DoD News Briefing, Saturday, June 12, 1999 - 12:05 p.m.
(Also participating in this briefing was General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman, JCS)
Related briefing slides
Secretary Cohen: Good afternoon.
NATO troops protected and supported by U.S. helicopters are moving into Kosovo to bring hope and calm to an area that has been tortured by hatred and killing. The NATO plan always called for British, French, and German forces to move first with U.S. support, followed by the American Marines and soldiers to establish a presence in the U.S. sector. General Shelton in a few moments is going to describe this flow of forces.
From the beginning of NATO's action to end the atrocities in Kosovo, the alliance made it clear that it was fighting to protect fundamental values. These values include ethnic tolerance, religious freedom, and the right to live in peace.
NATO's air campaign succeeded because its goals were correct, its military was extremely competent, and its command very clear. These same qualities will guide us to success as the NATO and non-NATO countries in KFOR continue to operate.
The NATO peacekeeping force is deploying to create a safe and secure environment so the refugees can return when the conditions are right. That's why we're working so hard to work out an arrangement, formulate an arrangement that will enable Russian forces to operate with KFOR in a unified command structure.
The package of peace documents that includes the United Nations Security Council Resolution and the Military Technical Agreement between NATO and the Yugoslav military leaders makes it clear there must be a unified command structure. Russia played an important role in negotiating the peace, and we hope it now will work to enforce that peace.
The U.S. and NATO and Russians all understand that we have to work together to create a secure Europe and a safer world.
There have been some confusing statements and actions from Russia in the last 24 hours, but NATO's determination is clear. We welcome the participation by any country in KFOR as long as they accept the principles of command that will make the peacekeeping force effective.
As NATO deploys, we are continuing to work with the Russians in Moscow and at the military-to-military level in Macedonia where a member of the Joint Staff is meeting with Russian counterparts. The creation of peace in Kosovo is a great opportunity to help stabilize and to rebuild a part of Europe that's long been afflicted by conflict. It's also an important opportunity for NATO and Russia to continue working together in the pursuit of peace, but the military arrangements must be clear.
Q: Can you clarify the Russian's (inaudible) force, Mr. Secretary, before we do that? Was it a mistake? Are they going to stay there? What's going to happen?
Secretary Cohen: It's unclear exactly whether it was a mistake or not. It certainly was a precipitous action leading to some confusion. It was surprising to the foreign minister who had indicated privately to Secretary Albright and others that there would be no action taken going into Pristina last evening, so I think he was somewhat surprised, and because of the confusion, I think it's a situation where they were anxious to participate, [and] they moved into the region, Pristina. It's not a militarily significant force. They are now making preparations to cooperate with KFOR, that has moved in since that time, and we expect to be able to work it out during the course of...
Q: They're not leaving, as far as you know.
Secretary Cohen: Well, it's to be determined where they will go ultimately. That's part of the reason that the military-to-military contacts are taking place right now in Macedonia and why Secretary Talbott is working with his counterparts in Moscow.
Q: Secretary Cohen, who was anxious to participate? Do you believe this was at lower levels, or commanders? There are also stories coming out of Moscow that Boris Yeltsin left it up to his military to decide when to go in. Who do you think is responsible for this? If there is indeed a mistake, whose mistake?
Secretary Cohen: I think what's clear is that they want to participate, and a good sign of that is the fact that they painted "KFOR" on the vehicles as they came in. That's a very positive sign that they want to be a part of KFOR in terms of enforcing this peace. So whether it's at the lower level or higher levels, President Yeltsin has indicated that he wanted to send a signal to his military that they would work out the details as far as how they would operate, but it's clear that they would like to participate; they're anxious to participate.
President Clinton has indicated time and again we would welcome Russian participation as we do in Bosnia, but we have to also make it clear there has to be a unified command structure, so that's the reason for the negotiations or the discussions right now.
Q: Would you call this a publicity stunt?
Q: So Boris Yeltsin did send a signal to the military saying, "whenever you want to go in," that's your understanding?
Secretary Cohen: All I can judge by is his public statements that he authorized the military to move when it was, in their judgment, the right time to move.
Q: This isn't disturbing to you at all?
