DoD News Briefing, Monday, May 17, 1999 - 1:35 p.m.
Also participating in this briefing was Major General Chuck Wald, J-5)
Related briefing slides
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
I've got a couple of announcements here. The first is that 18 A-10s left Barnes Municipal Airport in Massachusetts today heading for Italy. They'll arrive in a couple of days. These are part of the 176 additional aircraft that we announced several weeks ago when Secretary Cohen signed the deployment order.
They come from three National Guard units. The first is the 104th Fighter Wing in Westfield, Massachusetts; the second is the 110th Fighter Wing from Battle Creek, Michigan; and the third is the 124th Wing from Boise, Idaho. Each of these units is contributing approximately 170 people along with the six planes from each unit to comprise the 18.
Later this week we anticipate that 18, I'm sorry, 24 F/A-18Ds will leave for Hungary where they will bed down. So both these groups of planes should be ready to operate relatively soon.
Q: From Beaufort?
Mr. Bacon: They are from Beaufort, North Carolina. South Carolina. It says North Carolina on my chart, but it's South Carolina.
Mr. Bacon: F-18s. Twenty-four F/A-18Ds. These are Marine Corps planes.
Second, I know many of you were interested in the two Serb prisoners. I expect they will be released soon, perhaps tomorrow. Final details are being worked out. They will be released through the International Committee for the Red Cross.
That's it with announcements.
Q: Ken, voicing an opinion that they have not been reluctant to voice, British Foreign Secretary Cook said today that NATO forces should be prepared to move into Kosovo, into Yugoslavia as soon as the Yugoslav military is weakened enough, with or without a peace agreement.
Does the Pentagon agree with that, or is there any friction between Washington and London over this?
Mr. Bacon: I don't think there's friction between Washington and London. We're working shoulder-to-shoulder in this alliance, and we have for a long while. Our pilots are flying together in Operation ALLIED FORCE as well as SOUTHERN WATCH.
I think that everybody realizes that we have to do some work on the issue of setting up or reconstituting the KFOR, the so-called Kosovo peacekeeping force. NATO is hard at that right now, reevaluating what that force should be, how large it should be, how it should be constituted, and when it should move into the area so that it could go to Kosovo at the appropriate time. Obviously, we don't have the appropriate time right now, because we don't have peace, and we don't have any acceptance by Milosevic of NATO's five conditions.
NATO has agreed on these five conditions, and we're working to secure those conditions, and as soon as those conditions are met, then an international peacekeeping force with NATO at the core will move in.
Q: Cook seems to be talking about a peacemaking force if the Serbs are weakened enough. Do you agree with that?
Mr. Bacon: I'll let Minister Cook speak for himself.
Q: What's the Pentagon's opinion of it?
Mr. Bacon: Our opinion is that we are prepared to participate in an international peacekeeping force with NATO at its core.
Q: Can you tell us, will the Serb POWs be released back to the Yugoslavs? You said the Red Cross. Are they expected to return to...
Mr. Bacon: Yes, they are. They have both requested to return, contrary to news reports
Q: Are they in Mannheim?
Mr. Bacon: They are still there, yes.
Q: Will forces have to begin moving in soon, peacekeeping, a larger peacekeeping force, to make sure they're in place before the winter? And also in case Milosevic falls and agrees to NATO's terms?
Mr. Bacon: That's exactly what NATO is looking at now. I think there is a feeling that we have to reevaluate the plans for the peacekeeping force, the so-called KFOR, and NATO is doing that. It's doing it; it's been doing it last week, and it will continue this week. That's one of the issues that will be resolved.
Q: What about evaluating other options, such as a ground invasion or a semi-permissive option?
Mr. Bacon: As NATO said, as the Secretary General said just before the Summit, we will do that. We will take the assessments that we had done last year off the shelf and reexamine them. But that's been put really in a secondary position behind reevaluating the peacekeeping force.
Q: Is it actually being worked?
Mr. Bacon: Well, it's being worked in various levels, but the primary task right now is to look at the KFOR plans.
Q: What's the reason for the release of the Serbian prisoners of war? Should it in any way be seen as a good will gesture or in any way a quid pro quo for the release of the American prisoners?
Mr. Bacon: It should not be seen as a good will gesture because our demands, our standards, NATO standards are very clear to Milosevic. Second, it is not a quid pro quo. If it had been a quid pro quo, it would have happened a long time ago, or if it were a response.
We, as you know, did not seek these prisoners. They came to us through the Albanian government. They had been captured by the Kosovar Liberation Army and then turned over to the Albanian government, which in turn turned them over to the United States.
We have worked very hard to comply with the provisions of the Geneva Convention, and that involves giving them humane treatment, allowing them to correspond with their families, to receive letters from their families and to send letters back, and we've provided religious counseling. One is a Muslim, and one is an Orthodox Christian. They have both been seen by representatives of their faiths. We are also respecting Islamic dietary laws and not serving pork to the Muslim.
