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DoD News Briefing, Monday, June 7, 1999 - 2:00 p.m.

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
June 07, 1999 2:00 PM EDT

Related briefing slides

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. On time as always.

I've got two brief announcements before we get into the briefing here. The first is tomorrow, a very important day, June 8th. It's the first day of Acquisition and Logistics Reform Week. This event will be kicked off -- you should take this seriously. This is an important initiative, saving billions of dollars. The Chairman and the Secretary will make remarks tomorrow during an event in the central courtyard between 9:00 and 11:00, and there will be displays as well as speeches on the importance of acquisition and logistics reform and also the progress we're making to date on that.

Q: Will there be a media availability?

Mr. Bacon: Yes, you can go out there and cover the speech.

Q: Can I ask any questions?

Mr. Bacon: There will be questions on logistics and acquisition reform for you, Charlie.

Q: Right. (Laughter)

Mr. Bacon: We encourage you to go out there and talk about Defense Reform Initiative and other important topics like that. Dr. Gansler will be there and others, and they'll be able to give you detailed responses to all your questions.

Q: What time is the Secretary speaking?

Mr. Bacon: I think he's speaking at 9:00 tomorrow, but I'll get more precise information on that.

Second, there will be the 10th flight test of the THAAD tomorrow morning at White Sands Missile Test Range in New Mexico. This is the one that was supposed to have taken place on May 25th but was delayed. We have a briefing on that flight test tentatively scheduled for tomorrow in this room at 15:30. So we'll bring you up to date on that.

[Charts available at http://defenselink.mil/news/#SLIDES]

Let me just run through the latest charts here, and then I'll take your questions.

[Chart - Level of Effort - Day 74 & 75]

This covers the last two days. You can see that we hit 37 targets. Most of them were in Kosovo. Forces in the field, concentrated on artillery, armored personnel carriers, a few tanks, and hit also a command and control target there.

I should tell you that yesterday, in the last 24 hours, June 6th, there were a total of 445 sorties. Of those, 93 were strike sorties and they concentrated primarily on forces in the field, although we did hit some ammunition storage depots, some communications, and also an early warning radar.

So far today, already we've hit some artillery and some armored personnel carriers, mainly in this area along the Albanian border in Kosovo. The number of sorties is expected to be two to three times higher today, strike sorties, than it was yesterday.

The total number of sorties to date is 33,673, and we have hit more than 490 fixed targets and over 520 tactical targets -- that is targets on the ground during engagements in Kosovo -- since this began 76 days ago.

Q: (inaudible)

Mr. Bacon: General Wald is returning tomorrow. The weather today was very good. It was all green, and I thought it was so boring -- just a bunch of squares of green -- that I'd wait for him to come back and give you one of those wavy charts that he shows so well that shows how the green rises and falls over time all the way out to September.

Q: Ken, why was the level of air activity so low over the weekend? Was that weather, or it was adjustments because of political considerations?

Mr. Bacon: We were concentrating on hitting forces on the ground, in Kosovo, rather than fixed targets, although there were a few fixed targets outside of Kosovo. It's being increased.

There's an ebb and flow that happens fairly normally.

Q: Ken, the command and control target there, is that in Belgrade?

Mr. Bacon: It was not. Belgrade is higher up.

This was, I believe it's actually -- this one was what's called the Rudnik radio relay station.

Q: So you're not hitting any targets in Belgrade or Nis or elsewhere. How is that bringing pressure on the Serbs to do...

Mr. Bacon: Charlie, I think you've been sitting here now for ten weeks looking at the charts we've put up. As an astute observer, I think you've probably noticed that the targets differ from day to day. They're sometimes in Kosovo; sometimes they're below the 44th parallel; sometimes they're above; sometimes they're in Belgrade, Nis, whatever. And if you look at them over a period of time, I think you'll see a wide variety in our targeting, and I think you'll continue to see a wide variety in our targeting.

