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DoD News Briefing, Saturday, June 5, 1999

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
June 05, 1999 12:00 PM EDT

Related briefing slides

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.

Let me bring you up to date on the latest military action. By the way, General Wald has actually gone to the theater, was in Aviano yesterday, is on the THEODORE ROOSEVELT today, and is going to Albania and perhaps Macedonia before he comes back on Monday or Tuesday to give you a full report of his conversations with pilots and commanders and soldiers on the ground to bring you up to date on the latest over there.

Q: We heard he's flying in an F-15. Is that true?

Mr. Bacon: This may be why the Serbs have sued for peace, hearing that General Wald was going back. (Laughter)

But at any rate...

Q: Do we get to see the gun camera video?

Mr. Bacon: Well, we'll see. We'll see.

Let me just bring you up to date on what's happened in the last 24 hours. In Day 73 the bombing continues, and of course the NATO air campaign will continue until we have a demonstrable, verified pull-out. That hasn't yet started.

[Slides available at http://defenselink.mil/news/#slides]

[Slide - Level of Effort - Day 73]

We are concentrating, as you can see here, on forces in the field, but we're still continuing to hit some military targets throughout Yugoslavia in order to further degrade the military capability. We're also hitting some command and control targets. So there is a variety of targets still being hit.

So far today, we have concentrated on hitting some artillery and some ammo dumps in Pristina, which is about in the middle here. This is today, so this is after this chart was put together. There are currently five aircraft over Kosovo now.

Yesterday, we hit in Kosovo about five dozen military targets including artillery, armored personnel carriers, tanks, and some mortar positions.

Q: Five aircraft over Kosovo? I don't understand.

Mr. Bacon: Five combat aircraft over now, then there are CAP -- there are other CAPs and support aircraft as well, but patrolling, looking for targets, etc.

We have seen no sign of Serb withdrawal yet. As you know there are currently talks going on. I wouldn't say they're talks. The NATO side has presented a plan for withdrawal and some requirements for withdrawal to Serb military officials, and those discussions are taking place at a location -- Blace along the border between Kosovo and Serbia -- and they are continuing even as we speak.

Q: Are these representatives of sufficient rank to make the decisions, or do they have to go back to Belgrade?

Mr. Bacon: They will do what they have to do to make the decisions. I don't know what their orders are -- the Serb people. These are talks that are continuing even now.

Q:...targeting, are you continuing to target Belgrade, or are you sparing Belgrade during the talking?

Mr. Bacon: We've never really talked about targeting, but I think you can see that the targets tend to be in Kosovo. We reserve the right to strike anywhere in Yugoslavia at anytime as we have over the last ten weeks.

Q: Do you know have the Marines arrived at Thessaloniki yet?

Mr. Bacon: Let's go to the next chart here and we'll finish the charts, then we'll go back and answer some of those questions.

[Slide - Operation SUSTAIN HOPE - Last 24 Hours]

You can see that the latest humanitarian activity here -- the refugee flow out of Fort Dix, 157 departed today to move in with families. No refugees expected -- that was yesterday actually. None expected to depart today or tomorrow. More expected to go on Monday. And as I said yesterday, the next IRC humanitarian air drop will be on Monday. We continue, of course, to work on refugee camps in Albania -- new improved refugee camps to help move people away from the congested border areas here, down to a flatter area with better facilities.

Q: Have the Marines arrived at Thessaloniki yet?

Mr. Bacon: They have not. My expectation is they will arrive tomorrow afternoon or evening. If that schedule holds, they'll probably begin to off-load on Monday morning and start moving up toward Skopje to position themselves to go in.

The exact time that they go in, or any NATO force goes in, depends on the Serb forces starting their withdrawal. The withdrawal has to begin before the NATO forces will go in. As I said earlier, the bombing will continue until we do have a verified withdrawal.

Q: You said yesterday that the Marines were likely to be the initiating force. Does that still stand? Could you move any airborne troops in from Italy, or does it look like the Marines will...

Mr. Bacon: I think all of this is under review right now. The Marines will certainly be the bulk of the enabling force. It's possible they could be reinforced by members of the Southern European Task Force, SET-F. SET-F, which is based in Italy, or parts of Task Force Hawk. But that hasn't been worked out yet.

The bulk of the boots on the ground will be Marine boots.

Q: Will they move in with tanks and attack helicopters? Will they come in immediately with them?

