Admiral Smith, welcome to Berkeley. Thank you very much Harry. It's great to be here with you



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Admiral Smith, welcome to Berkeley.

Thank you very much Harry. It's great to be here with you.

Why a military career?

Well I didn't want to raise pigs! I have a uncle who had gone to the Naval Academy and spent a number of years in the navy. I didn't know him that well when I was in high school, but I knew there was something better than what I was doing, and frankly, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. And the opportunity came for me to apply to the Naval Academy. I did. I must admit to you that it looked very attractive, guys in uniforms -- the Naval Academy is a very prestigious place, and I choose to try it. I got there and darn near didn't pass, just about flunked out the first year, but a commandant by the name of Bush Bringle managed to call me in one day and taught me more about leadership in about 15 minutes than I have learned in the rest of my life. And because of Bush Bringle I regained some faith and confidence in myself, learning I had a little bit more in me than I thought, and I went back to work and finished.

What did he teach you about leadership?

I think he understood that I had about given up on myself. And he knew how to restore my faith in myself. He said, "Midshipman Smith, you have ten days to get set in everything." And when I walked out of his office I made a commitment to myself that I wasn't going back into that office under any condition other than the one I wanted, not the ones he wanted. I didn't want to go back and see him again. He was not angry, was not unpleasant. He was very straightforward, but he recognized that there was something there, he recognized that I could do it and he essentially told me I could.

Your career is quite remarkable. It spans the Vietnam War, service in Europe, the Persian Gulf, and all of our peacekeeping efforts now in this post - Cold War world. Did your education prepare you for all of these different hats and the changes in the world that you've seen?

Well, I'm not sure it was the education or the training -- I think there is a difference between the two -- but certainly the experience I had, the people I met over time, gave me insights in how to deal with people. And I must tell you, Harry, in all the situations that I have been involved in, it really boils down to dealing with people. Understanding how to get the most out of the individuals with whom you are working, understanding how to make them want to make the best of themselves, and again I go back to Bush Bringle -- drawing the most out of people, empowering your subordinates, allowing them to give you the best that they can without being inhibited in any way. All of that sort of led me down this path, and of course the other part of it was that I just loved it. I was a naval aviator, I flew on and off aircraft carriers. I frankly cannot imagine having done anything else with my life.

The End of the Cold War

As a professional soldier, how did the end of the Cold War affect you?

Well first of all, I was delighted. I was there -- I was in Stuttgart, Germany, I was the director of operations for the European Command. I remember a picture I saw in a paper not long before the wall came down. There was a man standing holding a very young daughter, my guess was that she was only about one or two years old. She had on a rather plain dress, he had on a coat and a tie and he was carrying probably a cardboard suitcase. And my guess is that everything he owned in the world was in that suitcase. And he was weeping. He wasn't weeping because he left his car and the rest of his family back on the other side of that Iron Curtain; he was weeping because he was free. He was weeping because now he had opportunity, he had the chance to choose for the first time in his life, and his daughter whom he was holding in his hands had a future, whereas before she would not have had one. That struck me as a very, very vivid picture of what this all meant. There were people coming through Czechoslovakia and Hungary. I remember another photograph I saw of a mother and a daughter. The daughter was on the inside of the US Embassy compound, the mother was on the outside, and they were kissing each other good-bye. The mother saying good-bye to her daughter, knowing that she would probably never see her again, but willing to give her up so that she could have something better. When you see that up close, and then the euphoria when that wall came down, it was a wonderful thing. A lot of people saw that as a victory. Maybe it was, certainly those of us in NATO and the free Western world felt a sense of victory because we had overcome this monolithic communist power that suppressed everyone, and I think it was just joy, just joy.

A lot of our foreign policy institutions are struggling to define their mission in the post - Cold War world. What about the military? Do we have an enemy now and does that matter to the military?

Well let me just go back to my navy career -- we're all victims of our own experience. And I can tell you that in the navy we were suffering that same situation. "What are we going to do now?" Intuitively, we know we need a navy, but why? I was afraid at one point that we would be going around threat-shopping, looking for something to go after. And we essentially sat back, and I must tell you that I had a role in developing the doctrine From the Sea, which was later modified to Forward From the Sea. But the way we looked at the situation was that the world we live in is a dangerous place. There's a violent peace out there, there are going to be problems over the horizon, and certainly that proved to be true. And rather than trying to define a specific threat, we felt it was necessary to look at the world in general and say, "What kind of capabilities must this country have, in terms of its military, in order to represent this country around the globe in a way that protects its interests?" And essentially in the navy's perspective it said, "We've got to move from our blue-order thinking, open-ocean warfare thinking, to the littorals, because that is where the problems will be." Subsequent to that we've had Somalia, we've obviously had Bosnia. We've had Desert Storm. There will be others in the future, perhaps not another Desert Storm, but there's going to be some more Somalias, there are going to be other Bosnias. The question is where, and how do we deal with them? We can talk about this further when we get into IFOR, but let me tell you something: peace support operations are not necessarily peaceful operations. And if you don't take a fully combat-ready force into those situations, particularly the one I was faced with in Bosnia, you're going to get hurt.

