Migration NewsFrom the Stars and Stripes archives
Peace force starts rolling
December 6, 1995
The first trainload of U.S. Army equipment and soldiers joining the NATO force in the Balkans pulled away from the railhead in Mannheim, Germany, on Tuesday, to be followed soon by many others.
Sometime this morning, the first Air Force airlifts related to the deployment are expected to fly out of Ramstein AB, Germany.
And in Naples, Italy, on Tuesday, a convoy of 13 vehicles left for Zagreb, Croatia, to help establish a headquarters for NATO's peace Implementation Force. The departure of the first 45 Naples-area servicemembers is set for today.
In all, seven trains with soldiers and equipment will leave Germany in the next several days for the two-to-four-day trips to Zagreb and Split, Croatia, Army officials said.
Loading of equipment onto trains of 14 to 17 cars each started Monday evening at the Coleman Barracks railhead, and the first train left Tuesday afternoon.
The few dozen soldiers aboard that first train are among about 700 soldiers based in Europe who soon will travel by rail, air and road to locations in the Balkans.
They will help prepare the way for 60,000 NATO troops due to move into the region after a peace accord is signed Dec. 14 in Paris.
Almost the entire 1st Armd Div, with headquarters in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, will lead the U.S. Army's force, dubbed Task Force Eagle. That includes two brigade headquarters, an aviation brigade, the division artillery, the division support command and its associated units, and the division engineer brigade, according to a Pentagon source.
Also, a spokesman for the 3rd Inf Div, based in Wurzburg, Germany, confirmed that a large number of its soldiers would join the task force.
He declined to identify which units have been tagged to go, but added that individual soldiers whose specialties were needed also would deploy.
As of late Tuesday, no orders had been received, he said.
According to the Pentagon source, other units deploying include elements of the 18th MP Brigade, Mannheim; 22nd Signal Brigade, Darmstadt, Germany; and the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, Wiesbaden, Germany.
Also prepared to deploy are the 3rd Inf Div's 3rd Sq, 4th Cav Regt, in Schweinfurt, Germany, and the 1st Armd Div's 3rd Bn, 5th Inf Regt, in KirchGöns, Germany.
A number of other smaller units have been preparing to deploy. However, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Europe's headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany, said late Tuesday that he could not confirm which units would join the NATO force.
The U.S. contingent of the enabling force includes 500 communications specialists, and approximately 200 intelligence and logistics personnel, according to a release from the Army in Europe. There are no combat specialties in the enabling force, officials said.
The main mission for the advance team is to assist with communications for the NATO force. GIs will be involved in contracting for space, identifying areas for maintenance, and organizing equipment and food resupply systems.
Most will be based in Zagreb and Split. They will provide communications for NATO's Allied Forces Southern Europe forward headquarters. Others will be based in Sarajevo and Tuzla, both in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Officials have said the main NATO force would begin moving into the Balkans within four days of the signing of the peace agreement. The Task Force Eagle headquarters, which will oversee the U.S. forces in the American zone in northeastern Bosnia, is planned for Tuzla.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force in Vicenza, Italy, will join it there.