO has told the United Nations it is willing to expand its peacekeeping mission beyond the Afghan capital, but is struggling to supply specialist troops and equipment required even for the 5,700-strong operation it launched four months ago in Kabul.

In a gradual expansion of the mission, the alliance has offered to send a German-led force to back reconstruction efforts in the northern city of Kunduz, followed by similar missions to up to five other provincial centers.

However, Robertson has warned the alliance can only keep that pledge to the Afghan authorities and United Nations if governments provide enough troops for a robust force that is able to defend itself in the often hostile environment.

On the eve of the two-day NATO meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Washington would eventually like NATO to take over the entire military mission in Afghanistan. Currently, an American-dominated combat force of 10,000 operates apart from the NATO mission, fighting remnants of the Taliban regime and their al-Qaida allies.

NATO allies have shown little sign they are prepared to take on such a wider mission any time soon. Nor is the alliance ready for a bigger role in Iraq, where NATO involvement is restricted to providing logistical support to a Polish-led force operating in the center of the country.

Many NATO nations, including Britain, Spain, Italy and Poland, have sent troops to Iraq, but the alliance has limited its role, principally because of opposition from France and Germany.

In Bosnia, the ministers were expected to approve a reduction of the NATO force from 12,500 to 7,000 over the coming year, reflecting increasing stability in the Balkan nation where alliance troops have kept the peace since 1995.

NATO could end its operation in late 2004, handing over to a European Union force.

European allies were expected to explain to Rumsfeld an agreement reached among EU foreign ministers over the weekend designed to boost the bloc's ability to mount it's own military operations.

Washington has opposed EU defense plans promoted by France and Germany, fearing they could undermine NATO. Britain has persuaded the French and Germans to modify their proposals and has produced a compromise it hopes will calm American concerns.

Rumsfeld said Sunday that he doubts the Europeans will do anything to undermine NATO.

The NATO ministers are also expected to declare operational NATO's first nuclear, biological and chemical defense battalion, comprising several hundred specialist troops.

NATO foreign ministers will hold their own year-end meeting Thursday and Friday, following the defense ministers' talks Monday and Tuesday.

The meetings will be Robertson's last as secretary-general. He is to step down at the end of December after a four-year term, and will be replaced by Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

World Bank's Bosnia loan in question

SARAJEVO - The World Bank's 124-million-dollar loan to Bosnia will only be released if the cash-strapped Balkans country continues to maintain fiscal discipline, the bank said in a statement.
Reacting to a decision by local authorities to raise public sector wages, Dirk Reinermann, the World Bank manager for Bosnia, said the country was again finding itself "at a cross roads.

"The govenments now face the challenge of reducing public expenditure, in particular by reducing the public sector wage bill," Reinermann said in a statement.

The approval of credits to support the social and economic sectors, worth 124 million dollars in total, would "depend on the authorities' capacity to maintain a sound macroeconomic and fiscal framework, materialising through the successful completion of...(the IMF) stand-by arrangement," he added.

The government in Bosnia's Serb entity recently decided to raise public sector wages and pensions by 20 percent, in a move that breaches terms of the IMF arrangement worth 90 million dollars.

The IMF arrangement requires strict fiscal discipline, provides crucial budgetary support to the entire country and is a key to other international monetary institutions' aid, including the World's Bank.

Despite warnings from the IMF, the Bosnian Serb government last month announced the 20 percent increase in payments under strong pressure from labour unions which threatened a general strike and following pensioners' mass protests.

The international community's High Representative in Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, said on Thursday he would prevent realisation of the government decision in order to save the country from "financial suicide."

Ashdown has the authority to cancel government decisions, impose laws and sack local officials under sweeping powers bestowed on his office by the peace accord that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

Since the war Bosnia has been made up of the Serbs' Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation, each having its own government, parliament, army and police forces. The two are linked by weak central institutions.


‘Never felt more proud to be an American’

Military hero shares story with local foundation donors about surviving in Bosnia

