In Bosnia, the U.S. Military Gets a Stop and Shop

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As the Pentagon weighed deploying several thousand ground troops to Kosovo, an event in nearby Bosnia last week highlighted just how wrong the Clinton administration was when in 1995 it assured Congress that troops would not stay there long. The Pentagon opened what's basically a Wal-Mart PX at Task Force Eagle, the central base for G.I.'s deployed in Bosnia. The 10,000-square-foot facility is good for the morale of the troops, who are restricted to the post for most of their time in Bosnia. The store features souvenir mugs, Beanie Babies, T-shirts, electronics, CDs -- the best-selling items -- and video rentals. Because the troops at Eagle Base are often clad in their "battle rattle" -- helmets, flak jackets and other gear -- the new store boasts eigh-foot-wide aisles so soldiers turning around don't find themselves staring down the barrel of a colleague's M-16. The U.S. has set no deadline for the 6,900 U.S. troops in Bosnia to come home, although their numbers continue to decline from a peak of 20,000. "I believe we are going to need a permanent presence of international troops," says Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Bosnia Serbs. Well, at least they'll be able to get clean underwear.