Also participating in this briefing is Major General Chuck Wald, J-5.
Related briefing slides
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. I apologize for the delay.
As you heard during the NATO briefing, they promised that we would have gun camera footage for you, but they promised that before we actually had it, so we've just been through a chase through all of Europe to get this and we finally got it, and General Wald will show it to you momentarily.
Before we start let me just make a couple of comments. This accident at Korisa did not shake NATO's resolve in any way. The air campaign will continue with increasing force, particularly against Serb ground forces and police units in Kosovo. We've already taken out one-third of the combined total of tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces and we will continue our assault against those forces on the ground. In fact the destruction will accelerate.
Second, NATO deeply regrets civilian casualties at Korisa or anywhere else in Yugoslavia that result from the campaign against the Yugoslav forces. We try very hard to avoid these casualties, but combat is inherently dangerous and accidents cannot be avoided.
By contrast, Milosevic could have avoided the policies that have visited so much death and destruction on Kosovo. He has systematically and intentionally turned Kosovo into a killing field and this was no accident.
He's driven 1.5 million Kosovar Albanians from their homes. He's killed more than, 5,000 people in mass executions and buried some of them in mass graves. He's destroyed thousands of homes and 500 villages and towns. He's detained or removed 100,000 military-age men from their families and villages. And he's used refugees as forced laborers and as human shields. He has never expressed regret for this.
As we continue the air campaign to suppress the Serb forces and drive them out of Kosovo, we also will continue to work to alleviate the human suffering that Milosevic's policies have triggered.
In that regard, 400 more Kosovar Albanian refugees arrived at Fort Dix this morning, and another plane brought 216 refugees in under the State Department program to repatriate them with family members in the United States. So a total of 616 refugees have arrived today at Fort Dix. There are currently 2,600 waiting for placement with other families in the United States.
With that, I will turn it over to General Wald.
Q: Can I just ask two quick questions first?
Number one, NATO said that four GBUs were dropped and six gravity bombs. I believe two GBUs by one plane and two by his wingman, and then six gravity bombs. Can I ask, I don't know if NATO said what kind of planes dropped the GBUs, and what country were they from, and who dropped the gravity bombs?
Mr. Bacon: This attack was done by American F-16s, and as you will see from General Wald's presentation, there were a number of targets including artillery pieces in revetments around a MUP, and we believe MUP/VJ sub-headquarters building in the town of Korisa. So you will see all of this both in a still picture as well as in gun-camera footage of the engagement.
Q: The gravity bombs were also dropped by F-16s?
Mr. Bacon: They were, and they were dropped on the artillery revetments around the headquarters.
Q: Ken, do you believe that the civilians were being used as human shields by the Yugoslavians?
Mr. Bacon: This has been reported. We have no reason not to believe it. Obviously, we're not there interviewing the Kosovar Albanians who were in this unfortunate incident or their handlers. What we do know is that they were in the hills, they came out of the hills, and they happened to be put next to a building that the Serbs had to know was a target because it's exactly the type of building we have been hitting, the type of installation we have been hitting with regularity throughout Kosovo.
As you'll see, it has berms around it. These aren't the type of facilities or protective wall that one would put around a school or a farm facility. So this was a built-up area with some protective berms around it and they were placed right in the middle of these berms.
Q: Are you finding more of this? Is Milosevic using people as human shields more?
Mr. Bacon: Well, there are reports -- we've seen, obviously, people on bridges, camping out on bridges, sleeping on bridges. We've heard reports of refugees being forced to stay under bridges so they could be killed if the bridge were struck. We've certainly heard other reports of refugees being put into or near areas that are military targets. And as we've learned before through the convoy accident back in April, that he does integrate refugees into military convoys. In other words, they're mixed, military and civilian convoys. We think all of this is done to complicate the targeting and to create exactly this type of public relations event that he thinks he can use to his advantage.
But the point I made at the beginning and I want to stress again, is that this type of event is not going to shake NATO's resolve.
Q: You said it complicates. To what extent does it complicate what NATO's trying to do?
Mr. Bacon: It clearly complicates it. It has to make us more discriminating in the attacks which can be difficult, but we try to do it. And that's the main reason it complicates it.
Q: You say they were put or placed in this village. Do you have evidence or information that they were actually moved in there by Serb forces?