Q: We've all been sitting here for a long time, and I think everybody would agree that that's the fewest, according to charts, that's the fewest number of designated targets you've hit in the FRY in at least five weeks. Is there a reason for it?

Mr. Bacon: I would just stay tuned and look at the chart tomorrow and the day after and see how it changes.

Q: So you do plan to ratchet up...

Mr. Bacon: I said there will be more sorties today than yesterday.

Q: In the FRY itself?

Mr. Bacon: They'll be in various places, yeah. They'll be in various places throughout Yugoslavia as appropriate.

Q: Are we broadening our target set to more dual-use facilities in the FRY?

Mr. Bacon: I don't talk about targets in advance of hitting them, but I think you'll see, as you have in the past, that this map changes from day to day with the triangles in different places. So tomorrow, you can compare tomorrow's map with this map and see if there's any difference.

Q: Charlie was really trying to ask whether or not NATO, I believe, was trying to show some good will of some sort over the weekend by not bombing Belgrade.

Mr. Bacon: I understood what Charlie was trying to ask. I think that General Jackson said yesterday that the air campaign will intensify, and I anticipate that you'll see an intensification over the next few days.

Q: The U.S. aircraft that were ordered, then temporarily put on hold, are they back in the mix again heading over?

Mr. Bacon: No, they are not. They remain on hold, and if the CINC needs them, he can call them out, and they will be dispatched.

Q: Can you give us a rundown as to what went and what is on hold?

Mr. Bacon: I did that all yesterday, and I'd be glad to get you the information after the briefing.

Q: Yesterday was Sunday. You weren't here.

Mr. Bacon: Well, last week.

Q: Have the Yugoslavs continued to fire SAMs at our aircraft?

Mr. Bacon: Actually, there has been some opposition to the flights, but it seems to have declined a little over the last couple of days.

Q: Two questions. Number one, what message is NATO sending to the Serbs with this reintensification that you say we're going to start seeing tomorrow? And could you also bring us up to date on the latest on KLA fighting with the Serbs in Kosovo?

Mr. Bacon: Over the last couple of days, as I think I said on Friday and Saturday, we were concentrating primarily on forces on the ground in Kosovo. We have hit some targets outside of Kosovo, but we concentrated primarily on tanks, APCs, artillery involved in the fight in Kosovo.

I believe that in line with what General Jackson said, you will see an intensification of the campaign today and tomorrow and in the future.

In terms -- that answers the first question.

The second question has to do with the Kosovar Liberation Army and the level of activity between it and the Serb forces, either the Serb army or the Serb special police.

There is still fairly intense fighting in two particular areas. One is around Junik and the other is in the Mount Pastrik area. Both sides, the Serb side and the KLA side, have brought in reinforcements over the last couple of days. In the Junik area, which is sort of north up here, sort of in there, in the Junik area the KLA continues to hold territory as it has for a number of days, despite a fairly aggressive Serb counteroffensive. And in the Mount Pastrik area, the KLA also continues to hold some territory, although they have not been able to advance as much as they might have liked to have because the Serbs have brought in more reinforcements.

It's precisely these reinforcements that increase the number of targets available to NATO as it tries to continue its effort to degrade and diminish the Serb military and special police.

Q: What is the immediate objective of the Yugoslav military forces that are still fighting in Kosovo? Are they trying...

Mr. Bacon: First of all, we have seen no sign that any Serb forces are withdrawing from Kosovo. Second, their objective seems to be what it's been for the last number of months -- this predates March 24th when the NATO air campaign began -- that is, to drive out the Kosovar Liberation Army from Kosovo. That continues to be their goal, but they appear to be losing in that because the Kosovar Liberation Army is not only growing in size, but it seems to be growing in ferocity, in its ability to fight. That's why we have this level of fairly intense fighting going on in the two areas I just detailed.

Q: If I could just follow up, if the Yugoslav army doesn't appear to be preparing to withdraw and they're intensifying their fight against the Albanian rebels, what does that say about President Milosevic's intentions regarding this peace plan? Is this just a ploy? Is he just buying time?