Mr. Bacon: This particular Marine Expeditionary Unit, the 26th, does not have tanks assigned to it. It has a number of light armored vehicles, and that would be its primary rolling force. They also have some helicopters, but as I said yesterday, my expectation is that the initial troops will enter on the ground and survey the situation and then after they have secured landing zones and seen what the situation is, that helicopters would come in.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit does have a fairly substantial ground combat element attached to it. It has an artillery battery of six 155mm howitzers, 13 light armored vehicles -- that's a company's worth, and, as I indicated, provide some protection. Then they have some amphibious assault vehicles, 15 of those, which are also lightly armored.

They have also a number of helicopters and Harriers with them as well, so they do have an air combat unit as well as an air transport capability with them.

Q: A clarification. You're talking about U.S. forces only, right? Because EUCOM is saying that maybe some Brits and some other NATO forces will move in ahead of the Marines.

Mr. Bacon: Right now I'm talking about the American contribution to the Kosovar Implementation Force, KFOR. Of course, the largest participants in that force are the British. They'll have about 12,000; the U.S. will have approximately 7,000; and the French will have approximately 6.5 thousand. The Germans and the Italians will have units as well, fairly large contributions, and then there will be some non-NATO countries contributing as well for a total of about 47,000 -- 48,000 people.

Q: The Marines would not be the first to go in necessarily, right?

Mr. Bacon: These Marines would not necessarily be the first to go in. They would be the first Americans to go in. It's likely that British or French forces may be among the first.

One thing, the way the withdrawal plan is -- can you put that first chart up there, please? The way the withdrawal plan is set, the troops would flow basically out. The Serb troops would have to flow out in basically two directions. They would move first south to north, and at the same time they'd be moving east to west. So there would be sort of this pivoting action out like this. And as they move out, NATO forces will come in quickly behind them. So to the extent that the U.S. sector is over here, U.S. troops would be able to move in relatively soon. In other sections, such as the Italian sector up here, and the Italians would get in later because the Serb troops would vacate that portion later.

So the British sector is also -- goes into here, and then there's a German sector, as I understand it, down here. So these are the sectors that would be occupied first, and other sectors would be occupied later.

Q: Is there any intent to, other than secure the border with Serbia, between Serbia and Kosovo, is there any intent to quickly begin securing the border between Albania and Macedonia and Kosovo in order to keep KLA forces from flooding back in with their arms? In other words, to try to get some handle on the disarming process before you have to do it later.

Mr. Bacon: Those details will be worked out as time goes on. As I've said, I don't anticipate that we're going to have a lot of trouble with the KLA. The KLA wants Kosovar Albanians to return home. That's what NATO is doing there, to facilitate. There would be no reason for the KLA to complicate NATO's efforts to get Kosovar Albanians back into their villages, towns, cities and homes as soon as possible. It makes no rational sense that they would want to do that.

So I wouldn't urge you to consider thinking of that as a problem.

Q: The long-term goal of the KLA is to make Kosovo a separate country, and they know that they may have to do that in a fight later.

Mr. Bacon: They're not going to fight NATO, that's for sure. They have said that they applaud the peace agreement, they applaud NATO's entry into Kosovo, and they applaud all efforts to get their people, the Kosovar Albanians, home. So I don't see this as a problem.

The big challenges that NATO will face are demining, setting up an infrastructure first for their own forces, then helping the Kosovar Albanians get back and helping them to whatever extent they're able to after completing their military tasks, do the necessary rebuilding of roads, bridges, etc., so that the Kosovar Albanians can get home.

Q: Ken, how will KFOR handle a possible scorched earth policy on the part of the Serbs as they withdraw?

Mr. Bacon: Well, we already know that the Serbs have destroyed thousands of homes. We know there are 11 mass grave sites. We know there's been very significant destruction. We know they've sowed mines along the Albanian and the Macedonian borders. But my sense is that the Serbs will want to get out as soon as possible, once the agreement is made and the terms are final, and that they will concentrate on getting their people home.

So I don't anticipate that they will do more damage than they've already done, but if they do, NATO will be coming in behind them to reinforce their leaving and we will, of course, reserve the right to take appropriate military action, but my sense is that these people have to get out relatively quickly, and will.

Q: Let me follow this for a second. Where I'm leading in this, is that so far NATO and the United States have said no ground forces. But you're going to have ground forces now, albeit a peacekeeping force.

