Also participating is Major General Chuck Wald, J-5
Related briefing slides
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
I only have one operational update, and that is that the first tankers have started arriving in Budapest. One arrived yesterday, which was the advance party; three more arrived today; and three are supposed to arrive on Friday. So I guess four more are arriving today, and three will arrive on Friday for a total of eight.
This, when we put together the entire package of new planes going in -- I think you'll find when it's together and announced that we will have basically a 360-degree attack capability against Yugoslavia, and that's in the process, the final stages of being put together. I don't have any more details on that now.
The total number of U.S. planes committed to Operation ALLIED FORCE is 639. There are 277 allied planes, and that should add up to 916 total.
Q: As of today?
Mr. Bacon: As of today. In the operation as of today.
It's clear from this that the air campaign will intensify further beyond what's happened over the last couple of weeks, and it will get more and more intense.
You've also heard about the diplomatic initiatives that have been announced today from the G-8 meeting. There is an agreement on a security, which I think you can read as a military force, involved as a part of a peacekeeping operation. This is one of the five conditions that the U.S. has insisted upon. There will be further developments, obviously, on the diplomatic side, but one thing that's very important to stress is that Mr. Milosevic has not agreed to this. There is a coalescence among the Russians and the NATO allies as represented by the G-8 on a peace plan, but there has not been any agreement yet from Mr. Milosevic. So the pressure is on him to make a decision as to whether he wants to be subject[ed] to greater and greater military attack on the one hand, or to look for an agreement that will bring peace to Kosovo and allow the refugees to return.
With that, I'll take your questions.
Q:...peacekeeping force to put into Kosovo. Would the United States allow its troops to be put under command other than U.S., or NATO command, given your problems with UNPROFOR before?
Mr. Bacon: We have always said that there must be a force with NATO at the core, and Secretary Albright stressed that that is one of our core conditions and will remain so.
I think the concept of unity of command, clarity of mission, was worked out very well with IFOR that went into Bosnia in 1995, and that we would look for a similar arrangement. But having said all that, it's probably premature to talk about details today. We are not, we do not have a peace agreement in hand, and therefore, we don't have a clear idea of what the force would look like.
Q: Would you look for a large percentage of the force to be U.S., or do you have any ideas on that? What the percentage would be?
Mr. Bacon: I think, I would say probably not a large percentage. In the force of 28,000 that we looked at several months ago, the U.S. was going to be 4,000. So that's 1/7th, 14 percent, much less than the percentage was when we went into Bosnia, when we were about a third, as I recall, 20,000 out of about 60,000.
Remember, the alliance is bigger today. We've added Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. It's quite likely that this would be a force that would be beyond NATO and have other participants. It could have Russian participants, for instance, as the force in Bosnia does, where we work side by side with the Russians very productively. But again, I think it's premature to get into this level of detail because we don't have a peace agreement. That's a decision that President Milosevic has to make, and he'll have to make that decision in light of his evaluation of what his prospects are.
You've heard General Clark say that he believes that President Milosevic is losing and that NATO is winning. If President Milosevic comes to the same conclusion, I assume he'll look for some sort of agreement, but he hasn't done that yet.
Q: Getting back to the war just for a moment. Is there a reluctance on the part of NATO and/or the SACEUR to use the Apaches? It seems that there's some foot-dragging, not necessarily because two of them crashed, but because of the inherent dangers of the number of MANPADs among the Serbian forces.
Mr. Bacon: We've always pointed out that there are dangers to all parts of this mission, whether it's fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. The Army is very aware of what the dangers are. You've had a briefing in this room from the Army about the use of Apache helicopters, but the Army is prepared to face those dangers at the appropriate time. They understand how to operate in hostile environments; that's what they're trained to do. And I'm sure that when the appropriate time comes, they'll be able to function very well.
Q: Let me follow up. Thank you.
But it's not the Army that controls the orders here; it's NATO. And my question is, is there a reluctance on the part of NATO in its conservatism not to use the Apaches?
Mr. Bacon: I don't sense that's an issue at all.
Q: If you did a specific -- President Clinton's guaranteeing the refugees that they will be able to go home. Is it a specific military goal to create the conditions under which refugees could return safely to Kosovo?
Mr. Bacon: Our military goal has always been limited, and that is to degrade and disrupt the Yugoslav military and security forces in Kosovo. That, we believe, will lead to the achievement of political goals, and the political and diplomatic goals are basically the five goals that we have laid out: a cease-fire, Serb forces out, international forces with NATO at the core in to keep the peace, refugees returned, and a movement toward autonomy in Kosovo. Those are the five conditions. Those are political and diplomatic goals that would stem from achieving the military goal.
Q: How would the achievement of the military goal lead to those political goals?
Mr. Bacon: The goal all the way along has been to show President Milosevic that he can't win and that the price he's paying for his policies is very high, and at the point when it becomes too high, he will agree that there should be a diplomatic or political settlement. If he does not, we're prepared to keep on going until the forces are degraded to the point of insignificance in Kosovo.
Q: And after 40-plus days of intense bombing, do you see any evidence that he's going to do that, or any evidence that there's pressure on him to do that?
Mr. Bacon: There's certainly pressure. I think General Clark addressed that in his press conference with Secretary Cohen yesterday from Spangdahlem. We certainly see a lot of pressure on him, but how he sees it is the issue. He's the one that has to evaluate what's happening to his armed forces and make the decision. So far, obviously, he hasn't made that decision.
Q: Do you see any evidence of things that he is doing, things that he is ordering his troops to do that would lead you to think that you could achieve the political goals with the military...
Mr. Bacon: There certainly are things happening. It depends on how you read what he did with the POWs, what he did in letting Mr. Rugova leave. There are certainly things you could read as signs. I'm hesitant to do that. I think that we have to wait until Mr. Milosevic speaks to this issue, and he has not yet done so in a way that shows he's accepting peace proposals.
