The CIA will deploy operatives along with two unmanned spy aircraft to Albania to monitor troop movements and potential military targets in Bosnia-Herzegovina, U.S. officials said Friday.
The Clinton administration's ability to respond to events on the ground in the Balkans and to collect intelligence has been severely hampered by a shortage of reliable information, State Department and Pentagon officials said.Accurate intelligence has now become a crucial issue for the United States and NATO as the West moves closer toward agreement on employing air power to protect U.N. peacekeepers and the besieged towns of Srebrenica and Tuzla, they said.
The intelligence shortfall was illustrated this week when the Clinton administration was unable to say with certainty whether regular units of Belgrade's Yugoslav National Army had crossed into Bosnia-Herzegovina from Serbia, U.S. officials said.
"We don't know squat about what's going on in Bosnia," an administration official said under conditions of anonymity.
As a result, the officials as well as U.S. analysts said, the CIA is sending a small contingent of personnel and spy aircraft to Albania. The CIA unit, expected to include "less than a dozen personnel," is "likely" to be based in Scutari, Durres or the Albanian capital of Tirana by Feb. 1, they said.