Secretary Cohen: Well, I said it was surprising. It's not disturbing in the sense that he would ask the military to make the judgment in terms of when it was advisable to move in consistent with the peacekeeping mission. After all, we ask our military advisers to make the same kind of judgment in terms of when to move the forces in under what circumstances. So that in itself is not disturbing. I think the only question comes in terms of the representations made by Foreign Secretary Ivanov; in terms of his understanding, there would be no movement in last evening, and then that was somewhat confusing in the sense that they did move in. That is now being worked out.
We, again, looked at it very carefully last night. We saw that it was a fairly small force. We knew that it was militarily insignificant. We also knew that our forces were going in, as they are today, the NATO forces, and so we expect that will be in fact worked out as General Clark has indicated. These are the same forces that are in Bosnia serving side-by-side with the Americans. We have dealt with them for some time now, so we think the arrangements can be worked out. It will take some time, and that's what they're doing today.
Q: You said you're certain the arrangements will be worked out, but yesterday the Administration was certain the troops wouldn't go in. Why are you at all more confident today than you were yesterday that...
Secretary Cohen: Everyone recognizes there was some anticipation on the part of the Russians [being] eager to participate. I think they understand that by sending 150, 200 troops into Pristina, it was not going to alter in any way or impede NATO's peacekeeping force. So we think it's going to be worked out. It was something that was somewhat confusing in terms of the public or the private assurances being given to us at the time when this action was taken. But whether it's a mistake on the part of the lower level commanders, or higher levels, we can't say at this point, but we are satisfied that we are in Kosovo now. We are moving consistent with our plan. The Chairman's going to give you the flow of that plan, what we anticipated. Everything is working according to our plan.
They are, for the most part, I would say, in virtually all aspects, are cooperating. There's still some question about their participation as far as the mine removal, but absent that one category--and that seems to be minor in nature at this point--they are fully cooperating consistent with the flow charts and their obligation to remove their forces. So we're satisfied that is proceeding as planned.
Q: Does this turmoil send mixed signals to the Serbs? Who are they supposed to think is in charge at this point?
Secretary Cohen: The Serbs understand who's going to be in charge. The Serbs understand that they signed up to a peace agreement. They accepted the Military Technical Agreement. It had a U.N. Security Council Resolution which spells out exactly that it's going to be an international peacekeeping force with a substantial contribution on the part of NATO, and reference, incorporation by reference, that means NATO at the core. They also know that Russia is going to participate, hopefully will participate, and will participate in a way that maintains that unified command structure. So there should be no confusion in terms of whether or not there's going to be a peacekeeping force. That's something they've signed up to.
Q:...say this is a publicity stunt?
Q: Could you illuminate a little bit on the discussions in Macedonia? The discussions in Moscow have revolved around the same points for days. The American position on this, publicly and privately, has been fairly consistent.
What's going to change here? Is the military essentially taking over the negotiations in Macedonia? And what's the proposal now?
Secretary Cohen: I don't want to preclude the negotiators or those who are participating in this. I think they will work out an acceptable arrangement whereby we can have our strict requirements met, namely that we have a unified command structure, that there is no separate sector as such that is only Russian as had been requested, that there must be NATO forces throughout the region, in every sector, and that we have a unified command. So those have been very consistent on our part. We think we can work out an arrangement that will still satisfy the Russians in terms of their participation, and there is a lot of effort being undertaken right now--last evening, it may continue for more hours--but we're satisfied with the progress being made that it will eventually be worked out.
Q: In terms of the broad strokes, what can you offer the Russians to satisfy them?
Secretary Cohen: Well, I'd rather leave it up to Deputy Secretary Talbott to be working those issues with his counterparts.
Q: Do you consider it a publicity stunt, a publicity move on the part of the Russians to get the glory?
Secretary Cohen: I don't know what the motivation was. It may have been simply over-anxiousness on the part of military commanders; it may have been some confusion in terms of what the direction was. I think that's up to them to decide.
There's no particular glory in arriving in Pristina with 200 troops to say that we're here first. That's not the essence of what this peacekeeping mission is all about. We would like for them to participate, and whether they arrive a few hours earlier or later, it really is not a significant factor.
