Retired general: Gays made Dutch weak in Bosnia
A retired U.S. general says Dutch troops failed to defend against the 1995 genocide in the Bosnian war because the army was weakened, partly because it included openly gay soldiers.
The comment by John Sheehan, a former NATO commander who retired from the military in 1997, shocked some at a Senate Armed Services Committee, where Sheehan spoke in opposition to a proposal to allow gays to serve openly in the U.S. military. Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin told Sheehan he was "totally off-target."
A Dutch defense ministry spokesman dismissed Sheehan’s remarks as nonsense. Britain, Canada, Australia and Israel as well as the Netherlands allow gays to serve openly.
Sheehan said European militaries deteriorated after the collapse of the Soviet Union and focused on peacekeeping because "they did not believe the Germans were going to attack again or the Soviets were coming back."
Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and other nations believed there was no longer a need for an active combat capability in the militaries, he said. "They declared a peace dividend and made a conscious effort to socialize their military - that includes the unionization of their militaries, it includes open homosexuality."
Dutch troops serving as U.N. peacekeepers and tasked with defending the town of Srebrenica in 1995 were an example of a force that became ill-equipped for war.
"The battalion was understrength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and executed them," Sheehan said.
"That was the largest massacre in Europe since World War II," he said of the killing of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men after Serbian forces captured the town.