United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


DoD News Briefing, Monday, June 14, 1999

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
June 15, 1999 2:35 PM EDT

Also participating in this briefing is Colonel David Kingston, Fort Leonard Wood.

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.

As you know by now, later this week Secretary Cohen will go to Helsinki to meet with his Russian counterpart, Marshal Sergeyev. We don't have the details worked out yet as to the day. Secretary Cohen is hoping to talk with Minister Sergeyev today or tomorrow to arrange the details. This trip is likely to be combined -- although as I say, details are still being worked out -- with a trip to Brussels afterwards, and then a trip to visit troops in the Kosovo theater, not necessarily in Kosovo or Macedonia, but to talk to some of the pilots who participated in Operation ALLIED FORCE and some of the other troops involved. Details will emerge over the next couple of days, and I anticipate that we will take press on the trip, so there will be more details on that later.

Second. I'd like to announce that after I brief we're lucky to have Colonel David Kingston here from the Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to talk to you about countermine measures and equipment. As you know, demining, dealing with mines is one of the big challenges that KFOR is facing now in Kosovo. He served for eight months in Bosnia where he supervised mine-clearing operations. He will give you a briefing on what's involved and then take your questions on the whole issue of mines.

Q: What's the trip to Brussels for? Is there any specific purpose, or just...

Mr. Bacon: It would be a report to his colleagues. It's a good opportunity for him to sit and talk with his colleagues about not only Russian participation in KFOR but a whole range of issues that it's important for the defense ministers to consider as NATO forces deploy into Kosovo.

Q: I meant is this a formal meeting of NATO defense ministers?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know whether it's a formal meeting or not. It's just something that may happen. I just want to warn you -- it may not happen, but my guess is it probably will.

Q: Ken, where are we on the Russian situation? I understand the President talked with Yeltsin this morning. Anything definitive come from that, or what's going on? Are they going to be resupplied by other Russian troops out of the region, particularly Bosnia? What can you tell us?

Mr. Bacon: Not much. The talks are continuing at both the political and the military levels. The situation is there are a small number of Russian troops in Pristina. The NATO troops are filling up Kosovo and setting up their operations and helping to get the Serbs out, which is happening at an acceptable and expected rate, pretty much on schedule. I'll show you some films of that later.

The talks are going on, as I say, from the President on down and will probably continue.

Clearly there's, I think both sides want to get this resolved, but it isn't resolved yet.

Q: Resupply, and are they in fact in control of the airport at Pristina?

Mr. Bacon: They are at the airport. Being in control isn't really relevant at this stage, whether they're in control or not, because there are no flights going in, and NATO doesn't plan to use the airport at this stage. So they are there.

They are likely to be resupplied at some point because they are running out of supplies, and so I would anticipate that there will be some resupply efforts made in the next couple of days.

Q: Have the Russians notified SFOR or KFOR that they do intend to resupply them from Bosnia?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that they have notified that.

Q: How many NATO troops are at the airport compared to how many Russian troops?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know the answer to that. It's in the British sector, as you know. The headquarters for KFOR is not at the airport. It's being located some place else as General Jackson explained today. There are now I think about 14,000 KFOR troops in Kosovo already, and the British will have the largest number of troops in their sector around Pristina, but elsewhere in that sector as well. I think that's around 10,000 or 12,000 troops they plan to have there. We've shown that number in the past, and I'm just citing it from memory. But they will have by far the largest number of troops in KFOR.

Q: There's been several reports that there's tense standoffs there at the airport between the British and the Russian troops. Can you comment on that? And the second question is, so NATO does not need the airport? Does not have any reason to use the airport at this time? And could they use it if they needed to?

Mr. Bacon: Yes, they could use it, if they needed to. It is not in the plan to use the airport at this stage. General Clark, I thought, was very clear about that yesterday. Right now the equipment and the people are coming in by road, and I'll have more to say about that road and the conditions on it later. But the airport is not something that is in the plan to be used at this stage.

In terms of a standoff, I think discussions went on today, at least once and maybe twice, between General Jackson and a Russian general in the area. You can see that there have been discussions around the airport by soldiers.

I think the real news out of Kosovo today is that the exit of Serb troops is going on schedule. We estimate now that between 14,000 and 15,000 Serb army and special police troops have left. We estimate that about 20 percent of the tanks are gone, maybe as many as 50 percent of the APCs and maybe 14, 15 percent, somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of the artillery.

There are huge convoys mobilizing now throughout Kosovo, Serb convoys. In fact, I'd like to show you one right now that was going on this morning. This is some Predator footage of the convoy. You'll be able to see that although it's largely civilian vehicles because many of the Serb soldiers and policemen are taking their families out as they go, you'll see military vehicles interspersed, tanks, you'll see some mortars being towed and trucks full of soldiers as well.

Can we run the film, please?

[Start Video]

This is a road that begins -- this convoy basically started forming to the west and south of Pristina, and it's moving up toward Urosevac, and then it will move out through one of the gates, probably Gate Four or Three on the eastern edge of the province of Kosovo. You can see the length of the convoy there.

Q: Do you have an estimate of how far it stretches?

Mr. Bacon: We think this is between 300 and 500 vehicles. I don't have right now a length of, an estimate of how long it is, but it's very long.

Q: Military vehicles?

Mr. Bacon: There's a combination. You can see some trucks, but we did pass some military vehicles, and you'll see some more military vehicles here. Let me see... Right here is a military vehicle. You can see that they're three deep on this road. There's a military vehicle there. You'll see some towed mortars. There's a tank truck, a couple of tank trucks. There's a mortar or artillery piece of some sort, military vehicle.

You'll see here's a truck with soldiers in it, right there. Another military vehicle there. There's another one. That's it.

[End Video]

Q: Ken, the Military Technical Agreement calls for the Serbs to be completely out of that southern zone or area by...

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

Mr. Bacon: Can we put the zone map up, please?

[Chart - Serb Forces Withdrawal Timetable]

Q: Does it look like they're going to do that?

Mr. Bacon: They're certainly making a determined effort to get out. You can see that there are some transportation problems from looking at that picture. The roads are jammed with people trying to exit.

In addition, there is, let me just explain very briefly the -- it almost looks dangerous.

First of all, this convoy I discussed is a little hard to tell. I'll show you on another map, but it basically starts down here, starts around here and is moving up that way. It's coming out of Zone One and that's the zone they have to be out of tomorrow.

The commanders will have to make a determination, but clearly they're making a big effort to get out, and we see convoys going from all parts of this.

They're basically going in two directions. One, they're moving up into Zones Two and Three where they have more time, but also they're moving through the exit gates, which are approximately here, here, here, and here, I believe -- the four exit gates that they have to go through. This is where we're monitoring the progress as they move out with the number of vehicles they take out, etc.

