DoD News Briefing, Thursday, May 27, 1999 - 2:05 p.m.
Also Participating: Rear Admiral Thomas R. Wilson, J-2, and Major General Chuck Wald, J-5
Related briefing slides
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. The briefing will be in two parts today. First, Rear Admiral Thomas Wilson, the director of intelligence for the Joint Staff, will give you an intel update, and then you'll get an operational update from General Wald. We'll take your questions first with Admiral Wilson, and then we'll have the second half of the briefing.
Q: How about you? When do we get you?
Mr. Bacon: You'll never get me. No, let's have Admiral Wilson do his briefing first, then I'll come up and expose myself to your sharp questions and then quickly lateral it off to General Wald.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/#SLIDES]
Admiral Wilson: Good afternoon. It's good to be back, I think. We'll see how gentle you are today.
I'm here really to more or less give you an intelligence update on the situation in Kosovo as well as an update on battle damage assessment. Really, I haven't done that for awhile. It's kind of comparing now to about the end of April and kind of let you know where we think we have been and where we're going.
[Chart - Yugoslavia: Situation Update]
This is just a collage of photographs, mostly out of the press and off the Internet, of some of the infrastructure damage which has been done in Yugoslavia as a backdrop for today's briefing.
Next chart, please.
[Chart - FRY Air Defense]
Since it was the first thing we started to work on, I will give you an update on Yugoslavia's air defense system, which continues to be ineffective against NATO aircraft even as we've increased the pace of air operations over larger areas of the country.
It is still a threat. They still have about one-half of their strategic SAMs remaining, physically remaining in an operational status. And of course, as you all know, the manned portable air defense systems and the AAA and low altitudes are currently a threat and will probably always be a threat.
But the impact of the air campaign against the SA-3s, the attempt they had to get the SA-2s operational and the SA-6s, has been highly significant. Right now, we assess that fully one-half of the SA-3 and SA-6 force is not operational, the SA-3s primarily because about 11 out of 14 have been destroyed, at least the principle part of their system, the radar. And some SA-6s have been destroyed, and several more are in a non-operational status.
Furthermore, the NATO suppression continues to be highly effective against attempts to launch SAMs, surface-to-air missiles, in a radar-guided mode. The Serbs are unable to achieve a complete transition to an engagement sequence and either unwilling or unable to achieve a lock-on to be able to fire the aircraft and have the missiles guide. On those few occasions when we see a guided SAM launch, NATO pilots have been, fortunately, able to evade the missiles. But for the most part, we see them launched in an optical mode, the Serbs appearing rather than to try to do a full, complete, successful engagement, [trying] to protect themselves, protect their remaining assets, and not conduct the full engagement sequence, which makes the system more ineffective.
The air-to-air threat has been virtually eliminated since the 24th of March. Only three of the original MiG-29 aircraft remain operational, and there's only been one attempt by a MiG-21 actually to intercept a NATO aircraft. Many have been destroyed. I'll get more into that in the BDA part of the briefing, but [many] have been destroyed in the air and on the ground. And it appears as if the air force's focus is to continue to focus on survivability of the remaining assets as opposed to defense of the country.
[Chart - Kosovo: Status of VJ/MUP]
Talking now about the status of the army and the police and in particular the army and the police in Kosovo itself.
This ballyhooed withdrawal, which was talked about a week or ten days ago, is primarily a propaganda effort. We have seen some, a small number of units or convoys which have departed Kosovo, but there is no significant withdrawal of combat forces from Kosovo and that that has been withdrawn is not a significant fighting force. So whatever occurred up to date in terms of withdrawal, there have probably been some unit rotations, but more likely staged efforts to photograph convoys as they depart, and there is really no significant withdrawal.
We still estimate about 25,000 army troops deployed into Kosovo, which includes reservists, and around 15,000 police forces, which includes reservists as well.
Their emphasis, as you can see on this map, and all the battle groups which are deployed around here, the company-sized battle groups, continues to be on the Drenica region, which is an area of UCK or KLA strength, and also focusing on the Albanian border where they're trying to essentially stop increasingly effective attempts by the UCK or KLA to bring supplies, men and equipment forward into the combat zone.
One thing which has changed significantly since the last time I talked to you is the relative lack of mobility by the Serb army in the area where they are engaged with the KLA. In fact, I would almost call them altered tactics due largely to the airstrikes. The airstrikes have caused these tactics to be altered for several reasons.
