More Power Planned for Allied Force
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, Belgium, April 7, 1999 More planes. More power. More pressure. That's what the United States and NATO have planned for Operation Allied Force.
"NATO forces are beginning to inflict increasing damage on Yugoslav forces that are responsible for the death and devastation in Kosovo," Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told international reporters here April 7. "This is no time to pause."
In the days ahead, Cohen said, U.S. Apache helicopters, A- 10s and other NATO forces will increasingly attack tanks, armored personnel carriers and individual ground units as the campaign intensifies. The United States has also agreed to send still more planes requested by U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's Allied Force commander. Pentagon planners are still working out the details.
After meeting with Clark and other NATO officials here, Cohen reported that "NATO intends to stay the course." He said the NATO air strikes are in response to the "unspeakable brutality" inflicted on the Kosovar Albanians by Milosevic and his "hooded thugs."
"This a fight for justice over genocide, for humanity over inhumanity, for democracy over despotism, for freedom over fear, and a future of hope instead of a past of hatred," Cohen said. "These are the values of NATO's members and they are values worth fighting for no matter how long this campaign must continue."
NATO's goals are clear and its determination undiminished, according to the secretary. "We will reject any settlement that freezes the result of Milosevic's genocide and rewards him for his brutality," he said.
Milosevic must stop the killing, withdraw his forces, permit democratic self-government in Kosovo and accept an international, NATO-led peacekeeping force, Cohen declared. "When these conditions are met, the refugees will be able to return to their homes to rebuild their lives."
NATO's air campaign is accomplishing the tasks set out for it, Clark told reporters at SHAPE headquarters in Mons. "It's very serious. It's going to be sustained. It's going to progressively intensify the destruction and consequent pressure on President Milosevic," the general said.
The operation has two fronts, Clark explained. First, NATO forces are conducting strategic strikes against Yugoslav army and special police force headquarters and infrastructure in and around Belgrade. At the same time, they are increasing tactical strikes against Serb ground forces in Kosovo.
"Clear skies and fair weather are a big help in this regard," Clark noted referring to attacks against ground units. "But even under overcast [skies,] rain and other tough conditions, we've continued to hit the other forces. We are having an impact."
The operation is far from over, according to the commander. "Yugoslavia has a very significant military infrastructure and full array of military forces with alternate and secondary positions," he said. Storage depots are well concealed and dispersed.
"There are many, many targets that have not been struck," Clark declared. "We know where they are. We're coming after them."
In the end, Clark asserted, NATO will prevail. Milosevic should not underestimate the "strength of NATO's determination," he said. The Serb leader must understand that "NATO sometimes takes a little longer to grip a problem than a single autocratic regime, but when it grips it, it has an iron grip and it doesn't let go.
More than 430 aircraft, about half U.S., are now participating in Operation Allied Force aimed at degrading Milosevic's military capabilities. About 7,300 U.S. troops and 6,000 NATO troops directly support air operations at Aviano Air Base, Italy, and other European bases. U.S. and NATO war ships in the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas are also taking part in the allied effort to end the Kosovo crisis.