We have had to balance two competing obligations here. One is our obligation to the ICTY, the War Crimes Tribunal; and the other is our obligation to the Geneva Convention, under the Geneva Convention. We've done that by asking the prisoners if they would like to talk to the Tribunal and if they had any information to give. They both declined to talk to the Tribunal. We had the International Committee for the Red Cross talk to them, explain to them fully what their rights were. They understand that fully. They chose not to talk to the Tribunal. They said they didn't have information to provide. And going through this process and making sure that we had met our obligations to both of these institutions has taken some time, because we've done this through the International Committee for the Red Cross.
So that having been completed--and it was completed last week, I think on the 12th or the 13th--we made the decision to release them. Now we're in the final stages of arranging the details of the release.
Q: Have either of them indicated that they might not want to go back to Yugoslavia?
Mr. Bacon: Not to my knowledge. I just addressed that a couple of minutes ago. My understanding is they both want to return. However, there will be a final interview with the ICRC tonight or tomorrow to make sure that they perfectly understand what their rights are and perfectly understand what the procedure is, then final decisions will be made in light of that interview. But so far I have received no indication from anybody who's been talking to them or read any reports, based on conversations with these two men, that they want to remain and not go back to their homes.
Q: What are the mechanics of releasing them? Released in Germany or flown back to...
Mr. Bacon: Those are exactly the details that are still being worked out, Ivan. I know you're interested in those, and maybe we'll have something to say tomorrow or the next day.
Q: When will that final interview be?
Mr. Bacon: It will either be tonight or tomorrow morning.
Q: I think, if I recall correctly, you or someone at the podium cited one of these POWs as a source of information about the desertion rate in Serbian units in Kosovo. Have they been a significant source of intelligence?
Mr. Bacon: I wasn't the person who made that comment, and I don't think it's wise for me to discuss intelligence.
Q: About the Apaches, the composition of the crews and the staff in the Apaches, was that the most appropriate composition for the mission that they have? There have been some concerns that they've required a lot of training these many weeks, and that that has further delayed the use of the Apaches in possible combat missions.
Mr. Bacon: Well, I think it's appropriate that units would want to train in new terrain and in new weather conditions and in new threat environments, and they've done that. These obviously are very skilled pilots and crewmen, well prepared to do the job. Nevertheless, it's important to have additional training, and that's what they've been doing.
Q: Have you sent the requests, the recommendation to the White House to release them?
Mr. Bacon: As I've been saying for several weeks, we're not going to talk about where things are in the approval process. When it's appropriate to use them, we will use them. And we will try to use them with maximum surprise.
Q: Will you just comment on the published report suggesting the Pentagon is blocking the use of the Apaches because of the fear of the likelihood that they'd be shot down?
Mr. Bacon: I'd just repeat again that when it's appropriate, we'll use them in the appropriate way.
Q: Along those lines, even as there have been public statements again and again about training, there are people in the Pentagon who say they've had plenty of training all along and it's just a question of when can they be deployed without casualties. Can you comment on which is the more significant factor?
Mr. Bacon: There are people in the Pentagon who say almost anything. (Laughter) But the fact of the matter is, I'm just going to repeat what Secretary Cohen...
Q: I'll note that you said that.
Mr. Bacon: ...and at some point there, probably, it's always right. At some point it's right.
But the point is that both Secretary Cohen and General Shelton addressed this issue yesterday, and they said that the Apaches will be used at the appropriate time, and I think we'll just leave it at that.
Q: Is there a concern that the missiles, the surface-to-surface missiles that accompanied [the Apaches], is a cluster munition, and that there's some concern that it's hard to control that? Is that one of the concerns that commanders and others have about using the Apaches? That the weapons that are used on their behalf to suppress air defenses are cluster munitions that might have unintended consequences?
Mr. Bacon: Well, I think you've seen from the briefings that General Wald has given from time to time that we have been able to use cluster munitions with great accuracy against the proper targets, and that 99.9 percent of the time they have been used with astounding accuracy and the precisely-desired effect. I have no doubt that the soldiers who are manning these weapons know how to use them in the most appropriate way.
Q: There are, again, reports that Milosevic is herding refugees. How is that affecting, if any, targeting, if, as you've accused, he's using them as human shields?
Mr. Bacon: First of all, there is stronger and stronger evidence that he is in fact aggressively using Kosovar refugees as human shields. I think the most compelling report was a German radio report over the weekend, Deutsche Welle, which interviewed a witness of the Korisa event, and that witness said, and maybe you've seen this or heard it, that they were in fact herded into an area and in fact told before the event took place: "Now you're going to see what a NATO bombing strike is like."
So this is pretty compelling evidence from an eyewitness who lived through this that they were herded into this precisely to be human shields.
In addition, let me say we have confirming reports from members of the Kosovar Liberation Army that people are being brought out of hiding in the hills, down into villages, and placed in places where they can be used [as] human shields. We have several specific reports that people have been placed under bridges within Kosovo that the Serbs believe will be bombed.
So there is a lot of evidence. Some of it is personal testimony. Some of it is observation by the KLA, and some of it is circumstantial, that the Serbs are using human shields. This does, of course, fit a pattern of reckless disregard for the life of Kosovar Albanians.
Q: How do you then proceed militarily without the loss of further civilian lives like in Korisa?
Mr. Bacon: We proceed carefully.
