DoD News Briefing, Thursday, May 20, 1999 - 2:05 p.m.
(Also participating in this briefing was Major General Chuck Wald, J-5)
Related briefing slides
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
I only have one announcement -- which is an elaboration on my announcement from yesterday -- which is that 24 United States Marine Corps F/A-18Ds left Beaufort, South Carolina, today at 7:00 this morning, and they're on their way to Hungary where they'll be in a couple of days. They'll be stationed at Tazar, Hungary.
With that I'll take your questions.
Q: Are there more deployments of that kind still in the works for other countries, additional...
Mr. Bacon: There are some deployments in the works for Turkey.
Q: Can you give us any outline of that?
Mr. Bacon: Well, they're F-15s and F-16s that will be deploying probably early next month.
Q: So the 72 you announced, it will be next month, the ones going to Turkey?
Mr. Bacon: The 72 -- I didn't announce 72. NATO announced 72. There will be, I think, actually 54 American planes, and the rest will be Turkish planes.
Q: When will they go?
Mr. Bacon: Early next month.
Q: Is that it? Does that wrap up the 300 number that we...
Mr. Bacon: It doesn't go to 300. This completes the 172 or 174 (sic)  that Secretary Cohen signed out on a couple of weeks ago.
Q: Ken, the United States has said repeatedly that the bombing raids would not stop until Milosevic agreed to the five points, whether formally or informally, signed or unsigned, but until he agreed to those five points and at least began pulling his forces out of Kosovo. The Italian Foreign Minister said today that he's ready for a bombing halt as soon as a resolution is introduced in the United Nations to settle this thing. No mention is made of pulling forces out.
Is this thing beginning to fall apart?
Mr. Bacon: No.
Q: Is the coalition cracking?
Mr. Bacon: Sure. It's not cracking at all. It's tracking. In the NATO Summit here in April the heads of states of 19 nations agreed to intensify the air campaign, and we've done that. They agreed to continue the air campaign until Yugoslavia agreed to the five principles. It has not done that yet, so the air campaign is continuing. And it also expressed its belief that the five conditions are the only way to end this, and it's holding to those five beliefs.
Now, what we're seeing today is a series of peace initiatives being pursued --or peace prospects being pursued -- but the fundamental issue here is the response by Milosevic, and so far Milosevic has not responded to any of these peace feelers.
As you know, Mr. Chernomyrdin was in Belgrade yesterday talking to Mr. Milosevic for seven hours. It's up to Milosevic to look at the five conditions and decide when to accept them, and he hasn't done that yet. So in the meantime, NATO will continue its campaign.
Q: In the time-honored tradition of (inaudible), I'm going to MIRV you here.
Number one, is the United States in any way willing to support a bombing halt before Milosevic begins pulling his forces out...
Mr. Bacon: I go back to the language of the Summit. The 19 heads of state issued a statement on Kosovo in which they said that they would consider a suspens[ion] to the bombing if Yugoslavia agreed to the five conditions, initiated a ceasefire, and lifted a, began a credible schedule for withdrawal. They haven't done that yet.
Q: By credible schedule, you mean a ceasefire.
Mr. Bacon: They would have a ceasefire. They would have to begin their withdrawal, make progress on their withdrawal, and have a schedule for completing the withdrawal, in which case we would then suspend the bombing. That's what President Clinton said, and that's what the other 18 national leaders agreed to. They issued the statement to that effect, and I'd be glad to give you a copy of the statement.
Q: What is General Clark in town today for?
Mr. Bacon: General Clark is here to meet with Secretary Cohen and General Shelton and the Chiefs to bring them up to date on the air campaign and discuss in general how he thinks Operation ALLIED FORCE is going.
I talked to General Clark earlier today. He thinks the air campaign is going extremely well. He thinks that we are hitting aggressively in both spectrums of the air campaign -- that is the goal of hitting at the heart of the regime, the targets that are necessary to sustain the military forces (oil, lines of communication, etc.) on the one hand, and then the forces on the ground in Kosovo on the other hand, where we're making significant progress.
So he will report to them on how it's going and give them sort of an eye-to-eye assessment.
Q: Ken, to follow up the excellent questions of my distinguished colleague (inaudible). It seems -- the back-channel information we're getting out of Belgrade, slim as it is, suggests that one of the main sticking points if not "the" main sticking point is the composition of the international peacekeeping force. Milosevic continues, as we're told, to hold out for a "U.N." force, whereas, as you have said often, it's got to be a NATO force.
But since NATO -- most of the NATO countries, if not all of them, are members of the U.N., is there any wiggle room there as far as we're concerned?
Mr. Bacon: The primary goal of NATO is to make sure that the peacekeeping force is a strong, credible force that will be able to establish an environment of security and stability so that the Kosovar Albanians will be willing to go home. Let's look at what the issue is here.
1.6 million people, we believe, have been driven from their homes. Most of them are outside of Kosovo altogether. There's still a big group of internally displaced people within Kosovo. Everybody agrees that they should go back -- that is, NATO agrees and the Kosovar refugees agree that they should be able to go home.
The ultimate diplomatic and political goal here is [not only] to end this humanitarian suffering in Albania and Macedonia, but also to end the cycle of violence, of repression and oppression that these people have felt for the last ten years. The only way to do that is to establish a secure environment. We think the only force that can do that is a force that has NATO at its core or is NATO-led. We believe that it would be a mirror image, in some respects, of the force that went into Bosnia. It would have to be a professional, well-trained, well-commanded force that would go in heavy and be able to secure the area and then allow these people to come back behind the force. That's why we are insisting that the force have NATO at its core, because we think that's the only force that would be credible to the refugees.
