DoD News Briefing, Friday, May 21, 1999 - 2:05 p.m.
(Also participating: Major General Chuck Wald, J-5)
Related briefing slides
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
A couple of quick announcements.
Additional Reserve call-ups, [we're] calling up 1,022 airmen and women from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units in Illinois, Kansas, Maine and New Jersey, plus 26 KC-135 strato-tanker aircraft to join Operation ALLIED FORCE. This will bring the total number of Reservists up to close to 5,500. These are the numbers that have been activated under the 33,000 person ceiling.
Q: Where are the tankers coming from?
Mr. Bacon: The tankers are coming from the 126th Air Refueling Wing in Chicago; the 190th in Topeka, Kansas; the 931st in Wichita, Kansas; the 101st in Bangor, Maine; and the 108th Air Refueling Wing in Wrightstown, New Jersey. There are various numbers of planes and people in each one of those units. You can get the precise details from Colonel Bridges after the briefing, if you want them.
Second, the briefing tomorrow will be at 11:00 here. General Wald and me.
Finally, off the Kosovo topic, Secretary of Defense Cohen announced today that President Clinton has nominated Vice Admiral Thomas Fargo to the grade of admiral, and he will be assigned as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor when confirmed by the Senate.
Many of you know Admiral Fargo because of his role in the Gulf as commander of the 5th Fleet there. He's currently serving as the deputy chief of staff for Naval Operations for Plans, Policy and Operations.
With that, I'll take your questions.
Q: Ken, you mentioned the other day that the KLA had started to move to acquire territory. They captured a town or a village. Is there more of that going on, or was that a one...
Mr. Bacon: No. We're getting reports that they are -- it's still a guerrilla war, and it's ebb and flow. And they capture territory, and then the Serb forces try to get it back. But they have captured a few little towns recently. What was significant about yesterday's was that it was one of the first times that they've captured a significant number of armaments.
Let me just say about the KLA. Admiral Wilson will be here on Monday to brief, and he'll fill you in on the fate of the KLA and what else is happening on the ground in Kosovo and bring you up to date on the bomb damage assessment, in line with General Wald.
But the KLA has increased rather dramatically in size in the last eight weeks since this campaign began. On March 24th we estimate that they had a total of 6,000 to 8,000 people in Kosovo and Albania with perhaps 2,000 to 4,000 in Kosovo. So up to half may have been in Kosovo at any one time.
Now we estimate that they have grown to a total of 17,000 to 20,000 in both Kosovo and Albania, with perhaps as many as 15,000 in Kosovo at any one time. So there's been a fairly significant surge in their membership and also in the number of forces in Kosovo.
Now these numbers are estimates, obviously. We haven't done a census. They don't have recruiting figures in the same way the U.S. Army does, but it gives you a sense of the order of magnitude of the growth of the KLA over the last two months.
Q: How are they managing to get arms and equipment for these people, given the surge?
Mr. Bacon: One way, to the extent they succeed in battle, they're able to acquire, take over some from the Serb forces -- both the army forces, the VJ, and the special police, the so-called MUP.
They also are acquiring weapons on world markets. There was a piece in one of the papers yesterday that talked about some of the funding issues behind their acquisition program of new weapons that they're buying from arms merchants throughout Europe.
They recently signed on a new leader, a guy named Agim Ceku who's quite, has a reputation of being quite a professional leader. We understand that their training has improved. So the quality of the recruits is getting better, and the quality of their weaponry is also getting better, but not as quickly as they would like, obviously. They still remain a lightly armed, highly mobile force, still mainly an insurgent force without the heavy equipment of the Serb forces they're opposing.
But the combination of new leadership, new weapons and new members has made them more successful, particularly as the NATO bombing campaign continues to inflict heavy damage on the forces in the field in Kosovo.
Q: After General Clark was here, is there any rethinking on the part of the Pentagon on the use of the Apaches?
Mr. Bacon: No. Actually, General Clark did not bring up the Apaches in his meeting yesterday with the Chiefs.
Q: What was General Clark's message when he came here and met with the Chiefs and the Secretary? For instance, was he advocating a quicker deployment of some of the peacekeeping forces to neighboring countries, so they'll be in a position to move quickly into Kosovo if there's a peace agreement?
Mr. Bacon: That is the U.S. position on the KFOR. That's the position we're advocating in NATO. We believe that KFOR should be increased in size and should be deployed at its full size as quickly as possible so that if there is a peace agreement any time soon, and we hope there will be, that the peace implementation force will be able to get into place quickly.
General Clark came basically to have a face-to-face meeting with the Secretary, the Chairman, and the members of the Joint Chiefs. He reported on the progress that the air campaign is making. He said that he's very pleased with the progress -- that, as he's said publicly, that NATO is winning and Milosevic is losing. He said that the air campaign is inflicting progressively more damage every day on the forces on the ground in Kosovo and also against the command and control and military infrastructure of the Yugoslav country.