Mr. Bacon: I'm saying there were reports that they were doing that, we don't know. We don't have independent confirmation. What we do know is that they ended up sleeping next to a building that the Serbs had to know was a target because we had hit many other installations like this throughout Kosovo over the last seven weeks. But I stress, we weren't there. We have not been able to interview people who were there. And we don't have independent confirmation of that. It certainly looks like this was arranged to make them human shields, but we can't confirm that.
Q: Ken, you started by saying this accident will not shake NATO's resolve. Was it from a strictly military sense an accident?
Mr. Bacon: I think that it was an accident in the sense that we are trying to avoid hitting civilians, particularly civilians who are already fleeing repression. It is not our goal to hit them a second time. They've been hit once. They've had a lot to cope with over a long period of time from Milosevic. We're trying to make their life easier, not worse. In that respect, it was a regrettable accident.
Q: What would happen if they bring civilians around bridges and buildings that you don't want to hit and all that. Then he will do [it] in the future [with] more civilians around these buildings and bridges. So how can you avoid civilians...?
Mr. Bacon: Well, you've just put your finger on a challenge. We do our best. We have a military goal to meet. We're doing our best to meet that goal with as little collateral damage as possible, but as I have stressed, General Wald has stressed from this podium many times, this is conflict and casualties are impossible to avoid.
Q: Does this in any way change procedures for NATO in its war campaign? Will you be changing the way you target, the way you change the intelligence you do beforehand, or anything like that?
Mr. Bacon: As General Wald has explained many times, we always evaluate every mission. The successful ones and the unsuccessful ones. This was successful in that we hit the target. It was clearly unsuccessful in that we hit civilians that we hoped not to hit.
This mission, like every other, will be reviewed and the airmen and their commanders will learn what they can from it and continue. But I don't anticipate that there will be a sweeping change. We can't cross legitimate military targets off the list, and we won't.
Q: You mentioned that you had to know that this building would be a target. What came out of the NATO briefing was something about it used to be a tractor factory or a tractor storage area. What is the nature of the building as you understand it?
Mr. Bacon: The nature of the building was that we have seen military people going in and out of it over a period of time. We've seen military vehicles parked in the parking lot over a period of time. This isn't just a one-day event. But based on observation and other types of intelligence we determined that this was being used by the military and the special police.
Q: A follow-up, please. Jamie Shea was quoted overnight in a BBC interview saying that they had reports that soldiers were involved in and among the victims, and soldiers may have been some of the victims. Is there anything to that? Is there any intelligence or...
Mr. Bacon: We have had those reports based on intelligence sources. We have not been able to observe those on television because if they were there, presumably, the Serbs removed them, and you can't observe them. We haven't been able to observe that through any other technique, either.
Q: Are you sure there were civilian casualties? Do you have independent confirmation of that?
Mr. Bacon: Well, we have the confirmation of what we've seen on television. We have no reason to doubt that there were civilian casualties.
Q: Ken, were these civilians, these refugees coming out of the mountains, were they moved in under darkness, under cover of darkness in a surreptitious way so that our recon, NATO's recon, did not know they were there by the building when the building was struck?
Mr. Bacon: We certainly did not know that the parking lot was filled with refugees at the time it was struck. It was struck at about midnight, as General Wald's presentation will show, so it was dark. And they were operating through night vision devices.
Q: So it's deliberate use of civilians to make perhaps available to NATO a target that was both Serbs and refugees. In other words...
Mr. Bacon: I think that's a real possibility based on the past patterns of the Serbs. But as I stressed, we don't have independent confirmation that that happened, but it certainly does fit a pattern of what's happened in the past.
Q: Was this a village before the airstrikes? Was this where villagers lived and it's become a military compound of sorts since the airstrikes began?
Mr. Bacon: This actually is in an area about 1,000 meters from the village. It is surrounded, as you'll see, by two things. The first, farms, what appear to be farms; and the second, artillery pieces put into revetments. Why the artillery pieces were in this area and which way they were aimed I guess is an open question.
Q: That's where the bomb hit.
Q: The village had been evacuated? I'm sorry. The village had been...
