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Serbs Not Pulling Out; DoD Urges Passage of Spending Bill

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 12, 1999 – NATO has seen no evidence of a Serb-purported partial pullout of forces from Kosovo, but even if there were evidence, "partial" isn't enough, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said May 11.

Testifying before the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Cohen said a partial pullout would mean total victory for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. "A partial pullout is not acceptable," he said. "[Milosevic] must comply with all of the five component requirements that have been laid out by NATO."

NATO demands are that Milosevic stop repression against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, withdraw all his forces from the province, allow the return of refugees to a safe environment, allow for an international peacekeeping force with NATO at its core, and grant autonomy to Kosovo.

"Anything less than these key components would mean a victory for Milosevic," Cohen said.

Cohen and Army Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were before the panel to answer questions about the emergency supplemental spending bill for Operation Allied Force. The administration recently asked for $6 billion to fund U.S. Kosovo-related military and refugee operations through the end of fiscal 1999. About $5.5 billion would go to DoD, and the rest is slated for the State Department.

The measure approved by the House of Representatives ballooned the request to $13 billion. The House measure includes money for an early military pay raise, retirement reform and funding for military infrastructure improvements. All these are already part of DoD's fiscal 2000 request. The Senate subcommittee will work with its House counterparts to iron out the details of the emergency spending bill.

"This money is needed now to replenish the funds that our outstanding people in the field and our fleet units have had to borrow from fourth-quarter operations and training accounts in the current fiscal 1999 budget," Shelton said. "Unless these funds are added very soon, the readiness of nondeployed units will slip, leaving them less ready to replace or reinforce our forward-deployed units."

He cautioned that without quick approval, progress previously made in the aviation spares program could be undone. He said this situation is worsened by the increase in operations tempo due to Allied Force.

"I know that this committee is focusing on the fiscal 2000 budget, which, if funded by the Congress, will mean an increase in defense spending of more than $12 billion in fiscal 2000 and $112 billion over the next six years," Shelton said. "This budget will fully fund our critical readiness requirements and provide the resources needed for central retirement and compensation reforms."

The proposed budget will also enable DoD to meet the procurement and modernization goal set forth in the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review, Shelton said. The goal is $60 billion per year.

"The ongoing combat and humanitarian operations carried out in Europe today have once again demonstrated that our deployed and first-to-fight forces remain very capable," Shelton said. "The true foundation of a world-class military is our people and not our hardware. We must reform our personnel retirement and military pay. These initiatives remain the Joint Chiefs' highest priority."

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