But if a situation arises with the Serbs or otherwise, is there a contingency plan for actual ground combat between the peacekeeping force and the withdrawing Serbian forces?

Mr. Bacon: You're mixing apples and oranges here. I think we ought to work on the assumption that the Serbs will want to get out as quickly as possible once they've decided to do that, and that NATO will come in and establish a secure environment.

Q: What do you see going on today with any continued KLA fighting with the Serbs still in Kosovo? Is there still fighting in the Mount Pastrick area?

Mr. Bacon: There is still fighting in the Mount Pastrick area. There is some fighting around Junik, which is in the west, but farther north. And there is some sporadic fighting in other parts as well. So there are counter-insurgency operations going on by the Serb forces, still in an effort to drive out the KLA.

Q: If I could follow up. Could you just walk us through two other points then? Once this agreement goes into play, how is it that NATO disarms the KLA? And you say you're not concerned, but what evidence is there that the KLA will in fact willingly give up its arms and not simply hold onto them for the future to regain territory?

Mr. Bacon: The NATO goal will be demilitarization rather than disarmament. Demilitarization is different from disarmament. It means that they stand down as a military force. They don't exercise. They don't walk around in uniforms. They will be allowed to keep hunting rifles and things like that, which is different from complete disarmament.

Q: (inaudible)

Mr. Bacon: There will be some sort of decision made about probably classifying weapons by caliber, and I don't know what that is. But the issue is that there will not be anybody to fight. NATO's going to be there. NATO is going to be maintaining a secure environment. There's going to be a security border around Kosovo, that will mean that the Serb troops have to be 25 kilometers away from the border with Kosovo. I would expect that everybody will do what they want to do, which is to rebuild their lives, to get home, to plant crops, to get their kids in school, to reunify their families, and that's the point of why NATO is going in to set up a stable environment.

Q: Ken, as I understand it, it's five kilometers for the forces.

Q: Do you have any concerns about Kosovar Albanians or KLA retaining their small arms and engaging in small arms fights with paramilitary who may remain and NATO getting caught in the crossfire?

Mr. Bacon: We always have to be concerned about possible threats to NATO troops. The fact of the matter is that I don't think that Kosovo is going to be a very happy place for Serbs when NATO comes in, and I don't think Serbs want to stay there. I think they'll want to return to Serbia. I don't anticipate that's going to happen. I anticipate people will want to get home and rebuild their lives, and that's what they'll devote their energies to.

Q: Does that include the Serb minority? You said that Kosovo won't be a very happy place for Serbs. What about...

Mr. Bacon: The Serb minority will be allowed to stay if it wants to stay. We're already getting some reports and suggestions that most Serbs will want to go. We don't know how big the Serb minority is there. It's probably around 100,000, could be a little more than that. But as Kosovar Albanians flow back in, our assumption is that many Serbs will probably return to Serbia.

Q: It sounds like you're encouraging the Serbs who now live in Kosovo then to leave.

Mr. Bacon: I'm not encouraging them at all, I'm just stating what we anticipate the facts will be.

Q: And as they leave, the fear of the Serbs is that as they leave they're going to be, the ethnic minority population and will be retaliated against by the KLA.

Mr. Bacon: As I said, NATO is going there to set up a safe and secure environment and that means protecting all people from this. And we don't believe that there will be a need for fighting.

Q: Your 25 klick reference -- the exclusion zone -- is that for 100 percent of the Serbian forces? We're hearing talk there may only be a five klick exclusion zone for ground forces. What can you tell us about that?

Mr. Bacon: My believe is it's 25 for all, but I'll go back and check. I read the same agreement you read.

Q: Ken, what can you tell us -- do you have any details at all coming from the meeting that is going on that lasted five hours, and will go back I think into meeting. Can you tell us, are things going smoothly in those meetings and progressing?

Mr. Bacon: I have nothing to report about the meetings. As you accurately note, they're ongoing and it would be completely inappropriate to give any sort of report until they're completed.

Q: They're on a break, actually. They've gone out for an hour. Supposedly they were to go out for an hour and they haven't gone back, as we were coming in.

Mr. Bacon: So what?

Q: Do you expect that to be a minor glitch? In other words...

Mr. Bacon: They might have taken a lunch break or a dinner break. There's nothing nefarious about a break.

Q: Well, they took a break so they could cross the border to consult with Belgrade on a technical glitch.

Mr. Bacon: Well, you have meetings and you have consultations in the middle of meetings.