Obviously, when you're dealing with an opponent who has no respect for the lives of Kosovar Albanians and is willing to sacrifice them, essentially murder them, it complicates our military operations. But we're proceeding as carefully as we can to try to avoid that. And I think we're making very significant progress against the forces on the ground despite this type of complicating factor that's being thrown up by Milosevic.
We continue to make good progress against his fielded artillery, against his armored personnel carriers, and against tanks as well, and I think you may see some film on that later.
But we cannot be deterred by these tactics. We will continue to carry out this air campaign as effectively as possible. We have made it very clear that we are not targeting individuals. You have seen examples of where we've pulled off attacks. General Wald has shown you examples of where we've pulled away from attacks because we weren't sure of the targets, and we continue to do that if we have intelligence that diverts us from a target at the last minute or observation by the pilots. But...
Mr. Bacon: Pardon?
Q: That's because his strategy is working.
Mr. Bacon: It's working on some targets. It's not working on all targets. I mean, I think the evidence is increasingly clear that he's losing at a more rapid rate every single day and certainly every single week as the figures mount of his losses of heavy equipment. We don't have good figures on the number of troops that have been lost. We do have anecdotal reports through KLA and other sources of units being unable to move because they're out of fuel and supplies. Obviously, some of the units are continuing to move. But there is a steady accretion of information that the attacks are working.
It's important to realize that no matter what Milosevic says, the number of Kosovar Albanians who have been unfortunately killed in NATO attacks is tiny compared to the number of people he has massacred. We now believe that the mass executions are over 5,000 in Kosovo. As Secretary Cohen said yesterday, we fear that a significant percentage of the 100,000 draft-age men who have been reported missing will never again appear, and may be dead. So we won't know for months after this ends, maybe years, the fate of all these people.
But, in addition, I think it's important for the world to understand the depravity of Milosevic. What type of person would use human shields in the way he's using it? It's very clear that he is so lacking in respect for these people that he is willing to put them in positions where they will be killed. It may be that as many as half, or certainly a third of the people who may have been killed in NATO attacks, were put there specifically by Milosevic as human shields.
Now this applies to Serbs as well. We've seen pictures in Serbia where he's put people on bridges to use them as human shields. It's a very peculiar type of respect for his people.
Q: Given what you've just said about Milosevic, is this the kind of person that NATO can reach an agreement with?
Mr. Bacon: Well, right now we're far from an agreement. Our terms are clear, and we're sticking by those terms. NATO is unified behind those...
Mr. Bacon: Well, let's look at what an agreement would be.
Stop the fighting. You don't have to agree to do that, you just have to do it. That's the first thing. Anybody can stop fighting.
The second is withdraw his troops, withdraw his special police forces and the paramilitary forces. You don't have an agreement to do that; you can just withdraw them.
The third is to allow an international peacekeeping force with NATO at its core in. You don't have to have an agreement to do that. Once his troops are out, the force can go in.
Fourth, the refugees return. The refugees will return when they know that the Serb forces are out and that a NATO-led peacekeeping force is there to provide stability and security.
Then, the fifth is allowing the Kosovar Albanians to move to some sort of autonomous self-government.
Q: For the fifth one, do you need his permission for that?
Mr. Bacon: If we get the first four, the fifth will follow naturally.
Q: Ken, on the subject of mass executions, which you say are at least 5,000, I know that you commented on Saturday about the video footage that aired on CNN of an alleged mass execution near the town of Izbica. Have you had since then any chance to see whether that video footage checks out with the picture of the mass burial site near there that was released by NATO on the 17th? Does this appear to be the same event?
Mr. Bacon: I have not personally had a chance to check that out. We are working on that, and as soon as we line those up, we'll get back to you.
Q: Was this the video information, is this something that would be used as they investigate war crimes for possible prosecution afterwards?
Mr. Bacon: Of course. But remember, this would be very compelling evidence because it's so shocking, and it's obviously appallingly graphic. But any case made to the War Crimes Tribunal will be based on a wide variety of evidence -- personal testimony, written testimony, eyewitness accounts, etc. So film could certainly play an important part of that. I assume that we'll have oral histories taken, tape documentaries, etc.
I might also point out that some film ran on "60 Minutes" last night that also showed atrocities, and I think that the fact that this film is available and being shown in the West is just another indication of the type of depravity we're dealing with in Kosovo.
Q: Is it increasingly the trend, in your opinion, that Milosevic is using human shields around key targets? Number one, is that an increasing trend as you see it?
Mr. Bacon: It's hard to say it's an increasing trend. It's been going on since March. This is not new. It's not a new tactic. It's hard to know from two or three recent data points whether the frequency of the use of human shields is increasing or not.
Q: NATO seemed to indicate that it was something that he was doing with greater frequency, which would lead to a second problem for NATO, I would think, and that is the more you go after critical targets the more you are likely to be killing human shields that he has put there. Is that not a logical assumption?
Mr. Bacon: It's a logical assumption if you accept the fact that he's using human shields with more frequency. What we have is in the last week more reports about the use of human shields. These are only reports.
One report is remarkably compelling, because it comes from a witness. That's the Deutsche Welle report that aired over the weekend on German radio.