Having said that, the refugees themselves have stated on a number of occasions -- you've seen interviews with them on radio and television and newspapers; we've interviewed them; human rights monitors, etc., have interviewed them -- they all say that NATO participation is central to their willingness to go back. They're not going to accept promises like they got in October without a military force to deliver on those promises.
Q: Is there any reason why instead of wearing the NATO emblem they couldn't wear the blue U.N. hats if they're doing this? Could it be under the U.N.?
Mr. Bacon: I think that one of the lessons of Bosnia was that a UN-led force did not work in this situation. We had, remember, the dual-key approach to using force. There was an unclear command structure, and therefore, when we designed the implementation force for Bosnia, remember General Joulwan stood up here many times and stressed what the key aspects of that force were. It had to have unity of command. It had to have clarity of mission. And we want to design a force that will do that. NATO has experience doing this, and we think NATO is the best way to do it.
Now, other countries I hope will participate, non-NATO countries, and we would expect many non-NATO countries would participate in this force, and we're prepared to work with them to allow appropriate participation and appropriate participation in the command structure. But the fact of the matter is, it has to be a military force that can operate quickly and effectively, and not one that would be much more politically motivated than we think a NATO force would be.
Q: What's the reaction to comments by the Italian Prime Minister that NATO should be more careful, could lose public support for the air war if it's not more careful in avoiding civilian deaths?
Mr. Bacon: I think NATO has been very careful and very responsible. But remember, this is a military action, and no military action is risk-free. Danger is inherent in a military action. Our pilots face danger every day, and it is impossible to have an antiseptic combat operation where nobody gets killed.
We have, I think, dropped approximately, I think, more than 14,000 pieces of ordnance by now. I think there have been a total of about a dozen that have not hit their targets and have inflicted civilian damage that was not planned. I think this is an extraordinary record, but it's not a perfect record. We never promised a perfect record.
I doubt if there's been a military force in history that has one, set as a goal, reduction or minimization of civilian casualties to the extent that this NATO force has, and that two, has achieved that goal.
This has been an extraordinary record. We regret the casualties that have occurred, but this is inherent in combat.
Now there's one way to end these civilian casualties, and that's to end the fighting, and that's Milosevic's choice. If he's concerned about these civilian casualties beyond making a propaganda coup out of every one, he can end the fighting, and he's chosen not to do that.
Q: Ken, for how long have AC-130 gunships been used in operations in Yugoslavia, and can you describe a little bit about how they're being used and whether or not they're entering Yugoslav or Kosovo airspace, or are they remaining in the airspace of friendly countries nearby?
Mr. Bacon: AC-130 gunships first fired on April 14th as part of Operation ALLIED FORCE, so they've been involved since about the third week of the conflict. And I'd rather not describe against which targets they're striking and exactly how they're being used.
Those of you who know about AC-130 gunships know that they fire a good bit lower than the 15,000 feet at which most members of the press think all planes are flying. And they will continue to fly at the appropriate altitude to complete their missions.
Q: Did General Clark want to see us, and Secretary Cohen said "no?" Or did Secretary Cohen want him to come see us, and General Clark said "no?"
Mr. Bacon: I don't believe either of those is true. General Clark is here for a very specific set of meetings, which he's holding. He flew all night. He's holding meetings all day, and he's going back tonight, as I understand it. I don't believe that the issue of his addressing the press was ever raised by Secretary Cohen or by General Clark.
Q: Is he raising the issue of using Apaches while he's here?
Mr. Bacon: He'll be raising a variety of issues about the progress of the campaign, but basically, he'll report that he thinks it's going extremely well.
Q: Did a NATO bomb go astray and hit a hospital in Belgrade last night? And if so, how could that have happened?
Mr. Bacon: A NATO bomb went astray. We don't know what it hit.
Q: Mr. Bacon, I was told from Athens that yesterday U.S. and Turkish planes strike heavily around Belgrade. May we know the operational routes of those planes?
Mr. Bacon: No.
Mr. Bacon: Because we don't generally describe the routes that our planes fly, particularly over the most heavily defended targets. I think you can appreciate it would be idiocy for us to do that. Plus, they fly different routes every night.
Q: I have been asked by the National Security Council today to ask this. Can you use the airspace over the Aegean Sea for your operation against Serbia flying from Turkish bases?
Mr. Bacon: As I just said, we're not going to discuss the routes our planes are going to be flying.
Q: Ken, this morning, Jamie Shea at the NATO briefing refused to rule out the possibility of a bombing pause before Milosevic agrees to the five conditions and before there's a credible withdrawal of forces. He just refused to rule it out. Can you rule it out? Because when asked that question, you simply cited a communique that was issued several weeks ago, and a lot of water's gone under the bridge since then.
Mr. Bacon: Well, I'm just going to stick with that communique. That's the last time that the heads of state have spoken on this issue, and I think it's the operative text.
Q: Going back very quickly to the AC-130s, it does make a tactical difference if they're flying over Albania firing into Kosovo. Can you at least tell us if that's what they're doing?
Mr. Bacon: No.
Q: Can you provide additional details, if there are any, on the desertions and the movement of people back home? Is there more of that? Apparently, there's been some blockading around at least one of the towns where there supposedly were demonstrations. Do you have any details on that?
Mr. Bacon: I don't have a lot more. As far as we know, the desertions we spoke about yesterday from the 7th Infantry Brigade in northern Kosovo to the town of Krusevac is the major desertion so far, and that has been reported in the Montenegrin press as as many as 1,000 to 1,200 people. I think the figure I gave yesterday was around 500 people. The figures vary.
We do know that a significant group of soldiers, at least 500, commandeered some vehicles and left in a convoy and had to fight their way through several roadblocks to get back to their hometown.
Q: Fight their way through?
Mr. Bacon: Yes.