Military Coordination

[Barnes] 
How good is the coordination with respect to these plannings? You were involved directly on the naval side. We know that the army had developed its own plans in this situation. The air force, of course, has an onward-looking strategy also. How good is the integration? When you speak of the littoral, of course, you're really talking about combined operations. Where do these plans actually gel, if at all?

When we developed From the Sea we did not coordinate with the air force and the army. We did not work hand-in-glove with them. Part of the process was understanding the army and the air force, and how we fit together. I must tell you that the navy, up until about the late 1980s to early 1991 or '92, very, very seldom worked with other services, other than the marine corps. The army and the air force were the central front force. It was the air - land doctrine, it was going to be the battle of the central front. We were going to fight a war in the Norwegian Sea, or rather in the GI - UK gap. We were going to be up there fighting the Russians as they came pouring out of the North Sea fleet. There was no continuity there whatsoever -- we were going to be in Norway, they were going to be on the central front. We saw a very major shift in this, and we knew we had to bring these things together. We saw that in Desert Storm. Most of the work that was done in Desert Storm was almost ad hoc'ed. The JFACC, the Joint Force Air Component Commander, was used for the first time, obviously, in real operations. It had been practiced a bit, but Buster Glossen was the JFACC. The navy had a hard time fitting into that mold -- well, those of us who were putting together this new-think piece knew we had to fit into that mold a hell of a lot better or we weren't going to be a player. The air force, on the other hand, had to understand that the world didn't stop at the shoreline. And so there is a definite acknowledgment of coexistence here, that we had to work together. They were developed separately, but with a full understanding of how they fit together.

Looking at declining budget figures, would it be better for the military to force this coordination?

We're going down fast. I mean I don't think this country fully understands how fast our defense forces are being brought down. The navy went from well over 500,000 to under 400,000 in just the few years that I was in the Pentagon. And that's a tremendous drop; I mean you talk about laying off people, that's a big draw-down. We had a 600-ship navy -- we're now looking at something around 300 or maybe fewer. We went from fifteen aircraft carriers to now what we call "eleven plus one." So the draw-down has been substantial. That doesn't mean to say that there's not a lot of money still going to defense. All that says is that if you're going to be effective in warfare, you'd better learn how to operate together. Now again, I go back to the previous stage, we didn't have to operate together. The marines were in Norway, the navy was in the GI - UK gap fighting the long-range threat, and the army and the air force were on the central front. That was the plan. We didn't have to operate together. Now we do, and we are pulling together. And I must tell you, I commanded joint forces in Bosnia, I commanded joint forces in JTM province. I watched joint forces working together and it was a joy to behold. People are working together. Are we getting better at it? Absolutely. Are there improvements on the horizon? Yes siree, there are. Are there still differences about how we ought to operate? Exactly.

[Barnes] 
How about cross-fertilization through the war colleges?

More navy lieutenants at army and air force colleges, more army and air force lieutenants at navy war college. There's joint PME (Professional Military Education) that's a requirement. We've got Capstone for the new flag officers. When I got to be a flight officer, that was not a requirement, it was a nice-to-have thing. And the navy, frankly, was not interested. This was somebody else's idea. I enjoyed Capstone. I went to Capstone with guys like Barry McCaffery, who is now the drug czar. Barry and I have been friends ever since. And other people. Capstone was a very important part of my professional military education and gave me the expertise that you mentioned earlier -- to go about commanding NATO's first-ever land operation commanded by an admiral, being conducted in a country that's got no navy.

Peace Support Operations

The remarkable story in your career is, having worn solely this military hat, with the end of the Cold War you take on responsibility for two of the major operations where the military is moving into the role of peacekeeper and peacemaker. I note that you served in the humanitarian support of Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq as part of the Persian Gulf war. What did you learn from that experience?

Well, that was grammar school for me, and I've got to tell you, it was an extraordinarily rewarding experience. I can take you very quickly how it all happened. We saw the Kurdish problem developing. Clearly the Kurds were being driven out of Iraq by Saddam Hussein and his crowd, and they were pressed up against the Turkish border. The Turks did not want them in Turkey. Lots of reasons for that we don't need to go into, except we had about 700,000 Kurds trying to get up into Turkey and the Turks were saying no way. So you ended up with all of these people on the side of a hill, or lots of hills, starving to death. They were dying at a rate of 500 - 600 per week.

On a Friday night my very good friend and now a three-star general in the marine corps, Tony Zenny, who was my deputy, and a marine colonel by the name of Frank Bruin, and I and our wives were having dinner at an Italian restaurant in Stuttgart, Germany. And the little brick rang, and it said that President Bush had decided to do something about the Kurdish problem in Iraq. And so we deposited our wives at our house and spent about the next ten days in our command center. I worked for a man by the name of General Jack Galvin and he's probably one of the last great soldier-statesmen this country is ever going to see. He is my hero. Jack Galvin was on the phone when I walked into the command center. My nickname is "Snuffy"



and he said, "Snuffy, I'm glad you're there. President Bush has decided to do something about the Kurdish problem. The most likely way to get started quick is to get an air drop of supplies into the hills. Quicker is better than cheaper (in other words, don't worry about the cost right now). Do what you have to do and call me tomorrow and tell me what you've done." Now those are the kind of orders that anybody can work with.