Clearly this is a technique that he's been using since March, and it's one that he could be using more frequently in Kosovo. We wouldn't put it past him. It would fit the pattern. But we have this anecdotal evidence, and we don't have, obviously, on-the-scene reports at this stage.
Q: On the Deutsche Welle report, how could Milosevic or his troops know that a particular installation was going to be struck? Those plans are simply not known to the Serbs. How would he know to put people around that particular building in Korisa? And I guess I would ask, is this not the epitome of the cynical, that there should be the deaths of refugees, and that is then blamed on the United States when he is placing these people close to hit points?
Mr. Bacon: I couldn't agree more with that description, except I wouldn't use the word "cynical." I'd use the word "diabolical" rather than "cynical."
Your first question is an extremely good question, and I tried to address that on Saturday. He had good reason to know that the target we were attacking was the type of target we've been hitting in the area. And he could guess that when we saw activity around there, we would assume that it was military activity.
So my guess is that that's what he was keying on. But I can't psychoanalyze him beyond that. This is all really circumstantial evidence, that he happened to move people into an area that he assumed we were about to target.
Q: I don't get something about all of this, because if he's moving people in there, and clearly it's not like the bridges in Belgrade--they're not going of their own volition and they're not stupid, and everybody understands that this is a potential target--do you have any sense of how the Serbs are keeping the ethnic Albanians there? Because if they're guarding them with Serb army troops, those guys have to know they're going to get whacked, too. So how is this tactic actually working?
Mr. Bacon: All those are good questions that you should probably ask Milosevic. But the issue here is that they apparently moved people down from the hill--and this is from the radio interview--moved people out down from the hill, said they were going home, told them it was too late for them to get home, and left them in this area near a military target surrounded by berms where the NATO attack occurred.
I don't know what they told them. I don't know whether these people felt that they had any freedom of movement or not. There clearly were some security forces nearby who were guiding them. That also comes from the interview and from other information. But I don't know exactly how they managed to position there or when.
Q: Have you done any more leafletting in areas then to kind of warn ethnic Albanians that they could be in...
Mr. Bacon: We have been doing leafletting from time to time and place to place. I can't answer that question. We'll ask it, certainly.
Q: I want to first yield to my colleague and see if she'll be kind enough to yield back to me when she's finished.
Mr. Bacon: This is very generous.
Q: Very congressional.
Q: You have no indication at all that Milosevic may know in advance, may have some information in advance, as to what the NATO targets might be? And is there anything new on the reports of several weeks back that there may be a mole involved in passing along information?
Mr. Bacon: First of all, we have no information that he knew about this target in advance.
Second, we do know that some of the aviators' conversations can be heard, which may give him advance warning of some targets, but I don't know whether that gave him any advance warning of this target.
We do know that he has a network of ham radio operators who monitor, as best they can, communications among aircraft and try to pass on information to central sources about where these aircraft may be going and what they may be doing. Despite that, we've been able to fly with I think remarkable safety, given the type of informal network of ham radio operators and others he set up.
Beyond that, I can't speculate if he knew anything about this particular target.
In terms of a mole, we found no evidence that there is a mole, and I think that report may have been speculation.
Q: There are reports coming out of Belgrade quoting sources close to Milosevic saying that the Serbs could not withdraw their military from Kosovo even if they chose to because they'll be struck by enemy aircraft while they withdraw.
Mr. Bacon: Obviously, if Milosevic were to declare a ceasefire and to take other actions that indicated he was serious about getting his forces out, we would be able to accommodate that movement. Until that time we will continue aggressively to strike his forces, because every single head fake or feint he's given in the past about a withdrawal has been nothing but a PR trick, and he has certainly showed no significant sign that he's prepared to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. So we will reduce them militarily.
Q: Ken, two questions. (unintelligible) not among those countries. Is it that India refused (unintelligible)? Or that India was not asked by the U.S. government?
Mr. Bacon: That's a good question. I don't know the answer. You could probably find out the answer from the Indian government faster than I could, but I'll ask our refugee experts if they know the answer to that.
Q: About the alleged massacre in Izbica, do you have any evidence of your own to substantiate what you've seen on the video? Is there any of this on the scale, the scope, the timing of this massacre? Can you confirm it?
Mr. Bacon: There is a very extensive report put out by the State Department, and the map that we put out on this several weeks ago. I, unfortunately, don't have that report with me, but I will go back and check and see what it says. I have not done any independent checking since I first saw that report over the weekend, the film on Friday.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news#slides]
Major General Wald: Good afternoon.
I thought I'd change the weather just a little bit so it made more sense. In the last few days, you can see yesterday the weather was poor. It affected flying over the area. What this shows is 100 percent of what the weather would be over the full of Kosovo and the FRY, and only just a portion of it -- this green and yellow -- was in areas they could fly. Today that's changed, and then we should have over the next 24 hours increasingly good weather with a little bit -- and this shows that it may be in some parts of Kosovo and the FRY broken clouds over the next two days. But generally speaking over the next five or six days, we should have almost all good flying weather, so that will help us get the OPSTEMPO back up.
[Chart-Level of Effort-Day 53 and 54]
Not a lot of targets yesterday because of the weather throughout the whole area, but since the last two days, when I briefed you last, we've had over 51 targets struck, many of those forces on the ground. You can see four artillery pieces, 19 vehicles and APCs, a tank. I'll show you a film of that in a minute. Some command and control, sustainment, air defense, mobility.
