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Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, talks to the press during his stop at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Thursday.

Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, talks to the press during his stop at Eagle Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Thursday. (Ivana Avramovic / S&S)

EAGLE BASE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — NATO’s military task in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been completed, but there is more to be done for the country to remain stable, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told troops Thursday.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers took time for a brief question-and-answer session after meeting Thursday with soldiers stationed at Eagle Base and Camp McGovern in Bosnia. He also visited troops in Kosovo on Wednesday.

Myers did not meet with the civilian leadership.

“You can see the tremendous progress that’s been made, and I think a lot of the credit goes to the allied forces, the NATO forces that have been in here doing this mission for eight years,” Myers said.

“Obviously, there’s a lot more that needs to be done, on [the] political and economic side; but, from the military standpoint, a great progress has been done.”

Myers complimented the professionalism and motivation of the National Guard soldiers.

The fifth rotation of National Guardsmen will take over the lead of the peacekeeping operations in Multinational Brigade North, known as the American sector, by the end of this month.

Myers emphasized that the mission is not over.

“I think most of the folks agree that the military tasks in Bosnia and Herzegovina are actually basically complete, and what we need to see happen is the civilian implementation to be complete as well.

“In a sense, we’re waiting for the civilian implementation part to catch up with what the military has done.”

Myers was asked why have wartime Serbian leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic been able to elude authorities. Both men have been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands.

“I can tell you that there is an extensive effort that goes on to try to bring to justice all those persons that have been indicted for war crimes, to include Karadzic and Mladic,” Myers said. “Obviously, to find the individuals is a very difficult task.”

He suggested that, as in the case of the sons of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, it will be local people who tip off officials as to Karadzic’s and Mladic’s whereabouts.

“Some citizen is going to have to come forward and say ‘There he or she is. We’re tired of this,’” Myers said.

But eight years later, and in spite of a substantial reward for tips leading to the men’s arrests — $5 million — that has not happened. The two most-wanted war criminals are suspected to be hiding in Republika Srpska, the Serbian-run part of the country, where they enjoy popular approval.

Asked about an end of the American military involvement in Bosnia and Kosovo, Myers said NATO reviews the situation every six months. He said the United States will not make a decision to pull out unilaterally.

“It’s going to be heavily influenced by the political situation here, \[and\] lots of other factors,” he said.

One person who helps make the NATO decisions is also the commander of peacekeeping forces in Bosnia, Lt. Gen. William E. Ward, who ends his one-year command of the Stabilization Force in a couple of weeks.

“We have a stable, peaceful situation, but that is not irreversible,” said Ward, who appeared with Myers.


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