Number one, we've talked before about the reduced amount of fuel available in the country and the reduced ability to move fuel to where it's needed. So fuel continues to be a problem, and it's manifesting itself more than ever in [not] just tanks and APCs hiding and not being engaged as much in the conflict as it is in running out of fuel as they try to conduct operations.
They're also concerned about, as weather has gotten better and we have flown more sorties over the 24-hour day, and particularly during daylight hours, they have been increasingly engaged by NATO air. So rather than be out and about supporting their infantry operations, they're more often concealed and dispersed as opposed to operational. Of course the fuel, maintenance and line of communication damage continues to disrupt those operations.
Now I want to be clear, the thing that separates the Serb army and police from the ability of the UCK fighters is heavy equipment -- tanks and APCs and artillery. So we believe that it's important to continue to destroy that equipment and also to try to make it immobile and keep them kind of out of the fight, because that tends to level the playing field between the KLA and the army.
We have continued reports of the army and the police in particular using Kosovar Albanians as human shields. This situation is very much like the situation earlier in the conflict when we told you here in the press room that we had many, many reports about atrocities being conducted by the Serbs against the Kosovar Albanians. It is hard to verify any single atrocity now. It may be hard to verify any single example of using Kosovar Albanians as shields. But the number of reports from different sources, and credible sources, indicate that they are doing that, which can create problems, of course, for NATO strike operations.
I forgot to mention this bullet here. We have, increasingly, paramilitary groups, which are active in Kosovo. I think they, along with the police and the MUP, the special police, are responsible for a lot of the atrocities that are conducted. It's hard to get a good number on these forces. They probably number in the thousands. And we have even seen evidence that the army is concerned about operations of the paramilitaries, what they may be doing, and the impact it could have on the army as the Serb army conducts their operations or prepares perhaps for a defense of the country.
Finally, I still think there is evidence of deteriorating morale. One of the things which has changed since the last time I've seen you is the number of anti-war protests which are occurring, primarily on south central Serbia.
The one that is, of course, the most notable is the one which was conducted at Krusevac where families of a Reserve brigade were more or less viciously attacked or confronted by the Serb police, and as a result, a good portion of that brigade left Kosovo and tried to make it back to Krusevac. Many of them did. And there was even an engagement between them and other members of the Serb military as they went back.
Those anti-war demonstrations still continue in Krusevac. We have evidence that the city is virtually under a marshal-law-type scenario. We have one report from a pretty good source, but not confirmed, that three citizens were killed by the MUP in an incident which happened two days ago. So there is a great attempt, somewhat successfully, I must say, by the Serbs to keep this activity suppressed. However, there are at least five other cities in south central Serbia - Kragujevac, Cacak, Raska, Aleksandrovac, and Prokuplje -- where demonstrations of various sizes, intensity and length have occurred. Those are all cities where there are army garrisons -- some active, some Reserves -- located, and it's something which I think is a part of contributing to the deteriorating morale of Serbian forces.
Next slide, please.
[Chart - Kosovo: Status of UCK]
I think the big change from the last time I briefed you in this room and now really is what's happening in the KLA or the UCK. They appear to be a resurgent group, which has taken advantage of NATO airstrikes, general Western sympathy, and a groundswell of volunteer fighters who have gotten to Albania from other parts of the world as well as in the camps to increasingly resume in some parts of Kosovo offensive harassment operations against the Serb military.
This is a force which numbered, as late as I think the March timeframe, around 5,000 in Kosovo and another 1,000 or 2,000 in Albania, to a force that we now estimate between 15,000 and 17,000 with as many as 5,000 currently in Kosovo who can be undergoing training in camps there in northern Albania, which have been drawing some attention from Serb artillery.
Their improved situation is the result of the airstrikes, which has reduced the mobility of the VJ or army operation. They are now led by more experienced military officers who are leading it. In fact, the new commander is a former commander in the Croatian army, before that a member of the Yugoslav army. And they have a somewhat improved supply situation. In fact, we have evidence of a significant operation occurring in southwestern Kosovo now. And the number of UCK participants in this may actually be as large as their total strength was as recently as a year ago.
So they've, I think, dramatically increased their ability to operate in the country as a result of the NATO airstrikes. In fact sometimes the reduced number of IDPs, displaced persons, works to their advantage.
And, as I say, their supply situation is improving. More weapons coming in from their traditional sources outside of Kosovo and Albania, and in fact, we have evidence that they have managed to capture some important Serb weapons in the southwest.
