Defense Secretary William Perry raised the price tag Thursday for the Bosnia deployment to $2 billion and said the mission will require 32,000 American troops in and around the former Yugoslavia.
There was a mix of skepticism and resignation as the House National Security Committee opened a hearing on the plan. “The proverbial train has left the station and our troops are already on board,” Rep. Floyd Spence, the panel’s chairman, said.
Spence, R-S.C., said that “we will all eventually regret allowing American prestige and the cohesion of the NATO alliance to be put at risk for a Bosnian peacekeeping mission.”
Administration officials did not try to play down the risks.
“The mission will be tough and there’s no doubt about it, and we have to be prepared for casualties,” Gen. John Shalikashvili, the nation’s top military officer, told the House International Relations Committee at a separate hearing.
In discussing the Bosnia operation, the administration has talked in terms of $1.2 billion as the cost for the troop deployment.
Before the International Relations Committee, however, Perry said that in addition there would be $500 million for support operations and $300 million for continuing air operations such as enforcing the “no-fly zone.” The $300 million is not a new cost.
Perry also said that in addition to the 20,000 troops in Bosnia there would be 5,000 in support units in Croatia and 7,000 in nearby countries, primarily Italy and Hungary.