We do see firm evidence that they're trying to get out.

We've also, they have to get their air defenses out. We think they've removed all their fixed wing aircraft from all of Kosovo, all the SA-6s. There may still be some anti-aircraft guns left, which they are working to move as soon as possible. Some are broken down. Some [of] the roads are jammed, so they're having a hard time getting them out, but we basically see a strong effort to try to comply.

I might also point out that the cease-fire is generally holding. There are some skirmishes between the Serbs and the UCK, but they've fallen off considerably from what they were this time last week.

Q: Where are the skirmishes?

Mr. Bacon: They're in various places. They're quite sporadic, and they're quite isolated. There was some KLA sniping, Kosovo Liberation sniping at VJ or MUP troops right here around Podujevo here in the last 24 hours. That's one place where there have been some problems. There still is some occasional cross-border shelling here, which we hope will stop soon, but that's died down quite a lot.

Generally, we see that the UCK or the Kosovar Liberation Army is showing restraint in not attacking the Serbs as they're leaving, and we see the Serbs showing much more restraint than they have in the past. There are still scattered reports of burning and looting on the way out, but what we really see is concentration on getting out as quickly as possible.

Q: The army and the KLA, you're still saying "demilitarize," or it's now "disarm?"

Mr. Bacon: We have always said demilitarize. The difference between disarm and demilitarize is very clear. To disarm means to take weapons away from an army. To demilitarize means to disband the army, leaving some of the people with some weapons -- small weapons, basically, and that's what will happen. But it won't happen until all the Serbs are out. Right now NATO is concentrating on getting the Serbs out. We understand it's not reasonable to assume that there can be any demilitarization until all the Serbs are out, so the big goal is to get the Serbs out on schedule or at least as close to the schedule as possible.

Q: You said, just to clarify what you're saying, do I take from what you're saying that you don't believe that they're actually going to have all the Serb troops out of Zone One by tomorrow's deadline?

Mr. Bacon: I say they're making a strong effort to get them out. I can't predict now, 24 hours before the deadline tomorrow, what will happen. But they are certainly making a very strong effort to get them out. There are logistical problems. You saw one -- traffic jams. There are other logistical problems, shortages of vehicles. Vehicles that break down. But they are making a strong effort to get their people out, and we believe that there's a very good chance they will get them out.

Q: Just to follow up, so as long as you see that strong effort, that commitment to withdrawal, you're not going to be concerned if that deadline is not met to the minute?

Mr. Bacon: I didn't say that. The commanders in the field will have to make that determination. I'm not going to make it here from Washington, and I can't decide whether there's full compliance here in Washington. That's what General Jackson...

Q: How can you tell whether they're all out?

Mr. Bacon: We now have troops flowing in at a very rapid rate, as I said. There are 14,000 troops there. They're flowing in basically day and night. And they will be patrolling in ever-widening circles through their sectors and making an assessment. But I think it was very clear from that picture, and you can see films like that all over Zone One and parts of Zone Two and parts of Zone Three as well -- all over Kosovo there are long convoys of Serb forces trying to get out. So we see that they are making a very strong effort to get out.

Q: What about the Serb troops who are inside the Russian position at the airport? Are they making a determined effort to get out?

Mr. Bacon: I can't answer that question, because I don't know the answer. But we assume that Serb troops will get out in accordance with the agreement, and all the evidence we see is that they're doing their best to honor the agreement.

Q: Do you know how many Serb troops are at the airport?

Mr. Bacon: I do not.

Q: Can you take that question?

Mr. Bacon: Yes.

Q: Can you take the question of whether they're preparing to go out?

Mr. Bacon: I'll take the question.

Q: Is there an objection to the Russians having their own separate sector? And if there is none, would it be possible to imagine they would have it in the northwest?

Mr. Bacon: We've always said that the Russians, that it's desirable to have the Russians participate in KFOR for a variety of reasons, but they have to participate under a unified command structure and that there is no provision for their own sector.

Q: Any comment on the fight between Serbian soldiers and unknown individuals in Kosovo in between British and Serbian soldiers?

Mr. Bacon: Well, there have been -- we estimate that there may have been as many as ten fatalities so far. Several of these fatalities have occurred because KFOR forces have responded to attacks against them. I think the lesson of that is very clear, that if anybody threatens NATO forces, they have the right and the ability to return fire, and they will do it quickly and forcefully.

Q: Could you comment on the first one, that NATO and USA are planning now single operation for the (unintelligible), Montenegro, and (unintelligible)?

Mr. Bacon: I'm sorry. Could you repeat that again, please?

Q: Have you comment on the reports from Europe that NATO and USA are planning now single military operations for the autonomy of Sanjak, Montenegro and Vojvodina against Yugoslavia?

Mr. Bacon: Those reports are ridiculous. They have no basis in fact.

Q: What's going on on Mount Pastrik and in Junik? Is the KLA advancing as the Serbs...

Mr. Bacon: I have not asked those questions directly, but I've seen nothing in recent reports to suggest that there's any conflict going on in those areas now.

Q: Has the KLA given up their arms, or demilitarized...

Mr. Bacon: As I explained earlier, this is something that will happen later on in the process. Right now NATO's goal is to focus on getting the Serb troops out -- both the Serb army troops, the so-called VJ, and the special police troops as well as the paramilitaries.

Q: When Secretaries Cohen and Albright meet with their Russian counterparts later this week, what are they going to talk about? I mean what's left to be said that hasn't been said in days of meetings between Talbott and the Russians and conversations between President Clinton and President Yeltsin? Unless NATO is willing at this point to make some kind of concession to Russia?

Mr. Bacon: I don't think it's appropriate for me to forecast these meetings.

Q: But what are they going to discuss?

Mr. Bacon: There are plenty of things to discuss. Basically, Russia wants to participate in KFOR. KFOR would like to have Russia participate. We had similar disagreements back in 1995. They were resolved through a series of high level meetings between Secretary Perry and Defense Minister Grachev, and I have every confidence that we will have a chance to resolve these difficulties through a continuing series of meetings. So that's the goal. I don't want to forecast the topics they'll be discussing or the format or the meetings right now. As I said, a number of details have to be worked out. But both President Yeltsin and President Clinton have agreed that this is a new avenue that should be opened in an effort to reach an agreement that both sides want. And since both sides do want Russian participation in KFOR, I assume it will be possible to figure out a way to do it.

Q: But does Cohen go with negotiating authority from NATO? Because after all, this is a NATO operation. And why is it him and Secretary Albright that are talking to the Russians and not Solana and Clark on behalf of NATO?

Mr. Bacon: This is, I think, a forum that's worked in the past, and we hope it can work again in the future. But the issue is that the leading interlocutors here have been Americans -- President Clinton, Deputy Secretary of State Talbott, Secretary Albright with her counterpart Ivanov, and now this will open another line of discussion.