Mr. Bacon: I think that remains to be seen. That's one of the reasons we've been so cautious about embracing this plan from the beginning. He has made a commitment to President Ahtisaari and to former Prime Minister Chernemyrdin, but he has yet to deliver on that commitment to turn his agreement into action. We are still waiting to see that. In the meantime, the NATO air campaign will continue.

Q: The KLA says that the Serbs are once again using chemical munitions, riot gas of some kind. Have you seen any evidence of that?

Mr. Bacon: We've seen reports that they have. They have used riot gas in the past. It's part of their standard operating procedures. There have been also reports, which we have not been able to confirm, that they've used blistering agents and other more serious gases than riot gas, but we have not been able to confirm those. Those are reports that have come through refugees.

Q: Do you know which areas they're using it? Is it all throughout or...

Mr. Bacon: I'm afraid I do not know.

Q: If your goal is to create a safe, secure environment for the return of the Kosovars, have you given any thought to expressing to the KLA that they withdraw from the territory so that the Serb withdrawal might proceed? To end these hostilities so the peacekeepers can move in?

Mr. Bacon: We have not at this stage, but as you know, our eventual goal is to demilitarize the KLA after the Serb forces pull out.

Q: Ken, what can you now share with us, of your knowledge of any particulars with regard to the negotiations? Specifically, where the talks may go, where they may be headed. Can you tell us anything?

Mr. Bacon: No. The talks are going on in Bonn now. It's not appropriate for me to talk about them. I'm not there. The Foreign Ministers of the G8 are hard at discussions. And I think it's appropriate for them to talk about where those discussions are going, not for me.

Q: The G8 is concentrating on the same issues that the two military groups were negotiating?

Mr. Bacon: They are concentrating on this broad issue, and I think it's appropriate for them to discuss the talks, not for me.

Q: Ken, did the refusal of the Yugoslav military to agree to the text yesterday indicate to the Pentagon that there's any kind of a split between the military and Milosevic's regime? Or are they simply following out delay tactics that Milosevic has orchestrated?

Mr. Bacon: I think it's premature to answer that question. We have to let a little more time go by. That, of course, is one of the issues that's being explored today in Bonn.

Q: Do you have any evidence that...

Q:...still heading towards Thessaloniki? And also, how does the fact that the Greek foreign minister has indicated no permission has been given for them to land or to transit Greece to get to Macedonia? In fact, planning.

Mr. Bacon: First of all, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is aboard its ships in the Aegean, near Thessaloniki. Today, a spokesman for the Greek government said that they would be allowed to offload and transit through Greece soon. We don't believe there will be any problem with meeting the time lines.

Q: How about the rest of KFOR? Is it still on the move, or is it on hold? What can you tell us about the movements...

Mr. Bacon: Well, they're in Macedonia today, about 15,000 allied soldiers who will comprise the first portion of KFOR. That's about one-third of the total group. They've been there some time. The Brits have said that they're deploying more troops to KFOR. I'm not sure they have arrived yet, but I assume they'll be arriving relatively soon.

Remember, NATO has not completed its work on the operations plan yet, and they still have to take some other actions, including the passage of an Activation Order for the peacekeeping force.

Q: To follow up, you and NATO both said you want to get the KFOR "in place quickly," quote/unquote, since there is no peace now. Do you still want to move them in quickly?

Mr. Bacon: Well, we want, we basically want "just in time" delivery. We want them to be there at the moment they can go into Kosovo, and I think that NATO will be able to meet that goal. We will be able to meet it with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Q: To follow up on that, are you going to go ahead and put the Marines ashore and let them go on up into Macedonia, and be ready? Or are they going to loiter offshore and wait?

Mr. Bacon: They can get from the decks of their ships to Kosovo in 96 hours or less. We believe that will be an adequate amount of time for them to be in place, where they need to be.