He hung up the phone and that night Tony Zenny and I put together a joint task force that was headed up by now four-star General Jim Jameson, who is also a very good friend. Tony Zenny ended up going over there as his deputy. Later General John M. Shalikashvili, who's now our Chairman, took over from Jim Jameson. Jim then became the deputy and Tony became the Chief of Staff. But we began putting together a force. And of course I was in a support role back in Stuttgart, pushing things to them. But I learned how you put together a force in a hurry. I learned what it meant to bring coalition forces in and how you integrate them. I learned how you work with civil affairs people -- a very, very important function when we got into Bosnia later on. I learned how you work with the nongovernmental organizations [NGOs] and the private volunteer organizations [PVOs], again a huge thing that we had to get involved with in Bosnia. I learned how you work with the United Nations, which was a very, very difficult problem. It never has gotten much easier. But you understand that all of these people want to do something right and something good.

The reason that we weren't able to operate together at first is that there was great mistrust. As an example, the PVO/NGOs see the military as somebody coming in there and ready to go kill people and do damage. And of course the military, in many cases, looked at the PVO/NGOs as being bunch of pacifists on the side of a hill trying to make angels out of everybody and getting in our way. The fact of the matter is that we were both trying to do the same thing. And in a very short period of time we were able to close those gaps and work together. And it was a magnificent event. I really enjoyed working there.

What did it involve? Negotiations, sitting down, talking and understanding each other?

You've got it. It's understanding what your mission is. "You're the UNHCR [U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees], you're the International Committee of the Red Cross, and somebody else is the World Bank, and somebody else is the World Food Organization; what is it you're trying to accomplish, and what can I do to help you make that happen? Here's what I'm going to do. Let's make sure what I'm doing is not interfering with you."

Let me just shift ahead and give you an example. The UNHCR is a huge, huge player in humanitarian aid. Madame Ogata is the High Commissioner. Her offices are in Geneva. When we went into Bosnia in on December 20, 1995, one of the things that we were afraid about is that UNHCR was putting a lot of food onto the tables of these people in Bosnia. The road systems in Bosnia are very, very fragile and the weather being bad made all of this worse. We were afraid that our deployment would disrupt the distribution of aid to the extent that a lot of people would be hurt as a result of our coming, and that we would have, basically, a negative impact. So we went to a great deal of effort to make sure that what we did was coordinated with them, and we tried to help them as much as possible so that we wouldn't disrupt and at a minimum they would get the same amount of food in there in December as they had in November and would in January. In January, Madame Ogata came to see me, and she told me that they delivered more aid after we arrived than before, and that the coordination process that we had undertaken with her and with her people had resulted in more aid. This is what I'm talking about. And you hit it right on the head -- understanding people, understanding what it is they're trying to accomplish, them understanding "We're not a threat to you. We want to try to help you," and then working together to make it happen. And it works.

Is doing this a threat to your primary mission and role as a soldier? How do you navigate this problem of maintaining the integrity of your forces as soldiers, as opposed to humanitarian workers? In my interview last year with Colonel Harry Summers, your predecessor as Nimitz Lecturer, he quoted Secretary Perry as saying, "We're an army, not the Salvation Army."

The first thing you need to understand is that in peace support operations (you can use the terms peace enforcement/peacekeeping -- I like the term "peace support" because you never know which one of these roles you're going to play at any given day), we made it very, very clear to our soldiers: "You are combat soldiers, you will act like combat soldiers because there is a threat here and that threat is serious and you'd better realize it. Now, as the Brits would say, a 'knockoff' benefit to your being here is that we're going to make a lot of improvements to this country. And as we get their military under control and we see what we consider to be the potential threat diminishing, we'll start moving out and doing other things." We knew when we went into Bosnia that the first several weeks would be principally a military operation: setting up a military occupation, damn near; getting ourselves on the ground; and sending a signal to the three factions, the Croats, the Bosnians and the Serbs, that "We are here on a business mission. We're not here to mess around. And if you mess with us, you're going to get hurt." And let me tell you something, that signal was sent and it was received. And we didn't have a problem. We didn't have a problem because we went in robust. We went in with the right rules of engagement. And I will say that the Serbs, who were considered to be our first principal concern, said later, "We believe this guy Smith. He said he'd bomb us and he did. Now he says he'll help us make peace and he will." And that's what I call resolved. They knew that I meant exactly what I said.

Maintaining Troop Morale

[Barnes] 
Last Sunday the New York Times had a very interesting report on a psychological study that the U.S. army has made on our ground forces in Bosnia indicating that basically six months is about the maximum that you can reasonably expect troops to remain with high morale. At six months, some 20 percent of people will have some form of psychosomatic problem; beyond six months, it will be 30 to 35 percent. So the problem is that you have people who are still there in a military stance. They must still be careful, obviously. How are you going to cope with that?

I didn't read that article but let me tell you what comes to mind right away. Our six-month cruises on an aircraft carrier, used to be nine month, ten month, eleven month cruises, are about keeping people's attention focused on the mission. And I don't mean to tell you that the army is recognizing this for the first time. Clearly that's not the case. But I will tell you right now, we put marines in Okinawa for a year at a time, we put sailors at sea (and I personally had the USS America in the North Arabian Sea for 102 days without going into port), there were ships that spent much, much longer than that, I think one of them was 156 days without going into port, and you have a morale problem. You have a situation where you've got to keep the attention of the people focused. Now, it's impossible to try to describe the difference between a ground soldier in Tuzla and a sailor on an aircraft carrier, but let me tell you something else. I describe operations on an aircraft carrier as orchestrated mayhem. It's the only occupation in the world where you start the day on the brink of disaster and it can only get worse. And you survive because the people there are trained, they are vigilant, they know what their job is, and you keep their attention focused. So we work on that a lot.