Q: Was it an attempt to stick a finger in NATO's eye and say, "we're here, and there's not much you can do about it?"
Secretary Cohen: As a matter of fact, NATO is there, and NATO will be there in numbers of 50,000. So we intend to continue our plan. We expect that they will want to participate. They have participated in Bosnia. We hope they will participate here. But it must be under conditions which maintain effective military control.
Q: I'd like to know more about the problem of the mines, too. I don't know whether you want to do that with General Shelton, but you said there was a problem that they weren't living up to their commitment on getting...
Secretary Cohen: They are required to assist in removing mines. To the extent that they have maps and locations of mines, they are to assist in that. They are doing that.
There has been some evidence that perhaps along some of the borders where there have been intensive conflicts with the UCK, that there may still be some there that haven't been removed and they haven't fully addressed those yet. But for the most part, I would say everything that I have seen shows that they are moving out smartly. They intend to move their forces along the timelines that have been specified. So we think, overall, it's been demonstrated they intend to fully comply.
Q: Mr. Secretary, who's in charge of the...
Q: You have...
Secretary Cohen: Barbara, then...
Q: Thank you. Does this cause you to rethink fundamental assumptions about what the U.S. has believed about Russian command and control of its own military forces? In other words, is this a one-time incident of confusion? Or do we now have to go back and take a fresh look at what we've always believed about Moscow's political control of their military?
Secretary Cohen: I wouldn't really want to make any judgment on that. We'll look at this particular situation, accept it for what it has been said that it is. They were anxious to demonstrate they want to be a part of this. They want to play a part in the peacekeeping role. Whether or not it was a result of confusion as far as the command was concerned, that remains to be determined.
Again, we looked at it very closely last evening. We saw that it was not of any significance militarily, and took action accordingly. We're there now. They are there in smaller numbers. We have a fairly significant force in Pristina right now. So it's not something that we intend to focus on other than to say we need to have clear lines of command.
One of the reasons that we want to make sure that everybody understands what is involved is that whenever you have multinational participation, military participation in a country, that there must be a clear understanding of who is in charge and what those lines of command are. So that's why we have worked so diligently on the Military Technical Agreement. When you were asking questions why is it taking so long, we wanted to make sure there was no confusion about that. There appears to be no confusion on the part of the Serbs in terms of what they need to do. They are complying with that.
With respect to the Russians hav[ing] not been actively engaged in those particular negotiations, and so they've had maybe some confusion arising out of that, I wouldn't impart or import too much to that.
Secretary Cohen: I wouldn't. I would take it for what it is and say that we understand that there may have been some confusion along these lines, but we intend to continue to work with them to make sure that we reduce that possibility in the future.
Q: Do you want Russian troops out of the airport of Pristina?
Secretary Cohen: We want to make sure that we have our plan carried out as far as the zones that we have agreed upon. The Chairman's going to talk about those in a few moments.
Q: Yes, I wanted to know how is in control of the airfield in Pristina, and when General Sir Mike Jackson is going to arrive?
Secretary Cohen: I think the Chairman is going to address that in just a moment.
Q: Mr. Secretary, a question on the other part of the world. Are you worried about India and Pakistan conflict? And also maybe General Shelton will also later on answer as a military man, but as Defense Secretary, six bodies of Indian soldiers were returned. Their eyes were taken out. Their noses were cut off, ears, and all the parts of the body were cut off when they were handed over. As the Defense Secretary, and international human rights, and POWs or whatever you call, so the talks are not going the way it should because I think, according to report in Pakistan, the Pakistan military is in charge, not the [Sharif government] and they want to have a war with India.
Secretary Cohen: A short answer to that question is "yes." Of course, we're concerned about what's taking place between India and Pakistan. We're encouraging both countries to try to reduce tensions now that both have demonstrated that they intend to pursue their nuclear development against our, certainly our strong advice and efforts to persuade them not to do so. That raises the level of danger to a much higher degree.
So we hope that reason will prevail there, [and] they will find a way to reduce the rhetoric and the tensions and the conflict so that it doesn't escalate out of control and possibly involve an exchange of military weaponry.
