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NATO Readies Air, Ground Plans for Kosovo Crisis

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 1998 – NATO defense ministers meeting in Portugal issued an activation warning for air operations in Kosovo, NATO officials said Sept. 24.

"[An activation warning] is the formal notice of the possible execution of a plan, and advises countries of the requirements they would have to meet in terms of forces to play their parts in that plan, said Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon during a Pentagon news conference Sept. 22.

The air operations plan is designed to force the Serbs and Kosovar-Albanians to the negotiating table, Bacon said.

Another plan -- which includes ground action -- is effective only if Serb and Albanian Kosovars reach a cease- fire agreement. The North Atlantic Council has already informally surveyed NATO members to see what forces they would contribute to such an effort. The United States has agreed to provide troops, Bacon said.

Following the activation warning is a "force prepare order" that advises members what forces will be required. That order would be followed by a formal activation request. Finally, an activation order would establish a firm date for executing the plan.

Bacon said the oncoming winter -- the first snow fell in the area Sept. 21 -- makes it urgent to solve the Kosovo problem. He said Kosovo has 200,000 to 300,000 "internal refugees." Another 40,000 Albanian Kosovars have fled to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and "maybe" 20,000 have fled to Albania, Bacon said.

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