Mr. Bacon: Yes. And that's what they did to--well, the people who were trying to prevent them from leaving--and that's what they did to get back to their town. We do not know what's happened to those people since they've gotten back or how many of them got back actually. But that's the primary.
There have been a number of other desertions, but they tend to be in small numbers that we pick up through other sources, but this is the major act of desertion that we've heard about so far.
Q: Are the demonstrations, the anti-war or anti-draft demonstrations continued in any towns? And do you have any details about the one town that supposedly has now been cut off?
Mr. Bacon: I do not have details about the one town that's been cut off. We're not aware that one, the demonstrations have spread to other towns yet. That, obviously will be a central issue to watch. There is some reporting in the Yugoslav press that this has occurred. We know some of the details about these demonstrations in Cacak, one of the towns that was on the map yesterday, one of the three towns in which demonstrations occurred.
There was a Citizens Council that held a news conference yesterday, and they said that their demands were that the Albanians go back to Kosovo and that the Serb army get out of Cacak, because they're afraid that it will be a target of NATO planes if the Serb army unit stays there. The unit that's there is the 202nd Artillery Brigade, which is part of the Second Army. It's the Third Army that's in Kosovo. The Second Army is north of Kosovo, and the people in this town were worried that they would become a target as long as there are artillery troops in the area.
We don't know if the demonstrations have been continuing. We know the MUP did move into Krusevac and has worked to suppress the demonstrations there. Also some top military officials have gone there in order "to talk them out of further demonstrations" I guess would be a kind way to say it.
Q: The roadblocks, were they UCK roadblocks or Yugoslav roadblocks?
Mr. Bacon: They were Yugoslav forces trying to prevent the departure of other Yugoslav forces.
Q: And they were not successful in preventing their departure?
Mr. Bacon: Well, they got out and they headed back. They got out of Kosovo.
Q: What kind of vehicles were they?
Mr. Bacon: A variety of vehicles.
Q: Armored vehicles, for instance?
Mr. Bacon: Some armored vehicles, some cannons, mortars, tanker trucks, a variety of vehicles.
Q: Ken, you brushed off the hospital question pretty quickly. By the end of the day, might we have more details on if in fact a bomb or one bomb, two bombs, hit the hospital or a civilian target?
Mr. Bacon: What NATO has said is that we fired--we dropped eight bombs-- NATO planes dropped eight bombs on army barracks in Belgrade and that one of the bombs went long. That's what NATO has said. We've seen the Serb reports. We don't know whether that's where the bomb went, but one bomb went long.
Q: Any development on the naval blockade of the Adriatic Sea for the oil embargo?
Mr. Bacon: No, the NAC has not finished its work on that.
Q: Was that a stealth bomber...
Mr. Bacon: It was a NATO plane.
Q: Do you have any reason to doubt the report that a bomb or two may have hit the hospital?
Mr. Bacon: I have no reason to doubt that--I have reason to doubt that two bombs hit the hospital, yes.
Q: An AC-130 followup. Was this the new U model that can shoot through the clouds? And is this one of the planes that NATO was using in mid-April when the weather was so bad to try to mitigate the cloudy weather?
Mr. Bacon: I don't know whether this is the U model or not. We'll look into it.
Q: It can shoot through the clouds. The older ones can't.
Mr. Bacon: The U model, and we were, as I said, we were shooting in mid-April with the AC-130.
Q: Ken, is it possible to release some gun camera from some of the AC-130 missions?
Mr. Bacon: I'll take the question.
Q: Thank you.
Q: I've got a question.
Do you have any information on how the MUP has been trying to suppress the demonstrations?
Mr. Bacon: Not really, no. Just reporting that they have been trying to do that. That would be a good question to ask the Yugoslav government. I'd be interested to see their response.
Q: Where did those MUP units come from to do that? Did they come out of...
Mr. Bacon: I don't know. They could well have been located in the towns. In the area.
Q: I just want to make it clear. Do you know what plane put the eight bombs on the barracks, and you won't tell us? Or you don't know what plane may be involved in the long strike?
Mr. Bacon: We said--they said at NATO today that they were NATO planes, and that's all I have to say about it at this stage.
Q: So you do know but you're not going to tell us, is that right?
Mr. Bacon: That's correct.
Q: You said before, when they said NATO planes, you have from time to time said in fact they were U.S. planes.
Mr. Bacon: We're saying NATO planes.
Q: Is that a new policy? Or what?
Mr. Bacon: That's our policy today on this. (Laughter) I don't think, Pat, that this is, frankly, a big deal. Mistakes are made from time to time. We admit that. We think there have been very few. Our goal is not to target civilians.
Q: But you've told us planes before, which planes have been involved.
Mr. Bacon: That's true. Right now I have the information provided me by NATO, and they're saying NATO planes, and I'm saying the same thing.
Q: Ken, one quick one. Commando Solo, is it operating and trying to get the troops to more desert?
Mr. Bacon: Commando Solo has been operating. It's been broadcasting on a regular schedule, I think, every day, and both television and radio, I believe. And it's providing a variety of information about the progress in the conflict, political information that we don't think is reaching the Yugoslav people through the indigenous press, and also of course they're broadcasting directly to the Yugoslav troops.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/#slides]
Major General Wald: Good afternoon.
The weather, as I briefed yesterday, had turned out pretty good for awhile yesterday, then it got bad. It was terrible over the night. It was not too good this morning. Then it should start improving over the next day or so. Once again, another kind of a dip here with some thunderstorms, then in the next few days it should increase. But we were hit pretty hard by weather last night. They are flying as we speak, though.
[Chart-Level of Effort-Day 57]
In spite of the weather and a fairly large reduction because of the weather cancellations, we still hit 24 targets throughout the FRY and Kosovo. Some forces on the ground, about 11 of those. We hit some targets, one target in Belgrade as was mentioned earlier on the First Army barracks area. That target had been hit before, some of the target area. We hit it again last night.