Clearly, there is increasing international pressure and international agreement on what the terms of a peace proposal should be, but the only person who can decide whether that peace proposal will fly is Mr. Milosevic.
Q: I'd like you to comment on extensive reports that your airstrikes against Yugoslavia created huge chemical clouds over Greece, particularly the north part of the country, (unintelligible).
Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that anything like that has happened.
Q: Ken, we have the eight tankers heading for Hungary. Can you give us an update on the progress on bed-down arrangements in Hungary and surrounding countries for the additional aircraft in that 300-airplane package, particularly the strike aircraft?
Mr. Bacon: It's not appropriate to do so now, but when it is, we'll do it.
Q: Did I hear you right? Did you say you did not think that Rugova's release and the release of the POWs is evidence that the airstrikes are having effect?
Mr. Bacon: I said it could be read that way, but I wouldn't leap to that conclusion. I can't psychoanalyze Mr. Milosevic to know why he does what he does. A reasonable person would not have subjected his country to this type of punishment. He's chosen to do that. He has chosen to allow more and more strikes day after day because he refuses to look at what we consider to be reasonable terms for a peaceful settlement. So I don't choose to read these signals one way or another. Some people have seen them as signals. I don't choose to read them that way. Not because they may not be, it's just that I think we have to wait for Mr. Milosevic to make a decision and he hasn't made a decision, to accept a reasonable peace agreement yet.
Q: What are the signs that he...
Mr. Bacon: I didn't list any signs. What I said was that the punishment, the damage to his military, is getting greater and greater every day, and as I said at the very beginning, it will continue to get greater as NATO puts more planes into the fight and increases its ability to attack from different directions, to cover more targets, and to have more planes in the air every hour of the day and night. We're already attacking nearly 24 hours a day, but we will increase the number of targets that we can hit, and we will hit those.
Q: Ken, did the Apache helicopters conduct training last night? Also, is there any pause in their operations while safety procedures are reviewed in the wake of these two crashes?
Mr. Bacon: They did not fly last night. Last night they held a service of remembrance and memorial for the two pilots. I expect that they will be flying today if they haven't already. They usually fly at night, and I suspect they will fly tonight. There was no specific safety stand-down, but there was a pause yesterday, and I think it's for obvious reasons, that after a tragedy like that it would be appropriate for a unit to take some time to consider what happened and to pay respects to those who died.
Q: What's your latest information about the status of the KLA and the extent of the fighting between them and the Yugoslav forces?
Mr. Bacon: The KLA has increased in size. I believe that the number of KLA fighters has risen perhaps to as much as 8,000 or 10,000 since this began. That would be an increase of several thousand. The number of supporters has also risen fairly dramatically to about 20,000. They are receiving recruits, obviously, from the refugee population, in Albania primarily. They continue to fight in the country. They also continue to take losses. They are out-manned and out-gunned by the Serb forces. That remains the case. But it also remains the case that Milosevic's estimate that he could wipe out the KLA, the Kosovar Liberation Army, in five to seven days was just wrong. And if anything, we know that the army is stronger today, the rebel force is stronger today. Than it was on March 24th when this began.
Q: How much of a factor are they in Kosovo right now? They've never been said to really hold the territory.
Mr. Bacon: First of all, they have, from time to time, held blocks of territory. There's always been an ebb and flow, and that's been the dynamic of this fight. If they achieve an area, then the Yugoslav army or the special police will come in and counterattack and try to drive them out through counterinsurgency operations. That's still going on. But the fact is they are attacking; they are blowing up vehicles, and they are inflicting fatalities on the VJ and the MUP, the special police, and they're doing that with increasing regularity.
Now, it's hard to quantify this, because all the reports come from the KLA; they are one-sided reports. But clearly they are in there; they are fighting, and it's also clear to us that they are continuing to buy weapons on the international market; they're continuing to raise money, and they're continuing to look for ways to strengthen themselves.
Q: In what ways are they stronger now, Ken?
Mr. Bacon: They have more people. They are training aggressively. They, I think, have a broader base of support than they had before. And they continue to acquire or gather weapons. Some of these, of course, they gather from the Serb forces at the point of the engagements they have, if they win the engagements and if the Serb forces abandon their weapons.
Q: So are they better armed now?
Mr. Bacon: I'd say they're slightly better armed, but they're still overwhelmed in that they're a light force, basically an insurgency force, lightly armed, facing a force that has tanks and APCs and artillery. And they do not have that type of weaponry.
Q: Are they able to move freely?
Mr. Bacon: In some places they can move, but generally they can't move as freely as they'd like. They do not control vast amounts of territory. They operate more in terms of attacking bands going after targets of opportunity. They're insurgents, and they operate as all insurgents do. They're best at attacking established forces. They're not as good at maintaining territory. Their ability to maintain territory is also reduced somewhat by the fact that the Serbs have successfully depopulated Kosovo of large numbers of Kosovar Albanians, which would be their natural support base.
Q: What's the status on the oil embargo...
Mr. Bacon: NATO is still working on it.
Q: Inherent in any of these potential peace agreements, including the one that was agreed to by the White House and Russia, would be the demilitarization of the KLA, essentially disarming them. Who's responsibility is that?
Mr. Bacon: That would be the responsibility, first, of the KLA, and secondly, of the international peacekeeping force with NATO as its core.
Go back and look again at Bosnia in 1995 and 1996. A lot of what the NATO-led force did there was first to separate the forces as was called for in the Dayton Accord, but then force them to turn in their arms and to monitor the disarmament part of the agreement. And I would anticipate that there would be a similar push under any sort of peace accord or peace regime in Kosovo.
Q: Has the KLA offered any guarantees that they would do this voluntarily?
Mr. Bacon: Remember that the Albanian side did sign the Rambouillet Accords, and inherent in the Rambouillet Accord was disarmament of the KLA. They have already agreed to that.
