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Brig. Gen. Corley Media Availability on Operation Allied Force

Presenters: Brigadier General John D. W. Corley, director of studies and analysis, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe
May 08, 2000 2:00 PM EDT

Monday, May 08, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. EDT

(Telephone media availability in the Pentagon briefing room with Brig. Gen. Corley speaking from Kirtland AFB)

Mr. Bacon: Okay, we're stretching our high-tech studio to the limits here. We're ready to begin.

We have talking to us by telephone from Kirtland Air Force Base, where he's in a safety school this week, Brigadier General John Corley, C-o-r-l-e-y, who is the director of studies and analysis at the Headquarters of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. Brig. Gen. Corley was in charge of the study that General Clark commissioned to assess the number of tanks, APCs, basically the damage that we inflicted on the ground forces in Kosovo. And he's going to begin by talking about that, and then he'll take your questions.

General Corley, can you hear me?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Loud and clear, Mr. Bacon.

Mr. Bacon: Great. The floor is yours.

Brig. Gen. Corley: All right. Thanks very much.

Let me begin, if I can, to set the broad context of how we began this rigorous, very conservative assessment. In the fall, and even prior to that, in the summer of last year, we began with a charter from General Clark to go in and perform an effectiveness assessment of what had successfully been struck on the ground during Operation Allied Force. Of course, we wanted to do this in a manner that had a very rigorous methodology so we could believe in the validity of the results. We wanted to get it right the first time.

It was going to be, of course, a pretty massive effort. This would involve over 200 individuals in total from the services, not only military services within the United States, but also our key allies and their participation. It would further include civilian technical experts to assist us in terms of munitions effect. Overall, we wound up taking nine weeks, seven days a week and 24 hours a day, to produce these results.

And the first tranche of that was, of course, to get down on the ground in Kosovo. Although much of the destruction that had occurred was outside the lateral confines of Kosovo, we, of course, were limited to serving the exact sites as reported by the pilots within Kosovo. That on-the-ground assessment team became the first tranche, if you will, of our overall assessment.

They went into Kosovo, surveyed the individual bomb damage craters, and then moved forward to what will be the second and third tiers of our study using other pieces of evidentiary information; for example, national images, exploited U-2 aircraft film, unmanned aerial vehicles, interviews with other pilots that were in proximity or the airborne forward air controllers. Those are but some of the variety of data sources that were all brought together to get this study right from the first time.

If that gives you some background, ultimately we combined all of those elements. What we found on the ground, for example, if it was the carcass of a tank, we reported that. If what we discovered was only a bomb damage crater with shrapnel at the bottom of it and an oil slick, and earth scarring leading out to a paved road, we reported that, and then in turn, began to combine those type of pieces of evidence with those other data streams that I've already mentioned, to come up with a full and an accurate accounting of what really had or had not been successfully struck.

The combination of all of those data elements were brought together to produce the results that were reported at Belgium in SHAPE last year where, during a press conference, General Clark and I presented all of that evidence as well as the materials.

In no way, in the beginning of this study all the way through to the conclusion, has integrity ever been an issue. In fact, my commander, when he first asked me to participate on this team of 200, wanted to make sure, from the front, if we found a bomb damage crater, record it. If we found a destroyed tank, record it. If all we found was two cows grazing in a field, record it and report it faithfully. So in no way was any of that information ever, in any way, compromised.

In addition to that, I'm personally not aware of any information, in terms of Air Force, that has been suppressed. Interim reports of that first tranche, as I've said, the material that was reported out of the on-the-ground team, was reported up and included, in the larger study that you've been seeing and that was, of course, briefed to us last fall at SHAPE.

And now, with that as the background material, I'm happy to respond to any questions that you might have.

Mr. Bacon: Jamie?

Q: Jamie McIntyre from CNN. General, the Newsweek article referred to 14 -- only 14 tank carcasses found on the ground, only 18 armored personnel carriers. I know you said there's other evidence as well, but are those figures accurate, and if not, what are the real figures? How many carcasses were found of tanks and APCs?

