Another Year In The Balkans

American troops were supposed to be out of Bosnia almost two years ago, but on Sunday night, soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum are on their way to the civil-war-torn country. As the mission drags on even those taking part are divided over its value, reports CBS News Correspondent Jeffrey Kofman.

"We got people in America that to be taken care of, sir," Specialist Donald Schriver told CBS News. "So I feel that we should take of our own first, then worry about people over there."


Private Ernesto Izocino disagrees.

"I think it s a good assignment, because we're helping other people besides ourselves and that's what I came here to do," Izocino says. "To help other people that can't help themselves."

When U.S. troops were sent to Bosnia in December 1995, the mission was meant to last one year. It grew to two years, and last Christmas, President Clinton extended the mission indefinitely.

Sgt. Robert Wright is now one of Ft. Drum's Bosnia veterans. He went over for six months but had to stay nine when the U.S. government decided not to pull out.

"It was kind of a morale letdown really, 'cause everyone was focused on the mission coming to an end, and then we were told the mission is going to be extended," Wright says.

The longer American troops stay in Bosnia, the harder it is going to be to get them out, according to critics of U.S. foreign policy.

"The original goal was to bring an end to the fighting which has occurred, but now we're in the stage where we're trying to build the nation of Bosnia," explains Gary Dempsey of the CATO Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research foundation headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Capt. Sean Wilson is in charge of the 125 troops heading to Tuzla on Sunday. He says the recent massacres in nearby Kosovo have convinced him that American troops really are needed.

"It definitely reaffirms the importance the vital role that we play in the region," says Capt. Wilson.

This will be the fourth Christmas that thousands of American soldiers will spend in the Balkans, trying to protect others and a long way from home.

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