Q:...the KLA knew that the Serbs weren't going to sign on to that, so Rambouillet doesn't even apply today.
Mr. Bacon: I don't know what they knew or didn't know, but the point is at one time they subscribed to disarmament. Our goal has always been to achieve a peaceful, secure, stable Kosovo, and that would be mean disarmament on both sides and Serb troops out.
Q: Ken, if I could just go back to the Bosnian model that you cited. Also, if I remember correctly, there was a clear statement in the Bosnia mission that the NATO-led force was not going to be escorting refugees back to their homes. That is the repatriation of refugees was not one of the military missions of that NATO force. Is that going to have to be different with an international force in Kosovo? Would not escorting refugees, making sure that they get back to their homes, be an essential part of the military mission?
Mr. Bacon: I think you'll appreciate that just several hours after the G-8 has announced an eight-point plan that has not been accepted by Mr. Milosevic, it's premature to talk about details like that. However, it has always been our assumption that if there's an international force with NATO at its core back in Kosovo, if the Serb troops are out, that the refugees will want to come back and will be able to come back. And without getting into the fine details, I think that it's undeniably true that they would rather move back into their homes than remain in refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania.
Q: Back to the KLA. When the KLA crosses the border into Kosovo, have they been drawing concentrations of Serbia MUPs and VJ? Have they basically been presenting a situation that NATO could take advantage of in further reducing the KLA and MUP?
Mr. Bacon: There are concentrations of the Serb army border patrol and special police along the border. General Wald showed some attacks against some of the border, the patrol posts a couple of days ago. Where we find concentrations of troops, NATO aircraft are attacking those concentrations, whether they're on the border or elsewhere.
To answer your question I guess more directly, the KLA is out on its own looking for concentrations of troops that they can attack, but I want to point out that they are a very lightly armed, mobile insurgency operation, and they do not have much ability to attack an armored, much more heavily defended, organized military force, so they have to pick targets of opportunity when they arise.
Q: When you said they were stronger, stronger than when? Than when this started on the 21st (sic) of March?
Mr. Bacon: I think what happened is that they took very heavy hits, starting actually before March 21st, because it was clear that Milosevic sent his army and special police forces out to try to wipe out the Kosovar Liberation Army starting before the NATO attacks. And so they were reduced starting probably around March 20th or before that, and reduced into the early days of the NATO bombing. They were not eliminated, as Milosevic had hoped or projected. And in recent weeks they've been coming back. And the main reason they're stronger is they have begun to recruit more people, and they have a stronger base of support.
Q: Is NATO helping them recruit people, Ken? Are they showing, helping people in the camps meet KLA representatives?
Mr. Bacon: I don't think that NATO has to help displaced Kosovar Albanian refugees find the one group they think has been working on their behalf. The Kosovar Albanians are very able to find the KLA representatives.
Q: Ken, has the Army told you yet what it learned from debriefing the three soldiers?
Mr. Bacon: Yeah, let me give you a very brief account of what I know from the Army. My anticipation is that the Army will be briefing on this maybe in Europe relatively soon, but I guess the two headlines are that one, as General Grange said earlier, the Army has concluded beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were abducted by forces at least dressed in VJ uniforms within Macedonia. That is the people dressed in VJ uniforms -- and maybe they were VJ soldiers -- came across the border into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and abducted these people and took them back, the three soldiers.
The second is that when they were surrounded and captured, they were pulled from their HMMWV and they were kicked, punched, hit with rifle butts, and treated extremely roughly. This was the time when they incurred the majority of their injuries, although there were also periods of harsh treatment during interrogation and the several days following after their capture. But we believe the bulk of their injuries were sustained in the early moments of the captivity.
Those are basically the headlines of the circumstances.
Q: There were reports right after their capture that when the Macedonian police went out and interviewed the locals that the locals had said they were, they had been in a -- the soldiers had been in a convenience store buying soda or something, and then had taken the soda and gone back out on patrol, and the implication being that the people in the convenience store then phoned ahead to say there were a couple of American soldiers coming toward you. Has that been confirmed?
Mr. Bacon: I don't know that to be the case. I haven't seen that in what I've read and no one has mentioned that to me specifically. But I can't answer the question for sure, because I haven't asked it.
The Army does believe that these soldiers had been observed for some time from across the border, and that their movements were somewhat known to the other side, and that they had been under observation certainly on the day that they were captured.
Q: One other question. The other persistent rumor is they did not have ammunition in their weapons.
Mr. Bacon: I don't believe that to be the case. They had a .50-caliber machine gun on their HMMWV. It was not ready to go, because typically when you drive around you don't have the thing ready to fire. There was a soldier at the machine gun at the time they were initially shot at. He followed standard operating procedure, which was to close the hatch and get out of the fire, but I don't -- again, the report I saw didn't specifically address the ammunition issue, but it's not my impression that they were without ammunition. They also had one M-16 and, I think, two side arms with them.
Q:...explanation for why they broke off from the other HMMWV? Is there an explanation for what made them do that?
Mr. Bacon: This is something that the Army should address when it goes through this in more detail. They did consciously do some training exercises on their own individually, but they were supposed to reconstitute into their three-vehicle platoon or convoy before leaving, and this one did not come back to the place where they were supposed to reconstitute. That's my understanding.
Q:...a training exercise that close to the border with conditions along the border deteriorating...
Mr. Bacon: These are all very legitimate questions, and they're the types of questions the Army will address when it...
Q: If you could clarify what you just said a second ago. You said they didn't come back to the place where they were supposed to reconstitute. Was that because they were captured that they didn't come back? Or was this prior to them being captured, but they didn't join...
Mr. Bacon: When the Army briefs, it will get into a very meticulous sequence of what happened.
Q: What type of training were they doing?
Mr. Bacon: They were actually training to avoid the type of situation in which they were caught.