So their situation is improving, and it's a reinvigorated insurgent operation and leadership. Certainly one that has problems, certainly one that cannot go force-on-force with Serb tanks and Serb artillery and Serb APCs, but one whose numbers are now getting closer to the total number of Serb soldiers in Kosovo, and because of the relatively more immobility of the Serb armored and mechanized forces, the playing field is somewhat more level.
Next chart, please.
[Chart - BDA Assessment Summary - Integrated Air Defense]
I'd now like to talk about battle damage assessment. What I have on the left side here -- I don't know if this was the last time I briefed BDA, but it was one of the times that I briefed BDA where I had simple bullet statements in April -- and now you can compare the statements in May as I go through some notes here and comments about the various target sets.
I've already discussed the relative ineffectiveness of the air defense system. Why is that true? For one thing, their primary airfields and their Reserve airfields are being bombed regularly. At least seven of the nine primary airfields are now non-operational. They're non-operational because of the fuel supplies that have been attacked at the airfields, runways which have been cratered, and we now believe that runway repairs are taking about twice as long as they were earlier, and as we would expect.
So this reduces their ability to do any kind of air-to-air air defense, but also it reduces, but does not eliminate, their ability to use their light attack aircraft for close air support operations in Kosovo.
About 79 percent of the MiG-29s have been destroyed, over 30 percent of the MiG-21s, two-thirds of the SA-2s, and almost 80 percent of the SA-3s have been destroyed. A small number of SA-6s -- only three batteries we assessed as destroyed - however, they've been largely ineffective in their attempts to go against the Western, the NATO operations.
The early warning scenario is one where they do have air surveillance coverage of the battle space. It is not as effective as clearly it once was in detecting and then moving the information down to engagement platforms. However, there are a large number of radars. We've destroyed a large number; over 20 early warning radars have been destroyed. And what we do see as increasingly not being used during the day time, they like to acquire us optically, but I think there's a realization that if they are used in the day time, we'll detect them and then be able to engage them, which allows us for more effective operations, 24 hours a day.
Next slide, please.
[Chart - BDA Assessment Summary - Command and Control]
In command and control, we lump -- it's really command and control and leadership. We lump Serbian television into this category. That should be a compliment to all of you, to be in the command and control world. We believe that the broadcast capabilities have been degraded by about 35 percent in terms of broadcast and coverage over Serbia proper, and that does not take into account the electricity which is being out. Of course, if you don't have electricity, it's hard to obviously tune into the TV broadcasts, even though they have reserve power to make the broadcasts.
So the damage to the electrical power grid has compounded the problems of the Serbian regime to distribute propaganda through radio and TV which is physically degraded to about 35 percent.
Command and control of the army and the air defense continues to be a challenge for them as we take out additional command and control facilities. In fact, the telecommunications industry and infrastructure has sustained, I think, some long-term damage, which will make it difficult for an economic recovery in that sector.
[Chart - BDA Assessment Summary - Army and Police]
Turning to the army and the police, one of the main things I think to emphasize here is the degradation of the sustainability, long-term sustainability of the military. We believe that about 50 percent of the POL storage for the military has now been destroyed, the storage capacity. About half of the ammunition facilities in Serbia have been attacked and damaged. And in Kosovo all known fixed ammunition storage sites have been struck, and about 90 percent of the storage capacity has been destroyed.
For POL, both refineries, I'll talk about this later, have been functionally destroyed. And in addition to the military storage of fuel, about 49 percent of the joint military/civil fuel storage has been damaged or destroyed, and 70 percent in Kosovo.
We believe that a capability to fix and repair ground equipment -- tanks, armored personnel carriers, other vehicles -- has been degraded by about 50 percent, and about nearly 40 percent of their light attack aircraft, the kind that are most effective for use in ground attack or close air operations, have been destroyed. And as I mentioned earlier, the infrastructure essentially to operate them has also been degraded.
The military from a long-term sustainment perspective is feeling the damage done here.
I'll also mention that with regard to fuel, it's a tricky business trying to really look at how much fuel is available, and you get anecdotal reports about the cost per gallon. I've seen it as high as $20 a gallon near the Rumanian border. But our current assessment is that the level of imports in May, daily barrels per day which are making their way into the country, are about 25 percent of what they were during the month of April. So in addition to destroying fuel and destroying storage capacity and distribution capacity in the country, the various political efforts as well as military efforts [are] reducing the amount of fuel which is able to come into the country.
