U.S. Troops In Kosovo Try To Prevent A New War

ByABC News
March 11, 2001, 6:59 PM

P R I S T I N A, Kosovo, March 11 -- American troops are conducting increasingly difficult balancing act as they patrol the trails of southern Kosovo trying to keep the peace in the midst of renewed ethnic fighting, without being drawn into a wider conflict.

The United States recently has been under intense pressure from Britain and other Western allies to send American troops across the Kosovo border into Serbia, where Albanian rebels have set up commando bases.

However, President Bush, wary of increased U.S. military involvement abroad, last week rejected the request, and ordered American soldiers to stay out of Serbia.

The soldiers on patrol use hand-held satellite positioning units to keep themselves within Kosovo borders.

"Americans killing Albanians, which is what will have to happen if we go in there, is going to put at risk the commitment of many now-moderate Albanians to working with America and with the rest of Europe," warns James O'Brien, former U.S. special envoy to the Balkans.

Still, the atmosphere in Kosovo is tense, too, and even there it may not be that easy to keep out of entanglements.

U.S. Soldiers On Foot And Under Fire

Charlie Company, part of the 1st Battalion of the 325th Airborne, from Ft. Bragg, N.C., is just one piece in the massive operation to stabilize the region. As they conduct their patrols, the soldiers of Charlie Company are trying to prevent a guerrilla war trying to stop ethnic Albanian extremists in the region from conducting guerrilla combat operations against neighboring Serbia and Macedonia.

In recent days, a small patrol ran into Albanian gunmen. The guerrillas use the very same trails, and despite the sophisticated surveillance equipment available to the U.S. forces, there is no substitute for foot patrols.

There was "pretty heavy shelling" last Sunday, remarked Cpt. Marcus Evans, and his soldiers were fired on. U.S. troops shot and wounded two Albanians in the area last week.

Asking The Serb Military For Help