Q: What specific evidence does the Army have that they were inside Macedonia when they were captured? Is it just the description or testimony from these three POWs? And how would they know, because the border's so ill-defined there?
Mr. Bacon: It comes from a variety of interviews including with the POWs, with people in the area at the time, and from other intelligence sources.
Q:...there was a special unit involved in taking them. Does this appear to be a mission designed to capture U.S. soldiers? And is there a reason to believe that the local people, as David said, not necessarily at the convenience mart, but local people were cooperating with this unit of VJ?
Mr. Bacon: All I can tell you is that they were captured by people who were wearing VJ uniforms. There was once a report that they were captured by Arkan's Tigers. I don't believe that's the case, but I'm not sure we know exactly who captured them at this stage.
Q: What time were they captured, Ken?
Mr. Bacon: We went all through this before. I don't know the exact time they were captured.
Q: Ken, to follow up, does it look like this was a mission designed specifically to capture American soldiers across the border? Is there any reason to...
Mr. Bacon: It looks like I'm going to let the Army answer the rest of the questions on this, because they're going to be able to do it in much greater detail.
Q:...machine gun, or at least the M-16, and (inaudible) they were not doing either.
Mr. Bacon: First of all, I said they had a guy at the .50-caliber machine gun at the time they were under fire.
Mr. Bacon: I didn't say they had no ammunition. I said that it wasn't ready to be fired, and that he followed the normal rule of getting out of the line of fire so he wouldn't be shot.
They were taken by a substantially larger force; I don't know how much larger, but they felt that they didn't have any alternative but to stop. In fact, as they tried to get out, they ran into an obstacle, which I believe was a ditch, which also made it difficult for them to get away.
Q: It was reported that the recent visit of General Clark to Bulgaria -- he has reached an agreement for attacks against Serbia from Bulgarian soil. Do you know what this is about?
Mr. Bacon: I think the Bulgarian Parliament has recently voted on an agreement to allow overflight rights, and I'm not aware of anything beyond that.
Q: Anything on your deployment about 24 F-18 planes in Hungary for attacks against Serbia?
Mr. Bacon: No, I have nothing to say on that now.
Q: It was reported today in the Washington Post.
Mr. Bacon: I understand that.
Q: If Milosevic gives signs that he is willing to take, agree to the G-8 agreement, what are the mechanics for a bombing halt? Does the NAC have to agree to it? The NAC in a large vote?
Mr. Bacon: I think we're a long way from a bombing halt right now because we don't have any indication from Milosevic that he's going to accept any sort of a peace agreement. So rather than guess as to what the modalities might be, I think it's better just to wait and see what happens.
Q: Were these soldiers targeted because they were Americans? Or simply because they were part of NATO? Or...
Mr. Bacon: I don't know the answer to that question.
Q: Does General Wald have a brief?
Mr. Bacon: He does, and I'd be glad to have him brief right now. It's actually a very good brief.
Q:...related to coverage in Tirane, Albania, to the Apache operations there. There's a pool organization set up there by the Army's so-called public affairs apparatus, and while every news organization in the world is locked outside the gate and has a pool arrangement, there is one single news organization that is inside the gate with full facilities -- free rein of the base and access to the activities inside there. I'm wondering [if] it's a policy of this Department, of your office, or of the Army Public Affairs office to provide special access for a single news organization to the exclusion of all other news organizations.
Mr. Bacon: That is in fact our policy, yes.
Q: It is?
Mr. Bacon: Of course it's not our policy. (Laughter) It is not the Army's policy, either. My understanding is that General Meyer, who has been in Europe, has worked out a pool operation. I've not had a chance to talk to him. He's returning tomorrow. But my understanding and certainly my instructions have been that the pool will operate in the normal way that every single fact or piece of footage that the pool takes will be available to everybody else.
Q: And will any other single news organization be allowed free rein, inside access to put cameras inside cockpits, as has been the case up to this point?
Mr. Bacon: All of that will be available to everybody.
Q: Is material that was already shot inside these cockpits available to the pool?
Mr. Bacon: From the day the pool begins, what is taken will be available to other news organizations.
Q: Clearly last night on Nightline (inaudible) to do with this Apache safety stand-down, (inaudible) something of quite long duration here. You're saying clearly today there was no safety stand-down, and it was a pause for remembrances of the people killed?
Mr. Bacon: In the formal sense of a safety stand-down where a commander sends out -- as the Secretary of Defense has done at various times -- sends out a message saying that there will be no flying for 24 hours or 48 hours, and I instruct the service to take the following measures, there was not a safety stand-down in that way. That report was in error.
There was a pause. And I think that you can appreciate why there would be a pause in flying in a situation like that where a unit has lost two people. But there was not a formal safety stand-down.
Q: They did no training last night, for instance.
Mr. Bacon: They did no training last night. They had a memorial service at 18:30, and they typically train at night, and they did not train after the service.
Q: Who ordered the pause? The headquarters commander, or was it at a higher level?
Mr. Bacon: I think it was ordered by the commanders in the field.
Q: The relations there between the press and the Army PAO are poisonous. The press is convinced, and Nightline seems convinced, that it's going to have exclusive access to the first combat operation, first combat use of the Apaches.
Are you willing to say that there will be no exclusive access on the first combat mission?
Mr. Bacon: First of all, I have discussed this issue with General Clark. I have discussed this issue with General Meyer. Our clear view is that when the pool begins, and I don't know if it has begun yet, but from that moment on, there will be nothing exclusive about it -- that whoever is there taking film will immediately make that film available on the normal pool arrangement to everybody else. And I believe that ABC understands that as well.
Q: Ken, going back to the situation you outlined. If Slobodan Milosevic does not see the light and you go ahead and do exactly what you said NATO is prepared to do, which is degrade his forces to the point where they're no longer in control of Kosovo, that would be presumably a fairly chaotic situation. Would that military action in and of itself create the situation where the refugees could safely return home?