Brig. Gen. Corley: As I recall, the on-the-ground team, both during their initial survey -- and of course we wanted to get down in there before any of the material started to be otherwise compromised due to changes in the environment -- I believe ultimately the answer was approximately 26 tanks that were found down there. That, in turn, was combined with other items that we found both on the ground as well as through those other sources that I've talked about.

In terms of other sources, you may be referring to information that had been reported outside or from other countries.

Q: What about APCs? Do you know what the numbers were on those?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, in terms of what numbers were found, I would have to go have to go back and reference the on-the-ground team study to give you those exact numbers so that you could see what they found on the ground.

I think it's important to note that all the items we found on the ground were those that had catastrophic damage, that would not have any future utility from a military perspective. And again, when we were talking about what we successfully struck, some of these vehicles were probably -- received the kind of damage that might be a cause for them to lose their mobility. For example, the tread might have been knocked off of the tank. And so it would be removed and then brought back into repair, not unlike we would have a car towed from the side of the highway into a repair shop or to have a flat repaired on the side of the road.

Mr. Bacon: Yeah, okay?

Q: Is there any evidence -- did you quantify any of the results or the information warfare operations or non-lethal attacks, such as the carbon fiber warheads on the electrical grid?

Brig. Gen. Corley: The purpose of the reference to the article that we are discussing today is really one that is solely focused on the mobile tactical targets, primarily in areas of tanks, armored personnel carriers, military vehicles, artillery and mortar. There was in fact, and continues to be, ongoing studies in terms of other fixed-type of targets. And those studies of course are continuing, many of which have been reported. And other extensive examinations on the effects, for example, of attacks on electrical power grids continue today. But that was not the purpose of this SHAPE -- if you will -- -chartered study to examine specifically mobile tactical targets.

Mr. Bacon: Tammy?

Q: General, Tammy Kupperman with NBC News.

I was wondering, do you have any idea what study exactly Newsweek is referencing, given that the numbers at least of tank carcasses, that you will recall being in the first tranche, are bigger or larger than the ones cited by Newsweek? Do you know what this study is exactly that's being referred to?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, I would say categorically for the record, I know of absolutely no report, no study that has been suppressed. What my conjecture would be is that they are making reference to an interim report; you know, that the standard process by which an on-the-ground field team would go down, make an initial assessment of what they have, and then provide those interim responses back. I know that such interim reports were in fact given to, for example, at that time, the vice commander that I worked for, General Begert. He was provided that interim response in terms of what initially the team had found on the ground.

And again he tasked us, and continued to make sure that we gathered all of the information that was available, to specifically go to every one of the 1,955, if you will, coordinates whereby pilots had claimed that there had been the destruction of some tank, armored personnel carrier, military vehicle, or some artillery or mortar.

In other words, he wanted to make sure that we got it right, not that we got it done fast or simply moved into the country and moved out.

But my conjecture is, this is probably a reference to some interim report, or it's a reference to what was used in our overall conduct of this SHAPE study, which is we had to get on the ground and take advantage of what we could find down there, both in terms of what was destroyed and how effectively it was destroyed. That, in turn, would be rolled back into the overall study results.

Mr. Bacon: Jamie?

Q: General, a follow-up from Jamie McIntyre, CNN. Essentially, in this Newsweek article, you're charged with deliberately understating or overstating the results and suppressing information that would have shown that the campaign was not as effective as NATO claimed. How do you plead to that charge?

Brig. Gen. Corley: I would say in no way have we ever overstated, understated. Again, I would call you right back to the charter and the direction from my commander: "Faithfully, accurately report the results of what you find."

