I would like to describe some of the work that enabled SACEUR to say "Let's go!" with some certainty to the North Atlantic Council at the end of last year, and that enabled the forces to actually go.
I will touch on four issues. The first tight timelines--the fact that politicians may spend a long time making up their minds, but once they do, they expect you to be there tomorrow. The second point is force enabling--a concept of logistics and command-and-control arrangements that was needed to permit us to flow forces into Bosnia-Herzegovina. My third point is force generation--how we actually generated a force of 52,000 people from 34 nations and moved them into Bosnia-Herzegovina within a very tight timeline. My final point is force balancing--how we balanced such a force and made sure its members got to the places we wanted them to go.
The North Atlantic Council allowed us to start formal planning for the Bosnia operation on the 11th of October, and we deployed the force on the 20th of December. Therefore, we had two months in which to get organized, generate the force, make sure it would go to the right places, and actually get it there.
The process involved some good luck. First, there was an ongoing U.N. operation, and many of the forces that we needed were already in place. Second, we had already put a great deal of hard work, particularly in the North Atlantic Council, into a plan for the withdrawal of United Nations forces--Plan 40104. Many of the details (the rules of engagement, the command-and-control structure) had been hammered out. Thus we were able to roll those details over to the new plan, called 10405, Joint Endeavour. Much time was saved by capturing the work that had already been done in the Council and merely applying it to the new plan, even though the new plan was completely different--it was not to extract people but to put a large force in. So despite the tight timelines, and with strong running instructions from the Supreme Commander that included "I want it there in 60 days;" "Leave on the 20th of December;" and "By the 18th of February, we want the whole force in," we were able to do it--even in winter, in a country with no usable ports of any scale, no road structure worth talking about, airports that could not be used, and the need to cross a river that was reconnoitered as 300 meters wide but was actually a kilometer and a half wide. These were the challenges we had to overcome.
How did we do it? First, we began by asking, "What do we need?" After speaking to the commanders on the ground and using a broad rule of thumb, we determined that we needed three sectors. Each would be commanded by a two-star commander, and would have approximately three brigades. There would be a four-star headquarters, and a commander for support--a logistics guru who we decided would go at an early stage to Zagreb. On that basis, and with support from the major nations who were clearly going to participate (the United States, Britain, and France), we began to develop a framework around a lead nation in each of the three sectors. Then we bolted additional information onto our framework using a statement of requirements (SOR). This SOR, which was generated by Admiral Smith's IFOR Headquarters, spelled out precisely what he needed in order to accomplish the task. The process of arranging for this material was handled by a large committee, which I chaired, with a representative from each nation that thought it might take part in the Bosnia operation. In order to participate in our meetings, the nations had first made an offer to the Secretary General by letter. Their letters were then given to the Supreme Commander, and their representatives then took part in the meetings at which we hashed out what the contributions would be. We sat around a table and horse traded: Who would like to provide one MP platoon? Hands up. As simple as that. Most representatives hedged: "We might produce this. I will let you know." The generating process was completed over a period of about two weeks.
After the conference, all the representatives went back to the Chiefs of Defense in their countries and subsequently wrote formal statements to us saying just what they proposed. Then we began the process of certification of non-NATO forces, which was a unique approach. The Alliance had decided that before any non-NATO country joined this IFOR operation, we needed to take a look at their forces to make sure that we understood what they were bringing. So we sent NATO teams as far away as Morocco and Egypt to certify the contributions of the non-NATO nations. This was an important first for us, because, in the past, when we had worked only with NATO nations, we had simply climbed the Article V ladder and followed procedures we understood. The IFOR certification was developed as we went along, but it worked extremely well.
When the certification teams came back from their sites, they reported what they found: "They're absolutely first-rate," or, "They need this or that." Then we began to deal with the actual force creation. The problems for most nations were funding and logistics. The costs of keeping a force in Bosnia are enormous; it costs about $7 million for one battalion. Knowing those costs made countries think hard about what their contributions would actually be.
Logistics were difficult, since it was the responsibility of each country to sustain its force in an inhospitable place. Many of the smaller nations struck deals with one of the three major players in each sector--France was particularly good at this--and that certainly helped our process of integration. Today we have 18 non-NATO nations in IFOR, out of a total of 34, with Albania, Bulgaria, and Saudi Arabia still in the process of coming in. This is a very large coalition, but one that is very tightly bound together, with lead nations running each sector. I think it has been a very successful process.
Balancing the force was actually much more difficult than we thought it would be. We thought that we would get a large pool of contributions and be able to share them as we would like from SHAPE. In fact, nearly every contribution came with a string: "I would like to send a battalion, and oh, by the way, I want it to operate in that place, not there." Such offers presented quite a challenge. Consequently, the force is slightly out of balance today, but it certainly works perfectly well.
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