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"2200 Marines Land In Macedonia - US Hints At Plan For Invasion"
By Philip Smucker in Cegrane
Hundreds of American Marines have begun arriving by helicopter and lorry on a hillside in western Macedonia, the first indication that the United States may now be laying the groundwork for an invasion of Kosovo.
The ground commander of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) admitted that he had not expected that the first task of his men would be to help to set up a refugee camp. He said his unit's humanitarian mission could soon change.
Lt-Col Kenneth F McKenzie Jr said: "My reading of the situation is that we may end up escorting these refugees back into Kosovo when the time is right," stressing that this was purely a personal view. "This is an enormous tragedy unfolding before our eyes and if you ask most of the Marines here, you'll find that they are glad to stop watching this conflict on television to be able to come in here and start doing something about it."
The arrival of the vanguard of the 2,200-strong Expeditionary Unit came as an American public opinion poll conducted by ABC and the Washington Post indicated that about 55 per cent of the American public supported sending US ground forces into Kosovo. Most of America also believes that Nato air strikes alone will not win the war with Slobodan Milosevic.
But even as the Marines arrived, there were few indications that Nato forces were preparing an imminent ground invasion to end Serbian atrocities in Kosovo. A lone shepherd on the slope said he felt good about sharing his land with Americans. Rami Hyseni, 60, an ethnic Albanian, said: "They've come to help, not to destroy."
Senior Nato officers in the Macedonian capital, Skopje, said they were still awaiting orders that would shift their mission from one of trying to relieve the humanitarian catastrophe on the border to a combat mission inside the troubled province. The Marines, camped on the hillside in two-man tents, are so far, it seems, preparing only to defend themselves and help to build a refugee camp for some 8,000 displaced Kosovars.
Marines arrived in Macedonia from the carrier Nassau, which is stationed 12 miles off the coast of Thessalonika, Greece. Col Mckenzie said: "We pushed across the beach yesterday. We are here to support humanitarian operations with our engineering corps."
The 24th MEU has left its heavy guns on board Nassau and is bringing in heavy lorries and engineering equipment to help with the construction of a "tent city" in Cegrane. Col McKenzie said: "We are innately flexible. We can fight at the high end and also do this kind of work if we have to."
The ground commander said his forces were accustomed to helping refugees around the world. He said: "This is what we are prepared for, a 'small wars' type of thing. That is central to the character of the Marine Corps - to be able to shift our thinking."
-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 11, 1999
"The arrival of the vanguard of the 2,200-strong Expeditionary Unit came as an American public opinion poll conducted by ABC and the Washington Post indicated that about 55 per cent of the American public supported sending US ground forces into Kosovo. Most of America also believes that Nato air strikes alone will not win the war with Slobodan Milosevic. "
Live by the polls and die by the polls. Leadership has given way to Pollsmanship. Eventually John Q Public will wake up to this SHAM, unfortunately much to late.
-- Ray (email@example.com), April 11, 1999.
On January 1, 2000 all the US troops will be scattered all over the world. We will have no troops in the US to enforce the Martial Law! If Y2K is a 10, our troops will be left stranded all over the world! Many families will loose their fathers and hubands for years! Some may never come back!
-- smitty (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 11, 1999.
Ray, much agreed. By the time the snooze is finished, we may find ourselves glowing in the dark.
And Smitty....contain your glee. If the majority of our troops are overseas, and unable to enforce martial law....we will be totally defenseless.....no?
Any way you look at this thing folks....we are doomed.
-- INVAR (email@example.com), April 12, 1999.