November 25, 2003

Index-Journal staff writer

Capt. Scott O’Grady shared his story and some laughs Monday with more than 250 guests at the Madame Curie Society Dinner.
The military hero and best-selling author spoke to the donors for Self Regional Healthcare Foundation about surviving for six days in hostile territory in Bosnia.
“Three things got me through,” he said. “The love that I have for God, the love that I have for my family and the love that I have for my country.”
O’Grady said the six days that he was being hunted in Bosnia were the “most positive days of my life.” He said he had a lot of time to think about his life, and realized that material things couldn’t compare to family.
The F-16 pilot was enforcing the NATO no-fly zone policy in the skies over Bosnia when he was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile.
O’Grady joked with the crowd that the only reason he was flying that day was to get hazard-pay bonus.
“I want you to know that it was not worth the $150,” he said.
Because of his training, O’Grady said he instinctively went through his survival checklist after he was shot down. The seriousness of the situation didn’t hit him until he was running on the ground.
“The weight of what was happening just came down on me all at once,” he said.
O’Grady said he was able maintain the will survive and did everything he could to make sure that happened. He even turned a meal of ants into entertainment.
“If you’ve ever tried to catch ants, it’s not easy,” he said. “Because of the mental stress, I made a game out of catching the ants.” He said the game allowed him to focus on something other than the enemy looking for him.
O’Grady also drank rain and “toe-jam soup,” the sweat from his socks, when no other water sources were available.
After several days on the ground, he tried to remain positive and thought about others who had been captured.
“I realized that my worst day out here is better than the best day as a prisoner because I’m still free,” he said.
He credited his friends and other soldiers for saving his life. He still remembers vividly seeing the U.S. Marine helicopter flying in to rescue him.
“I turned around and saw one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen,” he said. “At that moment, I have never felt more proud to be an American.”

More than 100 called to Bosnia
Area battalion will leave for country in February
By Bill Engle
Staff writer


Palladium-Item photo by Steve Koger
Gettin' Ready: Staff Sgt. Jesse Sheets updates some of his gear Wednesday at the National Guard Armory on West Main Street in Richmond

A look at the call-up

Soldiers from the Indiana Army National Guard's Company C, 2nd Battalion, 152nd Mechanized Infantry have been activated for a six-month peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in 2004.

That unit will include soldiers from the Richmond-based unit, including 114 soldiers from the Richmond, Connersville and Winchester areas.

The troops go on active duty Jan. 2, will train for a month at Camp Atterbury, near Edinburgh, Ind., and then leave for Europe in February.

Jon Thurlow will spend most of 2004 living the other part of his dual life.

Maj. Thurlow is a public affairs officer for the 38th Infantry Division of the Indiana Army National Guard, which has been mobilized for the ongoing peace keeping mission in Bosnia. Thurlow of Cambridge City is one of 900 Indiana soldiers heading to Europe in 2004.

That call-up includes soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 152nd Mechanized Infantry, based in Richmond. In all, 114 men and women from the Richmond, Connersville and Winchester area are mobilized.

"Obviously, it's an important mission for our unit,'' Thurlow said. "A quarter of a million people have died over there, and assisting in creating a stable country is an honorable thing to do.''

But leaving will be difficult for Thurlow, the father of two children under 4 years of age. He and his wife Kim will depend on help from friends, neighbors and the military.

"If it wasn't for community support these deployments would be really tough,'' he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to utilize the family support group the guard has.

"Ultimately, every mobilization has hardships but in the end I think my family will be proud of me."

The soldiers returned Monday from two weeks training at Camp Atterbury near Edinburgh, Ind. They become full-time soldiers Jan. 2, 2004 when they return to Atterbury for another month of training.

Then they leave for Germany for an additional 30 days of training before going to Bosnia in March. They won't be back in Indiana until late September.

Staff Sgt. Jesse Sheets of Richmond has been a full-time Guardsman since 1999. He said he is ready to go.

"I've been putting this uniform on since 1999,'' said Sheets, who was a part-time Guardsman from 1991-'99. "With everything that's going on in the world right now, I feel it's time for me to step up and do my part.''

Staff Sgt. Jim Waters of Connersville is a veteran of the Gulf War of 1991. He, too, is ready for the deployment, but added many soldiers aren't.

"It will be hard because now it's 10 months away from their families,'' Waters said. "With me being in the Gulf, I know somewhat what it will be like. The important thing is we're protecting the peace and helping the country get back on its feet.''

The 38th Infantry Division is headquartered in Indianapolis. National Guard units from Shelbyville, Indianapolis and Jasper have served in Bosnia since 2000 when the Guard took over the peacekeeping mission from the regular Army.

Originally published Friday, November 14, 2003

Opinion Focus: Preventing Genocide, Healing Bosnia

Sheri Fink
Physician, Author
Wednesday, November 12, 2003; 1:00 PM

Preventing future genocide hinges on the ability to reconcile the past. For Rwanda, establishing a war crimes tribunal was a necessary measure for moving forward. But establishing the tribunal required international intervention. Author Sheri Fink believes that international intervention is now needed for Bosnia. Though the International Criminal Tribunal has laid the groundwork for testimony, there is more to be done.