Q: Just another follow-up, I notice that some of the new phone numbers for Task Force Hawk had a Macedonia area code. Are there any plans to move any of those U.S. Army troops from Albania to Macedonia?

Mr. Bacon: There are no plans, but there has been discussion. The last I heard, about two hours ago, no decision had been made about whether elements of Task Force Hawk would participate in the enabling force or the U.S. part of the KFOR. But that clearly is under discussion right now, and a decision could come in the next couple of days.

Q: Another question on a different subject. Is there any evidence that the Yugoslav military forces are using this time between -- as they're talking about the conditions of implementing this peace agreement -- are they using that time to either cover up evidence of war crimes or to commit any more atrocities? Any evidence of that?

Mr. Bacon: Refugees coming out continue to report that they've been imprisoned or beaten. A group of refugees came out over the weekend. They had been in prison for awhile and reported that they had been beaten with iron rods, that they had been forced to yell things like "Down with Europe" or get beaten.

So we continue to get reports of brutal activity by the Serb forces. We have received some reports, and we may have more information on this soon, because we're looking into it, some reports of evidence to cover of, of efforts to cover up evidence of war crimes, but we're looking for more information on that.

Q: The KLA, the demilitarization as you put it, does that mean that they would disband? And whose responsibility will it be to ensure that this happens? Is this KFOR's mission?

Mr. Bacon: This is something that KFOR would certainly work with other parts of the international community to make happen.

Q: What will happen?

Mr. Bacon: I think that those details haven't been worked out yet, but it's always been the goal from the days we started talking about the Rambouillet Accord, which the Kosovar Albanians accepted, to demilitarize the KLA. The reason for that is pretty clear, that without a force to fight, without a Serb force to fight, there will be no need for an army such as the KLA. NATO's goal, summarized in the five conditions that we've talked about many times here and elsewhere, is to get all of the Serb forces out -- the army, the special police, and the paramilitary forces out. That's at the heart of the agreement that the Serb Parliament embraced last week, and it's certainly at the heart of NATO demands.

Q: Ken, you say that there's no signs of any Serbian troop withdrawal taking place in Kosovo. What about among the Serbian populace of Kosovo? Are they leaving? Do they seem to be staying for the moment?

Mr. Bacon: I've read news reports that say some are leaving, are preparing to leave or will leave when the Serb security forces go, but I haven't seen any other reports than news accounts on that.

Q: Ken, the F-15s are still on hold?

Mr. Bacon: Yes, they are.

Q: Will Yugoslavia suffer much greater damage in the days ahead if they don't implement this peace plan soon?

Mr. Bacon: Time will tell.

Dana?

Q: I want to follow up on the KLA question. Since they're not a party to the peace accord and it doesn't go as far as Rambouillet in guaranteeing any provisions three years out, (inaudible) independent (inaudible), a lot of people are saying there are significant elements in the KLA who may not want to accept the terms of this, the demilitarization being the primary one.

Is the U.S. or any other body right now carrying on some sort of dialogue with the KLA to convince them that they are going to abide by this as well? And if so, can you [comment] on that?

Mr. Bacon: I cannot, because I am not aware that there is such a dialogue right now. I mean we, obviously, we do talk with Kosovar Albanians. Secretary Albright is going to meet with Kosovar Albanians on this trip. Mr. Thaci was in NATO a couple of weeks ago and met with Ambassador Vershbow and others assigned to NATO. So there is contact with the Kosovar Albanian political leaders, and that contact will continue.

But the central point we've been making publicly here and in our dealings with Kosovar Albanian leaders is that NATO's goal is to get the Serbs out and to get NATO in so the refugees can come back. This is exactly what the Kosovar Albanians want. As part of an overriding effort to create a safe and secure environment, we think there should be a demilitarization of the entire area. Ultimately, the NATO forces, the KFOR forces, will be replaced by an indigenous police force that will have to be organized and trained over time. We will work through the OSCE and other international organizations to make that happen.