This is part, if you will, of a larger piece of analysis. This is not a reaction to someone else's claim of what was or was not done. We simply wanted to have a full and complete accounting of what had been done, not only from mobile tactical targets, but also from fixed targets. This is a normal process that continues after the conduct of any conflict in operations. It helps us better chart the course for where we should go in the future to help defend the nation, in terms of weapons systems and the type of munitions and the way that they are in fact employed.

Q: And forgive me; I don't -- I'm not trying to just to be argumentative at all, but just tell me, why should we believe that you're telling us the truth and that you got it right? What's your best argument for that?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Because of the rigor and the conservative approach of this methodology. We began from a point which said, "The pilots made the following claims," and not a single time did we accept at face value the claim of these pilots.

We did take from that initial mission report of every single one of these pilots, and we -- through a variety of data streams, the best available information that exists in the world today, we took a pilot report, the mensurative coordinates of exactly where he delivered that munition. We took national images of exactly those coordinates. We took the cockpit video showing a munition impacting on the vehicle and detonating high order. We took follow-on U-2, if you will, exploited film, unmanned aerial vehicle, other national sources of information.

We interviewed the pilots, pilots that have flown over this exact area and began to know and understand it like the back of their hands. We interviewed people on the ground, and physically surveyed, walked and crawled in and out of these tanks to ultimately come up with, as I said, what we believe is the best, most precise, conservative approach to what successfully had been struck. And that is our source. We started from developing a methodology, and then we let the results stand on their own merit. In no way are we trying to say a specific number of tanks or APCs is key to an effective air campaign. What we're trying to say is we just simply took what was out there, recorded it, and then reported it faithfully, and nothing, in my knowledge, has been suppressed.


Q: General, there still seems to be a difference between what Shelton and Cohen first announced as being successfully hit targets and what you're saying were successfully hit targets. Can you explain how initial battle-damage assessments are done versus these long-term lessons-learned type battle-damage assessments that you did, and what the implications are, maybe lessons learned for later air wars?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Absolutely. The point is that you must, of course, during the conduct of an operation, conduct near real-time bomb damage assessment. You use that to determine whether or not you have achieved the effect you want, and whether you're going to have to send individuals back into harm's way and into conflict to achieve those effects. Of course, you take all that you have available to you in that very time-constrained fashion, much of which becomes your cockpit video, some of which might be your overhead images, some of which might be U-2s. But we had the advantage, as I said, to devote 200 people exclusively to this task; that was their only job. And as I said, they could then go back and pour over and comb through all of these data sources to see whether we got it about right or not.

So any difference between what has previously been reported and what you see in this study is a reflection of the advantage of us being able to get into the country and find what was on the ground; be able to pour through these hours and hours worth of video and other data sources -- national imagery, et cetera. So I would suggest that our answer has the advantage of additional time and a more rigorous approach to confirming results.

Q: But do you think there's any lessons learned for other -- you know, in other circumstances for a national leader coming before the people and saying this is our national battle-damage assessment.

Do you think that maybe in the future, people should be more conservative in reporting to the media and the people at large?

Brig. Gen. Corley: I think that's really beyond the scope of, of course, my charter. My charter in concern with those other people was simply to derive a methodology that would produce accurate results. Clearly, we would like to take advantage of all the sources of information that are available, and I'm confident that as a service and as a department, we will continue to try to apply the lessons that have been learned from any conflict towards a future one.

Mr. Bacon: I think the answer to the question is at every stage, we gave the best evidence we had, the best information we had. In the early days, we got a lot of criticism for not giving any information. And it's because we didn't have very much information, principally because the weather was bad. Toward the end, we had better information, and we gave that out. We felt we could.

I think the extraordinary thing about what General Corley is explaining is that we weren't content just to rest on our early information, but we went into a very extensive nine-week effort to layer the multiple sets of information we had to give us the most complete picture of what had happened on the battlefield, knowing that some of the evidence had been either removed or disturbed between the time the battle ended and the time we were able to get our people there.


Q: General, Dave Moniz with U.S. Today. Were you able to determine through analysis what percentage or how many vehicles that you might have thought to be military vehicles, tanks, APCs, might have in fact been decoys or something else?