He reviewed two things. One, what's happening with the Kosovar implementation force, the so-called KFOR, the peacekeeping force, and also where NATO stands on its assessment or its review of the assessments of various ground force options that were crafted by NATO last summer.
He did not request the deployment of ground troops, nor did he request any change in NATO's policy.
Q: Did he advocate or lobby for the, to put the ground invasion option back on the table?
Mr. Bacon: He did not do that. What he talked about was the types of steps that would have to be taken if we were to pursue various ground options at future times. He did not request that we do that. He just said that if you look down several months out into the future and you reach a point in August or September or October where we might want to deploy ground troops, what is the type of planning timeframe that would be necessary in order to position NATO to do that? He wanted to make sure that no decisions were made by default, and that everybody be aware of the type of planning and potentially training that would be required for a future movement of forces.
Q: Did he indicate at all that he could not guarantee the political aims would be achieved with the air-only campaign without a ground invasion option?
Mr. Bacon: Nobody can guarantee that. It was really in terms of timing. No one can guarantee at this stage that the air campaign will produce all of the objectives by the fall. We think it will, but can you guarantee it? Will you sign your name to that at this stage? I don't think anybody would be willing to do that.
We think that the air campaign is working extremely well, but you have to be open to other possibilities. You can -- there have been a number of interesting reports recently.
There was, I saw an AFP report based on a poll that was done in Yugoslavia, a poll, a survey of 750 people. It said that 96 percent of the people surveyed said they had been psychologically rattled by NATO's bombing campaign, and about close to 50 percent of them were either out of work or had lost work time because of NATO's bombing campaign, and about 40 percent of them had either moved away from their houses or were thinking of doing it because of NATO's bombing campaign.
So clearly this campaign, although it's not at all aimed at civilians, is having a deep psychological impact on the country. We believe that that combined with the major impact it's having on the forces on the ground in Kosovo and elsewhere, the forces throughout Yugoslavia, will begin to have an impact on the leadership. We may be seeing that already in increasing, what appears to be increasing willingness to negotiate. We're certainly seeing some signs of military disarray. But General Clark's point was that although the bombing campaign is going extremely well -- and the bombing campaign will intensify, and presumably the impact will become even greater -- you could not make a firm prediction that it will be over by June 15th, for instance, or July 15th. We've said many times that we're prepared to continue this campaign as long as possible, as long as is necessary, I should say.
So it was in that context that he said you have to be open to the possibility of looking at other options. There's been no decision by this Administration or by NATO to change the policy. In fact there's every determination to continue with the air campaign.
Q: Where does he want to put the KFOR?
Mr. Bacon: The KFOR, as I said yesterday, would initially move into Macedonia and then as soon as possible would move into Kosovo.
Q: A point of clarification, maybe I missed something. I'm confused.
When you said that the General laid out various planning steps that have to be taken on ground troops, was that in regards to just KFOR and/or the insertion of ground troops in a non-permissive...
Mr. Bacon: Two things were discussed. The first was KFOR. And on there, I've said from this podium what the U.S. position is, that we're going to need a larger KFOR and we want it deployed to Macedonia as quickly as possible. Because should there be a peace agreement quickly, as we hope, we need a force that's ready to go in and help the refugees get back as the Serb forces pull out, so that's the first point is on KFOR.
There's a second point, and the second point deals with the assessment that NATO did last summer of other ground options. Those are the options of possible invasion forces. NATO is still in the process of reviewing those assessments.
General Clark's second comments dealt with that assessment, and they have to be seen in the context of the NATO assessment, which Secretary General Solana initiated just before the Washington Summit in April. All he was doing there was saying that that assessment is ongoing, should be finished in the near term. It's going to be a much more detailed assessment than the first set of assessments were, but it's only an assessment. It's not a decision to do anything different. It's just an assessment that will give NATO a better assessment of the options it could face. In light of that assessment, he talked about some of the planning or analytical timelines that would have to be met in the course of following through on elements of that assessment.
Q: How many troops would be needed, according to General Clark?
Mr. Bacon: Well, that assessment hasn't been completed yet, so I think it's premature to talk about it. But I think what you can say is just as the KFOR has increased in size, the number of troops in any invasion force that would be contemplated would also increase in size.
Q: What sort of timelines did he say would be required to get an invasion force ready to go?
Mr. Bacon: I don't think it's appropriate to get into the timelines, but anybody can figure out when snow's going to come in Kosovo and work back.
Q: Why you rejected General Clark's request to use force for enforcing (unintelligible) blockade (unintelligible)?
Mr. Bacon: Sorry?
Q: Why you rejected General Clark's request to use force for enforcing a naval blockade in Adriatic Sea (unintelligible) to Yugoslavia?