Several of the command and control areas and some fuel production and some rad/rel areas as well.
Q: How many sorties?
Major General Wald: I think they ended up flying about 200 combat sorties, Ivan, out of the--I think there were almost 1,000 sorties scheduled today, of which about 820 are combat, but I don't think they'll get all of them off.
Q: General, could you tell us what kind of bombs they used on the target area. Were they gravity bombs?
Major General Wald: They were laser bombs, from what I understand.
Q: 500-pound or what?
Major General Wald: I think they were 2,000-pound, but I'm not sure. Mr. Bacon mentioned looking at it. But I think--I know they were laser-guided bombs.
[Chart-Refugees in Theater]
In Macedonia yesterday, there was an exit of 2,500 refugees from Kosovo, and there was also about 2,230 or so that actually departed to other places, other nations, as well as to some camp areas. There are still--in Macedonia about 120,000 of those refugees are in private homes. In Albania, about 300 got out into Albania from Kosovo. There are about 300,000 of those in Albanian private homes as well. Then about 700 got into Montenegro yesterday. So a small trickle of refugees in those countries, but a larger one into the FYROM, but that was--as I said, many of those left for other countries so it stayed about the same.
[Chart-PROVIDE REFUGE-Refugee Status]
Fort Dix continues to fill up. The good news is they have about 220 refugees --about 55 families worth of refugees makes up 226 of those--are going to private homes today. They'll continue to move those out. Then as you can see here, this is the last scheduled flight for now, but they have other ones on the books, and they should start filling up to about 4,200. But the medical review and the checks of the individuals are going faster now, and they should start moving them out into private homes.
[Chart-Operation SUSTAIN HOPE-Last 24 Hours]
Camp Hope, the first 2,500-person camp is completed. They should fill that in the next couple of days. Then by 15 June now is when that 20,000-person complete camp should be finished. They've had a little bit of problem with some water and environmental there.
The second site has been identified about five kilometers west of Fier for another 20,000-person camp. They're reviewing the need for the third camp. Then, I mentioned earlier, there's 463 arrived at Fort Dix today, then the 55 families with 226 that were moving out today from Fort Dix.
Q: General Wald, you said they're reviewing the need for the third camp? They might not build one?
Major General Wald: They haven't made the final decision yet. There are over 40 different camps in Albania right now, and there are several in Macedonia as well. So when the determination is made, they'll announce that from the UNHCR and the HHS.
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied+Force]
[Photo-Belgrade Petroleum Product Storage, Serbia-Pre Strike]
Some imagery from yesterday. This is the Belgrade petroleum production area I mentioned to you. It's about the same distance as the Pentagon would be from the White House from downtown. It's in the Belgrade area itself. You can see this is the pre-strike picture, and then these are two target areas we hit yesterday. I'll show you that next.
[Photo-Belgrade Petroleum Product Storage, Serbia-Post Strike]
They were both destroyed. These are the pumping houses for that production, not production, but storage facility. Without these, they can't get the oil out without actually going and tapping into the tanks. So that facility as far as pumping the oil out is down now, and there still remains some targets here if we decide to go back.
[Photo-Belgrade Radio Relay Station, Serbia-Post Strike]
This is a radio relay station that was struck yesterday. It was a sat/com area here. That sat/com is down, and that's taken away his ability to transmit propaganda in northern Serbia. Then one of the houses over here was destroyed as well, so that site is down.
[Photo-Batajnica Airfield, Serbia-Post Strike]
I showed you this yesterday on film. This is the Batajnica airfield itself. You can see where it was cut here. There were several other cuts off the photo itself. This was where that MiG-21 was sitting on a road yesterday, and it's a confirmed scorched area, so there's not a MiG-21 left there anymore.
[Photo-Batajnica Airfield, Serbia-Post Strike]
This is a blowup of that. You can see where the bomb hit and where it was parked, so they're putting them, they're trying to disperse those to survive them, but when we find them, we'll go ahead and hit them.
I'd just show you this. This was an area in central Kosovo, a town that has several houses burned out. You can see numerous houses burned out. You probably can't tell from where you're sitting, but there are trucks parked in along these houses, so they're trying everything they can to survive their vehicles and put them in areas where we might not find them.
Q: Any idea why he hasn't decided to fly his MiGs to a friendly country?
Major General Wald: Well, his MiG-29s, none of them could fly anymore, much. They may have one or two. The other ones, I'm not sure of any friendly countries that would accept any of his aircraft. If there is a friendly country close, I'd like to know who it is.
Q: Belarus, but I guess it's a long flight.
Major General Wald: Right. I don't think a MiG-21 would make it.
This is the weather as we speak from a few hours ago. You can see it's pretty bad weather here. Still coming into the Kosovo area, some pretty thick clouds. From what I understand, that's starting to move through now.
I'll show you what it was like over the last 24 hours. It's about as bad as it's been. Once again, May is the worst month of weather for moisture in the area. June and July are the best, obviously, and that's coming up soon. You can see here as it goes through toward the--this is about right now as we speak, projected. You can see that weather is coming out, looking pretty good, so we should have some pretty good weather for flying here in the next 12 to 24 hours.
Let me go through a few videos from yesterday. This is a weapons storage facility in Sabac army barracks in northwest Serbia. These two aircraft here are actually static display aircraft that are non-usable. They're just there for, I guess, for somebody to look at, but they're not worth hitting.
The Raska ammunition depot. We continue to take down not only his fielded forces, but his sustainment at a heavy clip. F-15E with a laser-guided bomb. It looks like he hit on the corner of it. Probably some damage, maybe not totally destroyed. Some secondary.