Mr. Bacon: Would a chaotic situation create the conditions that would allow the refugees to return home? I think we'd need much more than chaos, and that's not NATO's goal. That's not anybody's goal. That's why we're trying to negotiate an agreement that has the five principles we've discussed many, many times -- cease-fire, Serb troops out, international peacekeeping force with NATO at the core in, refugees back, and a move to some sort of autonomy. That's what we would, I believe we could achieve if those five principles were met. I believe we would achieve a situation that would not be chaotic, that would provide a promise of peace and actual stability s that the Serbs would be able to -- would be out and that the Kosovar Albanians would be able to return home.
I'm going to let General Wald take over.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/#slides]
Major General Wald: Good afternoon.
[Chart - Weather Conditions]
You've had about an hour's worth of notice, so you know what it is better than I do, but it's predicted to be bad. It was last night. It will be probably bad the rest of the day, and then into the next few days, they're looking at a high pressure area that's supposed to come in -- even though it doesn't show here -- and they're hoping for about ten days of good weather.
In spite of the fact the weather was about as crummy as you could get last night, they still flew over 500 sorties, and I think about 255 strike sorties last night. There's a slide for that I'll talk about in just a moment.
Q: General, isn't it worse this year than in year's past?
Major General Wald: I don't know. It seems to be to me, but from what I've flown over there for a few years, it hasn't been this bad. But once again it comes cyclic, and I think in the next week or two we'll probably have some pretty darn good weather. But it's hard to predict.
[Chart - Level of Effort - Day 43]
The good news is, I guess, is in spite of it, we're still flying quite a few sorties. As I'll show you here, even though there were only 11 targets that were on the pre-planned list (inaudible), there were actually about 12 or 13 additional kind of flex targets attacked, and then there were numerous targets attacked in the Kosovo area, fielded forces. You can count it up, but there's I think about eight or so tanks down there and several APCs. The word we got back were 18 armored vehicles including tanks, APCs, and then in the category of 25, 26, 27 vehicles total. Then some other type things in that area, some artillery, and there were some radar relay sites, some SAM IAD type stuff attacked, some airfields and POL. So they continue to attack. And in spite of the fact the weather was, like I said, pretty bad, a few weeks ago this would have been a high day of flying. As a matter of fact, it would have been a record. But we're not there now.
So I think what you'll see over the next few days with the weather starting to get better -- you'll only see the OPSTEMPO increase more, and you'll see a lot of this happening, but we'll continue to march on up through the FRY here and prepare to take down his capability not only to employ the fielded forces, but to sustain those. There's been a lot of questions on that, but you can just start thinking through this thing, as you continue to take out his sustainability, it's pretty difficult.
Q: You say some of the MiGs were taken out by A-10s and F-16s and others. (inaudible) Were A-10s involved in taking out the other tanks?
Major General Wald: F-16s took out tanks; we had some Navy aircraft take out some tanks; had the A-10s take out some tanks; there were NATO aircraft taking out some tanks. So I'll show you some film in just a minute and it will answer some...
Major General Wald: The A-10s carry Maverick and gun. I think some of the Mavericks were used.
Q: Have they hit anything with their guns yet?
Major General Wald: Yes.
Q: What is MISREP?
Major General Wald: That's a mission report from a pilot, and the way that works is after your mission, as soon as you're complete, get out of the area and you're safe, that you don't have to be worrying about being shot, you get on the radio and you give a coded report. I can tell you exactly what it is -- Alpha, Bravo -- Charlie, it's not going to make any difference because the code changes every time. That then goes back through various sources. They'll call in ABCCC initially and tell them they're leaving the area and things are looking good, give initial. Then they'll call the AWACS, tell them. That is passed back to the Combined Air Operations Center for an initial report on how things are going, anything they want to get reported back to other aircraft that may be flying, coming in later.
Then [on] the ground after landing, and we've gone through that whole drill. But they'll get in and take a look at their tape from their mission and then they'll actually sit down and write out a detailed report on everything they saw, specifically how they did in their mission, whether they thought it was successful, and whether the tape says it was successful, what type of target they attacked, the details surrounding that, and then any other thing that happened on that mission they could report that may be useful.
These mission reports take awhile to write, and then they have people that actually sit down and accumulate all the data for those, and that's another source of intelligence and data, how things are going. But that's only an individual saying this is what I saw on that particular mission. Generally, the details are correct from what he sees, but you never know whether that's all total truth. So you add other things together to try to get the full picture from it.
Q: General did the B-52s fly last night? And if so, did they drop gravity bombs?
Mr. Bacon: The B-52s flew last night and did drop gravity bombs. They were on troop assembly areas and a runway both. There's a bunch of people in the back back here that do a lot of that work, about what I just went through, so they're probably glad I mentioned it.
[Chart - Ft. Dix CONOPS For Refugee Reception]
Quickly into the reception of refugees. As you saw yesterday, one aircraft arrived with about 458 folks on board. There will be another one tomorrow. Then this will continue on through until there's the 20,000 folks. They're moving into Fort Dix as we speak, and that's working out just fine.
Canada also yesterday -- I talked to one of my Canadian counterparts -- they brought in over 500 people in Canada over the last couple of days, and have another 100 or so that are in homes up in Canada, so there are lots of countries doing that. I'm getting an accumulation of that I'll show in the next couple of days.
Q: Did the refugee woman have her baby yet at Fort Dix?
Major General Wald: I don't know. I sure hope so. (Laughter)
Captain Doubleday: She had...
Major General Wald: So there were actually 459 then. (Laughter)
Captain Doubleday: That's what we understand.
Q: Boy or a girl?
Major General Wald: Whatever it is, it's an American.
Q: General, what's the BMP stand for that was on your last...
Major General Wald: That's an armored personnel carrier.
Major General Wald: Right.
