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Gates Urges Orderly Reduction in NATO’s Kosovo Force
American Forces Press Service ^ | Jim Garamone

Posted on 06/11/2009 4:52:53 PM PDT by SandRat

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 11, 2009 – With NATO defense ministers having agreed to reduce the alliance’s military presence in Kosovo from 14,000 to 10,000 troops by the year’s end, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today urged that the reduction take place as an organized process.

On the first day of an alliance defense ministers conference here, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced the force reduction today, noting that Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, has proposed moving toward a deterrent presence in Kosovo that will require fewer troops in the country.

Gates said that any NATO drawdown in the country should be accomplished in an organized and coherent alliance process, and not by countries leaving unilaterally.

“The irony is [that] two years ago, everybody was worried about us pulling out, and I came to these meetings and said our policy will be, ‘In together, out together,’” the secretary said in an interview with reporters traveling with him. “Now I’m in the position of worrying that some of them will leave prematurely. So the same phrase still applies: In together, out together.”

Unilateral withdrawal leaves other nations exposed if there is too little time to plan, Gates said. “Just unilaterally just pulling up stakes is not the way you behave as a part of an alliance,” he said.

De Hoop Scheffer said 14,000 NATO troops currently are in Kosovo, a number that is due to drop to 10,000 by Jan. 1. The United States has 1,483 troops – mostly National Guardsmen – deployed to Kosovo. The headquarters for the U.S. effort in the nation is at Camp Bondsteel. In addition, 33 NATO and non-NATO allies have troops in the country.

De Hoop Scheffer said NATO will remain in Kosovo and is committed to a safe and secure country. “We will remain for the security of the majority and minority alike,” he said during a NATO news conference.

The decision is a reflection of how far Kosovo and the region have come, he noted. While much work remains, “the region and international players are on the right track,” the secretary general said.

NATO’s North Atlantic Council must approve the proposal. There are further plans to draw the numbers down to 6,500 and then to 2,500, but this will happen only if conditions warrant it and only after the North Atlantic Council approves, NATO officials said.

The mission in Kosovo began in 1999 after Serbian troops began a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the ethnic Albanians in the country. NATO has led the security force – dubbed K-FOR – under a United Nations mandate.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: balkans; force; kfor; kosovo; nato; reduction

1 posted on 06/11/2009 4:52:53 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: SandRat

What? We’re still fighting Clinton’s War? After all these years? We’re STILL in Kosovo? And Gates is reminding the public of this FACT?

Guess Gates doesn’t want to remain in his current position all that much longer, LOL!

Does he not KNOW who Clinton is married to? Granted Clinton’s a HINO, but still. (Husband In Name Only)

2 posted on 06/11/2009 4:56:12 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin ('Every criminal could learn something from Barack 0bama when it comes to stealing money .'~ Rush)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
You may still be fighting Clinton's War (on the Serbian side), but our troops deployed in Kosovo view it more as a vacation than anything else, given the alternate destinations currently available for deploying units.

Deal with it - Kosovo is done as far as we're concerned. It's an independent country, and Serbia doesn't have the capacity to alter that, either politically or militarily.

3 posted on 06/13/2009 10:11:04 PM PDT by Hoplite
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To: Hoplite

Done? LOL!!! Yeah.. OK.

4 posted on 06/23/2009 7:42:21 AM PDT by montyspython (Love that chicken from Popeye's)
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