Mr. Bacon: First of all, we haven't rejected his request.
Q: It was reported...
Mr. Bacon: Well, NATO has not finished its work yet on the "Visit and Search" regime. That's still ongoing.
Q: Have you discussed this issue with him yesterday?
Mr. Bacon: I don't know whether that came up. This has been an issue that's been under consideration in NATO for some time. We hoped that they would be finished by the end of this week. They're not. It will be kicked over to next week. This is something they're wrestling with.
Q: Ken, did General Clark advocate the use of ground troops?
Mr. Bacon: I said he did not recommend any change in policy, nor did he recommend the deployment of ground troops. He was talking in terms of planning timelines for various options. No options, no different options have been decided upon or even seriously considered.
Q: So what was the response from either the Secretary or the Joint Chiefs?
Mr. Bacon: He didn't ask for a response. He was laying out...
Q: Was there silence? I mean...
Mr. Bacon: No, there was a discussion, Jim. But the fact of the matter is that he wasn't asking for a particular decision.
Q: How far has this KFOR planning gone -- even though we don't know how many numbers and so forth? With oppressive weather coming, and obviously, refugees on the border who would be rather anxious to get home, I mean do we have demining equipment in-theater already to try to keep people from getting blown up if, let's say, peace happens in two or three weeks, and people start to try to reach home?
Mr. Bacon: That's exactly the type of issue that's being decided by NATO now. There's some demining equipment in the area. Obviously, we've got 13,000 troops there under the command of Lieutenant General Mike Jackson. They are primarily, almost exclusively, European troops. So they've moved down certain equipment to support themselves. There is not much American participation there at this stage. It's very, very light.
So, one of the things that NATO is looking at is the number -- as I said yesterday, they're looking at the mission, and they're looking at the size of the force, and they're looking at the composition of the force. Both size and composition will be determined by the mission.
Q: On the desertions that we were talking about yesterday, the 7th Infantry Division, I was told today that the true number is about 1,500 and that several generals were shot that were, I guess that let these people go, and that they are rounding up the deserters and dispersing them amongst new groups. Is this information true?
Mr. Bacon: I have not seen that information. It could well be true, but I haven't seen that. I'll inquire about it.
Q: I've also heard that the KLA killed a Russian mercenary, and they're turning over his body to the ICRC. Is that true?
Mr. Bacon: I have heard a rumor about that, but I don't know that to be true.
Q: Does it mean anything to you guys that Russian mercenaries would be involved? Or is that something you expected?
Mr. Bacon: I think without knowing more facts, it's a little hard to comment at this stage.
Q: Why after eight weeks of attacking the Serb military infrastructure would the number of troops needed for a ground invasion increase?
And two, what more has to happen now in NATO before KFOR can be deployed?
Mr. Bacon: To answer the first question, you have to remember that the initial assessment was done last summer, in the late summer. At that time there were probably half as many Yugoslav army and police troops in Kosovo as there are today. They have mined many roads and bridges since last summer. They have taken many other defensive actions since last summer. So it would be a different type of challenge altogether.
I stress again, no decision has been made to move an invasion force, and in fact, it hasn't even been strongly considered here or in NATO. But those are two reasons why you would require a larger force today, even after eight weeks of NATO bombing, than you would have last summer.
In terms of the KFOR, I think that that should get to the North Atlantic Council next week. I would guess very early in the week. Basically, what they have to do is accept the idea, put it into an operating plan, and then go through a whole series of NATO steps that are required to decide who provides what group, how many people. You constitute a force through these series of requisitioning of forces and activation warnings and orders and things like that.
Q: Has the Military Committee approved it? KFOR.
Mr. Bacon: Yes, the Military Committee...
Mr. Bacon: I believe the Military Committee has completed work on it. These things sometimes ricochet back and forth, but I believe they've completed work, and it should go to the NAC soon.
Q: Give us some kind of timeline here.
Mr. Bacon: I think I can't do that right now. For one thing, it depends on how long NATO debates this. But clearly, there are 13,000 people there now. If the force goes up to 45,000 or 50,000 people, it will take some time to move them down there. To the extent that some countries could move in relatively quickly -- light forces in the area, such as the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit from the United States -- it could be done rapidly. If people decide to move in very heavy forces from other parts of Europe, it will take more time. If people decide to fly, it will take less time than if forces decide to go by ship. There are a whole series of logistical questions that have to be answered before I could give you a firm timeline.
But there is a feeling on the part of the United States and other NATO allies that we should do this more quickly than slowly.
Q: Is there a goal, a target date goal that...
Mr. Bacon: I don't know that a target date has been set yet. That's one of the things the NAC will, I'm sure, debate.
Q: First of all, congratulations to Tom Fargo (inaudible). And secondly...
Mr. Bacon: You should congratulate him. I had nothing to do with it but announcing it.