Mr. Bacon: First of all, the area has been -- there has been fighting in this area for some time and shelling in this area. Over time there has been -- this area is fairly near Prizren which has been an area that has been evacuated earlier. I think back in March there were evacuations from the Prizren area and maybe later as well. In fact I read a public report that was put out by another government agency that made this comment about Prizren which is the nearest large town.
"Serb forces executed 20 to 30 civilians and transported ethnic Albanians to the border in late March according to refugee accounts. At the border Serb forces confiscated all personal documentation, removed all license plates from vehicles, and warned refugees never to return to Kosovo.
"A Kosovar Albanian who traveled to Prizren for a funeral on April 2nd reportedly witnessed ethnic Albanians being forcibly evicted from their homes on two hours notice. The houses were either set ablaze or used to shelter Serb forces. Another refugee from Prizren reportedly witnessed Serb forces burying numerous ethnic Albanian bodies and burning homes throughout the town. Many ethnic Albanians remain in hiding because they fear Serb reprisals.
"According to refugee reports, Serb forces surrounded Prizren on May 2nd. Those ethnic Albanians who were allowed to leave were stripped of their identity cards and forced to walk to the border. The remaining ethnic Albanians are reportedly experiencing widespread food shortages and Serb store owners have reportedly placed signs in their windows reading 'No bread for Albanians'."
That's an account from refugees of what's been happening in Prizren over the last month and a half.
Q: You say that the building, the parking lot, the refugees, were -- and the attack, the bomb struck an area about 1,000 meters from the village, not in the village itself?
Mr. Bacon: Right.
Q: This is where this was concentrated.
Mr. Bacon: That's where it was concentrated.
Q: And you did hit the building and the area you wanted to hit outside of the village, right?
Mr. Bacon: Yes.
Q: This is where this happened.
Mr. Bacon: Yes.
Q: Was the village evacuated, about 1,000 meters away?
Mr. Bacon: I don't know whether the village was evacuated or not.
Q: What do you know about the civilians themselves? Where had they come from? Were they on the move before they...
Mr. Bacon: We haven't talked to any civilians, but the reports are that they'd been in the hills. And these are actually reports that have been in the Serb press, that they had been in the hills for several weeks. They had come down from the hills because they were running out of food. And that they, presumably, were under the guidance of Serb forces, were under the control of Serb forces, but we don't know that for a fact.
Q: Where were they going?
Mr. Bacon: They said that they were returning to their homes. That's what they were quoted as saying in news accounts, that they were returning to their homes because they were tired and hungry from having lived in the hills. So that suggests two things. One, that the village had been evacuated in whole or in part because they'd left and they were coming back to their homes. And two, for some reason they felt they would be better off back in their villages than they would in the hills. What they were quoted as saying in news accounts were that they were encouraged to come back by the Serb authorities.
Q: This wasn't their village, was it? You said the village -- I'm getting a disconnect. A village that had been evacuated and these people returning to their village, you don't know that these were...
Mr. Bacon: I don't know that they were going to Korisa or to another village.
Q: Just to be clear, do you have evidence that they were moved in the night just very shortly before the bombing?
Mr. Bacon: I don't think we have that degree of clarity on what their situation was.
Mr. Bacon: Can you say what sort of procedures are in place for NATO right before a bombing to check for civilians? I mean what are the possibilities there for...
Mr. Bacon: Well, there are a number of possibilities, but it is very difficult to see people sleeping in parking lots in the middle of the night with any of our monitoring devices. So we had been checking this area from time to time, but it's difficult to know at midnight exactly what's in a parking lot when you're flying an airplane, and General Wald can discuss that.
Q: On another topic before General Wald comes up, this video that a massacre appears in Izbica. Have you seen that video? And what...
Mr. Bacon: I saw "a" video on CNN last night about 6:00 o'clock and I haven't seen it since.
Q: Any reaction to that?
Mr. Bacon: Well, it's appalling. What I saw was appalling. It is a video documentation of what we have been verbally describing based on refugee accounts. I think that many people who have been to Macedonia and Albania and talked to refugees about systematic rape, about mass executions, about the depopulation campaign that the Yugoslavs have been running throughout Kosovo have heard this before, but actually seeing signs of it on video, of course, is much more chilling than hearing about it.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/#slides]
Major General Wald: Good afternoon.
