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Balkans: Albright Address To KFOR Troops

Office of the Spokesman
(Rome, Italy)

As prepared for delivery July 29, 1999


Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo July 29, 1999

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you, General Craddock, and thank you all for welcoming me to Camp Bondsteel.

I did not want to come to Kosovo without taking time to thank you. You have been given a difficult job in a dangerous place at an uncertain time. But I have no doubt about your ability to do the job, to create a climate of security, and to enable the people of this region to recover and rebuild.

I know Kosovo is a long way from home and that you miss your families. But I believe that our world will be safer because of what NATO did and what KFOR is doing.

By standing up to Milosevic, we make it less likely that new Milosevic's will emerge.

By building peace in Kosovo, we will help to stabilize the Balkans; and thereby contribute to a Europe whole and free.

And by strengthening security in Europe, we make it less likely that U.S. forces will be needed to fight aggression in the future.

Through the bravery of allied airmen and sailors, we won the war. Now, we must win the peace. Military and civilian must work together to enable the people of Kosovo, regardless of ethicity, to build a democratic future.

That is doubly hard in the aftermath of ethnic cleansing and in a place with no real democratic tradition. It will require that, for the time being, you perform tasks soldiers don't normally do but that, under the present circumstances, only soldiers are able to do. I met earlier today with the UN leadership and we will do all we can to help by getting the civilian component up and running as soon as possible.

In closing, let me just say that in recent years I have met with American servicemen and women almost everywhere.

And I have reached two conclusions.

The first is that America has the most-skilled, finest-trained and best-led armed forces on the planet.

The second is that, because you are the best, we need to be very disciplined in deciding where, when, and how you are deployed.

Excellence is no accident. Every deployment comes with a high cost to equipment and personnel. We need to ensure that your operational tempo is the right one; and that it can be sustained over the long term.

This means that--as in Kosovo--we must explore diplomatic options thoroughly before considering the use of force. And we must insist that when deployments do occur, the stakes must matter; the mission must be achievable; and our forces must have all the equipment, training and support they need to get the job done.

Today, and in recent months, I have met often with leaders of the Kosovo community. And I know they appreciate all NATO did to reverse ethnic cleansing. And all you are doing to help them win the peace.

You are acting in the finest traditions of our country for a purpose that is right, on behalf of principles that support American interests and values around the world.

God Bless You and your work. And may you return home safely and soon.

Thank you again all very much.


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