Brig. Gen. Corley: In terms of the specific categories, again, as far as tanks, what we did was we began with that mission report from the pilot. And again, we specifically went to those exact coordinates. And we reported faithfully what we found. There were cases where we discovered that there was a decoy there, a decoy that in fact may have been attacked by that particular aviator who had perhaps thought that this was in fact an active vehicle, although in our interview process, again, the multiple layers and opportunities to discuss other pieces of information, we discovered that our pilots very quickly learned that if something was a decoy, it would of course not explode in the fashion that would a real military vehicle. So very soon, they began to discern what was and was not a decoy.

Q: Were you able to -- a follow up -- were you able to determine whether other kinds of vehicles that might not have been military or would have been some other kinds of military vehicle you thought were sort of key targets, such as tanks and APCs?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Well, again, I would hearken you back to the methodology in this study: mission report and specifically surveying those sites where there was the claim, APC, military vehicle, mortar or artillery tube had been attacked. So that is where we did --

We did not just simply comb throughout the entire countryside looking for all kinds of damaged vehicles, because, then again, we would have a great deal of difficulty in understanding what may or may not have caused that damage. Had it been something that had occurred in years past, was it something that might have occurred during a conduct of some other type of on-the-ground operations? Our focus was on the conduct of Operation Allied Force, and what our aviators, in terms of the delivery of their munitions, thought that they had successfully struck.

Mr. Bacon: Bob?

Q: General, Bob Burns from Associated press. Is the 26 tank figures that you mentioned earlier, is that the most definitive final figure, then, that we would know on the number of tanks struck?

Brig. Gen. Corley: I would say the most definitive is the numbers that were actually reported during the SHAPE press conference last fall. If you want to talk specifically about a given category, that number was 93 in terms of total, as far as the tank category itself. And of course, that number of 93, as you've seen reported during that SHAPE study, is inclusive of the 26 that were found on the ground.

Q: Well, how do you get from 26 to 93, I guess is what I'm going ask?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, if I can, we began with what we found on the ground, which was 26, and then we would go and take a look at one of these mission reports. If a pilot claimed that he had attacked a tank at a given set of locations, we would go to that location and we would begin to survey that exact site. If what we had was, as we gathered up all of these pieces of evidentiary information, multiple sources to confirm what had been claimed, then we would put that into a successful strike category.

Let me give you an example. If we went to one of these desired main points of impact and we found a bomb crater and we found shrapnel and oil down in the bottom of that bomb crater, then we would take a digitized photo of that crater and we would note that there would be earth scarring, as in some very heavy piece of equipment had been drug from that bomb crater out to a road. Then we would compare that with both before and after imagery. You might have, for example, a national image showing a tank in the tree line. You may go and take a look at the cockpit video which shows that tank at that exact set of coordinates with a munition impacting it from the cockpit video. You may then go back and discover a piece of U-2 film afterwards showing a damaged tank.

You may then find out that an airborne forward air controller who had flown specifically over this area day in and day out would report that approximately two to three days later, whatever had been there was now gone from that location. We further wound up with some information whereby we saw bomb-damaged and destroyed equipment loaded on board flatbed trucks being taken out of Kosovo, headed back north into Serbia.

So as you begin to look at all of those sources of information, those multiple layers worth of national imagery, cockpit video, we took all of those in concert, and if we had multiple pieces of evidentiary information, we would confirm a successful strike. And that was the difference between the 26 and the 93. If we could not confirm with multiple sources, we did not claim a successful strike. So there probably were far more than the 93, or could have been more than the 93 successful strikes, we just could not confirm them with the data sources that we had.