Q: Do they go to, whatever they decide...

Mr. Bacon: I think it should be clear over the last 11 or 12 weeks, from my briefings and from Secretary Cohen's comments, that there is near constant communication between Secretary Cohen and his counterparts, between Secretary Albright and her counterparts, and between President Clinton and his counterparts. We are well aware of what the allies' views are on almost every topic here. This has been, if anything, a model of alliance communication from every level, including the head of state level through the ministerial level and the military levels as well, and I expect that communication to continue. It's one of the reasons the alliance held together so well during Operation ALLIED FORCE.

Q: Secretary Albright and the Foreign Minister are also going to be in Helsinki? Or are they going to talk in Cologne, and...

Mr. Bacon: My assumption is that they'll be in the G7, G8 meetings in Cologne, and my understanding from the White House briefing earlier today is that President Clinton and President Yeltsin will meet on Sunday in Cologne. I think that's what the schedule is.

Q: She is unlikely to go to Helsinki. That will be the defense ministers' meeting. Just the defense ministers.

Mr. Bacon: That is my anticipation (sic), yes. [Note: Secretary Albright is scheduled to go to Helsinki.]

Q: Can you update us a little bit on the progress of U.S. troops that are part of the KFOR? How many U.S. troops have come into Kosovo, how far are they along in getting to where they need to go? Also a separate question, the mass grave site that I believe the U.S. troops came upon, was that something that they discovered by happenstance? Or did they go to that location because of NATO or U.S. intelligence indicating the possibility of a mass grave site?

Mr. Bacon: Let's take down this and move to the next chart, if we could.

[Chart - Kosovo Sector Responsibilities]

Just a review of the sectors here. In simple terms what's been happening over the last couple of days is that allied troops, most of them have been moving up from Skopje here to Pristina along a route called Route Hawk. This is the U.S. sector. The convoy that I showed you earlier is leaving from somewhere around here and heading up sort of this way. If we take this down I can -- this is what the U.S. is going to put in here eventually, and let me show you where we are now.

[Chart referred to is a map of the U.S. sector in Kosovo, which will not be uploaded.]

This is a more detailed map of our sector. Here again, the convoy that I pointed out was started right here. It was, where you saw it was right here at a place called Brezovica, and it's moving up this road here. It actually started in the German sector here and has been moving forward, but the Predator pictures you saw were taken right here at Brezovica, and it's moving up this way.

The road I talked about, Route Hawk, so named by the allies, goes from Skopje up to Pristina.

So far we have in our sector about 1,000 Marines who are spending the night at this town called Vitina, V-I-T-I-N-A. In addition, there are about 900 Army troops stationed in this area around Urosevac, and down along this road here which is known as the Kacanik defile. I spoke earlier today with Brigadier General Craddock who is the commander of Task Force Falcon, which is the name of the operation in the U.S. sector, and he told me that this Kacanik defile, so-called, is one of the more torturous roads he's seen anywhere -- worse than any road he's seen in Korea, he said. It's built into the side of a hill. It's windy. It goes through tunnels, over bridges. Some of the tunnels have sharp turns in them. It's only a two-lane road, and for about 20 kilometers it is extremely twisty.

This has been the main choke point in getting allied forces into our sector and up to Pristina.

He says that it can take about eight hours for a convoy to make it between here, the border, and Urosevac, which is maybe 30 kilometers. And that's because the road is crowded and because there's a lot of traffic.

One of the things that happens is NATO gives right-of-way to Serb convoys exiting the country. So when this convoy of 300 to 500 vehicles winds its way up here into Urosevac and goes across on its way out, the traffic, the convoy traffic will basically yield for hours as the Serbs move through to get out of the zone and move out of Kosovo eventually.

So basically 1,000 Marines here spending the night, about 900 soldiers here.

One other fact is that this convoy you saw is being now patrolled by Apache helicopters. When it started over here in the German sector, German helicopters sort of flanked the convoy to make sure one, that it kept moving, and two, that it wasn't attacked, and three, that members of the convoy didn't break out of the convoy and create mischief by burning buildings along the way. So it was patrolled by German helicopters. When it got into the U.S. sector, Lieutenant General Jackson asked the U.S. to take over the helicopter monitoring, so there are Apaches flying along with this convoy, making sure that it moves out.

Q: Did you say, so the convoy wasn't attacked?

Mr. Bacon: Yeah, to make sure that it wasn't attacked by the KLA.

Q: Just to clarify, are you saying that if the Serb, Yugoslav military convoys, if they're observed breaking off and engaging in house-burning or some other activity, they're subject to attack by those helicopters?

Mr. Bacon: First of all, the main reason for the helicopter escort is to deter, is to deter interference by the KLA or to deter the Serbs from creating mischief on their way out. General Craddock said that that basically is what's happening. He is not seeing attacks by the KLA. In fact, the KLA has vowed not to attack the retreating Serbs and generally, with the exception of a few isolated cases, is meeting that obligation.

Second, we have seen, not in this convoy, we have not seen signs that people are breaking out to burn buildings or to create mischief along the way, but the helicopters are there to deter it.

Third, should any of these events happen, it would be up to the commander to decide how the helicopters should respond. Clearly, if anybody tried to interfere with the work of the helicopters by shooting at the helicopters, they would respond aggressively and quickly. But in terms of protecting the convoy, it would be up to the local commander on the scene to make a decision on what to do.

Let me just make one other point. As you know, there are a bunch of French troops here in Gnjilane. Now, this is in the American sector. They have stopped here because they're supposed to move -- here's the sector map. Gnjilane is about here. The French are supposed to move up into this sector in the north. But this sector is also the last sector the Serbs will vacate, so the French are holding up here until the Serbs vacate, and they can move in on their heels into this sector.

So eventually, when the French leave Gnjilane, the Marines -- and there will be 1900 of them -- will move into Gnjilane, set up their base camp here, and then begin to patrol and set up other camps in the area. But they won't get to Gnjilane until the French move out, and that could still be a couple of days. So in the mean time - at least tonight - they're here in Vitina. They may continue moving closer to Gnjilane in the next couple of days.

Q: Ken, you had, excuse me, just to make it clear. You mentioned 1,000 Marines and 900 Army troops. In other words, there are 1,900 U.S. troops now in the...

Mr. Bacon: Exactly.

Q: Out of the 4,000.

Mr. Bacon: Right. The rest are still in Skopje, but they're moving in. General Craddock said they're moving in at a fairly rapid rate, although as I pointed out, this defile which General Craddock refers to as "the regulator" does slow the flow or regulate the flow there.

Once you get through, a plain opens up here, and then it's much faster to move on after they get through the defile.