Q: What will the initial tasks of the enabling force and NATO -- will any of that revolve around seeking out suspected mass grave sites for the War Crimes Tribunal to help buttress its case against Milosevic?

Mr. Bacon: The War Crimes Tribunal will come in at the appropriate time and begin to gather evidence. They're skilled at that, they've been interviewing people in Macedonia and Albania along with human rights organizations, and I expect they will go about accumulating evidence as quickly as possible.

Q: NATO troops, though, won't necessarily be involved in helping secure sites or seeking out suspected sites? Or will they?

Mr. Bacon: We know of 11 sites so far through interviews and monitoring, etc. Obviously NATO -- NATO's main job is to be a force for stability. It's a military force that's going in to provide a secure, safe environment. That's what it will concentrate on doing. To the extent that it is able to assist in humanitarian, International War Crimes Tribunal and other cases, it will do that, but its main job is to provide a sense of security for Kosovo.

Q:...of the meeting is, they're going over maps. One question is whether in planning these precise routes that the troops have to take to leave, did you know in advance what bridges not to bomb? Did you leave some bridges intact for the withdrawal, and were they predetermined?

Mr. Bacon: I talked about that in considerable detail yesterday, and I had a much larger map here. I pointed out that there are basically three roads, three major routes that the Serb troops will be able to take from corners of Kosovo into Pristina and then out. So we have tried to preserve these major routes, mainly for refugees to travel on. But basically, the routes were one from Pristina to Pec, then into Albania. There was a route that went from Pristina down to Skopje in Macedonia. And there was a route that went basically from Pristina to Prizren down here and then out. Those routes were largely unattacked so that refugees could follow them out. They happen to be major roads.

Obviously, now they're major routes for the Serb forces to take out, and there are several major routes, one out this way, there's one out this way I believe, and then one down from Gajilane where the U.S. will be, out that way into Serbia.

Those have been hit in varying degrees, but we did take out many bridges and rail lines within Kosovo, but we concentrated on trying to cut the routes of communication on the way into Kosovo to prevent resupplying of both people and materiel such as fuel, ammo, etc. So we tried to cut off Kosovo to whatever extent possible, isolate it, and attack the military infrastructure within Kosovo.

There are a number of bridges that have been downed in Kosovo, and one of the tasks that the allied forces will face as they send in the peacekeeping force is which ones to rebuild and how quickly.

Q: On the question of the Serb minority there, for near on 11 weeks now NATO has talked about the horrors of ethnic cleansing and ethnic partitioning, and you're saying that...

Mr. Bacon: I think you're completely misunderstanding what I said. I said that many Serbs -- we are getting reports, and these reports have been in the press, that many Serbs may want to leave Kosovo after what's happened. Nobody's going to force them to leave Kosovo. NATO is going to protect everybody's rights to live in Kosovo. If people want to leave, they'll be allowed to leave. They will not be forced out the way the Serbs forced out Kosovar Albanians. They can stay if they want to stay.

We are getting reports that many will want to leave. If that's true, they can leave.

Q: Doesn't that -- whether it's being forced out by NATO or not, doesn't that amount to ethnic partitioning in reverse?

Mr. Bacon: I don't think so at all. I mean the free movement of people is something that all democracies stand for. If they want to stay there, they can stay there. In fact some may want to stay there. I've just said there have been press reports and others suggesting that many will want to leave. If that's true, they can leave.

Q: What is NATO's preference?

Mr. Bacon: NATO's preference is that people be able to live in harmony where they want to live.

Q: Do you plan to brief tomorrow given the fluidity of this situation?

Mr. Bacon: I do not.

Q: Will DDI be open tomorrow?

Mr. Bacon: Pardon?

Q: Will DDI be staffed tomorrow?

Mr. Bacon: I don't believe so, but you can always reach the duty officer.

Q: There's a report out of Kosovo that Serb military and paramilitary forces using the Trepca mining complex as crematorium to hide evidence of mass graves. Are you aware of that, have any knowledge of it?

Mr. Bacon: I'd have to go back and check. There have been a number of reports of where mass grave sites are. I don't have the list right here. There are certainly...

Q: Have they been using some facility as a crematorium to...

Mr. Bacon: There have been numerous reports that they have been using facilities as crematoria in the past. We will, of course, investigate all those reports. But there have been several reports throughout the last ten weeks of bodies being burned in former industrial sites in Kosovo.