Q: But, General, how do you know we aren't double-counting? That is to say, how do you know that that tank, that you confirm was destroyed in the tree line, isn't in fact -- wasn't moved someplace else and counted in the 26 tanks that you found on the ground?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Well, again, we began from a point from the mission report, and as I call your attention to, those 26 that we found on the ground were those with absolute catastrophic damage; there would be no capacity to move them. And what we were doing is we were going through and right back to those exact coordinates from the pilots, and then survey those scenes. Sometimes, perhaps due to misplotting of those coordinates, we found nothing; as a I said, a little bit of a reference to two cows grazing in the field. If we found bomb damage or found the destroyed tank, then that was what was assessed as a successful strike.

Q: Barbara Starr, ABC News. Can you offer us similar statistics in any of the other categories that you may remember? And also, specifically, how many decoys do you think you wound up striking?

Brig. Gen. Corley: I would say that it would be most appropriate for us to, once again, provide you with copies of the Kosovo Strike Assessment, because in every category it gives you; number one, what was claimed; number two, what we found in terms of decoys and also what our overall strike assessment was, and also includes what we found on the ground, so we can give you the specific details in every single category -- tank, APC, military vehicle, and artillery and mortar -- I think would be the best way to respond to you, to give you the exact numbers.

Q: Can I just ask where we get that assessment?

Mr. Bacon: The assessment is on the Web. It's been there since January. We handed this out to Congress in January. It's been widely available. And it's on Chart 17 in the report. I am sure you have a copy of the report. And there is a graph that lays it all out. And we will bring in copies and give them to you. But this has been -- Elizabeth Becker just pulled one out, I believe, or she pulled out the --

Q: (Inaudible.)

Mr. Bacon: That's the Air Force version.

Q: (Inaudible.)

Mr. Bacon: The one that the general is talking about was presented by Secretary Cohen and General Shelton to Congress in January. It's right here. Hold that up so they can see it. There it is right there.

Mr.: (Inaudible) -- after-action.

Mr. Bacon: Yeah. It's the "Kosovo After-Action Report."

Q: (Inaudible) -- had the chart with the specific numbers of decoys.

Ms.: No.

Q: I don't believe --

Mr. Bacon: It's not on decoys, but it has the specific numbers that -- of --

Q: (Inaudible) -- category?

Mr. Bacon: -- by category.

Q: Not the specific --

Mr. Bacon: Right. Exactly.

Q: -- numbers. It's a bar graph, is it not?

Mr. Bacon: Yeah. It has specific numbers on the bar graph.

Q: But what it doesn't have is, for instance, the number that we were given on the tanks, where they found actually 26 tank carcasses --

Q: Right.

Q: -- it does have the total number that they concluded, based on the multiple sources. And I think one of the things we'd be curious to know is, in each of the categories, how many actual smoking hulks or wreckage was there actually found for artillery pieces and APCs and other military vehicles? And how much of these numbers came from piecing together from multiple sources what happened?

Mr. Bacon: We'll try to get that -- unless you know that, General. Do you know?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, I would say that we would go back to the SHAPE study that was reported out last fall. That would be the best source of that, to make sure that we get the numbers exactly accurate.

Mr. Bacon: Elizabeth?

Q: So this would be -- excuse me, General -- Elizabeth Becker, New York Times. You are saying that in a sense the figures for the carcasses on the ground we get out of General Clark's SHAPE prep topic last fall, and the overall figure you all came up with, we'd take from the January after-action report that Mr. Cohen and General Shelton gave to the Hill?

Brig. Gen. Corley: No, not at all. There has been only one source of information. All of the sources of that information flowed from the SHAPE study. Therefore, it is consistent between the SHAPE study, the press conference and what was briefed in Belgium last fall, carried forward into the after-action report that has been reported to the Hill.

Mr. Bacon: Yes, Frank?

Q: General, Frank Wolf at Defense Daily.

I just wanted to sort of broaden this a little bit and ask you what conclusions have you personally drawn, your impressions, in conducting a future air war's mobile tactical targets, such as the -- it was a problem in the campaign?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, that's probably outside, if you will, of the conduct of the discussion this afternoon. There will be, I am sure, continuing lessons-learned examinations of Operation Allied Force.