[Chart - Weather Conditions]
The weather, as I said yesterday, over the last 24 hours has been pretty good down south in Kosovo. It's been a little bit worse up north in the Belgrade area which has hindered a little bit of the operations up there. And over the next day or two it looks like it may get a little worse. Then we've got a string coming up for about seven to eight days predicted to be clear weather and good flying over most of the area and that's the trend you would expect this time of the year. I'll show you some film in just a minute of the weather over the last 24 hours and what it looked like just before I came in.
[Chart - Level of Effort - Day 52]
Yesterday was the high OPSTEMPO. Again, as I said earlier, a concentration of the effort was in the Kosovo area, around the southwest part of it which is intended to go after their forces on the ground. But there was a group of targets throughout the rest of the FRY to include some radio relay sites, some industry, some command and control. We took some of their radar out and some of their SAM radars again last night. I'll show you some of that. But over 33 [targets were] forces on the ground of which [there were] four artillery, and 16 vehicles. One was a bridging vehicle. They're trying to repair or have the capability to do work-arounds on some of their bridges. I'll show you how that's working. We destroyed one of those. I don't have an actual video of that, but we destroyed one.
But what he's started to do, or trying to do, is use some of the secondary roads. Most of the major road bridges are out and we're attacking those, and eventually we'll have most of those down too, and he'll be pretty much isolated in the Kosovo area.
[Chart - Total Force Concept]
Just to let some of you know that the Guard and Reserve are playing in a big way. Basically, over 4,400 Guard and Reserve folks playing both in the Kosovo area, flying airlift missions as well as combat missions, other support folks, and then there's some back in other areas that have been called up and that will continue. But just to let you know, the Guard and Reserve have been operating in the area since 1992 with Bosnia, now with Kosovo, so they continue to make a great contribution to the effort.
[Chart - Refugees in Theater]
As Mr. Bacon mentioned, not a lot of movement out of Kosovo for the refugees. FYROM actually has continued to go down; Albania has a small increase. Some have been moved into Camp Hope, as we talked about, and in Montenegro a small increase. But for some reason Milosevic is not pushing the refugees out as much as before. Maybe as Mr. Bacon talked about before, that might be part of the reason.
[Chart - Provide Refuge - Refugee Status]
Fort Dix still has refugees coming in, as you can see, over the next few days. Several hundred. Their capacity will probably go up to about 4,000, but they're starting to move more and more of those people into private home areas, and the ones that come into JFK go right directly to families. That continues in a good way.
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied+Force]
[Photo - Milosevo Highway Bridge]
Next, some imagery from yesterday. This is the Milosevo highway bridge. You can see this is one of those secondary bridges I was talking about. The span here is dropped, this bridge is dropped. So he is trying to use those as work-arounds. We'll continue to take those down and restrict his movement and sustainment effort.
[Photo - Prizren Area Bomb Damage]
This is the town that we were talking about earlier near Prizren. That was the area of the attack last night as Mr. Bacon talked to.
This distance here where the actual village is itself is about one kilometer away. This is actually the target that was struck. It's been used as a MUP police sub-headquarters. We've seen military activity in this area. You can't see very well from this picture from the distance you're at, but there appears to be some possible berming or something around the parking lot. We're not sure what that is.
These are actually the bomb craters of the Mk-82 500-pounders that were dropped on -- and I'll show a better picture of this on the film -- revetted areas where artillery was. There has been military activity in that area over the last couple of weeks to include SAMs, AAA, air-to-air artillery, mortars, and VJ/MUP police in the 50 to 60 range. So it has been used as a military area.
It was on the list as a military target. It was one of those targets in the Kosovo engagement zone when we have forward air controllers or close air support type aircraft working they would look for and attack. They actually did call back to say they were attacking this target before they attacked it. It was on the list and it was a military target. They intended to attack it, and they hit it.
Q: General, you said the Mk-82, a 500-pounder...
Major General Wald: Yes, that's a gravity bomb.
Major General Wald: Correct. There were actually GBU-12s that were dropped on, 500-pounders.
Major General Wald: Yes. There were actually two of those, Charlie. One from each -- two different airplanes, right.
Q: So there were a total of eight bombs dropped.
Major General Wald: That's right.