Let's put that aside and go back to the army. I don't think that the fact that they're in a peace-support operation has any effect whatsoever on the fact that you see, after a certain period of time, that 20 percent of the people are going to go a little bit off to the right here and the next six months or so you've got another 25 percent. I think that's human nature and you've just got to work with the problem. I don't see that as unique to Tuzla. Let me take you back a step to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We had 541 soldiers in Macedonia, and commanded those soldiers through the command chain. I gave them orders and they followed those orders. The soldiers were shipping over -- they were re-enlisting, they were so happy. I'm as serious as I can be. It's because they were doing a mission that they enjoyed. They saw a need for what they were doing. They felt they were being used in a very productive way. And they felt good about themselves and they felt good about the army, and they re-enlisted in the army because of that.

We should mention that this force is a trip-wire, a warning to Serbia not to gobble up Macedonia.

The force basically is there as a commitment, a visible presence by the United States of America to say enough is enough, don't cross this line, this is our line in the sand. And we have to draw that line, and I think that line has already been drawn there. It's probably drawn in Kosovo. And we need to worry about Albania because Albania could create the refugee problem that we were afraid might be created as a result of the Serbs in Kosovo.



War Criminals and International Political Will

There was a lot of press about your meetings with Justice Goldstone and about the inability for there to be a resolution in the arrest of the war criminals who had been identified, especially the leader Karadzic and the Serbian general Mladic. So the question turns on one of the hats that you're wearing: you're the sheriff. And the moral community, both international and national, is saying, "Hey we've identified these people, it's very important to at least bring them to trial, to gather the evidence, to have a proceeding, so a decision can be made." Tell us a little about that dilemma and how you answer the critics of the American military, that they chose not to find the criminals where they might have.

And I'm glad you brought this up. I mean, it's one of the most difficult issues I've ever had to deal with in my life. Nothing would have made me happier than to see Karadzic, Mladic and their ilk in the ground somewhere. I mean, those people do not deserve to remain on the face of this earth based on what I'm absolutely certain they were doing. But you said it was the international community and the media that was exercised about the fact that we didn't go in. Let me tell you who needs to get exercised in order to make that happen, that's the politicians.

The American politicians?

No, international politicians. Western militaries are controlled by civilians, take their orders from civilians, and do precisely what they're told to do. Now granted, there is an interchange and a dialog there and they ask me, what do you think? And I said I think it would be crazy. It would be crazy to try to turn army into police. They do not make good policemen. I was in Stockholm, Sweden, I was getting beat up by one of the media about this very same issue. I said, "Let's go down to Bosnia and take any company from any nation -- Egypt, Bulgaria, Hungry, Poland, French, British, US, you name it -- we'll bring a company up here in Stockholm and we'll put them on your streets tomorrow and they will become your police force. And they will be responsible for the safety and security of this city and your family." Now what I didn't say and what I should have said was, "and by the way, let's take those Stockholm policemen that they replace and we'll put them down in Bosnia and they become combat soldiers replacing the people we just got." Well obviously they didn't take me up on this, but the point here is that you don't put people into a situation for which they are not trained. You simply do not do that.

Now the other part of this is, as a military man I'm obligated to tell people what I think. I said, "Look, if you want me to go get those war criminals, give me the mission, but there's a price to pay and you need to understand what that price is. That price is going to be casualties. That price is going to be a disruption of the process, I can guarantee it. And my personal recommendation is that we don't get involved in that." There are a lot of other peripheral reasons but those are the principal ones. On this issue I feel very strongly and I will tell you also that every other responsible, professional military man that I have talked to feels precisely the same way, to include the chiefs of defense staff of the many of the nations whose forces I was commanding. The media criticized us for being honest with our politicians in saying do not give us this mission, it will cause a problem, it will create casualties. And we were criticized for that honesty. Those same media were criticizing our predecessors in Vietnam for not being honest with the politicians. If the politicians want us to go get war criminals, give us the mission and understand the consequences.

Now that raises an interesting question which is that these missions seemed to have worked most, Cambodia comes to mind, where there is a real political solution. There the great powers decided, at the end of the Cold War, that enough is enough and we aren't going support these various factions in that struggle. So I would argue that there has not been a political solution in Bosnia over the long term.

You're exactly right. I'll tell you what bothers me a lot. IFOR did precisely what they were asked to do and a lot more, a lot more than most people will ever realize. We were prohibited from nation-building. I mean, nation-building is a very difficult term to describe. But we did a lot of things. We built miles and miles of road. We built and/or repaired 60-plus bridges while I was there. We opened four airports. We opened the rail system from central Bosnia down to the coast to Ploca and up to Zagreb in Croatia. We opened bridges across the river to allow that country to have access outside of itself. There were a lot of things that soldier power accomplished in Bosnia.