Raska ammunition depot has a revetted storage area. There are 36 DMPIs in this particular target area. This is an F-15E once again.
A good hit with some secondary burning.
His integrated air defense. We've been showing this every day; we've been taking his radars out. This is another SA-6 transport erector launcher near Pristina. The ones I showed yesterday were from the same area. This is a different erector launcher, has some SAM activity in it. There are no secondary explosions on this one, so it may have been an empty TEL, but we'll continue to hit them as we see them and take them down.
Fielded forces on the ground. This is the Gnjilane army barracks in southwest Kosovo. This is a large army barracks. This looks like a maintenance storage area, and a good secondary from this one after the explosion.
Q: Do you have any footage of attacks on troops outside (inaudible)?
Major General Wald: We'll talk about that in just a second.
Here's another one at the same place. This has several buildings in it. Once again, as you add all this -- a good-sized secondary on this one, so there must have been some ammunition or something in there. But the attrition of his forces is continuing at a high clip, even in bad weather.
This is an artillery piece in Kosovo itself. You can see it's in an area where there were some houses that are burned out, trying to disperse amongst evacuated residential areas.
The Iztok security services headquarters compound in southwest Kosovo. This is an F-16 with an LGB yesterday. You see some of his facilities are still in reasonable shape. We'll continue to attrit those to the point where he has not a lot left to fight with, at least from a sustained standpoint.
I think that should be all the film today.
Major General Wald: The question you had was?
Q: You must be (inaudible) on the ground (inaudible). Why aren't we seeing any of those (inaudible)?
Major General Wald: The type of film you would see for that would be possibly, maybe, a B-52 strike or some other type. We normally wouldn't hit an individual with an LGB. That's not the type of weapon you'd use. There could be some A-10s--the A-10 itself doesn't have a very good film for its gun, for example, so I just haven't had any of that. But there's not a lot of forces out there that are roaming around on the ground that we're attacking. When they are out there, we'll attack them, but they know what's happening. They know there's air power flying over the top of them, so they're not exposing themselves very much.
Q: Do you have any evidence that any of [these] barracks have had people in them?
Major General Wald: I don't know of any evidence where we've seen that, because we don't have access to the ground, but I would suspect some of those do have individuals in them at times. It's been going on for several days, and we've hit lots of barracks, and I would suspect in some of those there may have been military people, but we have no evidence to show that.
Q: General, just a point of curiosity. If you were a Serb troop on the ground, for instance near that artillery piece that was hit...
Major General Wald: I can't think of anything worse.
Q: Can you hear these bombs coming? Do they make noise? Can you tell that you're about to be hit?
Major General Wald: You might be able to hear it, maybe a second or two prior to the impact, just enough to get tensed up. But no, you probably can't hear it. There isn't any whistling or any of that. Sometimes you can hear aircraft, depending on the time of day, the atmospherics. We hope they can hear aircraft sometimes. I know in Bosnia one of the things that bothered the Serb troops after the bombing was when they'd hear aircraft, it would bother them. So you can hear some of that. But the bomb actually whistling down or something like [on] TV, you don't hear any of that.
Q: General, why was the convoy of deserters heading north not attacked?
Major General Wald: I think the only reason we didn't attack is we probably didn't see it at the time. We don't see everything. If we would have had a convoy that [he] was moving and we knew it was a military target, we certainly would have struck it. So there isn't any--there wasn't any coordination or anything to speak of. I just don't think they had the opportunity to attack it.
Q:...the fighting on the ground. Apparently, the KLA is going to open up a second line of communication in the southern part of Kosovo. Can you say anything about that?
Major General Wald: From what I understand, the UCK is trying to open up lines of communication at various spots. They continue to fight.
Q:...northern part, isn't that right?
Major General Wald: I understand they have some ability to come and go a little bit, and to resupply. They'll continue to work on that from what I understand. Of course, we aren't in contact militarily with the UCK, so I don't know what their plans are, but from various sources of intel, we understand they are fighting back, and they're having an ability to fight back more. Their recruitment is going up. So I suspect they'd try to open up more LOCs. If I was a ground person doing that, I would do that.
Q: Do you have any video attacking the Chinese Embassy?
Major General Wald: I do not have that.
Q: Why is the AC-130 particularly useful to you? And would it have been used more frequently earlier on and less so now that 90 percent of the artillery along the border with Albania is reportedly destroyed?
Major General Wald: The weapon, just like all of them, will be used against the right target at the right time in the right environment with the right amount of risk attached to it. That's an outstanding weapon system against certain types of targets. Sometimes maybe a little more, less of a threat environment, if you will, possibly. Obviously, it's a large aircraft; it doesn't move that fast. But in the right type of environment, it's extremely lethal and, as you know, it has different types of weapons on board. It has a 20mm cannon, a Gatling gun-type system that fires at a high rate, very accurate. It has a 105mm Howitzer on board and a 40mm cannon. They all fire at various rates. They can unload a lot of lead with that machine. But it has to be in the right environment. When that occurs, the commander will use it and in the right spot, and it's, from what I've seen in the past, very, very effective.
Q: Just generically speaking, is it useful against, for instance, the same types of targets that Apache helicopters might be used against, or A-10 attack aircraft? Is it that same general class of targets?
Major General Wald: To a certain extent. I think all the systems have a little bit different characteristics and capabilities. As you know, Apaches would be very, very good against massed, moving armor-type targets; a C-130, AC-130, in an environment where there are a lot of targets that are moving in mass, type tanks, may not be quite as permissive, let's say, as it would be in other environments. It's great against fixed-type targets. And an A-10, of course, is good against maybe kind of a latitude of all those targets across the board depending on the environment.
So they all have their own characteristics. Some of them overlap. When the target's right, the commander will use it against that target.