Q: Can you give us, then, an assessment of how those talks, or however you want to characterize it with them, have gone? Do you think that they are, the leadership is going to comply with demilitarization requests in the document? Or do you see already significant problems with that?

Mr. Bacon: I don't see significant problems at this time because, of course, they have no reason to contemplate demilitarization as long as they are engaged in conflict with Serb forces in Kosovo. When the Serb forces get out, I think this dialogue can start in earnest.

Q: Ken, we raised this last week, but apparently it's been coming up again. One of the Yugoslav objections to the timetables that we put down, or one of their demands anyway, is some kind of an assurance that NATO will prevent the KLA from attacking their retreating columns. Is there any way we can actually do this? Are we using any kind of persuasion or pressure on the KLA to promise not to attack retreating columns?

Mr. Bacon: This did come up last week, and I really don't have anything to add to what I said last week. But basically, it is in the interest of the KLA to let the Serbs get out as quickly as possible. It is not in their interest to slow down their exit. I anticipate that once the Serbs begin to deliver on their agreement to leave, that they will leave as quickly as possible, and that the KLA will be doing everything it can to help them get out, not to impede their exit.

Q: Ken, last week you described, I think, what you called a mutual exclusion zone that would have to be in place around the borders of Kosovo. That, apparently, is one of the things the Yugoslav military objected to.

Can you just explain again what the purpose of that zone is and exactly what the provisions are? Does it apply both to troops and equipment, or are there different ranges for troops? Can you just clarify that for us?

Mr. Bacon: The agreement calls for a mutual security zone of 25 kilometers around Kosovo, and that really has two purposes. The first purpose is to keep the air defenses, particularly surface-to-air missiles, a good distance away from the border of Kosovo so that NATO planes will be able to patrol right along the border with as little threat as possible. Obviously, having air defenses 25 or more kilometers away is a lot safer than having them right on the border.

Second, it would remove troops from the immediate border area, Serb troops from the immediate border area, to reduce the possibility or temptation of nipping across the border for mischievous and destructive purposes. That's the purpose of the mutual security zone. It will allow easier enforcement of the removal of Serb troops.

Q: Is that something that was in the original text that was worked out between Russia, Finland and the United States? Or is this something that NATO added as an implementation provision after the fact?

Mr. Bacon: No, I believe it was in the initial agreement that was released last week.

Q: One other clarification, does the 15 miles or 25 kilometers apply equally to troops and air defenses, or is there one distance for troops and another distance for air defense or something?

Mr. Bacon: There is a footnote in the agreement that was released last week. This has all been printed on the wires, so I refer you to it. But it says "pulling out of weapons, of air defense from the zone of mutual security of 25 kilometers within 48 hours." I believe the zone applies to ground troops as well.

Q: Ken, what about the humanitarian drops? Can you tell us, did they take place today as scheduled? Two planes. One, how many went down? Do you feel or does anybody feel that those rations are reaching the refugees who need them?

Mr. Bacon: Two planes were involved, and you used the term "went down." Neither "went down" in the traditional sense of talking about planes. They flew successfully. They did not encounter any hostile fire, as I understand it.

[Chart - Operation SUSTAIN HOPE - Last 24 Hours]

You should best go to the International Rescue Committee for information about this, but as you can see on this chart right here, they dropped a total of 4,500 humanitarian daily rations today. This brings to 7,000 the number of humanitarian daily rations dropped since the end of last week. They plan additional missions tomorrow and Wednesday.

So this effort by the International Rescue Committee continues. They're using two planes flown by Moldovan crews, as I understand it. As you know, these are marked in a very distinctive and curious way with zebra stripes on the bottom, so they're recognizable as humanitarian planes.

You can see the latest progress here, 768 refugees in total have departed from Fort Dix; 67 more expected to go today. We hope to have the Albanian refugees out of Fort Dix and placed elsewhere by the end of July.

In addition, there's another track, as you know, another set of refugees are coming into JFK, and they are being placed directly with families around the country.