The United States Air Force, of course, provided their input back through the Joint Staff to the secretary of Defense in their after-action review. And we continue to try to examine the lessons learned of Operation Allied Force so that we can apply those lessons for the future. That process is ongoing right now.

Q: Okay. So you wouldn't want to comment on your own personal views on that?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, as I said, that process continues right now in terms of the lessons learned. And it's an examination not just of mobile tactical targets, but within all of the core competencies that we have, and how the conduct, if you will, was, and what we can learn from it. But as I said, it would be premature for me to discuss that with you right now because that effectiveness assessment continues today.

Mr. Bacon: Yes?

Q: General, do you know if folks in the Pentagon are using this kind of information to look at their POMs, look at their QDR? Has it been sent up to those people yet?

Brig. Gen. Corley: No one has made any suggestion to me at all in that regard. You know, simply stated, I was asked last year to participate in the study, and it was in no way cast in terms of dollars or Quadrennial Defense Review. It was just simply we need to go do, in our normal process in the conduct of any military operation, an assessment, an assessment of whether we were or were not effective at a given task. And we did that in terms of coming up with the exact numbers. As a matter of fact, I think we've done a very conservative approach to what was or was not in this very narrow confines of mobile tactical targets.

Mr. Bacon: Yes?

Q: General, Thomas Duffy with Inside the Pentagon. Getting back to the report that was sent up to the Hill in January, on the 26 vehicles that you've identified and the smoking holes on the ground, the 93 number is inclusive of those. Is there a reason that in the report that information wasn't explained, that the 93 includes the 26 that were actually found, the others are determined through multiple sources?

Brig. Gen. Corley: I have no reason to wonder why it was not. I would simply state that of course it's part of a larger, if you will, combination of information. Several studies are out there right now. They're very voluminous in terms of nature, thousands of pages worth of detail. I'm not aware of any reason why information was left out, if it was, in fact, left out.

Mr. Bacon: Yes?

Q: Within the confines of the report, how effective did their campaign prove to be?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, for the purposes of this, I would suggest that we ultimately had an adversary who capitulated in accordance with a set of terms that were dictated to him. From that, I would say there was enormous effectiveness in the contribution, if you will, of this overall military effort. But once more, I'm not trying to lay claim or credit to any given set of targets. What we want to try to do is provide that leverage to have this meet and achieve the effects and the military objectives and, therefore, the political objectives that this nation and that alliance wanted to achieve.

Mr. Bacon: Yes?

Q: General, of the multiple sources, I think you mentioned U-2 data, UAV data and some satellite data. Were you able to assess what different types of aircraft, if other than those you mentioned, were valuable in the conditions that you were working in to get this kind of information out, maybe so that leaders can use them in the future? Were there any systems that weren't as effective?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, the purpose of this study was not to determine the effectiveness of an intelligence, surveillance, or reconnaissance platform; it was simply to take all of the available information that we had. Again, it's extremely difficult to reconstruct this. The advantage we had was the element of time and the resources to do it in a rigorous manner. So we took advantage of every source that we had out there, whether it was national sources, whether it was airborne sources, whether it was interviews of people on the ground or in the air. Again, the study was not to make a determination as to what one of those intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance systems was best in terms of providing us with this information; it was to take advantage of all of the information, to make sure that we got this right.

Q: I understand you're not trying to place any sort of importance on certain types of systems, but were there certain data types from certain types of systems that proved to be more effective for your study, that you found yourself turning to consistently?

Brig. Gen. Corley: Again, I would say that there was no consistent turning to any given source. If we had national imagery available, if we had exploited U-2, if we had unmanned aerial vehicles or cockpit video from an aircraft that had actually flown and conducted this operation -- we used all the available sources.

Mr. Bacon: Elizabeth?