Q: Sir, can you give us the status of the Serb forces in a general sense in terms of to what extent have they hunkered down, dispersed into small units? And how has that complicated targeting?
Major General Wald: Well, I think they've hunkered down a lot. As I showed the picture earlier, they're trying to hide in residential areas. They're not acting like what you would, I guess, characterize an army that feels like they've got a lot of advantage in the field. I think they're very concerned about being attacked from the air. It makes it more difficult to find them, but on the other hand, it makes it more difficult for them to operate. But they also have a real problem with all the other different targets we're hitting as well. Their ability to sustain is being damaged and destroyed in a very large way, so they have some problem right now with fuel, obviously. They have a problem with command and control from the standpoint of not having the luxury of the layered command and control they had before. Their SAMs are being depleted, so even though they still have a fairly robust capability with SAMs--I think they fired 20 of them last night from what I understand--so they still have that. But it's all being depleted.
They don't have good places to go sleep. They're living in the field. I'm sure their food is not as good as probably a real professional army would be used to having.
Q:...picture a stalemate here, a military standoff where we could keep pounding them in the field, and they can keep hunkering down...
Major General Wald: Well, remember, Tony, once again. We've said this I bet you 100 times. It's not just the forces in the field. It's across the board.
If you consider all these, just the imagery we've shown and the forces we've hit not only in the field but across the board from sustainment, command and control, integrated air defense, POL, ammunition production, resupply, maintenance, and then you just add all that up to the forces, I wouldn't consider that even close to being a stalemate.
Now from the standpoint of him moving around with the UCK, maybe he has a stalemate with them, I don't know, but he certainly doesn't have it with NATO.
Q: But how do you explain the fact that there is not any real resistance or response on the part of the Yugoslav army to your airstrikes?
Major General Wald: Well, I don't know. What do you call resistance? They shot 20 SAMs last night. They aren't operating like you would consider a professional army in the field operating. They're hunkered down. They can't move around as much as they would. Mr. Bacon talked about it for the last couple of days; they've got up to 500 or maybe more people that have defected out of one unit and gone back home. If you call that a professionally organized army that's on the roll, that's a different definition than I have.
Q: We know where they are along the borders where they've dug in and revetted. Could you flesh out what was done in the past in attacking this thing? I hear that B-52s have been mightily involved and the MK-82s. Could you give us a little...
Major General Wald: The normal day of flying includes forward air controllers with a lot of different aircraft with weapons on board that could be called in by that forward air controller to attack those targets. The B-52s fly. The B-1s fly. There are other types of weapon systems that are used. They hunker down along the border when they're firing artillery or doing whatever they're doing, and we find them, then we'll attack them either with an individual bomb or with aircraft that drop more than one bomb.
So the fact of the matter is they still are firing back and forth. Some, they're fighting -- fortunately actually for us, but consequential or coincidental with the UCK as well, so they've got an air campaign to contend with, and they're fighting the UCK. And I'm not sure they're staying at one spot very long. They move around at night a little bit, then they hunker down, and so that's how it's working.
Q: They're not revetted, though? They're not in dug-in positions?
Major General Wald: Some are in dug-in positions in some places, and when we find those, we'll attack those as well.
Q: You say you're hitting them with bombs. How often do you hit them with guns say from an A-10 or from an AC-130?
Major General Wald: The A-10 I understand has been firing a gun periodically. I don't know if it's every mission, but periodically when they have the right target, they'll fire the gun against that type of target, would be one of them, or other targets.
Q: And the AC-130, how often has that been used?
Major General Wald: I'm not going to talk about how often that's used. There are some operational considerations I'm concerned with on that.
Q: Can you tell us about how effective it's been...
Major General Wald: The AC-130?
Major General Wald: Very.
Q: And if there's any less risk to that than there would be to an Apache?
Major General Wald: Once again, it's a different environment, the target it's going against. Some targets are more highly defended than others, and some aren't. I will just say that the AC-130 is at risk just like all of our aircraft are at risk. We've had some hit. Like I said, last night they fired 20 SAMs that are on the category of SA-6, -3-type, and probably a lot of hand-held. And from what I understand, the AAA is still fairly heavy. So the threat is still there. When there's a target that fits the equipment, we'll go ahead and attack them with that equipment.
Q: Have you had some hits?
Q: The AC-130s were hit?
Major General Wald: No, aircraft. Not AC-130s. Right.
Q: Last night? Aircraft hit last night?
Major General Wald: No.
Q: What kind of CAP do they have? Do they have airplanes that accompany them and serve as...
Major General Wald: Well, there's CAP all over the area there that protect all types of aircraft.
Q:...that flies with them, however, to...
Major General Wald: I'm not going to talk about the tactic. I'll just tell you that there's combat air patrol[s] that protect all types of assets. They protect fighters as well, and they're watching -- it's not just protecting, they're watching for anybody that may be crazy enough to fly out of Yugoslavia in one of their MiG-21s or 29s, and looking for other aircraft or helicopters. So there's CAP, and they're protecting as well as trying to attack other aircraft that may fly.
Q: General, there's a possibility and maybe even a likelihood that NATO will approve the use of NGO private aircraft--I believe this is a Greek connection--to do air drops to the displaced people in Kosovo. Is that, I don't know if I've asked you this question or not, but is that something that could be a problem for your operations? Or would NATO possibly cover these NGOs? What can you say about it?
Major General Wald: I can tell you that they're looking at the possibility, from what I understand, and whether it's feasible. The only thing I can say beyond that [is that] if that were to occur that would fully be integrated with the CAOC so they would know what was happening, just like any other air operation out there, and they would make sure it was on the Air Tasking Order to make sure they could know where they were and fly appropriately. But from what I understand, it hasn't been agreed to yet.