Q: As part of the KFOR, you said you've estimated that 47,000 to 50,000 KFOR would be. Has NATO pretty much filled up that already? I mean NATO has said that it wanted to be at the core of the peacekeeping force. If KFOR winds up being almost 50,000 and it's virtually all NATO troops, then it will never be the core, it will be a virtual NATO peacekeeping force. In other words, have you had pledges for the 45,000 to 50,000 from NATO countries?

Mr. Bacon: 44,000 from NATO, 4,000 from non-NATO countries.

Q: Pledges?

Mr. Bacon: Yes.

Q: So essentially, if it is between -- if it winds up being between 45,000 to 50,000, it will be virtually all NATO, right?

Mr. Bacon: Right.

Q: What about Russian participation in that force?

Mr. Bacon: We hope there will be Russian participation. We'll talk to the Russians about the way to arrange that. We think that Russia has played a crucial role in getting the parties to where they are today through Mr. Chernamyrdin's intervention, and before that, Russia's participation in the contact group. But the exact details of their participation in the force have not been worked out yet.

Q: Have the details been worked out, though, that they would have to be under a unified command even if they're not really -- they would have to be under a unified command?

Mr. Bacon: Well, NATO has made it clear that we want a unified command structure.

Q:...NATO (unintelligible) of 6,000...

Q: 4,000.

Mr. Bacon: Sorry?

Q: You said 44,000 will be NATO troops and the remaining 6,000 will be non-NATO.

Mr. Bacon: Four thousand.

Q: Who are those countries by name?

Mr. Bacon: I don't have a list of those countries, but we can get it.

Q: Is Russia one of them?

Mr. Bacon: Charlie, we've been through this many times. The exact participation of Russia has not been worked out. The countries tend to be PFP countries -- Lithuania, countries like that that will participate. But I don't have a complete list. I don't believe this list includes Russia because Russia has not made a firm commitment to participate. We hope they will.

Q: Also, if I can just follow. Is there any kind of deal with the Yugoslav leader that he will be forgiven for his crimes that he has been indicted -- part of this deal that the peace agreement will be signed?

Mr. Bacon: There is absolutely no deal of that sort, and NATO does not have the authority to make such a deal and would not want to make such a deal even if it had the authority. He remains under indictment, and that indictment came from the International War Crimes Tribunal.

Q: Can you tell us anything about who will be doing what in the big picture about bringing the Kosovars back to Kosovo? As far as -- you said the Marines are a stabilizing force. Does that mean just monitoring the withdrawal? Then who is going to -- the landmine issue, who's going to take care of that? Are the Marines also going to be working on that?

Mr. Bacon: The Marines are the enabling force. They're the first U.S. force to go in. Ultimately, they will be replaced by a much larger Army force that will come largely from Germany.

I guess in the very simplest terms there will be a phased process, and the first is that the Serbs have to start their withdrawal and to withdraw a certain distance, clear out a certain area. Then as they withdraw, NATO will come in and fill in behind them. NATO troops will come in. Not just U.S. troops, but troops from other NATO countries as well.

As they come in, they of course will have several primary tasks. The first one is to make sure that the routes of entry are safe. That means demining, taking out booby traps, taking explosive charges away from bridges. This will be done by NATO troops, but there may be help from Serbs as well. After all, we assume they have maps of where the mines are, and we would anticipate that they would provide some help in that regard.

As the troops come in, they will first establish their own outposts, their headquarters, and decide where they're going to set up their camps. They would set up their protective arrangements and begin to build their own infrastructure.

Early on there will be, through non-government organizations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, some accounting done of the internally displaced people, their health, how hungry they are, their general status. And the UNHCR announced yesterday that they have a million humanitarian daily rations in the area, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and other places, and a number of trucks available to start transporting food into Kosovo to help the internally displaced people if they need this. So that will be the first set of tasks.

In addition, NATO will begin working with NGOs and other groups to begin to rebuild crucial infrastructure -- first the bridges and the roads and the transportation facilities needed to get people back. Then shelters where they can stay when they get back.

We've been working aggressively with people in the camps to try to stress that a certain amount of security has to be established before it's safe for them to go back, and there has to be a certain amount of work done on demining to make sure they can go back safely. So we would anticipate there will be some reasonable, but relatively short, delay before people start returning in order to make sure that the area is secure and stable for them to go back to. This happens to be also the types -- this corresponds completely with many of the desires being expressed by refugees themselves, that they want to make sure that Kosovo is stable and secure before they return home. They don't want a repeat of what happened last fall where many were driven from their homes, they came back, only to be the targets of Serb aggression once again. So they want to make sure that it's absolutely safe for them to return.