[Photo - Prizren Area Bomb Damage]
This is the actual picture that was bombed. This was previously the building itself that was hit by a laser-guided bomb, and then there's a parking area here where the vehicles were. It was actually hit by another laser-guided bomb. You can see -- in this area here you can actually see some of the revetments all along here in the picture, that these are artillery revetments that are probably within about I'd say 150 meters of the actual building. So they're associated with this building.
So the bombs on the first two with the laser-guided bombs actually hit the exact spot where they were intending to hit. Unfortunately, their film ran out. The film in the cockpit of an F-16 is two hours long. This mission was about five hours long. The good news is I have film of the wingman actually showing this spot being hit, burning, and actually these bombs dropping, so I'll show you that.
So that was the target it was intended to hit. It's been used as a military target over the last few weeks.
As Mr. Bacon mentioned, there are reports -- we don't have confirmation -- that there were military police involved as casualties of some sort here. So whatever the reason there were civilians there is regrettable, but this was on the list as a military target. As you can see here, they have the military revetments close to it, which would indicate it is a military sub-headquarters of some sort.
Q: Did the gravity bombs hit where they were intended to hit?
Major General Wald: Some of them, did, Charlie. You can see here in this area there are more revetments, a couple hit here. One hit right in here. Then they had a couple of others hit in this area that wouldn't have caused any collateral damage. But they did have some of the gravity bombs hit the revetment, revetted areas, that were probably for artillery, more than likely.
Q: What are those three diamond-shaped structures there just to the...
Major General Wald: What these are is -- the way the photo is taken it looks like they're diamonds. It's been dumbed-down a little bit so you can't tell the quality perfectly, but they actually are regular-shaped-type buildings, and because of the angle it just looks like more of a angle of a building, but it's really just a peaked roof there.
Q: Describing the artillery revetments, was there in fact artillery in the revetments?
Major General Wald: I'm not sure if there was or not. We assume there probably was. They did not actually see in the revetment itself whether there was or not because they're covered and camouflaged, but they have been used, we have seen artillery there in the past with other means which are easier to identify with. So you have to assume they probably had some artillery in that area if they were operating around there, but I can't tell you if they saw artillery or if it was firing at that time.
Q: General, before we see the film, could you review what those eight bombs were again, please?
Major General Wald: Yes. There were two GBU-12s and there were eight Mk-82s. Six Mk-82s, excuse me. And those six Mk-82s are gravity 500-pounders, and the GBU-12s are laser-guided 500-pounders.
Q: Just a point, NATO had said ten -- two from each of the F-16s -- of the laser-guided and that's incorrect?
Major General Wald: Yes. What I understand in talking to the CAOC, [is] that they each dropped one 500-pounder on these targets -- two aircraft, one each.
Q: How many planes were there altogether? Two dropped...
Major General Wald: There were four aircraft involved. So the way it worked is on this first target there was a two-ship of aircraft, one forward air controller, and his wingman had bombs. And actually the leader had laser-guided bombs and the wingman had Mk-82s. It's a forward air control CAS mission, so it would have that.
The second flight that came in was the same type of configuration. The leader had a laser-guided bomb, and the reason he only had one is he has a rocket pod on the other wing so he can shoot white phosphorous rockets. That's for his forward air control marking. So the leader had one 500-pounder and a white phosphorous rocket pod; and the wingmen each had six Mk-82s on them.
The wingman on this first one did not drop his bombs because the smoke from the first aircraft's bomb was still billowing up, and he didn't want to hit the wrong target, obviously. So he didn't drop.
As the second flight came in about five minutes later, the first one left, they identified the target as well. The leader again dropped a laser-guided bomb on that target, and the wingman then went in to attack the artillery.
Q: With all six?
Major General Wald: He might have dropped them all six at once, Charlie.
Q: A flight of four, but only three dropped ordnance.
Major General Wald: That's correct.
[Photo - Bomb Damage Morina Area, Kosovo]
This is a different target area up in the hills along the border of Albania. This has been identified earlier as a VJ/MUP area that they've been trying to interdict the UCK. This is a B-52 strike in that area against that target.
[Photo - Destroyed Surface-to-Air Missile Equipment, Serbia]
This is a picture, yesterday, of a Low Blow radar. They were nice enough to put it right in the middle of the area there. But in fact, it's very difficult to find when they did. I'll show you a film of this a little bit later. They actually destroyed that Low Blow radar. Actually, I showed it yesterday in this area. That was a radar associated with an SA-3 SAM.