One other thing we accomplished was that we established an environment in which the humanitarian organizations and the private, volunteer, nongovernmental organizations, including the World Bank, could do the kind of work that we always said -- at the very outset we said that the civilian part of this equation is much more difficult, much more complex than the military. It will take them longer. And it will be tougher. But the military established that environment. And I think the civilian agencies worked very hard to try to make things happen, but I saw no political will on the part of Izetbegovic or Milosevic or Tudjman for that matter, to create conditions where there could be political compromise (read: somebody's going to have to give up some power, somebody's going to have to do something that's unpopular). That political will did not exist while I was there, and it does not exist today. And until it does exist, we're not going to see peace in Bosnia. It's just that simple. I told Izetbegovic in a one-on-one conversation with him, and I saw him frequently, I said, "Mr. President, you have got to invite the Serbs into Sarajevo. You must tell your police, you must tell your army, and you must tell your people that Sarajevo is to be an integrated city and you must invite the Serbs to come back." And he said, "Admiral, that would be political suicide." And I said, "You think it will be political suicide; if you don't do it, it will be suicide for this peace agreement."

Why Peacekeeping is So Difficult

[Barnes] 
Should America embrace a peacekeeping-type mission? A lot of it is basically police work. Should we be involved? You mentioned earlier that Canadians are good peacekeepers. When Americans have made war, we've usually been fairly successful, but when we've tried to make peace, we have not been so successful.

Let me try two answers to that question. In the first place, when we went to Bosnia the people in Bosnia welcomed us with open arms, and I would go down the street and people would come up and say, "Admiral, thank you for bringing peace to Bosnia." And my standard answer was this, "I cannot bring peace to this country. Only you can bring peace to this country. I can bring the conditions in which peace can be established, but I cannot bring peace to this country." So the mistake we have made in our country, if we have made a mistake, is that we believe that we can influence or that we can enforce a peace, and we cannot. You can stop the fighting, and we did. And you can put money into a country and you can try to build it up so that the momentum you get from a visible economic engine creates a condition where peace will take hold. But that requires a political will that is not today evident in Bosnia. It was certainly not evident when I was there.

I think we are doing the right thing to put our military into these kinds of operations. No one is better able to do it. Peacekeeping is not a soldier function, but only soldiers can do it, because we've got the organization. We can make things happen in a hurry. As it happened, we spent more than two years planning for this operation. It just happened that we were planning for another kind of an operation. We were planning for the withdrawal of United Nations forces under less-than-benign conditions. And my headquarters had spent months and months and months putting together this plan, a very detailed and elaborate plan. Well, when in September we began seeing this new peace arrangement starting to take shape, it was easy to take the pieces of this initial withdrawal puzzle and put them into the right order, and end up with OP Plan 4105, which was IFOR. We had an organization, communications, intelligence, infrastructure to include logistics and medical and the whole bit.

The first night I was in Bosnia I took in about six people with me and a couple radios and a telephone. Within weeks I had a huge staff, the Ace Rapid Reaction Corps was in place. We had 55,000 soldiers in there, and we were doing our thing. I mean that happened in 60 days. Let's look at the civilian side. First of all, let me tell you that there was a lot of criticism of the civilian side in the early stages because they didn't get up and running fast enough. That is baloney. A lot of those civilian organizations never left to begin with, they were there when we got there. ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) was there, the humanitarian branches of United Nations were there, the OSCE (Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe), they had been there since October trying to set things up. A lot of private volunteer organizations and nongovernmental organizations had been there for years and had never left. The World Food Organization, the World Health Organization, you name it. They just didn't have an ability to pull together in sort of an organizational way. Carl Bildt, who was given the job of pulling all of this together, was given no power. He had a cellular telephone and a staff of about three people.

He was the representative of the United Nations?

Yes. Carl was the former Prime Minister of Sweden. I think he reported to the European Council. He obviously made reports to the United Nations, but I don't know who paid him, I don't know who empowered him. But the problem Carl Bildt had, and he will tell you this if he were here today, is that he had no directive authority. Listen, if I wanted to build a road or a bridge, we built a road or a bridge. If somebody got in my way I'd say, "Here's what the peace agreement says. Get out of my way or you will get hurt because this is interfering with my mission, and if you interfere with my mission, I will take you out." Carl Bildt says, "I want to build a road." Then he pumps $2 million into the top of the funnel and he gets $2.75 out of the bottom and he doesn't get a damn bridge.

Does this explain why we could do what the UN couldn't do?

No. Bertand de La Presle was the Commander of the United Nations forces. His headquarters was in Zagreb. He was the first UN commander that I dealt with, he's French. I have the greatest respect for this man. He is a principled individual. He is brilliant militarily. But he was working for a broken political system (the United Nations). The mandate that he was given, he followed. He had Mr. Akashi there, who was the Secretary-General's Special Representative, and Bertand de La Presle was obligated, as Western militaries are, to follow the guidance of his political masters. So if you've got a problem with the United Nations force in Bosnia you've got to understand two things. One, they didn't have a mandate that even came close to peace enforcement. Akashi said, "We've got this backwards. The United Nations is in here in a peacekeeping role, with a peacekeeping force, in the middle of a war, and IFOR is in here with a peace enforcement role in the middle of a peace." The fact is that Bertand de La Presle did not have an effective army. He had a combination, a coalition if you will, of a lot different nations that put forces in there, and they came with different rules.