A lot of questions on, as we talked to Mr. Bacon earlier about the type of targets--as you can see, and we've reminded you here for several briefings, the targets are not just fielded forces. They're the sustainment targets, the LOCs, the command and control.
Today, I understand we've already destroyed a MiG-29, a MiG-21, a Straight Flush radar--that's an SA-6 radar--several artillery pieces and fielded forces. Today, again. So the point that this one target last week was a unique-type target, or wasn't a critical target, per se. As we continue to take down his military capability, he'll have to have a problem here with the long-term sustainment and the ability to reconstitute, [which] will be pretty much nil here from the standpoint of redoing his own type military capability here shortly.
[Chart-Refugees in Theater]
The number of refugees coming out of Kosovo over the last few days has been very, very small. As a matter of fact, we have reports of very few coming over the last 24 hours. They continue to move some out of the Former Republic of Macedonia and Albania, and Montenegro has been picking up some of those, and I'll show you the number coming into the States in just a moment.
[Chart-59 Countries Provide Contributions]
Once again the international community and countries are providing an abundance of food. There still is a need, obviously, for that food to continue, as well as the shelter. Twenty-eight countries that are planning to accept around 160,000 refugees, and the other countries continue to take some of the refugees into their own nations as we speak.
[Chart-PROVIDE REFUGEE-Refugee Status]
The U.S. portion of that, once again 20,000 is what we plan to take in. About 2,905 so far. 2,623 into Fort Dix, and then the remainder came into JFK and directly into, with families or relatives from the United States. I believe they're going to move 100 folks out of Fort Dix tomorrow into family areas or other housing accommodations. So, they'll start moving those out more and more as we speak. And the capacity, once again, isn't expected to go over about 4,200.
[Chart-Operation SUSTAIN HOPE Last 24 Hours]
Camp Hope continues on -- 2,500 folks in there now, a little more than that. By the end of the month it should be completed with 20,000. They're starting to identify the second camp location. They have a good water source there. That will be another 20,000 capacity there. They're planning for another 20,000 to make a total of 60 [thousand]. I mentioned Fort Dix already.
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied+Forces]
[Photo-Sabac Army Garrison Southwest, Serbia-Post Strike]
Some imagery over the last couple of days. This is the Sabac army garrison in southwest Serbia. You can see some of the buildings here. Many of them are totally destroyed. So if they do try to rotate back out for R&R or for whatever other reason, if they can make it, they won't have a place to go back to to do their R&R.
[Photo-Sremska Mitrovica Garrison, Serbia-Post Strike]
This is the Mitrovica garrison, army garrison. Once again you can see several of these buildings. This is the latest attack on one of their barracks there. These were actually previous attacks and some collateral damage -- not collateral, but actually some frag patterns from a previous bomb. This is one full target here.
[Photo-Sjenica Air Base, Serbia-Post Strike]
Take down their airfields. We either hit them on the ground, which is what we've been doing mostly, or take away their ability to fly, even with some of their smaller aircraft. You can see here a B-52 raid has taken down the runway, which-- even though they have some repair capability, it's damaged enough to the point where they probably can't get it up to speed for a very long time.
[Photo-Kragujevac SAM Site, Serbia-Post Strike]
This is a SAM site. It was taken out a few days ago. This is the SAM support facilities here. You can see some of the buildings themselves were all taken out in here, and some vehicles right down here were all hit.
That's an SA-6 site, this last one I just showed.
[Photo-Cestak Border Post, Serbia-Post Strike]
This is a border post. I'll show a film of that a little bit later, but you can see here this is actually a compound inside here. There were buildings in here. You can see they're totally destroyed. I'll have gun camera image of that later.
[Photo Restilica Border Post, Kosovo-Post Strike]
This is another border post. Actually, this was similar to the last one, a little bit better picture. You can see that we're destroying those. I think they have about 20 of those or so, and we've attacked the large majority of those and destroyed them.
[Photo-Tank Deployment in Kosovo]
This is a tank deployment. I'll just show you this. We did not attack this one. They're parking them next to buildings--which once they're there, they don't move around much or do much damage, but we're keeping an eye on them, and when they move, we'll attack them and destroy them.
The first thing we'll have is the weather from the last 24 hours and then some projection into the future. As you can see, there's Kosovo by the arrow. You can see the blue clouds are obviously low ones. Green and yellow go up higher.
The weather, this is from the last 24 hours, now, going into today. You can see there's been quite a bit of weather, which hindered operations yesterday, but it's clearing up now, and you'll be able to see in the lower part toward the end it's starting to clear up, and that's good news for the Ops.
This is the weather as of 0550-Z this morning. You can see Kosovo itself is starting to clear up here. There's some light clouding, then quite a bit up in the northern part. But as I said, it's starting to clear out.
Once again, targeting is not just fielded forces or forces on the ground. It's all the targets that sustain his military and what gives him the long-term capability.