Q: You were going to get to my mass grave question.

Mr. Bacon: The mass grave question is something that was discovered by NATO troops in the course of their patrols, as I understand it. It is largely being protected now by troops in the area, which are, I believe, American troops, which have been sent to operate and provide area protection in Kacanik. They relieved some British airborne troops who were the first in there. The British airborne troops have moved up closer to Pristina, and American troops are now providing security along this area.

This has been, obviously, reported to the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. They've issued a statement saying that KFOR brought the mass grave site to their attention and is currently safeguarding the site until they can get their own investigators down there.

In that regard, you may have seen a statement over the weekend that the FBI is deploying some teams of investigators to Kosovo to work with the ICTY, the War Crimes Tribunal, to help them investigate some of the reports of atrocities and tampering with mass graves, etc.

Q: But that mass grave is the one the British first came upon, right?

Mr. Bacon: I believe that's correct, because they were the first ones in there. Right.

Q: It was reported that the Russians have tried unsuccessfully yesterday to transfer 1,000 troops by air via Romania and Hungary. Do you have anything on that?

Mr. Bacon: I know they have not transferred troops into Pristina via Romania or Hungary.

Q: Did any Russian troop planes take off and leave for the region and then return?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that they did. One Russian plane landed in Belgrade, I believe, on Friday or Saturday. But others did not.

Q: I'd like to go back to compliance, if I might. What's the current estimate on the number of troops that were in the first zone to be vacated, and that are there now? And I know you can't prejudge compliance tomorrow, but as you walk through the logic here, because if they're not out, the statement was clearly made when there was a settlement, they would get bombed.

Mr. Bacon: First of all, the important thing is that they comply as soon as possible, and we are seeing every sign that they are making a steadfast effort to get out as soon as possible. The local commanders over there will have to make a decision on what they've done, but we have said we will not do anything to interfere with their exodus, and the exodus seems to be major and swift. There's a lot of determination on the part of the Serbs to get out.

So I think we should assume that they're doing their best to comply and, in fact, will comply, but the deadline isn't until tomorrow.

Q: What about my last question?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know how many are in that sector.

Q: There was a report from General Jackson concerned that the U.S. hasn't turned over more detailed information about where (inaudible) so he can go in and clean up those areas. He said (inaudible).

Mr. Bacon: I haven't seen those reports.

Q: Ken, the Russian plane that landed in Belgrade on Friday or Saturday, what was that?

Mr. Bacon: It was an IL-76.

Q: So it was a military transport. What was it carrying?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know what it was carrying. I don't believe it was carrying troops. It may have been supplies. They do have relationships with Yugoslavia.

Q: Supplies, for the Russian troops...

Mr. Bacon: It could have been humanitarian supplies. I don't know what was in that plane.

Q: Didn't Russia ask for at least rights to fly over Hungary and Romania in order to bring troops into Pristina?

Mr. Bacon: Yes, they have, and [they] haven't gotten those rights.

Q: They have not gotten them.

Mr. Bacon: Right.

Q: Do you know approximately when the first Albanian refugees will start to return to their homes approximately?

Mr. Bacon: A very few have already. Basically we hope that they will wait until they can be assured of safe and secure conditions within Kosovo. One of the elements of safety is making sure that there aren't mines, and that's one of the things Colonel Kingston is going to talk about is how authorities go about getting rid of mines. But clearly, we want to make sure that people can return safely.

Q: By the winter?

Mr. Bacon: Well, everybody wants to get the refugees back as soon as possible. I think we have to right now concentrate on getting the Serbs out and getting NATO in. When that happens, it will be possible in a reasonable amount of time to get the refugees back.

Q: What is the legal stature of Kosovo under the circumstances now? The legal status?

Mr. Bacon: Kosovo is a province of Yugoslavia.

Q: You may have said it, and I missed it -- has this plane returned to Moscow, the one that's in Belgrade? Or...

Mr. Bacon: I'll have to check on that. I assume it's returned, but it landed on Friday or Saturday.

Q: One more time, do you have any evidence that...

Mr. Bacon: We also discussed this either during or after the briefing on Friday.

Q: Do you have any evidence that the Russian troops are currently about to be resupplied by Russia, or is the U.S. and NATO making any plans to resupply the Russians?

Mr. Bacon: I believe the Russians will take care of resupplying themselves, and it would not surprise me if they resupplied their troops relatively soon.

Q: How do you square that with Berger's statement an hour or so ago that we do not expect to see any more Russian forces enter Kosovo until there's an agreement?

Mr. Bacon: That's a totally different issue. Resupplying is one; reinforcing is entirely different. I think everybody can understand the difference between resupply and reinforcement.

Q: We don't have any problem if they keep those 200 there and resupply them?

Mr. Bacon: The 200 troops are a very minor part of what's happening in Kosovo today. The main things happening in Kosovo are the Serbs are leaving, and NATO is coming in, and soon the refugees will be able to come back. That is the goal of the U.N. Security Council Resolution, the goal of the Military Technical Agreement, and those goals are being met.

Q:...finding a place for the Russians. The condition about NATO command is hard and fast, but is there any reason why the sectors map that you now have can't be redrawn?

Mr. Bacon: I don't think it's appropriate for me to talk about this. This is something that the President's talked about, that Deputy Secretary Talbott has talked about, Secretary Albright has talked about, that Secretary Cohen will talk about, and they should be the spokespeople about this.

Q:...the condition, you haven't said, nobody's said, that we can't, we're not going to redraw the sector.

Mr. Bacon: I just said it's not appropriate for me to talk about that.

Q: All of the Serb civilians leaving with the military, does this in any way diminish the effectiveness of the campaign, because supposedly Kosovo was supposed to be safe for everyone, regardless?

Mr. Bacon: Kosovo will be safe for everyone regardless, but one of the issues that we believe in is freedom of movement. If people want to leave, they can leave. We're not going to force them to stay. We're certainly not forcing them out, unlike the Serbs who did force the Kosovar Albanians out. But people will have to make their own decisions. Right now, NATO is in the process of moving in. I think that General Jackson has made it perfectly clear that NATO plans to be fair and even-handed to all people in Kosovo, of all ethnic groups and all religions. Those are the U.S. values, the British values, and the NATO values, and we will continue to pursue those values in Kosovo.

Q: On what does the Administration base its confidence that the Russian troops now at the airport will not be reinforced until there's an agreement?

Mr. Bacon: We have been assured that by Russian officials.

Q: They also assured that they weren't on the way there, and they were assured that they were on the way out.

Mr. Bacon: That is true. There has been some confusion about these statements. But the fact of the matter is that 200 Russian troops in Pristina is not having an impact on NATO's ability to perform and meet its goals under the Military Technical Agreement.