[Chart - BDA Assessment Summary - Industry]
With regard to industry, we'd like to talk here about the military aircraft sustainability, [which] we think is degraded functionally by about 70 percent; 65 percent on their ability to produce, repair ammunitions; and about 50 percent on propellant -- the kind of propellant you would use for missiles, rockets, and those kinds of weapons.
In particular, I won't say where -- the plant which was used to produce man-portable air defense systems, we believe, has been severely damaged, and that capability reduced significantly. And as I said many times when we've briefed before on the petroleum, the refineries were first damaged, turned off. They weren't operating. Now we believe they're more than turned off. They're not capable of becoming operational without significant long term repairs.
[Chart - BDA Assessment Summary - Infrastructure]
This is the last chart of this type on infrastructure. I should mention on the fuel, by the way, the import terminal at Prahovo on the Danube River, where we had information of barges coming in from other countries, has now been basically rendered ineffective because all the storage tanks and pumps and transport facilities at that particular installation on the Danube have been destroyed.
On infrastructure we still estimate that the through-put on the roads going into Kosovo to be over 50 percent degraded. It's been 50 percent for quite awhile. The NATO air campaign continues to work on other bridges, smaller roads, work-arounds, and we're trying to calculate now what the total through-put reduction is -- roads something over 50 percent reduction and rail still 100 percent. And increasingly, mobility in Kosovo itself for heavy equipment has been damaged by a total of about 40 bridges and tunnels which have been struck and destroyed in that particular region. Finally, strikes on the electric power grid have resulted in power outages in as much as 80 percent of Serbia.
[Chart - Electric Power Assessment]
I have a chart here to let you see more or less the kind of outages that we are currently seeing. And also by this plot of military facilities in the affected area you can see that there are significant army, air defense, and command and control, communications facilities which are in the area of power blackout.
Two or three days ago after the most recent series of strikes, some of which are soft-kill and some of which are hard-kill strikes or firm-kill, this pink area was where the electric power essentially was out in Serbia. There has been some[what] restored, but it's still out pretty much in the area shown here in orange with little pockets or islands of electricity which are available.
There are other places where it will be weeks or longer, we think, before power can be restored because of the physical damage done. You can see some of the transformer stations and power plants where the physical damage was done.
In Belgrade itself, I think it's a rolling power situation. Much of the city is without power for much of the day, but there are pockets where it's restored, and they can roll the power and use it on alternate schedules to support various parts of the city.
But this does have a significant impact on the military, even though for the most part military units do have backup power, generators, reserve capacity. They use fuel, and fuel's in short supply; distribution is a problem with fuel. But any military guy who has been there and done that will tell you they don't like to operate on generator power any longer than they have to, and that's the situation for much of the military even as we speak.
Now, that concludes my brief so I'll be happy to take a couple of your questions.
Q: Admiral, could I ask, do you have a handle on how Milosevic spends his days and nights? Especially his nights. Does he move from place to place frequently? What does intelligence tell us about his...
Admiral Wilson: I don't want to go into any details about what we know about his personal habits, travel habits. But we believe he has somewhat of a bunker mentality, hasn't actually been seen in public here for, I think, over a week.
Q: How many of his homes have you hit?
Admiral Wilson: Three, I believe. At least two.
Q: How many does he have?
Admiral Wilson: Several. He has a few more, I believe.
Q: Can you help us with an assessment of the impact of this indictment? Is it your assessment that because those around him have also been indicted, including top military people, that the forces that might tend to dislodge him because of this, the impetus might not be as able to do such a thing?
Admiral Wilson: Or more able.
Number one, I think it's too early to tell. It's not going to affect our military campaign. We can bomb an indicted war criminal as easy as we can one that we just suspect.
I would believe -- this might be optimistic -- but there may be a lot of leadership in the military or security services who would like to disassociate themselves from indicted war criminals, especially if they're not responsible for these kinds of atrocities. So I think it could make negotiations a challenge, and it could make fissures more likely. But it's too early to tell is the bottom line.
Q: Do you have better insights into the generals and the top officers who had been arrested? Do you know anything about their whereabouts? Has there been more of that? Has there been more suppression of the top ranks of the military in particular?
