Former US general: 'gays make Dutch military weak'

A former Dutchbat soldier revisits Srbrenica.

By our news staff

A former American general has blamed homosexuals serving in the Dutch military for the fall of Srebrenica.

Fifteen years after the safe area of Srebrenica fell to Serb militias, an American general has found the cause: homosexuals had weakened the Dutch UN battalion charged with protecting the enclave. John Sheehan, a former high-ranking Nato official, said this on Thursday when he publicly addressed the American president Barack Obama’s plans to allow gays to serve in the military.

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According to the charges brought against the Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at the special tribunal in The Hague, 9,210 Muslim men were killed in Srebrenica and its surrounding area in 1995. A Dutch UN battalion had been charged with the task of protecting the valley against the Serbs. A study by the Dutch research institute NIOD has found that the soldiers did not have an adequate mandate to act and the battalion was insufficiently prepared.

Speaking in the American Senate, Sheehan said European countries tried to “socialise” their armed forces by letting people serve in the army too easily, which left them weakened.

The former general claimed his opinion was shared by the leadership of the Dutch armed forces. Carl Levin, chairman of the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee, asked: "Did the Dutch leaders tell you it was because there were gay soldiers there?"

Sheehan answered in the affirmative, mentioning the name „Hankman Berman”, most probably referring to the then chief of defence staff, Henk van den Breemen.

The Dutch minister of Defence, Eimert van Middelkoop, issued a statement to distance himself from Sheehan’s remarks, which he called “outrageous and unworthy of a soldier". "I do not want to waste any more words on the matter,” Van Middelkoop said.

President Obama wants to put an end to the American ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, which bars gay soldiers from expressing their sexuality openly while simultaneously forbidding their superiors from asking about it. If a soldier comes out, he is sacked. It is uncertain whether Republicans will support Obama’s plan.

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