Q: Is there some other reason, a difficulty in moving the troops? Not getting airspace, flyover rights, that the U.S. is confident that they cannot reinforce, even if they choose to?

Mr. Bacon: I don't think I'll get into the details. The Russians have said they don't intend to reinforce, and we should take them at their word.

Q: The Russian military said that?

Mr. Bacon: The Russians have said that.

Q: I've also been confused over the weekend with what's going on. Is it that the soldiers were freelancing and Moscow is now just backing them up? Or were they acting under orders from Moscow, and Moscow is lying...

Mr. Bacon: I think it's clear from the foreign minister's statements that Moscow itself is looking into that, and we'll let them sort that out.

Q: What is the sense here that the Russian military -- let me start over again.

Is there still a clear sense here that the Russian military is under civilian control, is fully under civilian control in Moscow, and that the people that you're talking to are actually the people who have the power to have their orders carried out?

Mr. Bacon: Yes, there is a sense that the Russian military is under constitutional and civilian control, and we have no reason to doubt that.

Q: Does it now appear -- looking back on this now from a couple of days - that, in fact, Russia had a plan to not just secure the airport with these 200 troops, but to fly in substantial numbers of additional troops?

Mr. Bacon: I think all that's clear is that they've got 200 or fewer troops around the airport, and that NATO has now 14,000 troops in Kosovo, and they continue to flow in at a rapid rate.

Q: I'm going to have a hard time selling to my editors that nobody really cares the Russians are controlling the airport or limiting NATO's access...

Mr. Bacon: You can tell them you care. (Laughter)

Q: No one here cares. Can you give us a little bit more on why it's not -- you say it's not affecting NATO at all, but really it is, because the Brits did plan to take over that airport and now they're not there. So can you spin out for us a little bit more...

Mr. Bacon: General Jackson spoke about that today, and I have nothing to add to what he said. I think you have to focus on the goals of the Military Technical Agreement, and those goals are to get the Serb troops out and NATO troops in. Both those goals are being met. The Serbs are leaving at a rapid rate. You saw film of that. I gave you some figures on that. NATO is coming in. I've given you figures on that. You've seen it yourself by watching television and reading news accounts that NATO is flowing in at a fairly rapid rate.

Considering that these roads are congested with people moving both out and in, and with now humanitarian convoys beginning, I'd say there's been quite a lot of progress toward both of these goals, and as we make more progress toward getting Serbs out and NATO in, eventually we'll be able to start moving toward the primary goal, which is [to] get refugees back to their homes and villages. I have every confidence that that will happen.

Why don't I take two more questions, [and] then we'll move on.

Q: (inaudible)

Mr. Bacon: No, these are the most exciting charts. (Laughter) The other chart is a bigger map of Kosovo.

Q:...I know there's eight associated with...

Mr. Bacon: Actually, there are 12 [Apaches] associated with Task Force Falcon now. There were initially supposed to be eight, but we've increased that to 12.

Q: And how many are actually flying over...

Mr. Bacon: I don't know at any given time how many are flying, but I assume they spell each other.

Q: Do you expect all the Serb forces to be out of Pristina by, what is the deadline? Is it midnight local time tomorrow? Is that the...

Mr. Bacon: I think the deadline is midnight on June 15th. Right, tomorrow.

Q: The first part of my question about Pristina and the Serb forces?

Mr. Bacon: As I say, we see forces moving out [at] a rapid rate, and you saw the pictures of them moving along this road here, and the local commanders will just have to make a decision. But I think that the important thing is the flow and the substantial flow of troops going out.

Q: Is there any consideration of blocking -- the Russian troops now are blocking access to the airport with their armored vehicles. Is there any consideration given to blocking access to the airport by NATO forces to block any Russian resupply? Is NATO going to allow additional Russian troops to come in to bring supplies to those troops there?

Mr. Bacon: I think NATO has made it very clear that it's interested in cooperation, not conflict. The entire point of this operation is for a group of countries to cooperate under a unified command in order to achieve the goals set by the contact group, by the G8 and by NATO, and also by the U.N. Security Council. Those goals are to get the Serb troops out, to get NATO-led troops in, and to get the refugees back. That's what NATO is concentrating on doing. We're not interested in diverting NATO's energies to other issues right now, and I think we are making significant progress toward our goals and will continue to make significant progress toward those goals in the next few days.

This has been a success. There has been a huge exodus of Serb troops. It is continuing. NATO is coming in on their heels to establish stability and order so that the refugees will be able to return home as soon as possible. One aspect of creating the safe environment to which they'll return is getting rid of mines, and Colonel Kingston will talk about that now.

Thank you.

Colonel Kingston: Good afternoon. My name is Colonel Dave Kingston, as Dr. Bacon introduced me, and I'm from the U.S. Army Engineer School.

It's my pleasure here this afternoon to talk to you a little bit about how we conduct countermine operations.

One thing I'd like to clarify right off the bat are some definitions. What I'm going to be discussing with you today is countermine operations. Those are those things that we do in the military to make it so that we can do our military mission. They include such things as breaching, clearing, marking, reporting, and also force protection aspects of U.S. forces as we work in this environment that includes the threat of mines.

That's as opposed to another term that I have heard quite a bit, and that's called humanitarian demining. Humanitarian demining are those actions needed to completely clear an area and make it safe for noncombatant occupation of an area.

The first one, countermine operations, are what we do in the military -- particularly the forte of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We do not, though, do humanitarian demining operations. That is not a mission of the U.S. Army, not a mission of the U.S. Army Engineers.

I can say, though, that we have some visibility on the humanitarian demining operations. First of all, out at Fort Leonard Wood we do conduct training for humanitarian deminers. We have an academy that's set up, especially trained, and actually train the folks that actually do that. So although we do not do the mission, we do train the folks so that they can do the mission.

The second thing is we do constantly communicate with those in the humanitarian demining community in order for us to exchange information, some of the techniques and so forth.

So there is a difference between countermine operations and humanitarian demining operations. The part I'll be talking to you about is doctrinally how we do countermine operations.

The other point I'd like to make is a little bit of background on my part. As I mentioned, I am assigned to the Engineer School. I'm the director of Combat Developments there. One of the things that we do in our directorate is to come up with new material solutions and new organizations that can better enable us to do our combat engineering missions, one of which is countermine. So I think it's good that I'm here to talk to you about that, because clearly that's what we do back at the Engineer School.

The other reason that I think it's important that I guess I talk to you is that I did spend eight months down in Bosnia from the period of November 1997 through June of 1998. Although I -- in my job right now I -- have no experience, I have not been part of the planning for any of the operations in Kosovo at all, so I really can't answer any detailed questions. I can tell you what we did down in Bosnia. Some of my briefing here that I will go into will tell you how we kind of did things down in Bosnia.