Q: A second part of my question. Do we have any assurance that the HDRs are reaching the people who need them?

Mr. Bacon: Of course, we don't have observers on the ground, so it's hard for us to answer that. Maybe the IRC has some information, but I don't have any information on...

Q: Ken, the people that are wanting to come out, the refugees, have the borders been open and the Serbs then allowed them out? Or what's the status over the weekend?

Mr. Bacon: Refugees are continuing to come across in various size groups. I don't have a rundown of what's happened in the last couple of days, but the refugees continue to come down.

Q: They're still coming out.

Mr. Bacon: They still are coming out.

Q: I understand there's starvation in the mountains. Do you have any reports on how bad it is for those, the rations the HRCs (sic) [HDRs] are intended for?

Mr. Bacon: We have reports that people are hungry. We don't have reports of grinding starvation at this stage. Obviously, the longer they stay in the hills, the more desperate their situation will get, which is one of the reasons the IRC is dropping these rations.

Q: Ken, do you have any indication of when the military-to-military talks will resume? There was an official in Belgrade quoted as saying they resumed about an hour and a half...

Mr. Bacon: I do not. There has been continuing contact along the border, but I can't tell you for sure when they'll resume.

Q: Ken, given the events of the last couple of days, does it raise concern for the Pentagon about the peacekeeping forces and some of the obstacles they may face, given that clearly some of the Yugoslav forces are excited about leaving Kosovo?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not sure whether they're excited about leaving Kosovo or not. Some have been deserting and leaving Kosovo on their own, so presumably they're glad to go. We'll have to see what happens. But my assumption is when the Yugoslavs decide to live up to the agreement that they've made with President Ahtisaari and Mr. Chernomyrdin, that they will leave, and they will do it in a very [expeditious] way.

Q: But couldn't that change? There are, certainly, concerns as far as the composition of the peacekeeping forces, and maybe saying having more combat troops and less engineers, at least initially, as far as the forces that are going into Kosovo?

Mr. Bacon: I think that we've always realized that this is going to be a tough mission, that it was a dangerous and uncertain environment, and we had to be prepared with combat-heavy troops to deal with it.

The engineers are important. Some of them will be involved in de-mining. Some will be involved in bridge-building, which, of course, is necessary to help the troops get into Kosovo. So General Clark and his advisors will obviously balance the force as appropriate, and that's still going on within NATO, but I think they feel they've got pretty much the right balance.

Q: Ken, it's often been speculated that the Russians would send some sort of a military contingent to help with the peacekeeping operation as they did in Bosnia. There are reports coming out now from Moscow that the Russians are also making noises that they don't have the money; they don't have enough troops. Are we going to end up by paying for any Russian contingent? Feeding them and their salaries? And are we doing that in Bosnia?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that we are doing that in Bosnia, no. I think they're being paid through the Russians in Bosnia, and I'm not aware that there have been any discussions about doing that in Kosovo. We do hope the Russians will participate, but the exact details of that participation have not been worked out yet.

Q: Last week you were, when asked, you said that if Yugoslavia complied immediately, there could be a pause in the bombing in as little as a couple of days. There was a condition, a cautious response, but nevertheless, it seemed to convey some optimism that the war might be ending.

How does it look today, now that we've passed through the weekend?

Mr. Bacon: As you accurately point out, it was a conditioned and cautious response, and I would give a similarly conditioned and cautious response. I think we predicted there could be delays. We predicted that the agreement was not cause for euphoria and an assumption that everything was going to be smooth from now on. And that turned out to be the case.

I think that there are discussions underway. Just as there was reason not to be wildly optimistic on Friday, there are reasons not to be wildly pessimistic today. This is a process. NATO has hung in here for ten and a half weeks; we're prepared to hang in as long as necessary. I think the Serbs realize that. Time is on our side. Time is against them. They're the people who are, they're the military structure that is being struck, and I assume that they will see the wisdom of meeting the conditions, getting their troops out of harm's way, and allowing NATO to come in and help to resettle these refugees. But it may take some time.

