Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs
Interviewed by Sgt. Roger Jones, October 25, 1998
Photo: SrA. Linda C. Miller
First published in SFOR Informer #47, October 28, 1998
Sir, at the change of command ceremony, you said "BiH is a much safer
place, however, we still have a great deal of work to do." What is your assessment of
what needs to be done? What are the priorities?
Well its much safer in a sense that the military aspects of Dayton have been
consolidated and are holding fast. Weve seen improvement in the civilian sector in
terms of re-settlement, though its far short of what we would like. For instance,
theres been a significant amount of resettlement in the Brcko area down along the
Sapna Thumb. We have settlements in the Republika Srpska that are viable. Similarly, you
have returns to Sarajevo, returns to other areas to include the MND-SW area but, we should
and would have liked to have done a lot more.
In the area of "freedom of movement," we have people crossing the IEBL to
attend markets. We have cab drivers from the Republika Srpska coming to Sarajevo to take
advantage of the higher cab fares. We have people from the Bosniac side of Sarajevo going
to shop in the Republika Srpska, because its a bit cheaper. Thats exactly what
we want to do, but the road ahead involves continued progress in the area of "freedom
of movement," continuing to foster return of people to their homes, and the support
of other aspects of Dayton. Along the lines of the military sphere, we have to continue to
consolidate the military professionalisation that needs to occur, in order to further
What has impressed you the most about SFORs mission success thus far?
The contribution of ingenuity, discipline and the energy that our soldiers have made,
to include all 40 countries, to fostering progress both in the military area and in the
support of civilian implementation.
In your opinion, what is the recipe for continued SFOR success?
Several things have to be continued to foster the Dayton implementation: One is the
continued, unified focus of the international community. The willingness of people who
live here to take charge of their lives and institutions.The growth of multi-ethnic
institutions and the eventual transition of authorities to civilian control, both in the
international community and in the country of Bosnia and Hercegovina itself.
How does being the Commander of the SFOR differ from your previous assignments?
Well this is obviously my first command at this level. In the NATO Headquarters you
have a much wider variety of officers and interests. So, I would say at this level,
Im more involved in the political military aspects of being a soldier rather than
the tactical ones. The problems involving the political military aspects of this job tend
to be more abstract and less tactical.
Have you any particular concerns for your SFOR troops and civilian personnel?
No particular concerns, I want them to do their job, be satisfied they have made a
major contribution for their nation and to this country. And, I want them to return home
satisfied in that contribution.
What were your expectations, prior to arriving in Theatre? Have they changed?
I know this is a tough mission. The problems here are difficult, especially because of
the nature of the war. So, I knew that this was going to be a challenging job and
thats exactly what it has been.
What advice would you offer your SFOR personnel?
Theyve all been trained magnificently for the mission. They know what they have
to do. I would say play to your strengththat is, your discipline and military
training. Keep your eyes open, and be aware of your environment. Lastly, follow your gut
and be safe.
What does it mean to you, personally, to have become SFOR Commander?
Well, Im returning here for a second time. Its very rare that you get to
come back in an operational environment at the next higher level and work on the same set
of problems and on the same turf. To me, thats exciting. In addition, it is a great
challenge to have this kind of responsibility and its very exciting to be here with
all of these great soldiers and civilians who are trying to do this tremendous mission,
not only for their country but for the people of Bosnia and Hercegovina.