Q: Do you have evidence that the food shipments are being intercepted by the Serbs on the ground and that the Serbs are taking the food and selling it to the refugees or using it themselves?
Major General Wald: I haven't seen anything to do with that. It wouldn't surprise me a bit, though, if they tried to do that, but I haven't... Maybe Mr. Bacon has.
Mr. Bacon: My understanding of these food shipments is that some of the food is going to Kosovo, and some of it's going to Serbia. It's a mixed delivery system. And that in order to work out arrangements with the Yugoslavs to get the food in, they had to agree that some would go to Serb people as well. So that's the first point.
The second point is that I've also heard that there is a fair number of bribes paid -- some in food, some in money -- to get the food to the right place. I have not specifically heard that the food is being taken and not getting to the Kosovar Albanians, although it wouldn't surprise me, because clearly one of the things that's been happening in Kosovo is that the Serb forces, the VJ and the MUP forces, have been taking all the food for themselves, and that's one of the reasons why the Kosovar Albanians are starving in the hills. But I haven't heard that allegation specifically.
Q: How far along is the KFOR planning? Have any units been designated? Have there been any firm numbers set? And armor requirements figured out yet?
Mr. Bacon: No. Right now they are focusing on one specific question, and that's the mission statement. They're trying to, they're in the process of coming to unite on a mission statement that will describe how many engineering tasks might be required, how many police or MP tasks will be required. Once they figure out exactly what the mission is, then they will be able to structure and size the force to fit that mission.
My guess is that they could be finished with a mission statement tomorrow or Monday. That's the hope. But obviously it could take longer, but that's where they are.
Once they figure that out, what the mission of the KFOR will be, they'll go ahead with sizing it and talking about what they, the components that they need to meet the mission. Then they'll go ask the--they'll have to put this into the right language and plans for the NATO planners. Then they'll go out, and they'll ask individual countries--they'll put out what they call a requisition request or order that asks the individual countries to come forward and volunteer troops that are necessary to complete the force. When they get all of these pieces of paper back, they mix and match and put together a force with the individual country contribution, so that's probably what will be going on next week.
Q: Is there any rough estimate from the time the mission statement is complete to the time when we can actually see man and armor and materiel moving?
Mr. Bacon: Well, once they complete the mission statement, it usually takes, depending on how urgently they see the task, a couple of days to a week to go through the requisitioning process.
One of the issues here that not only NATO but the individual countries of NATO are discussing now is how quickly do we need to get a force on the ground. Clearly, one of the motivations behind the British comments about ground forces is that, and they've been very clear about this, that they want to make sure that there's a significant force on the ground that could go into Kosovo if a peace agreement were signed tomorrow or Monday, if it were signed sometime soon. We don't see that to be a prospect right now, unfortunately, but clearly NATO wants to be ready if a peace agreement is signed, to be able to move in very quickly.
Q: What's the U.S. view on when that force ought to be on the ground?
Mr. Bacon: I'm not sure we have a clear view on that right now, because there isn't a peace agreement. But if there is progress on the diplomatic front and we seem to get closer to an agreement, if Milosevic seems willing to accept NATO's five conditions, then I think we would move more quickly.
What General Shelton has said, that given any sort of planning envelope that NATO sets, we, the U.S., would be able to get forces there within that schedule.
Q: Would that force remain under the command of Lieutenant General Jackson?
Mr. Bacon: Yes. He is supposed to be the commander of the KFOR. He's now the commander of the NATO Rapid Reaction Force.
Q: Yesterday, you mentioned that NATO would fall in on the infrastructure that the ARRC has already set up in Macedonia. In layman's language, what does that involve? Falling in on what's already there. And how does that facilitate the movement of a KFOR force into the area?
Mr. Bacon: The initial plan was that the force would come in two ways. It would come by ship through Thessaloniki, Greece, and then move up by road through Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and then into Kosovo. Or it would fly in to the Skopje airport in Macedonia. I think that would still happen. That's still the plan.
Obviously, if you move armor and troops down by ship, it takes a fair amount of time. The British have already moved down jeeps and tanks and other armor that are already there along with their troops. Whether we would fly our stuff in or move it by ship would have to be determined. That would be based on the size of our contribution and how quickly it has to get there.
Q: Has Macedonia agreed to host a larger force?
Mr. Bacon: I think that we're in the process of figuring out what the force will be, and then we'll work with Macedonia. But I think one thing is very clear. Macedonia wants the refugees out of Macedonia and back into Kosovo. I think they would see that putting the KFOR into Macedonia so it could move quickly into Kosovo would help them reach that goal. So my expectation is that they'll be supportive for two reasons. One, the forces won't stay there, the current forces there, and two, the refugees won't stay there, so they would get both of these groups out and back into Kosovo, and then they could restore a more normal population in Macedonia.
Q: When you talked to General Clark today, did he indicate whether or not he intends to ask for the use of Apaches...
Mr. Bacon: He did not. Actually, I didn't talk to him about Apaches. I think that he understands and has said many times that the Apaches will be used at the appropriate time, and that's exactly what Secretary Cohen has said and General Shelton as well. I'm sure General Wald would say the same thing.
Major General Wald: Yes.
Q: Could you talk about the relative importance of the fact that the UCK captured the town of Jablanica and what kind of ammunition and the arms that they got there? How important it is. And also talk about the military equipment that NATO is now talking about giving to Albania. Is that to be timed for after the conflict is over, or is that something that they want to move in earlier?
Mr. Bacon: Do you want to answer that question?
Major General Wald: The last one or the first one?
Mr. Bacon: Either.
Major General Wald: I'll answer the first one. I've heard reports that they've done that in Jablanica and the same question as was asked earlier about a line of communication, I think that's why that would be important.