We've always said that. We're prepared to work in any reasonable way to achieve NATO's five conditions that we think will lead to stability in Kosovo.

Q: Do you have any evidence that the Serbs have used the last three or four days to in any way cover up or destroy evidence of war crimes, mass killing, that sort of thing?

Mr. Bacon: I was asked that earlier. We have received some reports from refugees that this is happening. We are now trying to verify those reports through whatever methods we can. Obviously, if we get verification, we would pass it on to the War Crimes Tribunal, and then at the appropriate time make it public. But right now, we do have some refugee reports, and we're trying to confirm those.

Q: May I ask that it's happening in what timeframe? In the last few days?

Mr. Bacon: That it has been happening over the last few weeks.

Q: Ken, on the question of intensifying the airstrikes, you mentioned there were 93 combat sorties yesterday, possibly two to three times that over the next couple of days. Will the KLA offensive against the Serb army, will that assist NATO in terms of flushing out more targets for A-10s and other airplanes to attack on the ground?

Mr. Bacon: This is another back-door way to ask the question, "are we coordinating with the KLA?" We are not coordinating with the KLA.

To the extent that the KLA activities flush out Serb troops and force them out of hiding and into active combat positions, it, obviously, gives more targets to the A-10s and the other allied planes that are working to diminish and degrade the Serb military forces. So that's what's been happening over the last several weeks, and to the extent that they come out to fight, that will continue to happen.

Q: Is it fair to say that the greatest amount of destruction of Serb forces on the ground have occurred over the last couple of weeks? To coincide with these KLA offensives, and pulling out of the Serb troops?

Mr. Bacon: I think there are four reasons that the destruction has increased fairly dramatically over the last couple of weeks. I would say this started in probably the second or third week of May. It's been going on quite steadily since then.

The first is the continued degradation of the Serb air defense system, which makes it easier for NATO planes to fly.

The second is better weather.

The third is greater concentration of NATO assets over Kosovo. We have planes flying really around Kosovo, and sometimes over Kosovo, almost 24 hours a day now, day and night, ready to come in and attack targets that they acquire, or could be acquired through the Predator or through other surveillance techniques. So we are on station ready to be on target very quickly.

Finally is the fact that the increased activity by the KLA has forced out more Serb troops and provided more targets for us to hit.

But I think you have to look at those four things in combination.

Q:...from targets, from sensor to shooter, it sounds like (inaudible) with the Predator...

Mr. Bacon: We do. And we've worked very hard on that. General Wald has talked about that.

He is coming back from the theater today. He spent time in Aviano, time in the CAOC. I talked to him Saturday. He was with Admiral Copeland on the THEODORE ROOSEVELT. He will have a very detailed, first-hand account for you on exactly how some of this intelligence transmission is taking place.

Q: Two things. Can you clarify for us the situation with the Greeks and the Marines? My understanding was that there was permission for the Marines to come ashore; that permission was revoked, and the Marines are still aboard the ships, and they have not yet gotten permission to go ashore.

A second question, the Greek objections, are they only to the Marines, or are they to NATO cargoes in general?

Mr. Bacon: Without speaking for the Greek government, let me say that we anticipate that the Marines will be able to get off their ships, land in the port, move through Greece into Macedonia and into Kosovo to be in place on time. And today a Greek government spokesman said he anticipated that they would be able to land soon and move through Greece to their posts.

So I think you can put those two things together and assume that at the required time these Marines will be able to go off their ships and go where they have to go.

Remember, the whole process has been slowed down somewhat from what could have been optimal. If the Serbs really wanted to end the airstrikes, they could have started the withdrawal. That's what's required to end the airstrike. The triggering episode is for them to start a verifiable, demonstrable withdrawal, and they have yet to do that. Once they start doing that, that will then set in motion a series of events that will lead to NATO forces moving into Kosovo as quickly as possible after the retreating Serb forces.

Press: Thank you.

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