Q: Secondly, the makeup of the KFOR. You talked a little bit about this yesterday. Even though it is ostensibly a peacekeeping force, could the makeup also be the nucleus of an invasion force, if one were deemed necessary or appropriate?
Mr. Bacon: In theory, but maybe not in practice. It depends a lot on how the peace implementation force is structured. I think that that is an issue that hasn't been fully addressed at this stage.
Q: Ken, sort of along the same vein, Task Force Hawk which is deployed to Albania with a specific mission, could they make up part of the U.S. contribution? For instance, you mentioned, I think, the last couple of days that perhaps the U.S. contribution might be as much as 7,000 troops or in that neighborhood. If you've got 5,000 troops already in Albania and another 2,000 on ships, Marines, could that make up the U.S. contribution?
Mr. Bacon: Jamie, all that is theoretically possible, but I just don't think we've gotten to that level of detail. That's the type of issue that will be worked out in the next couple of weeks.
Q: Can I follow up on the U.S. contribution to what a KFOR would be? Up until now we have been putting troops into this emerging 13,000 force structure in Macedonia. What has changed in the U.S. thinking that now apparently makes us want to put troops in there, as you say, as quickly as possible? And what plans is the Pentagon working on for in fact sending troops to Macedonia to be part of this KFOR presence?
Mr. Bacon: I think that two things now have changed. The first is that there is now at least some hint that we may be closer to an agreement today than we were a month ago and certainly two months ago or three months ago.
Second, obviously, everybody is looking at the calendar and looking at what must be done to get refugees back home before the bad weather sets in in the winter. And those are two factors that have been very influential to NATO on this whole KFOR planning.
Q: In terms of the U.S., what has changed for us? We didn't send anybody to be part of the current force in Macedonia. Why...
Mr. Bacon: Well, we had always planned to send 4,000 people, and we had the plans worked out for sending them, and we could have done it relatively quickly. One of the questions that the U.S. will have to answer is what our participation will be in the new KFOR. I suspect it will be larger than 4,000, but the President hasn't made that decision. No one has made that decision at this stage yet.
Q: Is the Pentagon thinking that the U.S. contribution should be both heavy and light?
Mr. Bacon: I think those are exactly the types of details that will be worked out as we get more clarity about the KFOR.
Q: These types of troops that you are talking about in FYROM is going to take place via the city of Thessaloniki?
Mr. Bacon: Some of it would, and some of it would take place by air through Skopje, Macedonia.
Q: If everyone is very concerned about getting the refugees back to Kosovo before winter, or at least the beginning of the snows in the middle of the autumn, what preparatory steps are being taken to actually house those people along the border if the air war campaign doesn't produce the results everyone would hope for, and a ground force has not been put in under hostile conditions given the change in the weather?
Mr. Bacon: The non-government organizations and the governments that are working with them are beginning to study that exactly right now. Obviously, one of the things that we would have to do to sustain refugees during the winter is winterize their camps. That would involve a number of changes, but most specifically, putting in heating and water sources that don't freeze, etc. All of that is under review right now.
I suspect that there could be contracts let relatively quickly to do some of that, but what we want to do is look at exactly what's required in terms of updating the camps we have, but also what's required in the new camps that are being built to move refugees off the border into more secure and somewhat better-prepared camps elsewhere in Albania and also in Macedonia.
Q: Any concern about the calendar change, the feeling that ground troops of any, under any name or organization -- be it KFOR or ground invasion or whatever -- would go in in something less than a permissive environment? Is that likely to change?
Mr. Bacon: There's certainly no consideration of that in this government now. There's been no decision to change our policy.
Mr. Bacon: We remain committed to the air war, and General Clark made it clear that he thinks the air war is working, the air campaign is working well.
Q: Ken, does the Administration believe that the political opposition within NATO to a ground invasion force, particularly that of the Germans, is insurmountable?
Mr. Bacon: I think it's fair to say, as the Secretary has said, that there is no consensus in NATO today for a ground invasion force. I believe there is strong support in NATO today for an enhanced peace implementation force.
Q: I guess Albania has at least a dozen tanks and artillery pieces now up along the border. Are we going to start seeing exchanges of fire between Albanian and Serb forces? Or are they there mainly to show the Serbs that they need to stop doing their incursions across the border?
Mr. Bacon: I guess I would find it somewhat inappropriate for me to talk about Albanian military plans.
Q: I would assume, though, that they're coordinating them with NATO.
Mr. Bacon: I think the Albanians should talk about how they plan to use their own military.
Q: Ken, could you elaborate a little bit on the (inaudible) you're seeing that basically (inaudible) some sort of settlement? Is this in sections or is there some sign you're getting from Milosevic himself?
Mr. Bacon: I think there are two types of hints, and it's hard to know how they're connected.