[Chart - Operation SUSTAIN HOPE Last 24 Hours]
Then just once again, there are about 16,100 or so refugees that have come out of, both into Albania and the FYROM over the last 24 hours. They continue. I'm building a chart that shows all the different things that are being done right now to take care of the refugees. It's massiv, and it's cumulative, and it's kind of the reverse of what Milosevic is doing in a cumulative way.
2,500 by 13 May. I understand that may be pushed up, on Camp Hope, to earlier than that. Then as I mentioned earlier, the [arrivals]. That will continue on for about 400 or 500 per aircraft load for 20,000.
Q: Those refugees are coming from Macedonia?
Major General Wald: Yes.
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied+Force]
[Photo - Gorozup Destroyed Border Post, Serbia - Post Strike]
Just some imagery over the last couple of days. We talked about -- I think Ivan or one of you mentioned the border posts and what they're doing with those. This is an example of a border post that has been destroyed. Some of these are smaller than others. What they're doing from there is spotting artillery or watching for UCK troops coming in. They actually spot artillery from Kosovo that could be fired at the UCK. So it's a combination of a place for observers as well as for spotting artillery. That one has been destroyed.
[Photo - Sombor Airfield, Serbia - Post Strike]
The Sombor airfield, we talked about the airfields being struck. This is just another example of some of the ammunition. It's a smaller airfield, continually taking out their ammo and the sustainability, and methodically over time, that will just all be destroyed.
[Photo - Damage at Livadica Command Post, Serbia]
This is a fielded armor brigade command post. It doesn't look like much, but they start building them up as you go along. In this area here, this is in Kosovo. This command area here for an armor brigade has been destroyed. You can see some of the tracks from around there and some other bombs that have been dropped there.
Q: Do you have any follow-up on that bunker buster used on the tunnel at Pristina?
Major General Wald: No, I haven't seen any imagery from that. I understand they were direct hits, and it's kind of hard to tell without getting into the bunker, but I know they were successful.
[Photo - Gnijlane Army Garrison, Kosovo - Post Strike]
The Gnijlane army garrison in Kosovo, once again, a fairly large army garrison. This is in Kosovo itself. You'll see that most of the major buildings here have been destroyed over the last few days. There are several vehicles here that I'm sure are potential targets again.
[Photo - Damaged Armored Vehicles]
Some armored vehicles along a road. They're hard to find. They move along. I'm going to show you some film of a tank here in just a moment from a Predator. But we continue, when we do find them -- these two have been actually hit. They're not what we would call destroyed. They haven't moved for quite awhile, so I suspect they're probably not operable. So you get into that category of whether it's destroyed or not. These are right now not effective.
[Photo - Destroyed Tank near Kamena Glava, Serbia]
Then some more tanks here. This is I think over the last, I think it may have been night before last. There's three actual tanks in here. It's hard to see because we fuzzy up the film for good reason, but you -- there's a turret laying off this one, that's probably destroyed; and there's a turret laying off this one; there's a hole in the top of both of these. You can just see where the turret should have gone. They're both totally destroyed. This one is -- the turret's still on it, so I'll give it credit; they could probably repair it, but sometime, I'm not sure when. So we continue to take out their fielded artillery, armor. You can see where the tracks are.
Q: General, this morning NATO briefers said that 200 tanks and artillery pieces have been destroyed. Is that your understanding?
Major General Wald: After the briefing it is. I mean, they've got the numbers, so I'd look back at his numbers, and I would suspect that's probably it.
Run the film, please.
What I'm going to show you here is a Predator footage from a few weeks ago. This is a couple of weeks ago of a tank. I want you to find the tank in this picture if you can. I won't tell you where it is. There's one in there. This is a civilian car by a house. The car's in good shape, as we speak. There's a tank right there, a civilian car, and military truck. What you'll see as the Predator film runs, this tank starts to move, the line on there is the turret. It will become a lot more apparent as it goes along.
This Predator film is from a ways off, so it's a little bit moving around, but you can see the car looks like, from what I can see, it's in pretty good shape. The building there has either been burned out or destroyed. This tank will pull out of its parking position shortly and drive over the car, for whatever reason is beyond me. There's no reason for him to do that. He drives over the car, sits on it for awhile, then backs out and leaves. The house across the street is on fire. You'll be able to see that in a moment. The tank now is going over the car. Stops on top of it. We've actually stopped the film here for a moment. Crushes the car, which this is obviously a civilian car, for what reason they're doing this -- other than the fact that it's obviously not a very professional military. The house above the tank and car that comes into view, you can see the corner of it's on fire. They've set that house on fire. You'll see in a moment on the corner.
The tank starts to back out off the car, which if it was in the way and it was impeding its ability to fight, you could probably imagine it, but I don't see any fighting going on and any reason why, unless he just doesn't know how to drive a tank, he could drive over a car. The house above is on fire. There's a military truck you can see in there that's along with -- there's actually another truck above the house you can't see very well. That's another military vehicle.
You can see he's starting to back off the car now, the tank here. You can see the house on fire. And I'm not sure how most people would interpret this, but this is about as unprofessional as anything I've ever seen a military force do.
Q: General, what's the capability of getting the imagery, the location of the tank from the Predator to the ground station processing it and then up to an F-16 to destroy the tank?
Major General Wald: Very good.
Q: Have they been doing that kind of sequence?
Major General Wald: Yes.
Q: Was this tank later struck?
Major General Wald: I can't tell because I couldn't tell the serial number. I knew that was going to come up. But there was a tank in that area destroyed shortly thereafter on that day.
Q: Has that image been (inaudible) as well?
Major General Wald: This has not been, just because of the size of the screen, etc. But you can see the house is burning; this tank is driving off; there's another truck going to go with it. There's a truck above the house in a moment. I don't think this is very uncommon. I think this is probably -- when you look at our target base and the effort we go through to avoid collateral damage, and the fact that we try to avoid hitting civilians, just the opposite appears to be for the Serbs. They're attacking innocent civilians, innocent targets. If I was in that military, I'd probably definitely quit.