This is a railroad bridge over the Ibar River in southwest Serbia. You'll see this F-16 -- one of the bombs misses by just a couple of feet and goes over it. The next one hits it directly and takes this railroad bridge down. So you don't have to miss by much with one of these bombs. It goes into the river. You can see it there. The second one hits it, and that bridge was rendered non-usable.
Sustainment. The numbers are mounting up for them. This is the Cacak ordnance facility. There's going to be a series of three of these. This was as of a couple of days ago. The question whether there's anything in here I'll show you in a minute. There's one bomb going off earlier. This one, obviously, has a lot of munitions in it. It's totally destroyed.
This is another one of the buildings in the same area. These are LGB 2,000-pound bombs. Small secondary on this one. Not too much. You can see the other one burning in the upper left. Quite a bit of debris from the building destroying it.
This is another one in the same area. Assembly repair ordnance. His ability to have any production of ordnance is going south in a big way. You can see one of the previous strikes there.
Petroleum storage facility. He has no ability to produce petroleum, and that that he's storing is going down fast. You can see this one here has been hit earlier. This was on TV a little bit ago just as I walked in. This one here has been destroyed.
He'll hit this one -- this is an F-15E. And it looks like the one next to it's okay, but from a secondary from probably the frag pattern, it starts going up. So his sustainment and storage is also being taken out systematically and deliberately. That also is going south fast.
This is at Prahovo petroleum storage facility, another one. This is an EF-18 from Spain with an LGB. You can see the one to the right has been destroyed already. This one is hit. Probably not a lot of fuel in here, but the tank itself is destroyed. You can see large chunks of it coming off.
Command and control, his ability to tell in real time his folks in the field what they should or shouldn't be doing.
Livadica command post. This is an F-14 forward air controller controlling a F-18. Hits the command post and pretty much destroys it.
Integrated air defenses, including radar, SAMs, aircraft, etc. This is an empty camouflaged radar warning site. We didn't hit it intentionally because it was empty, but they move their radar warning around.
You'll see AGM-130 off an F-15. It looks like there probably could be something under it. I'll stop it at end game. You can see that was an evacuated area under that tent. That happens periodically. Not too often, but once in awhile.
This is acquisition radar, northern Serbia, taking away his ability to track aircraft coming and going. F-15E with an AGM-130, optically guided. This one was not empty, and it was not a dummy. I'll show you in a moment.
You see it coming in. You'll see a trailer right in front. It hits there. This thing's traveling at over 500 miles an hour, 2,000 pounds, so it probably took it out.
SA-3 tracking radar in northern Serbia. Actually this has got the trailer on it. This is an AGM-130 off an F-15E. That also was taken out.
Forces on the ground. This is the Aleksinac military post in southeast Serbia. This is another Spanish F-18. You can see the building here, a pretty good-sized secondary on this bomb. It takes out most of the building.
This is the Cestak border post we mentioned earlier we were taking out when I showed you some imagery of this earlier. This is the second one I showed you that pretty much destroyed the building. This is an F-16 with an LGB. There must have been something in that one, because there's a pretty good-sized secondary along with it. Probably some ammunition.
This is an armored personnel carrier in the Kosovo engagement zone a couple of days ago. This is an F-14 from the THEODORE ROOSEVELT with an F-18. This is the APC here -- the F-14 is a forward air controller, and that was dropped from an F-18. The F-14 is the FAC in that one. It looks like it continues to burn, so there's probably some fuel or something in it.
This is a tank from a few days ago, F-16CG. This is in southeast Kosovo. An LGB. You can see the tank is hot, white hot. You can see this underneath is not--it's an actual tank; it's not a decoy. You'll see afterwards it continues to burn.
That's a pretty good strike on that. I'm sure that tank probably won't be going any place any time soon. You can see it starts to burn here.
So there are a lot of targets out there, regardless of what he's trying to do, that he's not going to be able to have sanctuary from.
I believe that's all the film today.
Q: General, you showed a picture, and there was an empty trailer. It looked like a flatbed, and then there was a shelter that was also empty. And what looked like a (inaudible) storage tank. Can you tell us...
Major General Wald: The trailer was empty. The vehicle behind that was a Low Blow radar for an SA-3, which is a significant target. So the trailer was about three feet in front of it.
Q: You also hit a storage, a few storage tanks that appeared to be pretty empty.
Major General Wald: No, we didn't hit any that were--one was a little bit empty, but if you saw the secondary from the one next to it, I think is the one you're talking about. Is that the one where there were four burning in the same area or the one that...
Q: One didn't seem to burn very much.
Major General Wald: Right.
Q: My question is, are you finding that you're getting a larger percentage of hits against things that don't have people in them or are empty or are by themselves, probably wouldn't have a lot of use anyway, like an empty storage tank?
Major General Wald: No, we're not. I think I had 80 films today to select from. I just took a cross-section to show you basically where we're going, which types of targets. And that's some, because there have been some questions here -- are they always hits, are they always real high value of some sort. Every once in awhile, you'll get a tank that may be partially full or something. But no, there's not a very high number of those. There are some bombs that miss once in awhile, and there are some that aren't successful, because as you might have mentioned, they might have had something in there previously and gone. That's not very often, though.
Q: I want to make sure I understood you. Were you saying the AGM-130 is a Mach-two-plus weapon?