[Chart unavailable for posting]

With that, the first chart here shows doctrinally a lay-down of how we are organized in the U.S. Army to actually execute countermine operations. The way I frame this is I took a brigade combat team, a size of about 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers -- it really varies -- this is a combined arms activity or organization. It includes tanks, Bradleys - clearly, it includes combat engineers. What I've done here is shown the engineer battalion as part of that brigade combat team. You can see that that engineer battalion is normally about 412 soldiers, consists of a headquarters company, three line companies of 95 soldiers [each]. It's primarily these soldiers and their equipment that I want to talk to you about as we go into the briefing.

I will say, though, that there are countermine pieces of equipment in non-engineer organizations as part of this brigade combat team, mainly in the armor units that have tank piles and tank rollers that also are effective in the countermine operations.

Before I show you the things though, I did want to tell you of my experience in Bosnia. To tell you that we can work, the U.S. Army has proved in Bosnia that we can work successfully in an environment that includes the threat of mines. We've now been in Bosnia for over three years, a very, very high mine threat environment, and we were very, very successful in saving soldiers. We've had very, very few, in fact, two incidents that I know of, of incidents involving mines and U.S. soldiers down in Bosnia, out of all the millions of miles driven and out of all those soldiers who were down in Bosnia over all that time.

In my opinion there are three reasons why we were so successful down in Bosnia. The first thing, and the most important in my opinion, is the quality and the discipline of our soldiers. I can tell you from my experience down there that I have never seen soldiers perform their job any better than what we did down in Bosnia in terms of making sure that we were aware of the force protection issues in dealing with a mine environment. Again, it really astounds me to see the quality of our soldiers and their high morale and all that.

The second thing is the fact that we do a lot of training for this kind of environment before we send soldiers into that environment. Now, every soldier that went into Bosnia had to go through a very concentrated orientation to include lanes training that included how to deal with the threat of mines and the mine awareness piece. Every soldier -- and this is mine that I had when I went down-range -- every soldier, regardless of rank, had to go through that training, and one of the things they received was a Bosnia Country Handbook. Included in that country handbook was a description of the mines that could be encountered there, what to look for, and basically how to protect themselves in a mine threat environment. So I think that also had a lot to do with the success down there. It's just the situation awareness of the soldiers on the ground.

Along that line we set up a special center called a Mine Action Center. That's another reason why we were very successful in Bosnia. The soldiers had extremely good situational awareness because we set up these mine action centers where we basically got all the minefield data we could get our hands on, sorted it out, packaged it, and sent it back out so that all the soldiers had that situational awareness needed to protect themselves against landmines. That was extremely effective. That was definitely one of the good lessons learned out of Bosnia. We needed to set these things up.

The third thing I'd like to talk about is some of the equipment that we found very useful in Bosnia. I'm going to run through just some of it right here and describe for you what the capabilities are of some of these pieces of countermine equipment, just so you get a feel for things that are in the U.S. Army inventory.

[Chart - Panther]

The first item is called the Panther. The Panther is basically an M-60 chassis right here, an old tank chassis, with some rollers mounted on the front. The key thing on this Panther is the fact that it's remotely controlled, or tele-operated is what we describe it. That means that the soldiers that are actually operating this and doing the countermine operations are not actually in the minefield itself while they're doing this. I think that's the most important piece here. If we can get the soldiers able to do the countermine mission without being in the minefield itself, it makes it much safer for them to execute this dangerous mission.

This thing here was very, very useful in Bosnia. They were the workhorse in Bosnia for most of the clearing and proofing that we had to do, and they were virtually operational just about the whole, every day that I was down there.

Next chart, please.

[Chart - Mini-Flail]

Another piece of equipment that we found very helpful in Bosnia was an item called the Mini-Flail. The Mini-Flail, again like the Panther, is also tele-operated, or the capability of operating it from a remote position. Again, the soldiers are not right there in the minefield while it's being cleared. It is basically a small piece of equipment with a rotating drum with chains on it that, basically, beats the ground as it goes along, and it sets off anti-personnel landmines, and it's very good for clearing footpaths through anti-personnel landmines. Also it can be used for unexploded ordnance removal.

Next slide, please.

[Chart - MCAP - Mine Clearing Armor Protection Kit]

This third piece of equipment also received very heavy usage in Bosnia while I was down there. This is called the MCAP, the Mine-Clearing Armor Protection Kit for bulldozers. This thing here has also remote control capability -- again, a feature we think is very important for the safety of soldiers doing this. It has a rake out in the front that's used to clear the mines and unexploded ordnance. It also has some armor protection here that can be used to prevent damage and injury from the operators if it is a non-tele-operated mode for blast fragmentation. You can see that's some protection against some of the small arms.

This here actually can be used in places that maybe the Panther and Mini-Flail can't be. When I was in Bosnia some of the base camps that we were constructing down there we had to build in wooded areas that the Panther and Mini-Flail by themselves could not clear.

This bulldozer has the capability of pushing trees out of the way, and everything else, while it's also doing that mine clearing. So this thing here is slower, but in many ways it's a very good piece of equipment, particularly in rugged terrain.

Next slide.

[Chart - M-1114 Up Armored HMMWV]

I mentioned to you that countermine operations not only include breaching, clearing, and proofing, things like that, but they also include force protection of soldiers that are operating in a mine threat environment. One of the great pieces of equipment that was used down in Bosnia was this M1114, Up-Armored HMMWV. That is basically a standard HMMWV that is built on a heavy-duty HMMWV chassis so -- and it has some extra ballistic protection -- that you can see some of the capabilities of this piece of equipment here. It is far superior to a normal HMMWV in terms of its ability to withstand a blast from a mine. In fact, in one of the vehicle mine strikes that we had down in Bosnia, the soldiers were actually operating one of these up-armored HMMWVs that struck the mine. Even though it was an anti-tank mine, which [for] a normal HMMWV would have been catastrophic, the vehicle was destroyed, but the two soldiers received relatively minor injuries. So it just shows how well this thing performed in Bosnia. I think it saved two soldiers' lives, just from its use down in Bosnia.

Next slide.

[Chart - AN/PSS-12 Mine Detector]

The last slide I have here is an AN/PSS-12 mine detector, and I just happen to have a -- we have a couple of soldiers that are going to come up and demonstrate a couple of unique pieces of personnel, personal equipment that can be used in the countermine operations.

The first soldier basically has an AN/PSS-12 mine detector. You can see that it's relatively light weight, fastens on, has a control little box. You can hear the tone that basically, the operator hears. This is, basically, a metallic mine detector. However, it's really pretty sensitive. Not only will it pick up metallic mines, but any mine that has any piece of metal at all, generally, it will find.