And you'll see the tank clear now, as it comes out. There's no doubt what it is. He drives down the road. I hope, I'm pretty sure it later was attacked and destroyed. There were several in that area.
Q: Is this day- or night-time imagery?
Major General Wald: This is day-time imagery.
Q: When was it?
Major General Wald: This was a couple of weeks ago.
Q: Do you have an exact date?
Major General Wald: No, I don't, but it was before we started flying a lot of the robust missions into Kosovo.
This is now of yesterday. These are three tanks. Once again I said the weather was terrible last night, but NATO forces were able to have a lot of success on some of the tanks. You can see they're hard to find. When you do, those are three tanks in an area here. This is an F-16. This is night. Once again, a direct hit. Whether it's destroyed or not will have to remain to be seen. This is another one of those three tanks I just showed. You can see the other one burning here, a tank in between two houses. That area of houses has been evacuated. There's another tank in the same area. You can see where they're putting their tanks. It doesn't show a lot of courage, as far as I'm concerned. That's obviously got some secondary with it.
Another tank, day before yesterday, F-16 again with an LGB. You can see where he's been driving around. As I showed you earlier, that I think is one of the ones of the imagery I showed earlier. A pretty good secondary, so pretty good damage to that. They normally don't drive after that.
This is an F-14 off the THEODORE ROOSEVELT FACing, forward air controlling for an F-18. Fielded forces. You can see, he's just filming it. That's not his bombs. You'll see a Maverick come in below here in just a moment, which is a radar missile, or the electro-optical.
There it is. That hit the target.
Another fielded forces. Another F-14 from the TR with an F-18 Hornet, electro-optical guided bomb. Once again, he's a forward air controller watching these attacks, directing those attacks from his aircraft to another aircraft. You'll see a bomb come in from the left here in just a moment. There it is.
We continue to eat away at their fielded forces. This is a VJ/MUP concealment area in the Kosovo engagement zone. This is an F-16CG with gravity bombs. This aircraft here is actually filming the bombing. He's not the one doing it. That's the forward air controller. We continue to eat away at his fielded forces.
Military vehicle in the Kosovo engagement zone. F-16 with an LGB laser-guided bomb yesterday. Once again, in spite of the weather, we were able to find many of the fielded forces -- which obviously as time goes on, we'll find more and more of them. They have less places to hide. We know where they've been.
A nice-sized secondary on that one. It probably had some ammunition with it.
Military vehicle in the Kosovo engagement zone last night with an F-16 again. You can see this vehicle under here fairly clear. That hit that one. There was another vehicle just to the top of the screen from that that this next one will show, more than one in there. I'll show that later.
There's an F-14 again with a forward air controller, an F-18 with cluster bombs. Probably CBU-87. The support air controller has pointed out the target area where the forces are fielded. You'll see a little, one attack down here on one bomb; then you'll see the CBU come in.
So wherever they are, they don't have any sanctuary.
Here's another F-14 forward air controller off the THEODORE ROOSEVELT with an F-18. He's a forward air controller, again. This is three days ago. You'll see this is a forward air controller watching a hit there, and then you'll have another strike come in in a moment.
The last thing I'll show you is a Predator on April 8th again. This is night, and this is some film of refugees along a road. This is about a 15 kilometer string of refugees being forced out of Kosovo at night. You can see campfires all along this road. We won't show you all the film, because it takes too long. But, obviously, this is what Milosevic's target is. It doesn't take a lot for a military to do this type of thing, so his military is not only unprofessional, but not much you can say about it.
Q: Where is that?
Major General Wald: That was in southeast Kosovo. More than likely, there were tens of thousands of refugees along this road.
When these films were taken, we weren't at the point yet where we were attacking his forces in the field quite as much. Obviously, we are a lot now, so he's a little more preoccupied with that, so he doesn't have quite as much time to attack innocent civilians. He has to protect himself more.
Q: Can you talk about the difficulty of air-dropping supplies into a place that looks relatively open, from what we can see here, and relatively well defined? Does that present less risk to air-dropping humanitarian relief?
Major General Wald: You mean the terrain itself?
Q: Well, in the picture that you've shown us with the tens of thousands of refugees, does that present less risk than in the mountain areas, wooded areas you've described?
Major General Wald: The risk isn't from the terrain; it's from the threat. So whether it's flat or mountainous, it doesn't really make any difference if you're being attacked or there's a threat for surface-to-air missiles or AAA, so that really doesn't make much difference.
Q: General, in what way were the refugees being attacked there? Just driven from their homes? Is that what you're saying?
Major General Wald: I think so. When their houses are burned, their cars are driven over, and they're kicked out of their country, I guess you wouldn't necessarily call that an attack, but...
Q: Did those people later get out of Kosovo, or were they near the border?
Major General Wald: I believe most of those were refugees now, from what I understand.
Q: What was the date?
Major General Wald: 8 April.
Q: General, we're getting reports of a lot of MANPADs being fired. Any more of our planes hit?
Major General Wald: I haven't heard of any aircraft over the last 24 hours being attacked, but yes, they are firing a lot of MANPADs, which is not unusual. And it's probably a good point, because a MANPAD can, as we know, probably from that A-10 the other day, got hit by it, we only talk about the larger SAMs. They're just as lethal in the right area, so they do fire a lot of MANPADs at us. Not at us. At them.
Q: I'm sorry if I missed this, but April 18th a Predator went down, (inaudible). Do you guys know what the cause of that was?
Major General Wald: I don't know if it was mechanical or not. I don't know.
Q: Given the propensity of your strikes in the last several days against the fielded forces, would you expect to see any sign from them soon that either they're retreating or that you've somehow turned the tide and they'll leave Kosovo, or that they've been degraded to the point where you -- what else do you expect to see that would let you know that you're really having an impact in a larger sense on the situation, the military situation in Kosovo?