The first set of hints have to do with increasing disarray within Yugoslavia itself, and particularly within its military. That includes the desertions we've seen this week, and we've seen -- although the most dramatic desertions were those involving the units from the 7th Infantry Brigade heading home to Krusevac -- there have been smaller desertions elsewhere, and we're seeing them with a little more frequency. But these tend to be groups of four, eight, very small groups. But we're seeing this more often. We're at least getting reports of them more often. Remember, we don't have observers on the ground, so we have to piece these together through a variety of sources.
Second, it's very clear that the NATO air campaign is having an impact on the ability of the country to support its military, not just in Kosovo but throughout the country. That's having an impact on fuel; it's having an impact on command and control.
Third, we have had a major impact on the Yugoslav military's strategic ability to defend itself through its air defense system, its air force, and also its ability to move within the country over bridges that are no longer there and roads that have been destroyed, airports that have been destroyed. The military infrastructure of the country is being systematically gutted day in and day out.
And then I cited the poll that was taken by a Belgrade political institute of 75 people that talked about the psychological impact that the strikes are having on the country. We have seen some signs of political opposition. First, we've seen sort of the open questioning of the regime policies in towns like Cacak and Krusevac where people have actually said that it's time to end this; it's time to find ways to stop the conflict. In Krusevac people said that they want their sons and fathers back, not coffins. So, there is clearly more and more war weariness throughout the country.
We've seen some people calling openly for -- opposition politicians calling openly for Milosevic's resignation.
Those are all the objective signs of disarray and pressure within Kosovo. What we don't know is what impact all of that is having on the regime itself and on its will to continue.
But we do see in comments coming out of the Foreign Ministry and elsewhere what appears to be an increased willingness to move toward the G-8 terms. Not in whole, but in part. That's the crucial distinction, because NATO has five conditions, which we believe are subsumed in the G-8 plan, and NATO is determined to win compliance with those five conditions.
We've seen a greater willingness to talk, and that's evidenced by Mr. Chernomyrdin's recent trip to Belgrade, his seven-hour discussion with Milosevic. But we haven't seen any concrete evidence that there is significant movement toward the NATO conditions.
So you've got signs of increased pressure and disarray on the one hand, signs that it's beginning to have an impact on how the government sees the need to reach a settlement, but no clear indication that they're willing to make a significant movement of the type necessary to end NATO's air campaign.
I think it's time to turn it over to General Wald for some military information.
Major General Wald: The weather, as I mentioned yesterday, was going to be bad here over the last period of time in this period here and then start clearing up. Yesterday, it was terrible, about the worst we've had. Not a lot of targets. Today, they have increased the flying significantly. The scheduled sorties were almost 1,000, of which 800-plus were in the combat-type category. And a lot of talk about winter coming, but spring hasn't ended yet, and the snow hasn't melted yet, so there's a lot of time here before the snow melts. In the next two months or so, the weather is projected to be the best it should be in that area for, traditionally for the full year. So June and July should start being good. We expect for the next, after probably tomorrow or Monday, the weather should be good for a string of time.
[Chart- Magnitude of Effort - Day 1-57]
Last night there were only three major targets hit. There were a couple of small things hit. I'll show you some film of a couple of things. But as of today, kind of the way of effort, there's a lot of questions of what are you doing to the Serb MUP military and his capacity to wage -- I hesitate to say combat against the civilians, but for his ability to sustain his military. You see a lot of the forces-on-the-ground-type targets are hit, but also a lot of targets in the command and control, sustainment, air defense, mobility of which they'll continue to be hit throughout the FRY and Kosovo.
Today, from what I understand five tanks already destroyed, about ten artillery pieces, several vehicles. Radio relay sites have already been attacked. The A-10s we talked about that just arrived from the States a day or two ago from Massachusetts, Michigan and Idaho have destroyed five tanks today, as I mentioned earlier, several artillery pieces. Doing a great job already there.
So these aircraft that are coming in are making a great contribution, and as the time flows over the next few days, I suspect the OPSTEMPO will increase even more dramatically.
Q: How are the AC-130s doing?
Major General Wald: They're doing just fine. They're all Code 1.
[Chart- US Forces]
The aircraft with the new 24 F-18Ds that have arrived to Tazar for the U.S. are up to 712 -- 314 fighter/bombers, as you can see there.
The THEODORE ROOSEVELT still operating in the area there and doing a great job today from what I understand. A lot of sorties off the carrier today.
[Chart- Allied Forces]
NATO's up to 281. I mentioned earlier there were 13 nations participating with air, including us, a couple of aircraft carriers from some other countries and some other ships, so they continue to operate from all these type of assets and these countries.