I think we have a dime that our soldier dropped on the floor here, and he's demonstrating that you can actually hear the tone just from the dime. In fact, it's more sensitive than that. If a mine has any metallic content at all, to include a firing pin, if it's that small, it will pick up that.

Our other soldier here is operating, has a new piece of equipment called the BASIC. That is a Body Armor Suit Individual Countermine. It is used to provide extra force protection for those soldiers that are in the countermine operations. You can see that it has Kevlar around through it for ballistic protection. It has some shoes there that are far and away better than the foot gear that a standard soldier would wear. It's used to provide extra protection for soldiers that are performing this dangerous mission, really, of countermine.

With that, I think I'll open it to any questions. I'll try to answer any questions you might have.

Q: How do you draw the distinction between your mission of countermine and the humanitarian? What's military, what's not?

Colonel Kingston: If the mission requires the U.S. military to actually move somewhere and to actually do something in terms of a military operation, if a convoy have to go somewhere, if we have to set up a base camp in order to perform those military operations -- those are countermine operations, and we're responsible for making sure we get those done.

Q: But for instance in Kosovo, the major goal now is the return of the refugees. What if that return requires the refugees to go over certain roads that were not used for the U.S. military?

Colonel Kingston: Right now, again, first of all I'm not part of the Kosovo planning, but in general our mission is strictly countermine. That's the U.S. Army mission. There are other organizations, mostly non-governmental organizations and contractors, that can be used for the humanitarian demining mission.

Q: Is there any other type of technology that's still in the development phase that's not really available now?

Colonel Kingston: Clearly, we're engaged with the research and development community. We're always trying to come up with better ways of doing our job and saving soldiers' lives. And to answer your question, yes. There's always, there are a number of items out there. At this time I really can't get into great detail on what they are, but there are clearly things out there that will work with the R&D community as we're working other items to do our job better.

Q: Is this the same kind of equipment that's being used in Kosovo?

Colonel Kingston: Again, I haven't been exactly involved with the planning process in my job over at the Engineer School, but it is, this kind of equipment is available. I can say that the ground looks to me similar in terms of the rolling terrain and what not in Bosnia. So this kind of equipment is available for use. I have not seen the detailed plans, nor will I because of my current job. But it is, certainly, available for us in Kosovo.

Q: Given the mine-rich environment still in Bosnia and this potentially very mine-rich area in Kosovo, is there enough stuff to adequately protect the U.S. forces that are over there without making Bosnia a problem?

Colonel Kingston: Right now the answer is we have enough that we can do both jobs. The Engineer School has been working with Europe on that part. I can't get into any great detail about what the quantities are, but they have enough to do the job.

Q: I know you haven't been on the ground in Kosovo, but can you give us a ball park idea from your work in Bosnia how time-consuming this effort is?

Colonel Kingston: For the countermine operations it is time-consuming. These are things that are done that, apparently -- force protection is the number one priority of any forces that are using this kind of technique or [have] this kind of mission. It is dangerous and it is time-consuming.

Q: Can you give us a ball park of say, the Army's going to do the route and the area where it's going to set up headquarters and so forth. A mile stretch of road or two acres of a field, can you give us...

Colonel Kingston: I can tell you from what, again what I saw in Bosnia. Usually the Panther and Mini-Flail, if you picture them traveling about the speed of a tractor that's operating on a piece of ground or something like that, picture that about the speed for them operating when they're actually operating. That will give you a good idea about how fast they travel.

If we have to get into the hand-held mine detectors or things like that, that's obviously much slower. But this is very -- it's tedious, time-consuming. That's one of the reasons why when we do countermine operations one of the things the commander has to figure out is where do I need to go. It's really those areas that I need to go that I do my countermine operations in. If I don't need to go somewhere, I don't do countermine operations.

Q: From your experience in Bosnia setting up, let's say, a command headquarters or something. How long did it take for you folks to...

Colonel Kingston: I really can't -- it varies. A lot of the information we had on where the mines were at and all that had a lot to play with what kind of techniques were used. Really, there's so many variables there that I can't really narrow it down much more than that.

I do know that getting the detailed knowledge of where the mines were at in Bosnia was very important in terms of getting us a start on where to prioritize how much countermine effort [was] needed to go somewhere. But the variables are such that I don't know if I can really narrow that down.

Q: Colonel, how would you go about finding out where those minefields are? The initial, this is where we need to look, this is where we need...

Colonel Kingston: Again, in Kosovo, I don't have any information on that. But in Bosnia -- I can tell you what happened in Bosnia. In Bosnia, as part of the Dayton Accord we met with the entities and we actually got a lot of mine data from the entities themselves. Including, they had the responsibility for taking us out and actually showing us on the patrols and all that where they put these things in. So we actually got a lot of data right from the entities themselves.

Q: When you're talking about the situation where the one device moving along at the speed of a tractor, would a single road require multiple passes to make it safe? Or would just one be sufficient?

Colonel Kingston: It really depends on how wide the road is, and if you noticed, that Panther for example, had two rollers on it. So it depends on what kind of traffic. If you need the whole road cleared as opposed to two, the two roller-widths that are there, then clearly that would take more than one pass to do that.

Q: One other thing, isn't there some kind of system in development that uses radar and microprocesses to map an entire, to determine where mines are across an area?

Colonel Kingston: There's a number of technologies. It goes back to our question here on what technologies are out there that are under development. There's a number of them, including what you're describing, that are under development that we're closely monitoring with the R&D community that hopefully will give us more capability than we do right now for detecting, particularly standoff detection.

Q: What's your standard practice? If you know, if somebody, the other guys have told you where the minefields are, you obviously go in and you approach those areas with care. If you don't know where the mines are, do you have to assume that every road is mined? Or do you wait until somebody sets something off?

Colonel Kingston: When possible, we like to do the clearing and proofing of all areas. There's areas, I can tell you in Bosnia that even now we're doing some mine clearing operations even now in Bosnia for our military operations. The bottom line is, if we're going to have operations there, we'd like to do the best job we can on clearing and proofing those areas before we have soldiers go into them.

It helps, though, to get a better picture, though. It helps you get the most information we can ahead of time where we think they might be.

Mr. Bacon: I'd just add one thing in response to an earlier question. The Military Technical Agreement requires the Serb forces to provide maps of minefields and also to provide some demining assistance. This is clearly a very important part of the Military Technical Agreement, but in the last couple of days the primary concentration has been getting the Serb forces out. But we have not had as much compliance as we would like in terms of getting maps. We have gotten some maps, and that's clearly something that NATO will be concentrating more on in the future, trying to get a better picture of where the mines were sowed.

Q: Ken, a question for you, because you probably know more about Kosovo perhaps. Compared to Bosnia where you had the lines [that] had changed many times, and Sarajevo was mined all over the place, and large parts of the country were mined. Here we have more of a border situation, as I understand it, where the mines were. Are there mines throughout the whole country internally? Or is it primarily on the borders?