Fink was online at Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the role of the international community in preventing future genocides. Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


washingtonpost.com: Welcome to Live Online with Dr. Sheri Fink. Dr. Fink is ready to take your questions.


washingtonpost.com: Would you start by giving a background of your personal experience with Bosnia and the region? Sheri Fink: I followed the war closely while it went on, traveling to the region with an aid group and assisting refugees back in the U.S. My senior year of medical school, I received an invitation from the University of Sarajevo medical students to attend a conference they organized called "medicine, war and peace." The stories stunned me. Doctors and nurses faced not only professional challenges, but also the most personal and ethical dilemmas. Then I heard the story of Srebrenica Hospital, which became the subject of my book War Hospital. The town, which the United Nations Security Council had designated a "safe area," was the site of a great massacre in 1995. I was shocked by how the story of the doctors, nurses and aid workers intersected with the story of the preventable tragedy, and I spent the next five years doing the research that became the book. I felt that the story, told through the eyes of those who lived it, would be interesting and understandable for American readers, and the story of Srebrenica has great lessons for us.


Detroit, Mich.: Preventing future genocide appears to be important to Americans only if a major segment of our society can identify with the group being affected. Few Americans seemed to care about Rwanda, there was a paucity of media coverage to the event given its magnitude, and our politicians also did not seem to care. I remember during the 2000 Presidential debate, both Bush and Gore indicated that not much could have been done by the United States to have changed the outcome. Given such attitudes, what gives you hope that future genocides can be avoided?

Sheri Fink: I think that Americans, who are compassionate people, can relate to any group being threatened with genocide. We just need to be provided with the information and most importantly the message from the leaders of this country that preventing genocide is a fundamental part of our nation's foreign policy, no matter where genocide occurs. The population, if informed and led in this manner, would support taking the steps necessary to stop genocide. It's not just a question of hope, but of necessity.


Triangle, Va.: Do you know what Haris Silajdzic, the former Prime Minister of Bosnia, is doing now? He seemed like one of the decent people, perhaps even a hero, during that war.

Sheri Fink: I understand he left government in 2001. I'm not aware of what he's doing now.


Washington D.C.: What exactly do you think the information is that the US is not willing to provide regarding Srebrenica? I am a journalist and I covered the Bosnian war between 93-95 and subsequent Bosnian elections, followed by the conflict in Kosovo.

Sheri Fink: In 1995, I was involved along with several dozen citizen's groups and Congressional Representatives in a Freedom of Information Act request for information the U.S. government had about the fall of Srebrenica. The information the U.S. government is rumored to have but has refused to fully release includes both imagery and signals intelligence. Both Cees Wiebes, an intelligence expert who studied the fall of Srebrenica for a report issued by the Netherlands War Documentation Institute, and Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have said that they believe such information exists, but States that have it have not been willing to release it. The information is not only important for the prosecution of those who perpetrated the massacres and the survivors looking for the remains of their loved ones (buried in mass graves that might be detected in aerial photographs). It is also important for us to learn, as Americans, exactly how much our intelligence experts and governmental officials knew about the attack on Srebrenica as it was happening, and how we did or didn't respond. The full truth, which may well be embarrassing, could logically help prevent future genocides. The U.S. has never undertaken a governmental inquiry into our role in the fall of the town, even though this has been requested by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and several other governments (e.g. France, the Netherlands) have done so to varying extents. I believe it's time for the U.S. Congress to initiate an inquiry into the U.S. role in the fall of the town.


Helsinki, Finland: Regarding genocide, isn't it true that Croats and the different Muslim factions have been guilty of committing such acts in recent years? Did the UN single out the Serbs?

Sheri Fink: Croat and Muslim military and political leaders have indeed been indicted for various war crimes, but as far as I'm aware, the only indictments for genocide have been against Serb individuals. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has indicted and tried ethnic Serbs, Muslims, Croats and Albanians for various crimes. It's fair to say that a majority of crimes in the former Yugoslavia were found to have been committed by Serb forces, and the cases reflect that.


Eau Claire, Wis.: In terms of true reconciliation: What do you know about Nasir Oric and his role while Srebrenica was a safe haven?

Sheri Fink: Naser Oric was recently arrested and brought to the Hague to face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The details can be found at www.un.org/icty. My book War Hospital describes some of the attacks on Serb-held villages in which Srebrenica forces under Oric were involved, along with references to what both sides contend happened (based on interviews I did with people on both sides of the front lines and published and unpublished documents). It's fair to say that some atrocities were committed by Srebrenica forces, and these must come to light. I'm sure you'd agree, though, that there is no earthly excuse for the genocide that was committed in 1995, in which upwards of 7500 Srebrenicans were killed, most, according to forensics experts and even the Bosnian Serb officers involved in the atrocities, in systematic massacres.