And no political agreement about the solution.

Zero. Absolute zero.

Am I to believe then that you're not in great favor of a UN military force?

Not unless they change, make some humongous changes to the United Nations. Now let me just tell you this, you said that the Canadians are good peace keepers -- couldn't agree more. So are the Nordic countries. Now our forces operated down in Macedonia for, first a Norwegian and then a Finn. I will tell you that those officers were very, very professional and they knew a lot more about peacekeeping than you and I are going to learn in our lifetimes. And they knew how to handle their forces. And I felt very, very comfortable that our forces were being very well taken care of. There were a couple of differences that I had to step in and say, "Okay, we're not going to do this, we will do that." But the fact is that they know what peacekeeping is all about. They know how to do that. If you try to say then that the United Nations and peacekeeping is not a good thing, I think it's not always the right way to put it. In certain circumstances the United Nations, with a small force, can do things well. They were outmatched in Bosnia. They were put in there to keep the peace in the middle of a war. And our international community finally woke up, they were galvanized into action, when the Serbs took Srebrenica in July 1995. That was a tactical victory for the Serbs, and it was a strategic defeat.

The "Vietnam Syndrome" and Other Lessons

Lessons of Vietnam led to the "Vietnam Syndrome," which in turn led policy-makers to come up with the Weinberger Doctrine about the circumstances under which we would intervene. We're now in a new world. You played an important role in two operations that are setting the mark for how we are to respond in the world. Now the other thing out there was the Somali intervention which, in a way, proved the negative case, the case which we didn't want to follow. So, drawing on your experience, what do you see as the new doctrine that will emerge to define when we will intervene? What does the President of the United States have to give you in the way of public support, support in resources, and so on?

I was both a victim of and a participant in the Vietnam War, so I understand exactly what you are talking about. I learned a lot about honesty. I learned a lot about the necessity for candor in the dialogue between politicians and the military. Let me tell you, one of the greatest benefits that I had in Bosnia was a young political advisor who had spent time in Brussels, Belgium, on the North Atlantic Council as a deputy Permanent Representative. And he came to me and as we sat around talking about military operations during my first several days with him, I got so angry I wanted to choke him. Where did I get this naive guy who knows nothing about the military? And suddenly it dawned on me, this is the biggest benefit I've got because now I know how I've got to explain operations to the politicians so they will understand them.

That's why I think we were able to get the air cleared between Brussels and Sarajevo, using this political advisor as a conduit, because clearly we expected that they would understand more than they did. So that was a gap that had to be closed. And I was proud as heck when, in April of 1996 I ran into some of the Perm Reps up in Brussels and they said, "Admiral, you are really keeping us well informed. We have no further guidance for you, you're doing a grand job." Let me tell you that for a politician to tell a military guy that, that's a big deal. I think the first thing is that the political folks have got to come out with a good, solid strategic objective -- what is it you want to accomplish in the end?

Now, let's take the military and make sure we understand that they are only one piece of a puzzle. Military, economic, diplomatic, political, and others. Now what do you want the military to do? This was a very important part of Bosnia, and that's how we came up with Annex-1, military annex to the Bosnia accords. What do you want the military to do? Give me a mission that I can operationalize into an order that a 19-year-old soldier carrying a gun around can understand. Once I get that, then as a military man it's up to me to do what we call a "troop to task." What's it going to take and what's it going to cost? Then I've got to feed that back to the politicians. That's called candor. "All right, you want me to do this, this is the price." Remember what I said about the war criminals? "You want me to do that, it's going to cost you lives. We're going to get people killed doing this. I might have to go to Kansas and tell Johnny's mama that he got his head blown off trying to arrest Mladic in a coffee shop somewhere. Or better, in a bunker."

So you tell what it's going to cost. Now the politicians, understanding that, have got to commit. They've got to commit resources. Resources means time, equipment, money, and lives. And you've got to be willing to understand -- listen, if I tell you it's going to cost you twenty lives and then when we lose eight it's time to go home, that ain't going to work. Once you get that dialogue established, and that's a two-way street, now give the military man what he needs -- give him the rules of engagement. What he then wants to know is what are measures of effectiveness? How do we know we're getting from here to the end state? And in my personal view you do need an end state. And then you stick to it.

The other thing you hope, and this has nothing to do with the military, it's a political evaluation really, you hope that the conditions you have established by the use of the military will have some permanence after the military leaves. Otherwise, why the hell should you go in there to begin with? If you want to shorten that up, just say, "Okay, what is the strategic objective, what's the military part of that, what is the cost commitment, end state, exit strategy, permanence?" If I were going whip these out in hurry, and I just did without thinking a whole lot about it right now, that's what I'd want to see.

What happened in Somalia? We had a very clear mission statement. We were going to go in there and we were going to establish an environment in which humanitarian aid could be distributed. That was the mission. The military said fine, no problem. Then the mission changed. Suddenly a warlord feud erupted. You know, some people's warlords are other people's George Washingtons, and that's exactly what Aidid was. And as soon as we put a price on his head and said, "We're going to come get you," that whole equation changed. The mission changed, the environment changed, the threat changed, the risk changed. And we saw the results. That's why I fought like crazy every time someone wanted to hang a new mission on me or interpret my mission statement for me. I said, "No, this thing says right here that the commander of IFOR is the one that decides what is and is not my mission. Now if you want to lengthen that mission list, if you want to tell me to, go right ahead. But you better put it in writing."