The first thing on the film today -- we'll have the weather as it's been over the last 24 hours. Then I'll show you a still of the weather of a few hours ago, and then we'll get into the gun-camera film. At the end of the film will be the bombs and I'll stop and talk about that, the event in Korisa.
The film (sic) [weather] for the last 24 hours, projected into tomorrow. This is actually what it was. You can see the area. Most of it in the south was pretty good. These are high clouds, the green. Most of the area was pretty good. The high clouds aren't much of a problem. They're up around the 25,000, 30,000 range. A little bit of blue came in a little bit later in the day. Most of our work was down in this area, fortunately. So the area that we're working has been clear over the last 24 hours.
As you can see toward the afternoon we expect thunderstorms as the summer goes on, and that will be routine.
This is a picture of the actual weather as of a couple of hours ago. You can see the area we wanted to work in here was pretty clear. This is some high-level clouds up into the north. That will probably be the routine over the next couple of months.
Some lines of communication, the bridge issue we were talking about a minute ago for restricting his movement. This is an F-117 on a highway bridge over a canal in northern Serbia with an LGB.
You can see, as I said, some of the weather over the north was a little bit less cooperative, unfortunately, but still in this case he was able to work through it and did a great job here, this pilot, and kept the laser on the target. [He] was able to hit the bridge and take it down. That was a tough job for that pilot to maintain a lock and [he] did a good job.
This is a restrike over a bridge in southern Serbia by an F-16 with a laser-guided bomb. Some of these bridges are a little more macho than others. This one's been hit a couple of times. Probably still has the ability to walk over that, but after this bomb there's no chance that you're going to use that bridge any more.
His sustainment. That's a petroleum tank truck. They continue to try to move their fuel around so we can't find it. They put them in tank trucks. This is another one out in the Serbia area. An F-16 with an LGB. There's one that's been attacked up in the left-hand corner already burning. That one didn't have probably very much fuel in it.
Vehicles in a cave. He's trying to do whatever he can to husband his equipment. When we find it, we'll kill it.
An F-16 with a 2,000-pound bomb. It penetrates and blows up, and probably whatever was in that cave is probably destroyed.
His IADs. We talked about taking down some of his radars. A Low Blow radar and a Spoon Rest again yesterday. This is the Low Blow associated with the SA-3.
You can see this is an AGM-130 off an F-15E. They're trying to hide their equipment in trees. You can see at the end-game it's not a decoy, it's camouflaged. Chalk one up.
Forces on the ground, we'll continue there. We had a lot of effort there yesterday. We'll continue on today. They've had a lot of success today. This is some camouflaged tanks in southern Kosovo off an F-15E LGB.
This is an F-16 forward air controller putting in F-15Es. This is one already dropped here. There's two more aircraft that will drop in this area here against camouflaged tanks.
Revetments in the treeline in southern Kosovo. This is more of the revetted area. F-16 here - about a 500-pounder, a smaller bomb.
A vehicle storage area in southern Kosovo. Another F-16. These are gravity bombs. This is a forward air controller. You can see all the vehicles stored up in here. He's trying to hit an armor vehicle in the middle here. This is a forward air controller and that was another aircraft that destroyed that armored vehicle that was in a storage area.
This is the Korisa area. This is the MUP headquarters compound, a revetted area. That was the area that Mr. Bacon talked about a minute ago. You can see the actual burning of that building here. This was a forward air controller.
You can see the revetments here. They spring out over here. This building's already been struck twice. It's burning here. In this area you can see some of the berming. You can see the Mk-82s hit here, here, and here. So we probably took out some of the revetments as well. That's what the area looked like from the air.
Q: Do you know how many artillery were hit?
Major General Wald: No, I don't. I don't know how many of those revetments had them in or not, but I suspect if they were in the top two to the right revetments, those probably were hit.
Q: You said earlier four artillery were hit overnight. You're not talking...
Major General Wald: I don't think those are the ones they're talking about. It could have been. I don't know if that's the same one they're referring to or not.
Q: General, why did it take so long to figure out that this was a NATO bombing?
Major General Wald: I think we knew right afterwards that we bombed there. I don't think there was any time delay at all. I knew yesterday right after it occurred that it was a NATO bombing.
