There IS a military solution to Bosnia
America's peacekeepers come from the AIR

USAF A-10 Warthogs overwatching a food truck convoy in snow-covered Bosnia

Wednesday, July 12, 1995 [UPDATED FOR 2002]

There are some in our Pentagon who would say there is no military solution to the war in Bosnia ("We don't do mountains and we don't do jungles"), but they are self-servingly incorrect. There does exist a military solution but it revolves around combat Engineering--an indirect approach--not just fighting an enemy's army directly.

There is more than one way to stop belligerents from fighting than by killing them--you can rob th em of their means to fight, as Sherman's Army did in our own Civil War and/or through the use of fortifications to keep the combatants apart.

When you have a forest fire, you can cut fire-breaks using explosives, chain saws and even fire itself to contain the wildfire so it doesn't spread to the rest of the forest. We need to do the same in Bosnia by creating a De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between Bosnia and Serbia. Today's sensor technology makes a truly effective barrier feasible and more practical than what is commonly thought possible.

The Biggest obstacle to Balkans peace: the terrain itself.

M113 saving the day, yet again!

The main reason why thousands of U.N. peacekeepers spread throughout the countryside cannot contain the fighting is because the mountainous, wooded terrain itself offers easy infiltration routes for belligerent light infantry to attack. This is a non-linear war--unless we are going to hunt down every guerrilla/partisan with our own highly-mobile (4-7 mph on foot) elite infantry (what we should have had more of in Vietnam).

We'll be trying to be everywhere only to end up defending nothing because we were spread too thin. We need to make the conflict a linear struggle that is more easily managed by doing what we do best: turning the terrain into what we want it to become. Clear out a DMZ and force the two sides to separate.

When the Serbs see that it is "endgame" they will have no choice but to refocus away from their hated enemies andd defy world opinion. We would be on tthe strategic offensive but in tactical defensive positions holding key terrain. Assaults on our combat engineer forces would be repelled by our own infantry, armor, artillery and air power modified to be effective against light infantry that would be free to effectively operate with clearly defined boundaries.

Any rebels resisting the DMZ building effort would be clearly in the wrong as they would have been warned no to oppose the peace effort. Lethal force on any side interfering with the DMZ building would be clearly justified since our forces are neutral, attacking the terrain itself, not favoring a belligerent.

The British Army should be tasked with the protection of the main combat engineering forces, their no-nonsense approach to aggression is what is needed to keep opponents at bay as the DMZ is built.

Good fences make good neighbors....

A Bosnian-Serbian DMZ will work just as it has for more than 40 years for North/South Korea--the same type of mountainous, wooded terrain--not a jungle whose undergrowth could quickly cover what is cleared. Such a security fence has saved lives in Gaza, so the Israelis are expanding their fencing to keep homicide bombers out of their country. Such a fence is needed on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to keep Islamic terrorists out. The French were the first to successfully use a security fence in Algeria:

Brilliant aviation artist and researcher, Robert Johnson writes in COIN: French Counter-Insurgency Aircraft, 1946-1965:

"By 1957, newly independent Tunisia had become a major source of supply for the FLN. The French responded with the Morice Line, an elaborate system of sensors, electrified border fences, mine fields, and forts stretching the length of Algeria's eastern border. When an incursion was discovered, either by sensors or reconnaissance aircraft, B-26s and Aéronavale Privateers, Lancasters, and, later, Lockheed P2V Neptunes would attack the intruders continuously until helicopter-borne paras could arrive on the scene. The border fortifications worked reasonably well, but French authorities were aware that they could be easily breached by light aircraft. When air-defense radars at the Bône naval base seemed to show multiple tracks at low altitudes and low air speeds over the line, two radar-equipped MD-315 light transports were hastily despatched for night fighting duty. Predictably, they proved too slow and too short on endurance. The French then decided that they needed a special colonial night fighter. A small number of Invaders were thus converted and given the designation B-26N. The aircraft had British AI Mk.X radar (from French Meteor NF.11s), and an armament of two underwing gun pods, each housing two .50-cal machine guns, and two MATRA 122 pods for SNEB air-to-air rockets. By 1961, the B-26N fighters had intercepted 38 light aircraft and helicopters, downing nine."

Walls: a traditional deterrent to war and way to secure borders

A wall worked for years to keep East Germans from escaping to the West. A DMZ will not stop all attacks but it would end the free access forces have now to resupply and reinforcement. This indirect-aproach to lowering the threshold of violence in the region is reasonable and I believe acceptable to the Russians who may even actively help build it since it would mean jobs for their people and orders for materials.

Specific design details of the DMZ would be decided upon by the world's best combat engineers (the British again), security fence experts (the Israelis) as well as our own logistical technicians. A two-pronged effort from the north and (re-supplied by air) and south (re-supplied by sea) led by NATO combat forces would drive onto the center, eventually bisecting the countryside with a wide, cleared area with sensors, barbed wire, antitank ditches, mines and observation posts manned by alert Paratroopers which would call in covering fire to prevent the obstacles from being breached.

This "No Man's Land" would deter large groups of armed men from casually entering their neighbor's soil to do violence. As the two forces converge, there would still be time for the Serbs to pull out or else be completely cut-oof. Once the DMZ is in effect, the freeflow of war supplies to the aggressor Serbian Army will stop, as would the majority of the fighting. Peace in the Middle East might be enhance by Israeli help of Muslims in Bosnia. It could be a "Win-Win" situation for everyone. The sooner we build a DMZ, the better off we will be.

What is proposed here is harsh; no more economic contact; only cultural via metal-detector/explosivesss sniffing sensor/dog checkpoints for civilians through checkpoints. Both sides have shown an inability to stop fightinng so we must step in and send them back to their own territory to brood and think about all the people they have murdered, maimed and tortured. After a long time of cultural exchange there may be healing like we had in Germany, though a perpetual armed stalemate like in North/South Korea is more likely. Better to keep the fighting at the border on the DMZ than in the civilian-packed streets of Sarajevo.

Some of our men would die building the Serbian/Bosnian DMZ--but it's worth it! To not see multilated children on T.V. make it worth it. That's why we are here on planet earth--to defend the weak, not to shovel food in our faces as we watch sports gladiator matches on the same T.V., different channel. If such a mission were to be arranged I'll be the first to volunteer to go, as would many others in our armed forces.

Talk is cheap; heroism costs

Some say it would cost us too much money. That's a lie. Ask CNN founder Ted Turner for some money. He said that "If CNN had been around in WWII, there would have been no Holocaust." He's right. If only there are other people of courage like himself who are willing to act. This nation at one time was a nation of heroes with moral/physical courage who dreamed the "impossible" whether it was building the Panama Canal, putting men on the moon or creating practical manned flight.

Now it seems that we are a bunch of self-indulgent slobs, always counting the pennies of whatever it is we are going to do or not do. Those people in Bosnia are human beings just like us. The food drops of Operation Provide Promise to the Bosnians surrounded by murderers is just the beginning, we must follow up with ground forces from the mighty U.S. Army. When we needed help, we got it. Remember the French under LaFayette during our fight for independence?

There is a military solution to the war in Bosnia and its time we started acting like our forebears and make it so.

Fighting evil is not a one-time event. Every generation must pay the price for its freedom, not sit on the laurels of sacrifices past. Evil men have to be stopped continuously--and it our time to stop them.

Smug officers:

Want Private Murphy in your pocket?

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