[Chart- Operation SUSTAIN HOPE- Last 24 Hours]
On the humanitarian side. I understand there are some reports that the VJ are confiscating some of the food and medical supplies that have been shipped in via ground. The agreement is that both the Serbs and the KLA and the Albanians, primarily, would get the food, and from what I understand, some of the food is being confiscated by the VJ, so that's not a good sign.
Camp Hope is pretty much complete; the first one will fill up here over the next day or two at 2,500. Camp Eagle is right about in this area here, just to the west of Fier. Then they're looking at the possibility of Camp Liberty, the third site, where that may go, whether it be in southern Albania or possibly Macedonia.
Three hundred and twenty more refugees into JFK today. Some of those families have departed from Fort Dix, as I mentioned yesterday. They're still going through the medical checks on some of these folks.
[Chart- Temp Refugee Location Commitments]
A lot of countries are taking in refugees. Twenty-eight so far total countries have taken them in. There's another ten that are in the queue to start picking up refugees. It looks like still another 100,000 or so that will be going to several of those countries. You can see some of them are doing a good job of taking in the refugees. We in the United States have almost 4,000. It should go to 4,000 sometime this weekend.
[Chart- PROVIDE REFUGEE- Refugee Status]
The next flight is today, 455, then one on Monday and Wednesday, and you can see the numbers there. At least as I show here, they're starting to move some of those out of Dix. That will come and go. It should stay below 4,200, we hope, maximum in the camp itself at Dix.
Just to update you, there still are 1.1 to 1.6 million refugees. There's 40-plus camps in Albania and Macedonia. And as I mentioned earlier, in Albania 300,000 of those refugees are in private homes, in Macedonia another 130,000 or so. So they're being taken care of.
Mr. Bacon mentioned earlier the camps are being winterized, and they'll take care of that type of activity. They're planning for even more refugees if they need to, so they're planning ahead just in case that contingency arises.
Q: Are they going to build hooches instead of the tents, probably?
Mr. Bacon: Well, the tents will be okay for the winter. They've got reasonable floors on them. They need heat, and as Mr. Bacon mentioned, they'd need some way to have the water keep running and those type of things. But you can live through it, and they can live through the weather in the tents with the heat. I imagine they might even consider, Ivan, though, some hooch-type things.
[Chart - Level of Effort]
The level of effort, just as of today, and the food, obviously, in all of this is still required from the international community, and they've got ways to get it over there. But about 630,000 per month the level of effort right now supports for food. Sheltering of up to 735,000. Then 1,209 medical beds. Obviously that would be people that would need to be ambulatory or in the hospital. So they have a reasonable capability to take care of the folks there, but they'll continue to increase that. Food and supplies are still needed.
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied+Force] [Photo - Raska Military Training Center, Serbia - Pre Strike]
Some imagery over the last few days. This was Raska ammo depot. I'll show some film of this a little bit later. These two are the ones that I'll show film of, right in here.
Earlier these were attacked, actually this one here, and then there's some support buildings that were attacked at this site a little bit earlier in the campaign.
[Photo - Raska Military training Center, Serbia - Post Strike]
This is the imagery of the ones I just showed you. This is an actual bunker. It's got a hole through the roof. I imagine what was in there blew up, if it blew out, and then there's another one here that used to be here, and that was a building. It's gone.
[Photo - Raska Ammo Depot Southeast, Serbia - Pre Strike]
This is a military training center (sic) at Raska itself as well. You can see several of these buildings here have been attacked. We'll just continue to take them down piecemeal, and they won't have a place to go back to to have R&R if they ever get it.
[Photo - Raska Ammo Depot Southeast, Serbia - Post Strike]
The same thing here. This is one of the "after-the-fact" on some of those buildings. You can see they're totally destroyed.
[Photo - Kukes Border Crossing, Albania]
This is a border crossing point in Albania itself. This is the Serb/VJ have actually shelled this spot in Albania at one of their border posts. And as the weather gets good -- as I said, today they've taken out some artillery in that area and they continue to take tanks out, and as the day progresses I'm sure more of that will happen. So the firing across the border hopefully will subside as those artillery pieces go down.
[Photo - Belgrade Army Garrison and Headquarters, Serbia - Post Strike]
This is the Belgrade garrison headquarters that was struck a couple of nights ago. You can see it had been struck earlier right here and here. These were the bombs that landed on it the other night and took this First Army MUP headquarters building in downtown Belgrade out the other night.
Weather over the last 24 hours was very poor. Starting today, it started clearing up last night. You can see this is the weather as of 9:00 this morning. The yellow is actually Kosovo, so you can see the weather has cleared and has allowed high OPSTEMPO today, and they're having one of the best days they've had so far.
The project[ed] weather for the last 24 hours and into the next 12 -- you can see in the area where some of it earlier on was there and then it started clearing out, which is good news. You can see some weather back in here that could potentially be a problem maybe in the next day or so, we'll see. It's very clear now over Kosovo and the FRY area, which is allowing for, as I said, probably one of the best days we've had of ops in a long time.
