December 20, 1995 in Nation/World

Troops Get To Work In Tuzla, Await First Test

New York Daily News

The first U.S. combat troops on the ground here got down to business Tuesday amid warnings that their greatest test most likely will come from “slivovica shooters.”

Under a soggy snowfall that turned to slush on the ground, troops from the Army’s 3rd Battalion, 325th Infantry checked the airport for mines, laid barbed wire and built sandbagged-bunker fighting positions.

Several transport flights were canceled in the morning due to the weather, but the planes began landing again in the afternoon with more troops and equipment.

The formal switchover of the airport from United Nations to U.S. control was expected to take place today.

Meanwhile, U.N. aid workers expressed concern at how the Americans would react to what they see as an inevitable test coming from the “slivovica shooters.”

These gunmen are what the locals call the renegades among the armed factions who oppose the peace treaty and get their courage from bottles of slivovitz plum brandy.

The worry was that the Americans might overreact and injure civilians in their response, which could deflate the overwhelming support thus far shown for the U.S. deployment.

Defense Secretary William Perry promised that the American response to any aggression would be “robust.”

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