Q: This morning NATO said they were investigating...
Major General Wald: When they're investigating, that to me tells me they're investigating something they have data on and they're looking at it. So they were reviewing this, and from what I heard yesterday all along, we were pretty clear that there was a NATO bombing.
I think the confusion was whether that film on TV was the same area we had attacked or not, and we just wanted to make sure of that before we came out and said what had happened. But there was a full review of this, as we do any of these. And quite frankly the CAOC and the pilots, and everybody else spend a lot of time going over these incidents.
Now there haven't been very many, fortunately, so it doesn't take that much time out of their overall scheme of things. But every time one of these occur the pilots spend the rest of that 24 hours going through this tape as well as a lot of other people to make sure that we have our facts straight. In this case we have them right.
Q: General Wald, during the NATO briefing they said even as they were speaking they were flying back over this area in daytime to take a BDA on that area to see what they hit.
Major General Wald: Right.
Q: Have you had any input on that, any feedback from that? Do we know more about what...
Major General Wald: I actually showed you the imagery a minute ago that they were actually taking earlier, and if we get any more we'll show it to you. But those images I showed you earlier -- that I talked through -- are the ones I was talking about.
Q: You said you were reflying it during the daylight and looking at it to see what you hit. I was wondering if perhaps they had found some artillery pieces that were damaged or anything?
Major General Wald: I haven't heard that. I'll try to find out if they have. I'm sure if they find them they'll attack them and destroy them.
Q: If they had seen tractors in that parking lot around that building, would they have scrubbed that particular target?
Major General Wald: I'm 100 percent positive if the pilots knew there were civilians in that area they would not have dropped.
Q: General, you said the two laser-guided bombs hit exactly where you wanted them to hit. Have you determined in the investigation whether the alleged deaths of the civilians was probably or more likely caused by the laser-guided bombs or the gravity bombs?
Major General Wald: If in fact there were civilians in there when those bombs hit, which I'm not sure that's the truth or not, but if they were in that area they would have been -- if they were in that compound, those were the laser-guided bombs that hit that area.
Q: Have you had reports with Serbs fighting in that area, maybe with the KLA? Do you have any knowledge of potential damage from Serb fighting in that area?
Major General Wald: I've heard reports, and there are various places you hear reports, but I'd heard reports that there had been fighting in that area over several days. Not every day, but on and off. I've heard various reports that the VJ/MUP had moved refugees into that area.
We know that they have fired from that area before. We've seen indications where they've had other military equipment in that area before, some of those SAMs, mortars, artillery. So they come and go. They move. They know that when they're in a place for very long something will happen to them, so they move around.
So yes. The answer is yes, they have had some activity in there.
Q:...substantial damage from Friday was NATO's damage.
Major General Wald: The damage on that particular target that I showed you that was burning was from the bombs that we dropped.
Q: If there was additional -- the suggestion yesterday was there may have been additional damage done by the Serbs themselves either to make it look worse, to worsen the civilian casualties or something. Do you know in fact whether that happened?
Major General Wald: We just have had the same reports Mr. Bacon talked about. We've heard -- there were reports in that that type of thing had occurred. Once again, I don't have any verification of that. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if that were to occur, but from what we saw on TV which is as close as you can get, it's hard to tell whether that was additionally caused by artillery or whether the Serb/VJ went in and did additional damage or not. I wouldn't know.
Q: How long has this been under surveillance? Had you taken pictures during daytime and nighttime? And during any of that surveillance was there any indication of civilian population there?
Major General Wald: I know for sure it's been under surveillance for a couple of weeks at least, maybe longer. From what I've seen in images from before, there were never any civilians in that area that we observed before. Now it could have, obviously, before this started there were obviously some, but from what we've seen in the last few weeks they were during the period, and we don't look at it every 24 hours or every minute -- there hadn't been any.
Q: General, can you maybe clear up or help interpret something the NATO briefer said at NATO today? He said that they saw silhouettes of vehicles which is why the pilot was allowed to go back and attack. There was radio traffic or whatever that they actually saw silhouettes of vehicles. But were they silhouettes of tractors? And if they were silhouettes of tractors, wouldn't that be a cue to back off maybe?