So the answer is we're concerned about it. We watch it. We will try to use our best efforts to encourage them to stand down, as such, from intensifying and increasing these tensions.
Q: Just to follow up, Pakistan Foreign Minister, rather than coming to the U.S. a lot of times, one time they used to go to Washington before going anywhere else. Now they are going--he went to China before going to India. So they are saying that China will be behind or helping or supporting Pakistan if there is a war between India and Pakistan. Where will be Washington's position or the U.S.-- Where the U.S. will side?
Secretary Cohen: I think that's an issue that really should be properly addressed to the Secretary of State and to others who deal with the diplomatic initiatives that are undertaken by the Pakistanis and the Chinese -- not from me.
Q: You are worried about China's, the future military of China. Because the U.S. has only (unintelligible), when China says that the U.S. is our enemy. So you should be worried about the future, and only India you can rely on who can be helpful to the U.S. as far as confrontation with China in the future.
Secretary Cohen: I really don't think today is the day for me to get into a discussion in terms of whether China thinks the United States is its enemy. We're working very closely at a variety of levels to persuade China that we have long-term and longstanding interests that we need to pursue.
There have been increasing tensions with the Chinese as a result of a series of things that have taken place, but I think that we should not come to the conclusion that somehow we are enemies. We're working to create a more stable world, and we'll do so on the basis that we seek ways to cooperate when we can, and certainly challenge policies when we find them to be in conflict with our own goals. But we don't treat China as an enemy.
Q: Mr. Secretary, just one [more] quick [one] on "the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming." If they choose not to participate, will that undermine the whole peacekeeping operation?
Secretary Cohen: The answer to that is "no." As I've indicated on a number of occasions, we would hope that the Russians would participate as an important signal and symbol. They did play an important role as far as bringing about this negotiation and getting Milosevic to accept the conditions laid down by NATO and with President Ahtisaari. I think it's important that they participate, but that's a choice they will have to make.
They've indicated they do want to participate. We want to make sure it can be done in a way that's militarily sound and effective.
Mr. Chairman? Let's let the Chairman talk.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/#SLIDES]
General Shelton: Let me review for just a minute the plan of withdrawal that was worked out with the Serbs, and review where we are.
[Chart-Serb Forces Withdrawal Timetable]
First of all, Zone Three up in this area was the initial area that they had to start withdrawing from and provide demonstrable evidence that they were pulling out. They did that, and of course as a result of that, the bombing was suspended.
The next area was in Zone One, which is adjacent to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and over around Albania, up in this area. They had to complete that withdrawal by the 15th of June. They are currently, it appears at this time, on schedule. Large amounts of equipment, large amounts of troops that are moving out of this area.
The next one, of course, will be expanding it into the Zone Two area, which they must complete by the 18th of June. And finally, by the 20th of June, complete Zone Three, all the forces out of there. That was the plan. Right now that appears to be on track and without exception.
[Chart-Kosovo Sector Responsibilities]
In terms of the NATO plan of going into and occupying the NATO sectors that have been assigned, as you may recall when we talked the other day, up in this area you have the French, the United Kingdom occupying the Pristina area in this zone, the United States sector running in Sector Four around in this area, the Germans down in this area, and the Italians out in the western sector around Pec.
There are three areas for going in, three routes for going in. First is Route Rat, which would come out of the Skopje area and head up in through the Zone Four sector. This would be led by the French forces, which have started moving as of today, and then they would be followed by the Americans, which would be dropping off in this sector after the French have passed through en route to their sector.
This morning, as you're aware, the British also started moving along Route Hawk, U.K. forces now, the lead elements having closed in Pristina and the Pristina airfield area. They have linked up with the Russian troops that were there. That's been a cordial meeting. That's going very well, and they are continuing to close. By nightfall there will probably be about 800 or so troops in this area, predominantly some of their parachute regiments along with one of their armored brigades that will have closed.
Then over in the Albanian area, coming out of Albania and up through along Route Duck, would be the German forces moving into their area.
