Retired U.S. General John J. Sheehan was the source of worldwide condemnations recently after he blamed the Srebrenica massacre on the presence of gay soldiers in their Army. The former NATO Commander testified that he was told that the presence of the gay soldiers was a significant contributor to the troops being captured without a serious fight. The Dutch general to whom he attributed the information later denied telling him that the homosexuality of soldiers contributed to the loss.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sheehan said that the Dutch battalion at Srebrenica “was under strength, poorly led, and the Serbs came into town, handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off, and executed them.” He suggested their lack of combat readiness was due to the presence of homosexual soldiers. Committee Chairman Carl Levin pressed the point and asking if Dutch leaders had told him that gay soldiers were to blame and Sheehan responded “yes they did. They included that as part of the problem.”
When the Serbs moved in on Srebrenica, the Dutch force put up little resistance. Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered.
The Dutch Defense Ministry said the comments were “outrageous and unworthy of a soldier.” He is of course correct. This is much like prior statements that black soldiers could not be trusted in combat. He seems to have missed all of the decorated combat veterans who have been thrown out of the military because they are gay.
Dutch soldiers guard a UN checkpoint near Srebrenica in 1995. An ex-US gene…
Sheehan wrote an apology to the Dutch command that he was sorry for the remarks and the attribution to the former chief of staff of the Dutch army General Henk van den Breemen. He stated “To be clear, the failure on the ground in Srebrenica was in no way the fault of the individual soldiers, . . . I am sorry that my recent public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues in the military. It is also regrettable that I allowed you to be pulled into a public debate.”
It is interesting that these public quotations do not categorically state that Dutch army General Henk van den Breemen did not raise the homosexuality of the troops. It says that it “inaccurately reflected his thinking” and regretted getting him involved in the dispute.
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