Mr. Bacon: I think they've captured some armor, some vehicles, a fair amount of--I'm sorry--not armor, mortars. Some other artillery, and a fair amount of ammunition is my understanding of, among the things the KLA got there.
Q: Are the Serbs on the run there, or is the battle continuing? What happens when you capture a town?
Mr. Bacon: Well, you try to hold onto it. I think that this is a big question right now. One of the issues here is that the Yugoslavs thought that they could wipe out the Kosovar Liberation Army in five to seven days. They have not succeeded in doing that. In fact the KLA, Kosovo Liberation Army, is getting stronger and stronger. And for a long while they've been fighting sort of guerrilla movements, attacking forces and targets of opportunity as they see them, Yugoslav forces as they've seen them. In the last couple of days, they have begun, or at least the last day, begun to actually acquire territory. Now the issue will be, can they hold that territory? That's not an easy question to answer.
One of the determinations will be whether the Yugoslav forces are so, have been so pummeled that they don't feel that they can mass and come back against these towns. They may be prepared to leave them for fear that they'll get hammered by NATO planes if they try to mass forces and come back. But we'll just have to see how that develops over the next couple of days.
But it is clear that the KLA is more aggressive, and it is more actively attacking the Yugoslav forces and beginning now to hold towns. And as they do that and drive away the Serb forces, they are beginning to pick up some equipment. They've been equipment-poor for a long period of time, so any equipment they pick up is a big plus for them.
Q: If indeed the Yugoslav forces do mass and attempt to expel the KLA from those towns, will allied forces strike them?
Mr. Bacon: Yes. To the best of our ability.
Q: What would you estimate the KLA troop strength in Kosovo these days to be?
Mr. Bacon: I'm afraid I don't know that. It's a good question. I hope that Admiral Wilson will be here early next week and that he'll be able to talk about the resurgent KLA as well as what's happening to the Yugoslav forces on the ground in Kosovo.
Q: There was a report in the European press that General Naumann of Germany complained to NATO especially that the air campaign against Serbia so far was a failure. He is actually challenging the targets. Any comments?
Mr. Bacon: You're talking about--I don't know...
Q: It was a report fired to NATO authorities by General Naumann of Germany. It says that the air campaign so far was a failure, and he's actually challenging the targets.
Mr. Bacon: I think you're probably talking about General Naumann, who was the former head of the Military Committee, and I haven't seen that specific report, if it's a recent report. I do know that in an interview or statement he gave several weeks ago, I think he indicated that he would have liked to have seen a heavier attack by air earlier on in the campaign.
This has been an issue of debate within members of NATO, and let me just take a minute to talk about this, and General Wald might want to talk about it, too.
But the goal of the NATO campaign was not to crush Yugoslavia. It was to force, it was to degrade their force enough so that they would go to the negotiating table. Some members of NATO said in order to do that, you don't have to go in and on the first few days of the campaign demolish the country, because that's not the goal. Had NATO wanted to demolish the country of Yugoslavia, it could have done it very, very quickly. But that wasn't the goal. It was a more surgical goal than that. Therefore, the campaign started out with very specific targets early on, and the first set of targets were to take out the integrated air defense system, and the second was to go against the forces on the ground in Kosovo, the very forces that were oppressing the Kosovar Albanians.
So if you go back to the first day, I think about a third to a half of the targets in the first day were against forces on the ground in Kosovo, and the rest were against integrated air defenses.
As the campaign continued, the target list expanded, and it expanded into the so-called sustainment targets that General Wald talks about all the time -- petroleum, lines of communication, electrical grids, and also we were hitting command and control targets from early on.
General Clark, Secretary Cohen, General Shelton have all said from the very beginning that this was a systematic and progressive campaign, but the early goal was to hit hard enough to, in an attempt to force Yugoslavia to the bargaining table. Some countries in NATO argued that if we can do that with a few days of hits or a week of hits, we ought to do it without demolishing the whole country. As Yugoslavia shows that it was completely unmoved and intransigent, the pressure and the tempo of the attacks grew. I think you see that. There was the decision at the NATO Summit here on April 23rd, 24th, to expand the campaign. And it's been expanded progressively before and after that Summit, and it will continue to expand until there's a peace agreement.
I don't know whether you want to say anything more about it.
Major General Wald: I think you explained it excellently. But I'd say the first part of the campaign, to add to Mr. Bacon, in retrospect, I'd characterize as a warning shot. During that warning shot, we were preparing the battlefield for what was to follow, with the integrated air defense and that part of the campaign. Since Milosevic decided that he didn't take NATO seriously, I think they've pushed it up to the point where he now knows it's serious, and he needs to make a decision about it. So that's all I can add to that.
Q: I've got a--General, if I could ask you to fill in a little more detail regarding the KLA. Can you just lay out your sense of whether you feel that NATO airstrikes have made it more possible for the KLA to operate in something of a conventional sense, intending to hold territory, and also give a sense of what would happen if the Yugoslav army attempted to concentrate to attack the KLA in any numbers.
Major General Wald: On the last one, if we find them concentrating, that will make it easier for us to degrade them in a more rapid way, or destroy their capability. If they concentrate, we'll hit them in concentrations rather than smaller groups.
So there's no doubt about it, if they decide to concentrate against the UCK, we'll hit them, not because they're attacking the UCK, but because that's our objective, to degrade and destroy their military.
On the first part, I think we've said it several times before, it's a consequence that the UCK has become, part of a consequence of the airstrikes that they've become stronger. They've had more members join. They are finding some weapons, as Mr. Bacon talked about earlier. I personally, as a military guy, consider it a beneficial consequence, because it puts more pressure on the Yugoslav army. But that's not one of the military objectives.
Press: Thank you.