Q: Ken, could they -- can we then through the Air Force get figures for the number of armored personnel carrier carcasses that were found, artillery pieces that were destroyed, just to -- so we can make some sort of comparison with the figures that were in the Newsweek --

Mr. Bacon: Ron, do you have those?

Q: Do you have them?

Staff: I have to ask General Corley if he's got them --

Mr. Bacon: Okay.

Staff: The same number that he had -- 26 for tanks, the same number of -- (off mike).

Mr. Bacon: The equivalent figures for the --

Q: Equivalent for APCs --

Staff: Yeah.

Q: -- artillery. And then --

Staff: If we can get them, we'll be glad to give them.

Q: And then this larger -- and decoys, too. And then this larger figure -- out of 744 confirmed strikes, there's evidence of just 58. I don't know what that is, but is there an equivalent? Do you have that? Thank you.

Mr. Bacon: Yes?

Q: I would like to ask the general if he could maybe recap the various ranges for kills. You can just stick with tanks that you've seen from all sources, be they Serb or NATO or anyone else, high and low-end, that you have.

Brig. Gen. Corley: If I understood the question correctly, it was to try to categorize this as far as the ranges, what other people had claimed had or had not been destroyed -- is that correct?

Q: (Off mike) -- early in the campaign -- estimates that you now know to be not quite accurate.

Brig. Gen. Corley: Okay. Again, I'm perhaps getting cut out just a little bit through our technology here on the telephone.

Again, this was a study that was conducted, and it was well in advance of other sources of information. And it was just one whereby we developed the best methodology, comprehensive, multi-source data reviewed and collated by technical experts, and variety of military and civilians with the appropriate background to give us the best and most verifiable results. I really have not examined if there are in existence any other studies that would somehow call into question these results. As a matter of fact, I am not aware of any. I've not heard of anybody producing anything other than anecdotal information about their claims in terms of what was or was not destroyed.

Mr. Bacon: Any more questions?


Q: I was just wondering, Ken, while you were here, just as a Pentagon spokesman, can we just get an on-the-record comment from you about the central charge in this Newsweek piece that the results were overstated and that contrary information was deliberately suppressed or withheld?

Mr. Bacon: It is not true. We -- first of all, we obviously hit enough tanks and other targets to win. Second, at every stage we have given the best information we can give -- we had at the time. Third, I think the lesson of the general's statement today, or his answers to your questions, is that bomb-damage assessment is a complex process; it's not just a process of counting, it's a process of accumulating and analyzing information from multiple sources. I think that was also made very clear in the course of Operation Allied Force by some of the comments that Admiral Wilson made; he was then the J2.

The reason that we went back and did this extensive analysis was, one, to give ourselves the best picture we could of what happened on the battlefield, and two, to try to cut through the fog of war after we had the time to -- when we had the time to spend on it. Obviously, it would have been better if we could have gone in the day after the fighting began, but we got in -- the day after the fighting ended, or it would have been better if we'd been able to monitor things in real time with people on the ground while the fighting was going on, but we couldn't do that, so we did what we thought was the next best thing.

I also think that the -- people always have to make real-time decisions during and right after battles, as to how to describe what happened. I think we tried to be conservative. I think we were actually criticized for being conservative in the course of Operation Allied Force. And this was an effort to provide the most complete picture that we could, given all the information we had after the battle.

Q: Thank you.

Mr. Bacon: You're welcome.

Q: Hey, Ken, also, while we got you here, just on one other quick subject, has any decision been made yet on airlifting these peacekeepers to Sierra Leone?

Mr. Bacon: No. No. We're stilling looking at a variety of ways that we can be of assistance, but no decision has been made yet.

Q: Thanks.

Mr. Bacon: Sure.

General, thank you very much.

Brig. Gen. Corley: Thank you, Mr. Bacon.

"This transcript was prepared by the Federal News Service, Inc., Washington DC. Federal News Service is a private company. For other defense related transcripts not available through this site, contact Federal News Service at (202) 347-1400."

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