The Balkan Crisis: Ceasefire presents Nato with nightmare

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The Independent Online
BRUSSELS (Reuter) - The Western allies face huge problems in enforcing the peace plan for Bosnia, and might not be able to put together enough fresh troops for the job, Nato diplomats and officials said yesterday.

Alliance planners say that between 60,000 and 75,000 troops will be needed, but have received few pledges from member nations so far. 'The way it looks now, there are doubts that we could even make up the numbers needed,' said one official.

In addition to the problem of finding troops from reluctant member nations, Nato planners also have difficulties over the command of the new force, its logistics and defining the rules of engagement - all of which must be solved soon.

The United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Norway have indicated they might be prepared to send extra troops, although none of these countries has made firm promises. But the Nato figure of up to 75,000 troops assumes all parties will be committed to the peace plan and the force will encounter only limited local resistance.

Nato wants to include its former Cold War enemies and neutral countries in the operation, but Russia appears to have backed away from an earlier pledge to commit forces and many eastern European nations say they simply cannot afford it.

Last week, the chairman of Nato's military committee said deploying troops in Bosnia could not be done quickly because of logistical problems - although the Vance-Owen plan requires troops to be in place within weeks.

WASHINGTON - The US ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, said yesterday the Clinton administration was looking into the idea of a UN 'military capability' so it could move swiftly to tackle peace- keeping operations Reuter reports.

She was questioned during a congressional hearing about a UN military force amid prospects of a possible vastly expanded UN peace-keeping role in the former Yugoslavia.