Mr. Bacon: There are mines internally as well, and in fact one of the reasons the French advance has been slowed or slower than anticipated was they did encounter some mines. They were, I had the map up, but basically, on the way toward Gnjilane they encountered some mines that they had to slow down and take care of. So there are mines throughout the country. Obviously, there are more along the borders with Albania and Macedonia, but many throughout the country as well.

Q: Do you have any more information you can provide us on sort of to what extent they have been a problem in the advance so far?

Mr. Bacon: That's the primary example of mines providing a problem. That is to the French. I don't have a comprehensive view on that at this stage.

Q: They went in a different route, to the east, right?

Mr. Bacon: They did. They went in...

Q: It was along that route?

Mr. Bacon: I believe so. On their way to Gnjilane is where they encountered some mines.

Q: What would that look like if we watched it, as they moved in? Would they have had a couple of guys in front, like the old movies, looking for mines on the ground? Or do they have a big tractor out? How do they move into an area that they don't know that there are mines? What does it look like?

Colonel Kingston: Are you talking about for the U.S. Army? How we do it?

Q: Yeah, and perhaps like what the French would have gone through when they came across these mines that they weren't expecting. How would they have found them short of a detonation?

Colonel Kingston: I can tell you, again, I don't know exactly what the French are doing there, but for the U.S. we would, and again, I'm responding to what we did down in Bosnia. We had the Panthers and the Mini-Flails that were out there doing those mine clearing operations ahead of forces.

Q:...dig up all the ground? If you don't know what's...

Colonel Kingston: Or roll over it, really. The Panther and the Mini Flail actually kind of roll over the ground and set them off that way.

Q: Is there any type of policy as to who will go in first, the British or the Americans, as far as looking for these mines?

Mr. Bacon: It really depends on the sector. I think every element of the NATO force is sensitive to the mine threat in Kosovo, and I'm sure that they've all led the way with mine detectors or Panther-like machinery that can check to see if there are mines and detonate those that might be in the way.

Q: Colonel, what's the technology level of the Yugoslav mines? They were one of the world's big mine producers. They sold them all over the world. What's their technology level? Are these mostly plastic mines with very little metal in them?

Colonel Kingston: They have, I can tell you what they had down in Bosnia. They had a wide variety of mines down in Bosnia -- anti-tank, anti-personnel. Some of them with metallic content, very high metallic content. Some of them with very, very low metallic content.

Most of the mines that we saw down in Bosnia were able to be detected with the AN/PSS-12 mine detector that you just saw down in Bosnia. But there is a wide range. And again, there's pictures of both of them in our Bosnia Country Handbook.

Q: You mentioned there had only been two mine incidents in Bosnia, and you described one with the armored HMMWV. What was the other one?

Colonel Kingston: There was an incident, as I recall -- it was before I got there, but it was drilled into our heads when we went through the mine training -- an individual soldier who, I think, was doing something that he shouldn't have been, maybe with a mine or something, and it went off. That was relatively early in the operation, but it was before I got there.

Q: He was killed?

Q: Ken, could I ask you the question I posed to Colonel Kingston? Since in the case of this war the goal is returning the refugees, does this in any way affect the definition of the countermine operation? Will the U.S. military or any other NATO military have a broader mandate to clear greater areas for the return of the refugees?

Mr. Bacon: My understanding is no, that the military demining will be primarily done to improve the freedom of movement for the military forces, but remember making it possible for military forces to move down roads and into communities is what ultimately will make it possible for the refugees themselves to move down. So to the extent that the military is able to clear out mines on roads or around roads or in villages and around villages to improve its own freedom of movement, this will do the same for the refugees. But there were many non-government organizations that have extensive demining experience, and my understanding is that they will come in to do much of this.

In Bosnia, and maybe Colonel Kingston could explain this some, we frequently did have, much of what was done was done for two purposes -- first to allow for improved military mobility, and then secondly for civilian purposes. I would anticipate that that will be the same thing in Kosovo.

Q: Maybe the Colonel could answer this. Isn't it true that the U.S. military's prohibited by law from being involved in humanitarian demining?

Colonel Kingston: Yes, that's my understanding.

Q: Any ideas of the cost of this equipment?

Colonel Kingston: I don't personally have the data. We might be able to look that up for you if you need it.

Q: I gather from your statements, Ken, that you all don't have a good sense of how many mines are in Kosovo, is that right?

Mr. Bacon: I don't. I'll take that question, but I've seen no estimates of the number of mines...

Q: Can you give us a sense of how many are in Bosnia?

Colonel Kingston: At this time the number escapes me. When I was down in Bosnia I used to know roughly how much it was, but in my current job I just don't have that particular number any more.

Mr. Bacon: My recollection is we estimated in the three- to five-million range in Bosnia. There were a lot. That reflected the fact that there had been rather extensive battle lines that had moved quite a lot between the Muslim and the Serb sides over about three years. So there had been a lot of mining along battle lines that they wanted to protect.

The situation is slightly different in Kosovo. There are probably far fewer mines per square mile in Kosovo, but I don't think we know that for a fact, and that's one of the things we want to find out from the Serb mapping and also from our own detection of the type you saw from the soldiers back there.

Q: Do we know if the KLA laid any mines over there?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know.

Q: This law that prevents the military from doing non-military demining operations, is the purpose of that to keep the military focused on its mission? Is that the idea? Is that the goal of that...

Colonel Kingston: I really can't comment on the purpose of the law except that we abide by it. But I really can't comment on...

Q: Ken, do you have any idea what the goal of that law is?

Mr. Bacon: Well, the goal primarily is, the U.S. military does not spread mines that lurk in the ground as permanent killers. The anti-personnel landmines we use today are all of short duration and they tend to be in connection with anti-armor mines more than anything else. But it is for what you said. It's in order to allow the military to concentrate on its tasks. We have a lot of emphasis on maneuver. The military is supposed to move very quickly, and the demining is done as a way to allow rapid maneuver through an area or the rapid control, seizing of control of an area.

Q: Are any of the Marines demining resources being brought bear in Kosovo? I think they had some...

Mr. Bacon: The answer is yes. The Marines have fairly extensive demining ability in their battalion landing teams, and of course the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is now in Kosovo, does have the standard demining capability of breaching, etc. The Marines are all well trained in that.

Q: Is it the same kind of thing, or is it the helicopters...

Mr. Bacon: No, I mean I think they have some of the same equipment. I don't know specifically what they have, but we can get you a list of their demining equipment. But it's the same type of detection devices. I'm sure they have some of the armored suits that the soldiers illustrated, and some of the mine detection machines that you saw.

Thank you very much.

Press: Thank you.

Additional Links

Stay Connected