Apply that to Bosnia right now. We don't see the end. Just "another six months or so."

No you don't. We don't see an end to Cyprus, do we? Well, what do you have in Cyprus? You've got the Turks (Muslims), and you've got the Greeks (Orthodox). You've got people who have claims on both sides to ancestral homes. In Bosnia, as in Israel, you've got exactly the same problem. You've got ultra-nationalists, you've got religious fervor that you just simply can't understand unless you're there to see it. You've got Orthodox, you've got Muslims, and you've got Catholics. You can take Northern Ireland, you can take the Middle East, you can take Cyprus, you can take a lot of other places, and what you come away with is the inescapable conclusion is that this is not a problem we're going to solve in a year or a year and a half. It's going to take time. Does that mean the United States has got to be there the full time? No it does not.



The "Vietnam Syndrome" and Other Lessons

Lessons of Vietnam led to the "Vietnam Syndrome," which in turn led policy-makers to come up with the Weinberger Doctrine about the circumstances under which we would intervene. We're now in a new world. You played an important role in two operations that are setting the mark for how we are to respond in the world. Now the other thing out there was the Somali intervention which, in a way, proved the negative case, the case which we didn't want to follow. So, drawing on your experience, what do you see as the new doctrine that will emerge to define when we will intervene? What does the President of the United States have to give you in the way of public support, support in resources, and so on?

I was both a victim of and a participant in the Vietnam War, so I understand exactly what you are talking about. I learned a lot about honesty. I learned a lot about the necessity for candor in the dialogue between politicians and the military. Let me tell you, one of the greatest benefits that I had in Bosnia was a young political advisor who had spent time in Brussels, Belgium, on the North Atlantic Council as a deputy Permanent Representative. And he came to me and as we sat around talking about military operations during my first several days with him, I got so angry I wanted to choke him. Where did I get this naive guy who knows nothing about the military? And suddenly it dawned on me, this is the biggest benefit I've got because now I know how I've got to explain operations to the politicians so they will understand them.

That's why I think we were able to get the air cleared between Brussels and Sarajevo, using this political advisor as a conduit, because clearly we expected that they would understand more than they did. So that was a gap that had to be closed. And I was proud as heck when, in April of 1996 I ran into some of the Perm Reps up in Brussels and they said, "Admiral, you are really keeping us well informed. We have no further guidance for you, you're doing a grand job." Let me tell you that for a politician to tell a military guy that, that's a big deal. I think the first thing is that the political folks have got to come out with a good, solid strategic objective -- what is it you want to accomplish in the end?

Now, let's take the military and make sure we understand that they are only one piece of a puzzle. Military, economic, diplomatic, political, and others. Now what do you want the military to do? This was a very important part of Bosnia, and that's how we came up with Annex-1, military annex to the Bosnia accords. What do you want the military to do? Give me a mission that I can operationalize into an order that a 19-year-old soldier carrying a gun around can understand. Once I get that, then as a military man it's up to me to do what we call a "troop to task." What's it going to take and what's it going to cost? Then I've got to feed that back to the politicians. That's called candor. "All right, you want me to do this, this is the price." Remember what I said about the war criminals? "You want me to do that, it's going to cost you lives. We're going to get people killed doing this. I might have to go to Kansas and tell Johnny's mama that he got his head blown off trying to arrest Mladic in a coffee shop somewhere. Or better, in a bunker."

So you tell what it's going to cost. Now the politicians, understanding that, have got to commit. They've got to commit resources. Resources means time, equipment, money, and lives. And you've got to be willing to understand -- listen, if I tell you it's going to cost you twenty lives and then when we lose eight it's time to go home, that ain't going to work. Once you get that dialogue established, and that's a two-way street, now give the military man what he needs -- give him the rules of engagement. What he then wants to know is what are measures of effectiveness? How do we know we're getting from here to the end state? And in my personal view you do need an end state. And then you stick to it.

The other thing you hope, and this has nothing to do with the military, it's a political evaluation really, you hope that the conditions you have established by the use of the military will have some permanence after the military leaves. Otherwise, why the hell should you go in there to begin with? If you want to shorten that up, just say, "Okay, what is the strategic objective, what's the military part of that, what is the cost commitment, end state, exit strategy, permanence?" If I were going whip these out in hurry, and I just did without thinking a whole lot about it right now, that's what I'd want to see.

What happened in Somalia? We had a very clear mission statement. We were going to go in there and we were going to establish an environment in which humanitarian aid could be distributed. That was the mission. The military said fine, no problem. Then the mission changed. Suddenly a warlord feud erupted. You know, some people's warlords are other people's George Washingtons, and that's exactly what Aidid was. And as soon as we put a price on his head and said, "We're going to come get you," that whole equation changed. The mission changed, the environment changed, the threat changed, the risk changed. And we saw the results. That's why I fought like crazy every time someone wanted to hang a new mission on me or interpret my mission statement for me. I said, "No, this thing says right here that the commander of IFOR is the one that decides what is and is not my mission. Now if you want to lengthen that mission list, if you want to tell me to, go right ahead. But you better put it in writing."

Apply that to Bosnia right now. We don't see the end. Just "another six months or so."