Nederland, Colo.: It's often reported that NATO intervened to prevent ethnic cleansing of Kosovo by Serbian militias etc. Is it not correct that the ethnic cleansing began -after- NATO started bombing? Did you see the quote in the NYT at the time, that Gen. Wesley Clark said the Serb reaction was "predictable"? Why is the history of our intervention so distorted? How can people here form informed opinions about future interventions?

Sheri Fink: I agree with you that we must learn the lessons of the past in order to be informed when it comes to future interventions. However, the "ethnic cleansing" (what a terrible euphemism!) was in fact going on before the NATO bombing occurred. It was one of the reasons that NATO intervened, after repeated warnings to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to end his attacks on ethnic Albanians. You'd be right to point out that Serbian forces stepped up the ethnic cleansing campaign when NATO began bombing from the air without using ground troops. I was sent to the border of Kosovo and Macedonia during the height of the bombing by a human rights group, Physicians for Human Rights. We interviewed thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees sent fleeing from their homes to the border. Not even 1% of them blamed their flight on the NATO bombing. They blamed it on those who conducted the attacks on their towns and villages--Serbian forces. They were grateful to be able to return to Kosovo several weeks later.


Oceanside, Calif.: I returned this summer to the U.S. after spending three years in BiH as an aid worker, helping people return to their homes (still going on eight years since Dayton).

I have to say, though, that I'm a little fed up with hearing about how the U.S. needs to do more to help Bosnia. I love the place, but their problems are clearly and unambiguously Europe's problem, especially now that we have so many other bigger problems to deal with. (Unfortunately, the Europeans are making a hash of things -- a topic for another day.)

I don't know why the U.S. is not releasing intelligence info (probably has something to do with not wanting to let the extent of our technology to be known), but it's annoying that we are always seen as the indispensible link when there were so many others working in the area.

Sheri Fink: That's wonderful that you've been helping Bosnians return to their homes. I salute your years of work. Your feeling--this is Europe's problem--was the sentiment and guiding principle of the U.S. administrations throughout the wars in the former Yugoslavia right up until the genocide in Srebrenica in 1995. Unfortunately, Europe wasn't able or willing to effectively address the wars, and it took the belated intervention and leadership of the U.S. to bring the wars to an end. We've invested so much at this point, and the example of Bosnia has the potential to help or harm us in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq and our fight against terrorism, that it would be silly to walk away from our responsibilities now.


Triangle, Va.: Can you tell me if NATO forces are actively engaged in trying to find Mladic? If so, what do you think the chances are they will get him, and what is the Bush administration doing to help?

Sheri Fink: I understand there have been some recent attempts by international stabilization forces, including the U.S., to capture Karadzic in Bosnia. I'm not aware of any NATO efforts to capture Mladic, who's thought to be hiding in Serbia. I do know that pressure has at times been put on the Serbian government to do this. The Bush administration needs to continue this effort. Some news organizations have speculated that the report the Bosnian Serb government leaked last week--which acknowledges the massacres in Srebrenica where Mladic was on the scene--may be meant to prepare the population for Mladic's arrest. Perhaps it's finally coming.

Canadian Forces to leave Bosnia


Report: Military not bolstering reserves

Defence Minister John McCallum addresses Canadian Forces troops at Camp Julien in Afghanistan on Wednesday. (CP PHOTO/Terry Pedwell)
KABUL (CP) - Canada could pull out of Bosnia completely before November 2004, Defence Minister John McCallum said Thursday.

"Discussions are ongoing . . . on an urgent basis to switch over the responsibility (for Bosnia) to the European Union," McCallum said as he answered questions from soldiers during a visit to Camp Julien in Afghanistan. "I'm hoping that will allow Canada to have a total or near total withdrawal within a year." Plans are already in place to reduce Canada's troop commitment in Bosnia by 50 per cent before April. The reduction is part of an overall NATO strategy to turn over policing of the state to European control.

"The 50 per cent reduction is for sure. The total withdrawal within a year is not for sure, but it's something that we very much want to happen," said McCallum.

"We, as a country, I believe, have had enough of (Bosnia), and I clearly am trying to get us out as fast as I possibly can."

The minister called the slow departure from peacekeeping in Bosnia "a success, not a failure."

NATO isn't abandoning Bosnia, but rather the security situation there has stabilized substantially and Canada and other nations can afford to withdraw without sacrificing the country, argued McCallum. He described a growing fatigue among soldiers assigned there.

Canada has about 1,200 troops in the Balkan country and another 2,000 in Afghanistan.

