Abstract and Keywords
A Department of Defense study identifies the weaknesses of the Federation forces. With training as the primary requirement, Federation authorities select a commercial company, MPRI Corporation, to help them with training. Intelligence shows that Sarajevo continues its relationship with Islamic extremists, and Pardew informs the White House that the program lacks the funding required to meet its commitment.
The Institute of Defense Analysis study presented during the Dayton negotiations had concluded that training was needed throughout the Muslim-Croat Federation military structure, especially in the noncommissioned officer corps. Once the Federation leaders were convinced that modern training was a priority task, the next step was an agreement that the NATO standard was to be the benchmark for training and equipping the Federation force.
Military assistance by other nations was one potential source of training. But few nations were willing to help train the Federation. In the end, eleven countries in addition to the United States contributed. Turkey was an enthusiastic supporter, but its resources were limited. The only European country to participate was the Federal Republic of Germany. Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provided various specialty training.1
The other potential source of training was commercial contractors. In fact, they were the only option for developing a proper training system because no US uniformed personnel could be associated with the T&E Program.
The Bosnians had little experience in competitive contracting. Chris Lamb and his group took on the task of developing a training contract to start the bidding process, while the rest of the T&E team tried to raise international funding to pay for the training.
Lamb enlisted the professional acquisition staff in the DOD to help craft a draft contract. After a legal and policy review, Perle’s group, the ASI, refined the draft, got approval from the Federation, and put it out for bidding by interested companies. The list of competitors was narrowed to three companies, who submitted formal proposals and made presentations to Federation representatives. The T&E team monitored the process but left the decision to the Federation, assisted by the ASI. At the conclusion (p.156) of this bidding process, the Federation selected Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), a corporation in Alexandria, Virginia, as the training contractor on a one-year agreement.
No Stranger to the Region
A group of retired US Army general officers had created MPRI to provide military advice and training on a commercial basis. The company had a database of retired military personnel of virtually all ranks and skills who could be hired to fill contract requirements.
Bosnia was not MPRI’s first experience in the Balkans. The Croatian defense minister, Goiko Susak, had previously hired MPRI to train the new Croatian army. This history created one more bit of controversy for the T&E Program.
While under contract to Croatia, MPRI was to teach leadership skills and provide advice on training and organizational modernization. The contract was in effect before and during the Croatian-Muslim military offensive in western Bosnia during the summer and fall of 1995. As the Croatian army offensive pushed forward, the media labeled MPRI the strategic planner of the offensive. MPRI denied the allegation, explaining that such advice was outside the scope of its contract.2
MPRI’s vice president, General (ret.) Carl E. Vuono, a former chief of staff of the US Army, was the key corporate figure for the T&E Program in Bosnia. Vuono also had served as commander of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command. The chief of MPRI’s European operation was General (ret.) Crosbie E. Saint, a former commander in chief of the US Army in Europe.
Vuono was well known as chief of staff of the army from 1987 to 1991. He had also been chief during the buildup and conduct of Operation Desert Storm against Iraqi forces in Kuwait in 1991. Saint carried an army-wide reputation as an exceptional leader and cavalry officer.
The contract between the Federation and MPRI was refined in the spring of 1996, but it could not be executed until the United States found the international money to fund the contract and worked out the procedures to handle international donor funding.
Although the United States had made the decision to go forward in supporting the contract, Washington required the Bosniaks to comply with the two conditions to start the T&E Program. First, Sarajevo must break its military ties to Iran and expel mujahedeen and other foreign fighters. (p.157) Second, the separate Muslim and Croatian forces in the Federation must be brought together into a single Ministry of Defense and military command. The instrument for this second condition was parliamentary and government approval of a Federation defense law.
Intelligence on the relationship with Iran and the movement of foreign fighters continued to show that the Bosniaks were dragging their feet in meeting this condition. The Izetbegovic government retained a cozy relationship with Iran through Tehran’s embassy in Sarajevo, and in early March 1996 the press reported the continued training of Bosnian military personnel in Iran.3 The United States pressed the Bosnian leadership at every opportunity to solve this problem or risk damaging the relationship with the United States, including its commitment to train and equip the Bosnian military.
The Bosnians were not the only problem holding back the program, though.
By early February 1996, the T&E Program was floundering. I told the Deputies Committee on February 2, 1996, that the program was a hollow shell. It had no funding and therefore no training and no equipment because the administration had not approved the US drawdown authority. Our efforts to raise international funding, training, and equipment donations had faltered. In short order, the deputies approved the T&E Program’s use of the $100 million in excess US military equipment and supported an international donors conference to raise money. A cable from the State Department containing a worldwide appeal for international funding, which had been dormant in the bureaucracy for weeks, also was released.
I immediately flew to Ankara to ask Turkey to host the donors’ conference in March.