More B-52s Join Allied Force Mission
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 30, 1999 Defense Secretary William Cohen said the NATO air offensive continues to hammer the Yugoslav military, showing Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that he underestimated the will of the alliance to respond to the tragedy in Kosovo.
Cohen and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Henry Shelton also announced sending 13 more Air Force planes -- including 10 B-52s -- to support Operation Allied Force during a Pentagon news conference, April 29.
Shelton said the mission is going well despite anticipated obstacles. "Let me say first of all, we faced three formidable challenges in the area," Shelton said. "First was the integrated air defense system; secondly was the terrain; third was the weather.
Shelton said the NATO strategy was for aircraft to hit the integrated air defense system. Once sufficiently degraded NATO aircraft went after Yugoslav lines of communication into Kosovo, fuel and oil products and, most important, the Yugoslav military, special police and paramilitary units.
Soon NATO aircraft will move into what Shelton called the "domination phase" of the operation where NATO aircraft will aim at decimating Yugoslav field forces.
NATO aircraft have flown almost 12,000 sorties in the 37 days since Operation Allied Force began.
Both Cohen and Shelton said they believe Milosevic has already suffered defeats. "[Milosevic thought he] would be able to take out the [Kosovo Liberation Army] within ... five to seven days," Shelton said. "We know today that that is in fact far from true. There are probably more UCK/KLA members today than there were when the operation started. So he underestimated that.
"The second piece was that all of the intelligence indicated that he felt like the NATO Alliance would fall apart after two to three days of bombing. He's seeing now on the 37th day of bombing greater solidarity and a very cohesive group of 19 nations that just reinforced that during the NATO Summit."
Cohen pointed to the Yugoslav former deputy prime minister whom Milosevic dismissed for voicing concerns and opposition to Yugoslav policy as proof that many Serbs see that Milosevic has miscalculated badly.
He did say he believes the American people are behind NATO's actions against Yugoslavia. "I think [the American people] only have to turn on their television sets every day and evening to see the kind of horrendous suffering that is now portrayed on the evening news," he said. "I don't think we've seen this level of barbarity in decades; certainly not since the end of World War II in Europe have we seen anyone descend to this level of barbarity."