Command and control. This is the command bunker at Batajnica airfield. An F-15E last night. In spite of the poor weather, they were able to get a few good sorties off. Batajnica has been taking a pretty good beating. It penetrates the bunker. You can see the explosion coming out of the air vent. It probably contained it inside. I'm sure the bomb went off, and whatever was in there probably isn't in very good shape anymore.
Sustainment. Raska ammo depot. I showed some images of this earlier. This is an F-14 off of the THEODORE ROOSEVELT with an LGB. There's a little bit of moisture in the air so, it's not quite as clear, but he has a direct hit on this, and it looks like a pretty good secondary, so probably something in that bunker.
This is another one from an F-14 off the THEODORE ROOSEVELT again. Once again, they're flying a lot of missions today.
This is a forward air controller monitoring other strikes from an F-18D. The F-18 hit that.
Integrated air defense. The next one is an F-14 Tomcat from the THEODORE ROOSEVELT performing a forward air control mission for an A-10. Ironically, the A-10 was the forward air controller and didn't have a chance, but the F-14 picked up the target. He lased for the A-10. The A-10 saw the laser on the ground and dropped a MK-82 gravity bomb on the target, the Straight Flush, which is a very significant target. I'd say this is about as good as you can ask for on jointness. It shows the flexibility of air power, where the FAC actually dropped the bomb and the aircraft that was supposed to drop it forward air controlled for it. So that was outstanding work.
F-15E with the Raska military training center. I showed a picture of this a minute ago. You can see the building I showed in the imagery underneath the cursor.
And all of this shows that the air crew are becoming more and more familiar with the area. They're becoming even more proficient working with each other. And the success, when they get to fly like today, is outstanding. And this cumulative effect on Milosevic is really starting to hurt.
Istok security compound. This is an F-15CG with a laser-guided 2,000-pound bomb.
This is the area that was claimed to have the prison damage. This is the prison itself. You can see the bombs. I've talked to folks. All their bombs hit on the DMPIs. There may have been some windows blown out from the concussion.
This is the Pec army barracks in western Kosovo. F-16 again. Pretty tough target from the standpoint of identifying the exact building. These were 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs. He was the forward air controller, and he was doing the imaging for another aircraft dropping them.
Q: Photographs of the barracks. Is that the one where one of the laser-guided bombs went astray?
Major General Wald: Yes, it is.
Q: Can you tell from these photographs if it hit...
Major General Wald: The area where the bomb dropped is not in that photo. It's just off of it, and it's about I think 1,200, 1,500 feet from the target. It would have been just to the south of those buildings.
Q: You've seen no photographs of that?
Major General Wald: Yes, I have. I showed it yesterday, I believe, if I'm not mistaken.
Q: Of the damage to the hospital?
Major General Wald: ...on TV. I've seen the photo from above, and it shows there was a bomb that went long.
Q: It hit the hospital?
Major General Wald: I don't know if it hit a hospital. I could just see from above. I can't tell if it's a hospital or not.
Q: How far away would you say that prison is from the security compound?
Major General Wald: Probably a few hundred, maybe several hundred feet to, maybe meters. Several hundred meters.
Major General Wald: I would suspect when the bomb hit that building there's a potential for the blast to blow out some windows. But you can see where the bomb hit, so...
Q: The damage looked a little heavier than that from the footage we saw. Any idea what that could have been from?
Major General Wald: I really don't. Whether that's from the bomb -- my personal opinion is it's a little bit questionable whether that bomb where it hit could cause that kind of damage inside. I can't tell you that. But I could tell you that the window-type damage is certainly possible. But once again, I'm not sure if that's the same stairwell they showed on TV in the building, so it's hard to tell what they're showing there. Q: What was the nature of the target in that? The intent...
Major General Wald: That is a VJ/MUP special forces headquarters area, and that is a prison, that is a VJ/MUP or Serb prison for what they call terrorists. I think they were probably Albanians. They also have a helicopter pad in that area. And they are the special forces that would patrol the border and have been performing, I think, some of the atrocities in that area as well.
Q: What is the impact that AAA or surface-to-air missiles being shot while you guys are dropping bombs have on the bomb's accuracy? Is it possible that any of them could get knocked off course?
Major General Wald: I think the chance of a bomb being hit by a bullet or a SAM is very unlikely. It could happen. I mean they shoot enough AAA; if you saw on, I think, TV the night before last, they were flying AAA, it looked just like Baghdad did a couple of years ago. But I think more likely than that what could happen is if you're lasing a target and then are shot at by a SAM or AAA, you could have to, as you're defending yourself, pull off the target, which I think is probably logical to do and understandable. So when that happens, there could be a chance you could pull your laser off the target. If you're quick enough and turn the laser off, the bomb might land where you were lasing earlier. But once again, I haven't heard of cases like that, but it's certainly -- I'm sure some have happened where people have had to maneuver because of being shot at.