Taking soldiers out of Bosnia would free them up for the longer-term reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Canada is currently committed to a one-year operation in Afghanistan ending in August 2004. Another rotation of about 1,800 soldiers is expected to begin arriving in February when Canada is scheduled to take over control of ISAF, the 5,500-soldier International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

However, there has been talk in military circles that "best-case scenario" plans are being developed to have Canada remain in Afghanistan for up to five years.

NATO has also been under intense pressure to provide more troops to help secure areas of the country outside the capital, Kabul.

Much of Afghanistan remains lawless and under the control of rival warlords.

This week's visit is McCallum's third to Afghanistan since late 2001.

NATO to reduce Bosnia force next year: diplomats

BRUSSELS (AFP) Nov 24, 2003
NATO defence ministers are set to agree to cut the Alliance's peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Hercegovina significantly next year, diplomats said Monday.
The planned reduction, from 12,000 to about 7,000, comes amid growing discussion of a possible handover of the NATO-led Stabilization Forceto the European Union at the end of next year.

"It is expected ministers will agree on a reduction of SFOR" at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels next Monday and Tuesday, said a diplomat, although adding that the decision will not be finalized until a planned NATO summit in Istanbul in June.

"I guess the final decision will probably be for Istanbul," he said.

The EU, which launched its first autonomous military operations this year in Macedonia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, has said since the end of last year that it would be ready to take over from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in Bosnia, but has been waiting for a green light from Washington.

The United States, which dominates the NATO alliance, has for some time said that such a handover was premature. But it has recently signalled a softening of opposition, as its commitments in other areas including Afghanistan and Iraq remain significant.

NATO, which has been in Bosnia since the end of the war there in 1995, reviews SFOR troop levels every six months. The Atlantic alliance also has 20,000 troops in KFOR in neighbouring Kosovo.

The EU deployed a police force in Bosnia in January.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Is Bosnia
Sending Troops to Iraq?
Duty and study go together for Minnesota National Guards
SOLDIERS:A professor from Bemidji State tailors astronomy class for soldiers on duty, wherever they are.

When Andrew Kleinfehn looks to the sky to do night observations for his Bemidji State astronomy class, his view is routinely obscured.

Not by buildings, trees or any of the usual suspects. His view suffers from too much light.

One of 390 Minnesota National Guard members serving in Bosnia who signed up to take classes through a new program at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, Kleinfehn is fortunate to have sympathetic teachers.

"The professor understands that Camp McGovern is lit up like a Christmas tree due to security reasons at night, so the night viewing isn't great on base," Kleinfehn said. "He just tells us to write what we see and do the best we can."

Occasionally, Kleinfehn, a 20-year-old assistant gunner from Melrose, draws a night mission that coincides with one of the observation times. On those excursions, he tries to make a mental picture of the sky that he can write down when he returns.

Teaching astronomy, meteorology and physical science online to students half a world away has presented some unusual challenges for John Truedson, a Bemidji State science professor for 11 years.

He's condensed the lab kits for the physical science class, so they take up less space and are easier to get through security.

And even if his astronomy students can get outside their camps to see the stars, Truedson needs to convert the time they might be able to see a particular planet or other event.

"The latitude here is about the same as it is in Minnesota," Kleinfehn said. "The main difference between the sky in Minnesota and the sky in Bosnia is over here in Bosnia, we start seeing the sky seven hours before you do. Like we are seeing the future, I guess."

So far, Truedson has been impressed with the students' motivation. Over his objections, some soldiers have even volunteered for night patrol so they could do the observations.

"I don't want anyone to get hurt because of this class," Truedson said, chuckling and adding that he offers alternate assignments to those stuck under the camp's incandescent glow. "I'm trying to be flexible."

Among the courses available from the nine participating colleges are English, astronomy, meteorology, math, history, psychology, political science, sociology, economics, ethics, computer science, business and marketing.

Other colleges and universities have offered online classes for years and have begun to capitalize on military enrollment, like Minneapolis-based Capella University. About 15 percent of Capella's students now are affiliated in some way with the Armed Forces.

MnSCU is taking it a step further, crafting semesters to accommodate the soldiers' schedules. The first semester for those stationed in Bosnia runs from Sept. 29 through Dec. 31. Classes for troops being sent to Kosovo start Feb. 9 and 156 students have already signed up.

The Guard pays 100 percent of the tuition for troops stationed overseas if they complete the course and get a passing grade. The soldiers can get reimbursement for books and materials, too.

Cpl. Andrew L. Cumings, a 24-year-old intelligence analyst from Moorhead also stationed at Camp McGovern, is studying art history and French studies.

"I'm interested in working internationally, possibly as a foreign service officer for the Department of State," he said.
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