No you don't. We don't see an end to Cyprus, do we? Well, what do you have in Cyprus? You've got the Turks (Muslims), and you've got the Greeks (Orthodox). You've got people who have claims on both sides to ancestral homes. In Bosnia, as in Israel, you've got exactly the same problem. You've got ultra-nationalists, you've got religious fervor that you just simply can't understand unless you're there to see it. You've got Orthodox, you've got Muslims, and you've got Catholics. You can take Northern Ireland, you can take the Middle East, you can take Cyprus, you can take a lot of other places, and what you come away with is the inescapable conclusion is that this is not a problem we're going to solve in a year or a year and a half. It's going to take time. Does that mean the United States has got to be there the full time? No it does not.



The Press

Tell us a little about your relationship with the press in this role in Bosnia, because it would seem that their picture of you and what you're doing becomes important for the support that you're going to have at home.

Well, we saw that and I must tell you that I enjoyed the relationship that I had with the press. I felt very comfortable with the press. There are some very, very professional people. I want to tell you a story about a rescue attempt. When we went into Bosnia, a major part of our planning was press relations. How were we going to establish an environment of trust? We wanted to make sure that the press knew, and in fact I told them, "If I know it you will know it unless giving it to you hazards the safety of the forces under my command. In that case I will not give it to you and I will do everything that I can to prevent you from getting it." But I knew the press was going to be all over Bosnia (they were probably placed before we got there), and we might be able to learn something from them. We wanted them to call us when they got a story, check it out with the professionals, the people who understood. What do you want to know, we will tell you. And we got that. We set up a daily briefing. It was not cheap. Basically we rented a large part of the Holiday Inn in Sarajevo, paid a ton of money for it, and every day we had operational briefings. As we moved through the military, we began to bring more and more of the civilians in so the civilians could say that this is what we're doing, this is how we're trying to integrate our efforts. Sure, there were times when there were bumps in the road and they got sort of angry with us because we didn't do this or didn't do that. But the fact is that over time, at least the seven months I was there, I felt that we had a very good relationship with the press. We needed that support.

Let me tell you a story about January 2. The Prime Minister of Bosnia now is a fellow by the name of Hasan Muratovic. At that time, in early January, Muratovic was the president or the chairman of the committee for cooperation with IFOR. He had basically been the chairman of the committee for cooperation with UNPRO-4 and then he was IFOR. I would not describe Muratovic as being cooperative by any way, shape, or form. In early January/late December, 16 Muslims were arrested in Serb territory. Some of these Muslims might have been there purposely to create an event, others of them may have been there honestly. Some of them may have been there snooping around, trying to do things that perhaps they shouldn't have been doing. I'm not making a judgment, but 16 of them got snatched. I didn't learn about it until January 2, and maybe there had been a delay; some of it was our own forces not reporting because they thought they could take care of it. But Muratovic started in on the IFOR the same way he did on UNPRO-4, trying to trash us in the media. And I called him up, and I called Foreign Minister Sasserby up, and I said, "The worst possible mistake you can make is taking on IFOR in the press. Let me tell you why. The mamas and papas in Kansas and Ohio aren't shot in the butt with their kids being over here taking care of your country. And if you trash public opinion, they're going to tell President Clinton to get their kids out of here and he will do it. You better shut the hell up. And they did.

I've got one more story to tell you about the press. In September, we mounted three separate rescue efforts to try to get the two French pilots. They were shot down on the first of September, 1995. The first one was from an aircraft carrier. On board that aircraft carrier was a media pool. I called out there and I talked to Commander Fallon because they saw all these helicopters going and I said, "For God's sake, go down and ask the media, please don't let that story go. We did not get the French pilots, we didn't get close to the place we wanted to go. We are going to go again and if the story leaks we are going to be in trouble, because we can't go." That story never saw the light of day until it was leaked out of the Pentagon about three weeks later. I went out the next day and talked to them. I said, "I want to thank you for this. We're going to go again tonight and we're going to go tomorrow night and I want to just ask you to hold and I promise you, if we get these guys, you will get the first crack at the story. I give you my solemn oath. But please hold this." And they held it.

Leadership

With this body of experience, what sort of training and education would you like future soldiers to have that they may not have had when you were coming up the ranks?

I don't know the answer to that question. I will tell you that as an aviator I was taught to be fiercely independent, but understanding that, I'm a member of a team and I can't do it alone. I was also taught that at some point you've got to let somebody else fly the airplane, and that's particularly true when you're in a single-seat, single-engine airplane. I mean, you teach them what you can and then you let them do it. And you try to let people make their mistakes and have them learn from those mistakes. That's what I learned. It taught me to say no when I had to say no. It taught me how to deal with presidents. I mean, I was dealing with Tudjman, Milosevic, Izetbegovic. I was one of the few people that could call up and say "I want to talk to you," and I got an appointment. That kind of training, just understanding what leadership is all about, empowering your subordinates, centralized planning, decentralized execution. I would say that learning to deal with people is probably the most important thing that I learned in the military. And I don't know how else to put it, Harry.

Well that's pretty good. Thank you very much for this quite fascinating tour of your duties and the Bosnia experience especially. And Professor Barnes, thank you for joining us. And thank you for joining us for this "Conversation with History."



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