Belgrade, 19 March, 2000 (The Politika) - Part of the US marines' contingent, a platoon, refused to go aboard a transport airplane on the Petrovac airport in Skoplje a few days ago and leave for the military base of Bondstill in Urosevac as regular replacement.
The fact being speculated by so far unnamed Pentagon officials and, more and more, the American media - that young US soldiers and their commanders are more often getting to "come face to face with their conscience" during the controversial United Nations' military mission in Kosovo and Metohija - is now confirmed by data on deserting being "leaked".
Instead of joining their troops within the KFOR and fulfilling their assignment - the ransacking of houses and apartments belonging to the few remaining Serbs in the American troops' zone of responsibility - the Petrovac airport "rebels" are already getting rigorous military therapy and extra education on patriotism and the American national interests in this part of the world. Instead of the "insubordinate", more than three hundred "acceptable", specially trained marines from Macedonia have been brought in.
The atmosphere within the "Bondstill Fort" (the greatest American military base built after the Vietnam War) walls also testifies to the drop of morals among the American soldiers. Even though the special team of military strategists and Pentagon information officers has done its best to create "a Kosovo and Metohija Disneyland", by investing three hundred million dollars in the building of the base, the autism prevailing within the giant barracks "locked" in fourteen kilometers of barbed wire really makes it "a muddy Las Vegas".
All the rules of Bondstill are marked by the repulsion of terrorist attacks - soldiers must be armed twenty-four hours a day. They have lunch, jog around the facility, sleep, watch TV, E-mail their loved ones, go to the entertainment centre, the cinema or church heavy automatic weapons with heavy automatic weapons on their backs.
They only leave the base for patrol duties, equipped like NHL league hokey players, in equipment weighing fifteen kilograms. Three things are strictly forbidden to the American soldiers - the consumption of alcoholic drinks, sex and carrying loaded weapons.
There is no alcohol in Bondstill, but there is a pretty good market for condoms - in fact, they are selling like hot cakes. The soldiers admit that "sex is only forbidden if you get caught".
Those who know the conditions in this part of Kosovo and Metohija see the need for condoms as linked with the "outside world" beyond the walls of the "Hollywood" fort, where other soldiers are on the go - notably members of the ethnic Albanian mob who deal in both heroin and white slavery: young Albanian girls, sometimes no more than ten years old, are being abducted from their homes and recruited as prostitutes - one of the so-called KLA's kind offers.
The KFOR's strength, with its wonderful foreign-currency logbooks, is an ideal opportunity for the Albanian pimps "business".
So far the spokespersons for the KFOR American troops are hiding the information on the greatest peril awaiting the Bondstill marines. Still, the British headquarters had to speak up, since seven members of the British parachuters' elite squad, who have already served in Kosovo and Metohija, will be expelled from the army as junkies. During a routine army narco-test the seven "naughty guys" were discovered to have been using heavy narcotics - heroin, LSD and cocaine.
Evaluating the case as a great humiliation for this British elite squad, the British press pointed out that drug-addiction among the parachuters leads to questions of their work within the KFOR, since it has long been known that the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo and Metohija are Europe's greatest drug-traffickers.
According to information coming from London and taking on more and more the form of the government's official attitude, Kosovo and Metohija have become a true paradise for junkies and drug-traffickers - so the nearly idyllic relationship between junkies-members of the UN military mission and the drug-dealers of Kosovo and Metohija was established.
Most of the KFOR soldiers are daily witnesses of these dirty dealings in which - the British press suggests - the officers, greedy for the Kosovo and Metohija terrorists' dollars, are also involved. From that point arises the confusion among the peace-preserving forces - instead of creating the conditions for a democratic and multiethnic Kosovo and Metohija, they face drug-dealers and pimps to whom the "bosses" of New York and Chicago are the true humanitarians.
Besides that, white powder and under-aged prostitutes are not being offered by "the evil Serbs" - since there are practically none of these left anymore. Instead of them, the "victims" - the separatists and terrorists of Kosovo and Metohija, who have has air-support of the multinational forces for their business - are the true danger to America's national interests.
Precisely these circumstances might be what impelled an American soldier into committing suicide in the Bondstill latrines. Coming face to face with the reality of a seething Kosovo and Metohija can be truly painful to the American mercenaries. The active American army from Alaska was in Kosovo and Metohija during the Bondstill army base first mandate. After six months replacements arrived - from the 127th mobile division of the reserve corps. Young Americans between twenty-five and thirty years of age, under professional contract, constitute the infantry and artillery squads. Their monthly pay is two thousand dollars, plus forty per cent for the Kosovo and Metohija war danger.
That is what mostly attracts Americans into joining the army. They not only get well paid, but they pay no taxes and get many privileges - such as social and health insurance and a possibility for getting a student's scholarship. For many soldiers, a professional contract is a chance of making money and paying off their debts. But these circumstances are beginning to lose their appeal to the young American. The level of selection is quite low, so it happens that recruits of bad physical and mental abilities find themselves in the US army.
Maybe there can be found among them the "Dog Pack" squad-guys, who had been sent from Germany to the SFOR Bosnian adventure. American reporter John Sacks followed their "one-year mandate" and stated: "Their assignment was to sit down, not to move, watch movies on the video and stay out of trouble. And after a year in such a position, they still did not have the answer to the vital question - what the hell was going on there?"
In Sacks' analysis, the "Pack" was painted as totally disoriented boys lost in the thick Bosnian mist, "incised by movies like Top Gun, Platoon, Hamburger Hill and the Mercenary military revue's sleazy reportages".
It was none other than the Headquarters of the First Infantry Division, which was stationed in Germany (wherefrom the "Pack" originates), that got transferred to Bondstill. At the beginning of their mission, they were told only one thing, and now - as well as in Bosnia - they are faced by something quite different. Their entire service in Bosnia was mystic and mysterious. They had before them colliding views of "Serb bad guys" - that had been implanted in basic training - and the complicated Balkan day-to-day existence - the vicious fighting between the Moslems and the Croats, a veritable nightmare.
They now see the same image in Kosovo and Metohija. The Serbs are nowhere to be found, they have been expelled, and armed narco-mobsters are circling the base. The dogs of war have been unchained and are now back in their layers. The White House is feeling it too and preparing a different mantra for them. In one day, The New York Times and The Washington Post have the same comment - no later than spring, the American soldiers will get a chance to get into direct conflict with the Albanians.