As the U.S. start moving tomorrow, we will be moving in along this route, or moving up into Sector Four, of course, with elements of Task Force Hawk, some elements of the 82nd Airborne Division, the mech and armor forces, along with the Marines, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, that will move in and occupy the American sector in this area.
Ultimately, that enabling force or that initial force of about 4,000 will be replaced with the force, Task Force Falcon, the lead elements of which are already in country and are moving up into this area. But they will be joined by four infantry battalions -- three heavy, one light, an artillery battalion, two engineer battalions, a military police battalion, and an aviation task force along with the associated combat support and combat service support or logistics-type troops to move into this sector.
Q: Are you still saying 30 to 45 days for that main force, General?
General Shelton: For Task Force Falcon, yes.
Q:...the 1st Infantry...
General Shelton: The 1st Infantry out of Germany, yes.
Q: General, we saw some U.S. forces go across in HMMWVs this morning into Kosovo. Is that part--which route were they on, and what are they part of? What are they doing?
General Shelton: They were moving along with the British forces. General Craddock and the British force moving with them, 82nd Airborne Division troops that are moving as a part of the initial element, tied in with the British to go up into the American sector--the initial assessment--and started to look at the terrain and getting set for receipt of the other forces, which will start moving in in some numbers tomorrow.
Q: So Craddock's already there?
General Shelton: Yes. He is up inside of Kosovo itself.
Q: General Shelton, you said the meeting between the British and the Russians in Pristina was cordial. Who's in charge?
General Shelton: In charge at Pristina itself?
General Shelton: They are working through the details. They have made the coordination. They are in their various sectors right now. I'm told that the Russian troops are in the edge of the wood line along the airfield area. Our troops have moved up into the area. The British regimental commander, as far as I know, the British individual in charge of the British forces is right now in charge of the NATO forces in that area.
Q: And the Russians are just off on their own.
General Shelton: They're there.
Q: How does that work? How does that eventually work itself out? And what potential problems do you see there until it's settled?
General Shelton: Any time you bring forces together, whether it's NATO forces from different countries that are working together in an operation, or whether it's a situation as this, there's always a lot of coordination that needs to take place before you have a convergence of forces.
It would have been easier, and a simpler operation, had this taken place before they moved in, but now that we've established link-up--which is always the most difficult time in bringing forces together on the battlefield--once they've linked up [and] they've shaken hands, each force knows who the leader of the other side is, who he can coordinate with [and] they'll simply exist in that area while we continue to work out the details, the final disposition of their forces, as a part of the ongoing discussions in Skopje and in Moscow.
Q: General Shelton, did yesterday's events, or even today's, have any impact on whether or not the NATO forces entering Kosovo were ever any closer to the withdrawing Serb forces? How has this impacted the timetable for these forces to move ahead while we move in behind?
General Shelton: It's a good question. The reason I showed you the withdrawal schedule [is that] we want to make sure that their forces have--the preponderance of their forces have pulled out of the area, but we must be coming in almost as their last forces are coming out. We're coming in so that we don't create a void between the two forces. That, of course, is being worked out by General Jackson. He's in contact with his Serb counterparts, and he is coordinating the movement of NATO in as the Serbs are withdrawing.
Q: What's your assessment of how that's played out the last 24 hours?
General Shelton: It seems to have played out very well. There have been--to my knowledge as of right now, there have not been any glitches with the Serbs.
Q: That void did not exist?
General Shelton: Not to my knowledge.
Q: General Shelton, why is it that the Marines are not going in today? Why waiting until tomorrow?
General Shelton: It's been a part of NATO's plan all along that the way in which we would flow them in--as you notice, the French are going to pass through the U.S. sector en route to their sector in the north. They will be followed then by the U.S., the Marines, and the rest of Task Force Hawk coming up behind them. And again, they will drop off in this sector. But it's much easier than trying to put the U.S. in first and then have the French do a "passage of lines," so to speak. There you get back into coordination and make sure that you deconflict. You have routes established, points of contact, passage points set up. Very difficult operation. So this is the simple way to do it, and it works well. It's working well.
Q: What is your assessment now of the road conditions including mines, booby-traps, other possible problems that U.S. forces are going to face tomorrow on the way in?