Q: General, you tell us the morale continues to be high, but what about fatigue? You say these guys are sitting five to seven hours and sometimes more in a cockpit day after day, plus the stress of combat flying. Is it showing up at all, having any impact?
Major General Wald: From what I understand, it isn't. I guess what I'd say is you look at the results of what they're doing. Today again, they're doing a great job. They make a point of getting out of the squadron after they debrief and getting home and getting in rest as soon as they can, and what they try to do is give, I think, everybody one day where they're not flying out of seven. At that point they can try to get some relaxation. It wouldn't make sense to fly every day. It just wouldn't be safe.
So I think what they try to do, time permitting, is give everybody at least a day off a week, and even then they probably come in and do some target study or something, but have maybe a shorter day, probably only work eight hours instead of 14 or something.
Q: Did you say you've flown 1,000 sorties already today, or plan to?
Major General Wald: No, they had scheduled total, counting some of the lift and helicopter sorties and all the support, around 1,000, of which over 800 of those are combat or combat, direct support of combat.
Q: General, did you respond to Germany's request for air refuel from the targets in Yugoslavia through the use of the...
Major General Wald: I'll let NATO and Mr. Bacon talk to that. That's a SHAPE issue, and I'll let SHAPE talk to that themselves.
Q: General, a slightly different focus. You mentioned that there are reports of the VJ confiscating some humanitarian food aid. Was this one incident or have there been a number of incidents? And whereabouts was this taking place?
Major General Wald: I don't have the details where it was. I think it's been a case or two, maybe more. This was, I heard this from the UNHCR-type representatives, so they're concerned with that. There was an agreement that it would be shared. They're not doing that, evidently.
Q: I was just wondering if, as we continue to pound the lines of communication and therefore curtail supplies reaching them, if this is starting to increase.
Major General Wald: No. This has not been affected by our bombing. Remember, the south, the bridges haven't been taken out. The only problem in the south has been whether the VJ/MUP mined the bridges. So we haven't taken any of the bridges out in the south, and we want to keep it that way.
Q: Is there any Serb/KLA fighting around the time of Jablanica, which the KLA holds, and does the KLA still hold it?
Major General Wald: From what I understand, they continue to fight in that area, although I think the UCK has had a little more success than the VJ and MUP would have liked to have had. So -- But I think there's still a little bit, and I think it was characterized as guerrilla-fighting-type going on.
Q: Is NATO doing any airstrikes around there?
Major General Wald: NATO is doing airstrikes throughout the FRY and Kosovo today, and if there are targets over there, which I'm sure there probably are some, they'll probably attack over there.
Q: Given the resurge of the KLA, is there any effort to coordinate attacks?
Major General Wald: With the KLA? No, we aren't working with the KLA in a coordinated effort.
Q: Given the experience that you have now after two months about how much damage you've been able to do, and the sense of the pace of this campaign, shouldn't you be able to anticipate a month or two from now how much more, particularly forces in the field, you would be able to destroy? Assuming the weather is as good as you predict and so on?
Q: I suppose if you went back and looked at perfect weather with that number of sorties you could do a little bit of a projection. It would be tough, because we're not sure if they're going to stay operating as they are and hunkered down, if they're going to try to leave, if they'll try to attack. So it really depends on a combination of things. But I think as this goes along, it's inevitable that the numbers will continue to go down. As the weather gets good, his numbers of forces surviving will go down. As the weather gets good, it will go down even faster.
At some point when you get less targets, it probably will go down at a smaller rate overall, but his percentage will continue to degrade to the point where eventually he's going to be ineffective against probably the UCK, more than likely. And certainly his ability to sustain is really being hurt. Then he's got another problem to start considering, and that's, he needs to have a military at the end of this thing if he wants to be a sovereign nation. And right now that military is in jeopardy.
Q: Can we assume that you've done these projections, and you have some idea about where his forces would be, how much you will have destroyed them by say late July or early August?
Major General Wald: I suppose somebody's doing that. I haven't done it. I would project by that time with good weather, he's going to have a tough time kind of counting up forces.
Q: Who is getting the relief supplies that are going into Kosovo, and where are those supplies being taken? What kind of split is it, basically, and is it worth it still to drive supplies in?
Major General Wald: From what I understand, the split is not quite 50/50. I don't know all the details, Bill, and I'd like to get back to you on that. But they're being driven in the areas they had talked about before. I think NATO gave a pretty detailed brief on that yesterday. So they're being driven up from the south into Kosovo and various areas, and they're trying to split the share reasonably between both the Serb population and the Kosovo Albanians.
Q: Some are actually getting through to the...
Major General Wald: Yes, some are getting through.
Press: Thank you.