Major General Wald: No, I'm saying it's probably traveling at over 540 knots.
Q: What's the latest count on aircraft in the AO? U.S.
Major General Wald: U.S.? I'll give you the exact number, but the total allied/U.S. is somewhere around 930 or 940. That doesn't count, Charlie, the ones that Mr. Bacon talked about today.
Q:...downtown Belgrade since the Chinese embassy bombing?
Major General Wald: There have been Belgrade targets. I'm not sure what the...
Major General Wald: I know they didn't hit too many yesterday, or anything there yesterday because the weather was really bad.
Q: It's not a conscious decision to avoid downtown because...
Major General Wald: No. I know of no conscious decision by anybody to avoid downtown at all. I think what they're doing is trying to concentrate on forces in the field somewhat. But, as you saw yesterday or the day before particularly, they went back up north quite a bit, concentrating on military-type targets. When there are military targets in any place, we'll go ahead and attack them.
Q: Of the 38 forces-on-the-ground targets over the last two days you mentioned, how many of those were pre-planned, and how many of those were dynamic targets of opportunity?
Major General Wald: I think the majority were targets that they went out with an idea there was going to be something there and then actually found it. They weren't what you would call fixed targets. Some of those were--those ammunition buildings and border posts are fixed. But frankly, the majority of those targets were targets that were detected and found in an almost, not necessarily real-time, but a little more fluid. So they still continue to attack those type of targets.
Q: How many sorties did you fly last night before bad weather...
Major General Wald: I think there was still about 550, still, with bad weather.
Q: General, when refugees cross the border, typically do they go past those border posts? And is there any indication that because you're hitting them more often that refugees might be scared to leave, because they have to go through a border post to leave?
Major General Wald: I don't believe they're going--I don't know if they go through those border posts. From what I understand, the refugees that do leave are not necessarily walking out on their own. They're being guided or directed. So they don't have really a lot of choice where they walk to. So, if they go by the border post, it's because they're told to go by there. But we have no indication that's causing them to not leave. Our indications are they're not leaving because they're not allowed to leave.
Q: What is your insight on what seems to be an increasingly common perception that the NATO air campaign is not achieving its goals or not as effective because of the unwillingness or inability of the NATO pilots to fly lower? If pilots took more risk, would this necessarily be a more effective (inaudible)? Can you just address that perception, because it seems to be a pretty common perception.
Major General Wald: In DESERT STORM the majority of the sorties after the first few days were flown at high altitude. In the first few days, as you remember probably, during DESERT STORM they were flying a lot of sorties low altitude, and there was a high percentage of aircraft lost, or a higher percentage. That's when most of the aircraft were lost. And frankly, most of those were lost at low altitude.
Since that time, and because of equipment, we've been able to not have to do that. So in Bosnia itself, when I flew there, the majority of our missions, almost all of them, were flown at a reasonable altitude, above the AAA.
So the idea that you would fly low just to fly low is crazy, actually. We don't need to do that.
In cases where we do need to fly low if we have to, we'll fly at whatever altitude they have to.
As I mentioned yesterday or day before yesterday, I guess it was, the altitude that I would certainly, if I were flying over there today, not be flying at is 15,000 feet -- that's what everybody thinks we're flying at.
So they will fly at any altitude they need to to get the mission done right. And I will tell you that some aircraft have flown below 15,000, some significantly below that when they've had to.
But I think the perception that, and there's been a lot written about this, quite frankly--if I were one of the pilots that were shot down or being shot at, I'd resent the fact that the implication is that people are flying at high altitude to avoid taking risk.
Q: Some of the accounts have included accounts of pilots chafing at some of the altitude restrictions.
Major General Wald: I've talked to quite a few of the pilots over there, and I haven't heard one of them chafing at the fact that he has the ability to survive the mission and still get it done. So, frankly, I think it's misstated, and I think a lot of people say this that aren't really totally familiar with how the operation runs, what it's like.
There's plenty of risk going around over there for the NATO pilots, I'll guarantee you.
Q: Some of the pilots say, "If we were allowed to fly lower, we would be able to better identify the targets, and we would be able to better hit the targets."
Major General Wald: I think that's 100 percent sure. And I think they'd also say if, in fact, they didn't have AAA, hand-held SAMs and other types of SAMs, they could probably fly at that altitude, and there probably wouldn't be a problem. So you've got to add on, if I'm flying right over something without anybody threatening me, it makes it very easy.
But the fact of the matter is, and I've talked to folks over there, there's not a lot of complaining going on in actuality about the altitudes that are having to be flown. I think the anxiety a little bit is that there is a misperception at the success of this campaign, in a lot of fronts. I think the pilots I've talked to are frustrated that people don't understand how well it is going. I think they do realize the majority of the American public supports this. But what they hear is what they read many times. The only time they really get to hear any of this is when I get up here and tell them about it, frankly, about what the other side of the story is from back here.
So the majority of pilots are very proud of what they're doing. They're doing it in a professional way. You look at the film I showed today--the fact is I had, as I said, dozens and dozens of other films like that. They know what's happening. Their frustration is that a lot of the world doesn't realize how well this is going.