Q: Is the schedule for that simply to get them in before wintertime and they can live in camps before Kosovo is rebuilt? Is that the idea?

Mr. Bacon: We'll try to get back as many as possible before winter. I'm not positive that everybody will be able to get back before winter. It will depend a lot on the state of the facilities and how quickly they can rebuild.

I think it's worth pausing to make one point here. There are many differences between Kosovo and Bosnia. One of the fundamental differences is that there were UN workers in Bosnia almost throughout the entire conflict so we had an eyeball view, or the West had an eyeball view, and humanitarian workers had an eyeball view of what the needs were. We don't have that in Kosovo. We largely have been out of Kosovo. We've, of course, been able to fly Predators and others over and take pictures, but that's not the same as being on the ground and judging the quality of water supplies -- whether wells are still working, looking at how strong bridges may be in order to sustain traffic back. All of that will have to be done quickly as assessors go back in with the NATO troops to find out how bad the situation really is.

Q: You said yesterday you expected the bombing could stop as soon as the end of the weekend or the first part of next week. Is that still your estimate?

Mr. Bacon: It wasn't my estimate yesterday. What I said was that if the withdrawal begins, and the withdrawal could begin at any time, and if there is significant withdrawal, that there could be a decision to stop bombing in several days, conceivably by the end of the weekend.

We have seen no signs yet that Serb troops are moving, so we still have to wait for them to make a decision to turn their agreement into action. They haven't done that yet. So if they were to start moving out quickly and aggressively, I think a bombing pause could be voted on by NATO in a relatively short period, but nothing like that is going to happen as long as the Serbs refuse to move.

Q: One final one, if I could. You've probably said this before. How many sectors do you expect that Kosovo will be divided into? You assume that the Brits, the United States and the French will have a sector. Do you know yet approximately how many sectors there will be and who will be the honcho in each sector?

Mr. Bacon: I anticipate there will be five sectors, and they'll be run by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany.

Q: I have a couple of military questions along those lines. For surveillance of the withdrawal, you mentioned yesterday the O/A-10 and the Predator. Will the JSTARS airplane play a fairly crucial role in terms of monitoring moving targets and traffic in and out of the area?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know the answer to that. I assume it will play whatever role is appropriate.

Q: One other thing. In the last week -- you mentioned yesterday that the level of destruction increased greatly over the last week, the prior 60 days. Can you give us a sense of why the level of destruction increased as much as it did? Did the KLA's aggressive offensive have a lot to do with flushing out hunkered down Serb troops, making it easier for NATO to destroy?

Mr. Bacon: I think the primary reason was better weather.

Q: Better weather?

Mr. Bacon: That was the primary reason. I think another reason was that as the KLA became more aggressive they did flush out more Serb troops or force Serb troops to mobilize in response to the KLA attacks. That provided more targets for NATO to hit. But primarily it was better weather, in connection with the steady degradation of Serb air defenses. So it made it easier for us to fly and easier for us to spot targets and to hit the targets.

Q: Is it fair to say, if I'm a military historian, that a ground campaign of some kind helped bring this to a resolution? Maybe not a NATO ground invasion, but an aggressive KLA ground offensive in combination with air.

Mr. Bacon: If you're a military historian I think what you should say is that NATO's perseverance, clarity of purpose and willingness to apply steadily increasing force has brought us to where we are today. We hope it will be concluded successfully soon, but it hasn't yet. We won't know that until the Serbs withdraw.

Q: Thank you.

Q: No, may I just follow up with one clarification on Ann's question about the timing of the ending of the bombing. You had again, with lots of "ifs" said, "if" they withdraw, "if" it's verifiable, etc., etc. Then again you said it could be done by the end of the weekend. Even as it's now getting into the weekend, is it still possible, or does it look more likely, assuming all the ifs are taking place, it would be in the beginning of the week.

Mr. Bacon: Thelma, I tried not to make a prediction yesterday. I'm not going to make a prediction today. The first thing that has to happen is the Serbs have to start to withdraw. They have not started to do that yet. Depending on when they decide to withdraw, how quickly they withdraw and how convincingly they withdraw, NATO will make a decision. But it's impossible to pinpoint when that will be.

Press: Thank you.

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