Major General Wald: From what I understand, and of course we've had a little more time since the NATO brief, that was a target that had been observed over time with military activity there verified. When the pilots went out to this particular target, through their targeting pod which is infrared, they saw the target. It was exactly as they expected it to be. There were vehicles in that area. They had no reason to believe they were anything but military because of the revetments and the activity they'd seen. So whether or not they could tell from their imaging pod and whether -- and you're getting a little technical here, but because of the atmospherics, sometimes those pictures are clearer than others.
It looked like to me from the targeting pod we saw, it was fairly clear that night for that type of imagery. So I'm sure they saw vehicles in there. They did, for sure, identify the compound. You could see the revetments. And from everything they had heard from before and seen, it was the same exact target they wanted to attack. They went back and called back to verify that [it] was the same target number they had wanted to hit. That was cleared. And then they attacked it.
Q: General, given that these events are beginning to happen now with some regularity, do you think the American people need to be prepared for the idea that hundreds or perhaps thousands of civilians are going to be killed over the next few weeks and months by NATO bombing?
Major General Wald: First of all, I don't know what your definition of regularity is, but if 10 or 12 out of 20,000 is regular, then your definition is different than mine.
Number two is, I think as we've stated early on -- General Shelton stated it, Secretary Cohen stated it, Mr. Bacon has mentioned it, NATO has mentioned it -- that we are doing everything we can to avoid collateral damage of any sort, whether it be civilians or even buildings or anything else. This is war -- combat, I should say. This is combat. In combat we do everything we can on our side to be as precise as we can. The aircrew, the planning, the whole system is as diligent as can be, but every once in awhile in this type of situation you will have some collateral damage. And as we go on with this and the OPSTEMPO increases there will possibly be periodic times where this happens. Our goal is zero. When we don't have zero, of course we're dissatisfied.
On the other hand, Milosevic's targets are 100 percent collateral damage, so we have a problem there.
Q: You said the pilot saw vehicles there. We can assume these are vehicles that weren't there before. Wouldn't that have tipped them off that something was different?
Major General Wald: Well, as I said before, they come and go. We've had times when there have been more vehicles there than others. We've had times when they've had different types of vehicles there. We've had times when they've had surface-to-air missile type equipment there and AAA equipment and mortars. So they've obviously been coming and going and moving around.
So it wouldn't surprise me one bit if that one day they'd have more vehicles there than others. So I don't think you could use that as a discriminator or indicator necessarily in this case.
Q: I think Ken said that you were now going to become more discriminating because of this, even though you'll intensify your campaign. How can you become more discriminating?
Major General Wald: I think what -- I think it's subconscious for pilots to be even more discriminating and try as hard as you can. I've been through this type of situation myself in Vietnam and in Bosnia, and as you look through these things you try as hard as you can to make sure that what you're seeing is exactly what it is. There's different methodologies for doing that that I won't go through right now.
But I would say the fact that now they've done a full review of this, there may be some lessons learned from this. I'm not sure necessarily what they would be. I think the procedures as were planned and we've been executing before are very, very comprehensive. It makes it very, very difficult for the aircrew to perform this type of mission. But if there is anything they can do differently that would help us avoid this and they can learn a lesson from that, that will be disseminated and incorporated.
But this type of activity has been going on for many, many years -- forward air control activity -- and this is the best I've ever seen in my 27 years of being in the military because of both training and the equipment. We have -- Mr. Bacon mentioned earlier, they were using night vision goggles. They also have the forward-looking infrared. They have the ability to magnify 12 times. Even with that, it's hard to tell sometimes if there are people sleeping under a tractor, which would be nearly impossible.
But I think the procedures will be reviewed. If there's something they can do better they will incorporate it. But I'm sure today they're flying with the same procedures that we've used for many years and being successful with it, and pressing on with the mission.
Q: General, why are you calling this conflict not war when millions have been driven out (unintelligible) and more refugees are leaving the area as airstrikes are going on. What is the difference between conflict and war?
Major General Wald: For me flying an airplane and being shot at, there's not a lot of difference. But from the standpoint of the fact that we have no argument with the Serb population or anything else, that's not at issue. We're after his military and that's what we're going after.
Q: Do you think these civilians were under those vehicles?
Major General Wald: Possibly.
Q: You don't know?
Press: Thank you.