Major General Wald: That's a good question. I think you would expect some of the things we are seeing where there have been reports of some desertions in places, where the morale may be lower than others. On the other hand, it's going to be very difficult, because the real signal will be when Milosevic says "I've had enough." And the reason I say that is not because that's what we always say, but I don't suspect his forces are all of a sudden in the field going to say, "we quit," and Milosevic doesn't, because they're going to have a bad time one way or the other if they do that. So I don't think Milosevic is going to let them quit until he's ready for them to do that, so they have alternatives. They can either desert, they can try to get away, or they can continue to fight, or they can do what they're doing. A lot of them right now hide behind things and hope they don't get killed.
But this is not -- they're not in a democracy. They're not all going to have a day off where they vote and see if they want to continue or not. Milosevic has got them out there; they're stuck. It's a difficult position for them, too, but that's the way it is. They can decide maybe they need a new leader, or they can continue to fight, I guess.
Q: What about the officer corps? Any evidence that there's greater reluctance on the part of the senior army leaders or mid-level leaders to go along with this?
Major General Wald: Once again, it's only anecdotal, sporadic reporting. You've heard some of that. But I think I'd go back to the same thing I told Dana, that their life expectancy isn't real high when they go back to Milosevic and say, "I think I've decided I don't want to fight anymore, I'm going to go back to work some place." They probably don't have much of a chance.
Q: General, you say those forces are mostly hiding out. Does that mean essentially that...
Major General Wald: Well, I say hiding out. What I'm saying is they're in next to houses and buildings; they're not moving around a lot. They are, when they have to, attacking the UCK either because they've been attacked or they see an opportunity to try to keep themselves from being attacked. But there's not a lot of movement around in Kosovo as you would expect for an army that's out there on the offensive.
Mr. Bacon, I think, alluded to the fact that the UCK is growing. His number I think was -- I've seen numbers up to 14,000. So the problem for those in the field is becoming difficult. It's not over. There's a ways to go, but they are going down in capability as everything we're doing is going up.
Q: There's no evidence of resupply from the Second Army in Montenegro.
Major General Wald: I've heard reports they've tried to do some resupplying from the Second Army. I checked into that. I'm not sure how much they can do. There certainly aren't rotations in the category that Mr. Bacon would say they're going to rotate airplanes out today from so and so and back. They don't have any of that. So they have as much as they can do by sneaking in through roads or small roads or whatever method they use. But there isn't any indication of a battalion- or brigade-type size moving in and letting somebody else go home. The ones that are in Kosovo are staying there. They've been there...
Q:...some leakage from Montenegro down into Kosovo?
Major General Wald: I haven't personally. I've heard anecdotal that that's probably occurring. You have to assume some is. But I don't think it's anything of significance. And the fact of the matter is, I think NATO briefed that there were somewhere in the category of 48, 50 percent of the bridges destroyed, large ones. So when you look at a resupply of an army of some sort where they're in the category of 40,000 in there in the first place -- to resupply that, you don't do that with one truck, or you'd need large convoys. So they're having very much of a problem.
Q: General, how do you strike by mistake the Greek group, Doctors Without Borders offering help to the Albanian refugees?
Major General Wald: How did who strike them, please?
Q: How did you strike by mistake a Greek group.
Major General Wald: Well we didn't strike a Greek group.
Q: It was reported extensively the other day.
Major General Wald: There's a lot of things reported, but the Greek group, from what I understand, said they were not hit by the air, which is good news; and number two is they thought they were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade of some sort. We do not have any rocket-propelled grenades on any of the aircraft or anything on the ground, so the only thing I can speculate is something else hit them besides an airplane, but there were no NATO airplanes dropping bombs by that convoy that day.
Q: Can you say as a result of these attacks in Kosovo, the NATO strikes on the fielded forces, have you seen them stopping small-scale ethnic cleansing? And if so, would you also expect that at some point soon the refugee flow would stop? We've had a flow that's been forced by the forces themselves.
Major General Wald: I think some of the refugees are leaving because they are doing it on their own. They don't want to be there, if people burn your houses and take your cars and all your belongings. They try to get to places where they can have food. But from what I understand, there are places where the UCK is around areas where there are IDPs. I would suspect those IDPs feel some support from that, and I would feel that the Serb/VJ would feel that they probably can't get to those IDPs as easily when they are being attacked by UCK, but it's very complex; there are all types of situations there. And there are indications, too, that the VJ and MUP are not allowing some of the IDPs to leave. So why they're doing it that way is beyond me.
Q: Some of the pictures you've shown of the tanks that are sort of sitting out in the open, why do you suppose the Serbs are letting those sit out in the open? And then as you go down this road of continually attacking his fielded forces, is it going to get harder or easier? In other words, are you hitting the easy targets in the beginning, and the targets to come, are they further burrowed and so on? Or is it somehow the opposite?
Major General Wald: I think it changes. I think why they're parking out in the open -- I think they're trying to actually mount some kind of a little, maybe a local type of offensive against something, or even being protective in some way. They don't stay there very long. It's just like their airplanes at the runways. They'll move them around every few hours or so. And I'm not sure why they would stay out for a very long time, but I would suspect as they start getting more and more destroyed, they'll probably have the tendency not to move around.
Now when they move around, they're not much of a threat to anybody, so that's fine with me. So I can't speculate whether it will be harder or easier, but if they go park in a garage someplace and stay there, that's just fine with me. They're not hurting anybody. And I would suspect as the weather gets better [and] we fly more sorties, it will be more difficult for them to move around not only because we'll attack them when we find them, but because we're going to continue to attack all the other things that support it. And after some time, they're not going to have fuel to operate with, and they'll pretty much atrophy out there.
Press: Thank you.