General Shelton: I think, Barbara, it's a little bit early right now to make a general judgment on that, because for the most part--I know today that the French encountered a considerable number of mines on the way, at least the report is that. I'm not sure what the U.K. forces did as they started their movement in. But their movement has been very fast, and I suspect that it went a lot smoother for them than it did over in the French sector. But that's all part of the difficult job of moving into the area now, making sure that you provide the force protection at the same time you get your forces in their assigned position.
Q: One last question then, given that and what the French encountered, are you now looking at sending quickly any additional mine-clearing equipment for U.S. forces?
General Shelton: There has not been any additional request as of this time, and of course we knew going in that we'd have to be able to deal with that. So the units that are deploying in will carry appropriate mine-clearing equipment.
Q: Who is in control of the military airfield or any of the airfields in Pristina? And will General Sir Mike Jackson arrive today as you said he would?
General Shelton: I do not have any information regarding--you mean about--the plan right now, yes.
Q: With the Russians in control of the airfield, have they relinquished control, allowing General Sir Mike Jackson to arrive as he had planned to...
General Shelton: NATO has a force at the airfield. As I said, they have coordinated with the Russian troops that are there. They will continue--both forces will stay in the area. It's a coordinated occupation right now. The final details of that will be worked out down in Skopje. That is where General Jackson is as of this time doing the detailed work with the Russians, with his Russian counterparts at this time.
Q: So you don't expect him to go tonight?
General Shelton: I would not anticipate him going there tonight.
Q: Are planes allowed to fly in and out of the airport now? Are they cleared to do that? NATO planes.
General Shelton: NATO right now does in fact have helicopters that have moved up into the area. We have not moved any fixed-wing planes into that area, but the airfield--yesterday in a coordinated effort, the Serbs did in fact remove the MiG-21s that were there. They took off from that airfield and went back to Podgorica airfield.
Q: Is there a reason why fixed-wing aircraft couldn't just fly in now?
General Shelton: Not to my knowledge, Carl. I think that--again, I haven't looked at the airfield. There's a lot more to it than just not having mines on it. And I'm not sure what the condition of the runway is at this time. That's part of what this force will assess when they arrive there.
Q: Can I just ask you one question about--you have the French going in on this route that the U.S. is going to essentially follow them. Are the French sweeping this for mines? Are they clearing out? Are they setting up protection zones for the U.S. forces as they go through?
General Shelton: They are moving through the area, of course, providing for force protection for their forces, but any time you move through an area of that type, of course, you've got to clear it. And so that will ease the U.S. flow in, I'm sure, although they'll still have to be very careful.
Q: General, some of us sort of have "tongue in cheek" referred to the SFOR in Bosnia as the FFOR for "forever force." In your military position, how long do you view the longevity of NATO troops in this area? A month, year, ten years, two decades, forever?
General Shelton: I think it's too early to make that assessment right now. We, of course, in this case, will provide--the military, NATO military, will provide the safe and secure environment for the civil implementation piece to come in, which is being worked pretty hard right now in terms of what role the U.N., the E.U., the OSCE will play, and getting responsibilities assigned and starting to move in as rapidly as they can to start taking care of establishing the government, again, getting civil functions stood up.
But again, a lot of that is going to depend on how effective and how hard that continues to be pushed. Of course we will continue to provide a safe and secur[e] environment, and we will assist in the civil implementation wherever we can within the forces that we have.
Q: So it will take awhile.
General Shelton: There is no question, I think, that it will take awhile.
Q: General Shelton, for you or for Secretary Cohen. Now that you have NATO personnel in Kosovo on the ground, what are they seeing? What kind of damage was wrought? Anything about mass graves? Anything about atrocities? Anything that's being fed back so far?
Secretary Cohen: It's a little bit early for us to make those judgements right now. As the Chairman has indicated, what we're trying to do is to make sure that the forces can flow through safely, and then prepare the way for the refugees to return.
I have stood behind this podium on a number of occasions and pointed out that I believe when the human rights organizations, the humanitarian organizations go into Kosovo, they're going to find damage and atrocities that will shock the conscience of the world. So I anticipate that we'll find many of the reports that we've heard about--that could not be verified--that we will find evidence of atrocities that would warrant a great deal of prosecution on the part of those who committed them.
