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SENATE TESTIMONY: Gay Dutch Troops Primary Reason 8,000 Killed

SENATE TESTIMONY: Gay Dutch Troops Primary Reason 8,000 Killed

Dutch fuming at retired U.S. general's comment blaming gay soldiers
By The Associated Press
Posted: 03/20/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The Dutch prime minister on Friday denounced as "irresponsible" a claim by a retired U.S. general that gay Dutch soldiers were partly to blame for allowing Europe's worst massacre since World War II.

Dutch officials, from the Cabinet to the military, were outraged by retired Gen. John Sheehan's remarks at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Sheehan said that Dutch military leaders had called the presence of gay soldiers in the army "part of the problem" that allowed Serb forces to overrun the Srebrenica enclave in Bosnia in July 1995 and kill about 8,000 Muslim men. Dutch troops were serving in the undermanned U.N. peacekeeping force in Srebrenica when they were overrun by heavily armed Serb forces.

Another source quotes Gen. Sheehan:

"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."

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende called Sheehan's comments irresponsible.

"Toward Dutch troops - homosexual or heterosexual- it is way off the mark to talk like that about people and the work they do under very difficult circumstances," he said.

Sheehan, a former NATO commander who retired from the military in 1997, was speaking in opposition to a proposal to allow gays to serve openly in the U.S. military. Balkenende said he would not take up the issue with President Barack Obama because Sheehan is already retired.

Video : Associated Press Report Sheehan

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