Q: Just a little bit to add to this to try and get an explanation. But the A-10, part of it is a lot of people are critical because the A-10 flying high altitude using the Maverick, that's fine, but it cannot use say the Gatling gun and cannot use some of the other weapons systems.
Major General Wald: Let me put a myth to rest. The A-10 is being flown at the proper altitude to employ the A-10. Let me just say that, Charlie.
So I'm not going to tell Milosevic what altitude we're flying at. He needs to figure that out himself. He's trying real hard. But I'll guarantee you, the A-10 is flying at an altitude that is appropriate for that aircraft to be very, very effective.
Q: The point of McIntyre's question was that there's a perception that ethnic cleansing wasn't stopped in the first two weeks of the war because the planes were flying high, for whatever reason. Can you address that issue? If in fact they were able to swoop down below 15,000 feet, would acts of ethnic cleansing have been prevented or deterred by air power alone in those first three weeks of the campaign?
Major General Wald: Much of that had gone on before this ever started. You know that for almost a year that had been going on, and then just prior to the start of the air campaign there were 400,000 refugees already out of Kosovo. When the air campaign started, it may have appeared to have increased in the rapidity of the refugees. But the fact of the matter is, the military mission was not -- although a consequence of that, and everybody hopes this will happen--is that the refugee problem is solved. But the military mission is to destroy or degrade his military capability, not at the expense of losing an inordinate amount of aircraft or putting people at unnecessary risk so you can't go back to fly.
It would be crazy for any military commander to take risk where his force would not return to fight again.
If you look at Milosevic's tactic here, he is letting his force be destroyed. He will not have a second chance with that force. Albeit, it may take a little bit longer, in the end game the success will be that he will not be able to do this again. So I think people have the wrong impression of how this campaign's being run, and the fact of the matter is, there's kind of this impression that people should take crazy risk.
We're a professional military. We don't take crazy risk. We have valuable assets we're flying with; these people are important. The pilots' lives are obviously valuable to all of us.
Q: The political leadership, clearly though, on March 23rd and 24th and part of the 25th said stopping the violence on the ground was the goal of the air campaign. That didn't seem to unfold -- unfairly toward air power or not.
Mr. Bacon: Let me just mention one thing. As Chairman Shelton said the other day, much of this killing has taken place with the guns in the back of the head. That's very difficult to stop with air power, obviously.
I was asked earlier if we had correlated our evidence with the film on CNN in Izbica. This report the State Department issued, I believe last week, "Erasing History, Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo," notes, for instance, that in the town of Izbica two refugee reports that at least 270 people have been massacred since March, and that according to refugees, they have eyewitness accounts of many people being "tortured and burned."
This is not the type of thing that can be stopped with air power alone. No matter what altitude the planes are flying.
I think it's very clear from what you've read and some of you have written about Operation HORSESHOE and other evidence that we have that Milosevic started this campaign of ethnic brutality and elimination long before March 24th when NATO began its attacks. The reason that the United States got interested in Kosovo in the first place was the threat that he was going to do this back in 1992 when we first began to issue notices to Milosevic. NATO had been following this increasingly. Starting certainly early last year in February was when Secretary Cohen and Secretary Albright began talking about the ethnic brutality taking place in Kosovo. This was all happening before NATO began its attacks.
The goal of the NATO attacks has been primarily to make sure that we can get the Serb forces out and the refugees back in so this won't happen again.
Q: I just wanted to know as General Wald just said that, are we in the end game now?
Major General Wald: I think you have to ask Milosevic that. It's up to him when the end game is.
At some point his forces are going to continue to be degraded where it will be very difficult for him to do anything besides take on innocent women and children. So the end game will be decided when he says he's had enough.
Q: Wouldn't that mean a certain amount of destruction of his armor, his artillery, his supply system? Can't you designate the end game?
Major General Wald: If I were designating the end game, it would have been before it started. This is Milosevic designating the end game. He obviously has no regard for his military, his people, his country. He's going to have to decide when that is, and it's going to incrementally continue to mount up, and it's becoming more and more every day.
Q: General Wald, with your Joint Staff hat on, it now seems one way or the other it's going to be--whether it's KFOR or some other option--it will be more than the original 28,000 troops NATO had envisioned going into Kosovo. With your Joint Staff hat on, what kind of planning and thinking is going on amongst the Chiefs and the Joint Staff now to get ready for a larger force than originally envisioned, regardless of what shape it takes?
Major General Wald: Mr. Bacon explained that, I think, very well earlier. They're planning for the circumstances being a little bit different than it would have been earlier. Obviously, there's been a conflict going on now for several weeks. They've mined bridges going and coming from Kosovo. The situation is a lot different on the ground. And, in fact, until there's agreement, they won't know exactly what it is. So they'll continue to plan as we go along, and I'd once again refer you to Mr. Bacon's discussion of that. That was very clear.
Q: Do you have any sense, though, of what it would take now as compared to what it would have taken in the past prior to the air campaign?
Major General Wald: No, I really don't. And once again, it's circumstantial. I mean it's going to be based on if the negotiation, if Milosevic says, "I agree," and complies with the NATO demands, I'm not sure how much difference there would be, basically, but I'm sure they have some sense of an end shape which they're working on very hard.
Press: Thank you.