General Shelton: Just to underscore what the Secretary said, there was one report that I saw this morning that read just like the Secretary described it. A group of IDPs had come across that were in fairly bad shape. I mean, they had, obviously, not had a lot to eat in recent days, etc. So they're taking care of them.
Q: General Shelton, the troops that went into Pristina, the Russian troops, pulled out of Bosnia. What does that say about what's going on in Bosnia and who's in control there? Who would they have had to check with in Bosnia before they left their duties there? And is this is in any kind of violation of the Dayton Peace Accord?
General Shelton: The last report that I saw, as of this morning, indicated that the troops that were remaining in Bosnia had been told to assume the responsibilities of the 200 or so that left. I haven't seen anything since then.
In terms of the Dayton Peace Accord, to my knowledge this will not have any impact on it. Certainly they withdrew, but there was nothing to my knowledge that violated the Dayton Peace Accord as they pulled out.
Q: General, do you have any timeframe on when you may begin bringing the refugees back in?
General Shelton: I think it's too early to give that yet. A lot of this is going to depend on how smoothly the occupation goes as we move in, what conditions we find there, how many mines are there, what the condition of the houses are. I'm sure it will go much faster and we'll be able to move some of the refugees back in considerably faster, in some areas that had less damage than we will in others that probably we'll find in pretty bad shape. But all of that will be a part of the initial assessment when our troops arrive in the area.
Q: General, is it clear who is in charge of the group of Russians that moved in? Is that leadership someone you know and have dealt with before?
General Shelton: There is a general that is there on the ground and one that we have known before from Bosnia, I'm told. But the initial contact that was made is with the unit leader, and I'm not sure if he's a major or a captain, and I'm not sure what his name is.
Q: You've had some contact then with at least some of these people in the past?
General Shelton: I'm not sure how many of the people that moved in there have had contact with them in the past. It may be that they're all strangers to one another. But the initial contact has in fact been made, and that has gone smoothly, and that was the important thing, that we could make that link-up without creating a conflict.
Q: Who is General Jackson dealing with in Skopje? Who's the military leader he's negotiating with?
General Shelton: I don't remember his name off the top of my head, but there were at least two generals that flew down from Moscow along with General George Casey from the Joint Staff, and I think a Russian delegation of five, as I recall.
Q: Do you want to comment what I asked the Secretary about, the mistreatment and torture occurring (unintelligible) in Pakistani army? How they treated them. When they returned they were still alive in Pakistan, and returned without parts.
General Shelton: If the condition is as you described it and if it were in fact done by the other side, then, of course, that's a violation of the Geneva Convention, and it should be treated accordingly, I mean, dealt with accordingly.
Q: General Shelton, how long do you anticipate getting--I understand the 30- to 45-day time limit for all of them, but the forces that are being brought in now, the 26th MEU, the initial group, Task Force Hawk--how long do you anticipate it will take to get all of them into Kosovo and situated?
General Shelton: The ones that are going in--in terms of in their final positions, Carl--very difficult for me to tell you right now, because I don't know what they're going to encounter as they start moving off of the road that they will move in on and then start to branch off into their assigned sectors. But that should go fairly quickly. Within a day or so, they should be out in the area.
Q: You're talking about days, not weeks.
General Shelton: Days, not weeks. For sure.
Secretary Cohen: Could I add one note? I've just been advised that General Jackson is going to conduct a press conference at 20:00 Brussels time, or in about an hour and 15 minutes our time here. And apparently, he does intend to make a trip to Pristina tonight.
Q: When the Task Force Hawk and the 26th MEU make it in there, essentially they're going to go all through the American sector and scout out everything, is that the idea? The folks who come in afterward, then they will be the sort of "occupying" force?
General Shelton: This initial force will also stay in that area until Task Force Falcon comes in. They'll be basically carrying out the same types of responsibilities. But needless to say, the first thing we'll need is an assessment of what they're finding. Then that may mean that we can tailor the Task Force Falcon even more. There may be additional training we'll want to do, etc. But an assessment will be part of their job.
Press: Thank you very much.