Admiral Wilson: We have some reports of -- most of the firings in the military occurred well before the operation as -- it's a good time to review that I believe they always planned to conduct a significant operation of the sort we've seen in Kosovo. The previous military leadership did not appear to be as supportive in prosecuting that kind of war against the people, instead, wanting to protect their borders and lines of communications. So the people that are now in command, several of whom are now indicted along with Milosevic, are there because of their loyalty and top leadership, appears to be, continues to be loyal. Other reports we have, we do have some reports of officers being relieved or hospitalized, and we don't know the true facts or really the extent of dissatisfaction in the senior ranks that may exist. There's not much evidence of it.
Q: Will the attacks on power facilities and the like continue, and are they seen as a potential means of destabilizing or eroding whatever support Milosevic has from the Serbian people?
Admiral Wilson: We never discuss future targets, so I won't discuss it here. But I think clearly in addition to the impact on the military, it does have an impact on the people, and it would be our hope that the regime will realize what they have to do to end the attacks and withdraw from Kosovo and agree to the settlement, and then restore their electrical power.
Q: Admiral, last week General Jertz in Brussels made the assessment that 31 percent of his heavy weapons have been destroyed. Do you have any update on that figure? And number two, can you clarify a little bit a comment that you made that there now may be some concern between the Serbian army and these paramilitary groups over what their operations...
Admiral Wilson: There's always been a "rub" between the Serbian army and the Serbian police, the MUP, and especially the special police which are viewed as closer to the regime and are favored in terms of budgets and things like that. I believe those same kinds of tensions exist and may even more so exist with the paramilitaries, which are notorious for their criminal activities that support them, for their lack of discipline, and what negative impact they could have on a battlefield as well as -- I don't think there's a positive impact.
Q:...between those two groups?
Admiral Wilson: I don't know of any for sure. The total number of -- I'm sure he was talking Kosovo, only in Kosovo, not the percentage of the total military, and I think that in terms of the fielded forces in Kosovo -- those are deployed for operations at staging areas and all that -- my assessment would be somewhere around 25 to, or a little bit higher percent have been destroyed and a little bit higher than that damaged or what we can't actually confirm -- reported, seen by pilots. But we're trying to be very careful with the number of tanks and APCs that we confirm as destroyed. They're working those numbers in Europe, and they do it with gun camera imagery or film as well as imagery, and we don't just put them in the confirmed kill based on eyewitness...
Q: Can I do a followup on that please, Admiral? With the weather improving and forecast to be excellent July and August, and with some 40 A-10s in the mix now, are the tanks that are being destroyed largely the result of A-10 strikes? And with the A-10s in the mix -- and we've asked this before -- I'd like to get an intel slant on it. What's the future of the Apaches? Apparently, they're not needed now.
Admiral Wilson: Well, the operational commanders will make the decisions about whether they're needed or not. It's not my -- my business is to give them the threat information and the battlefield scenario. A-10s have been effective. I saw a report this morning where a couple of A-10s engaged eight or ten APCs in the field, claimed kills. They probably did. We haven't confirmed them yet, so I'm not jacking the percentage up. But they are an effective weapon, and they've been used for forward air controllers as well as attack platforms. But other aircraft have been effective as well. Just about everything that's flying out there that has precision ordnance, and some that is using level-of-effort ordnance is taking out vehicles and trucks and tanks.
Q: Admiral, regarding the resurgent KLA, you said at this point they still are capable of going force-on-force against the Yugoslav army and police units. But if the current trends continue of destruction of the Yugoslav military, could there come a point in the coming months or so where the KLA forces might, for instance, be capable of holding ground in Kosovo, or even exerting control over Kosovo if the degradation of the Yugoslav army forces continues at the rate it's going now?
Admiral Wilson: I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that they could -- I mean they were controlling some ground before this war started, in fact, before last summer quite a bit of ground in Kosovo away from the main lines of communication. But I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that they could reestablish control in some areas as the NATO forces attrit the Serb army. I think it's a step too far to make an estimate about controlling the entirety of Kosovo at this point. But they clearly are achieving some successes in their manpower base, their training, their leadership, and their ability to supply and equip themselves as they can go more force-on-force infantry-wise.
Q: But Admiral, you also made clear that one reason why this is happening is because of lack of mobility on the part of the Yugoslav army because of the airstrikes. The Secretary and others said before this started that the United States and NATO were determined that NATO aircraft would not become the air force of the KLA. For all intents and purposes, has it not become the air force of the KLA in this instance?
Admiral Wilson: Well, that's a political judgment. The lack of mobility of the Serbs, it's partly because of a lack of, or fuel problems, and it's partly because of security concerns. So in some cases they choose not to be mobile. In some cases they have difficulty being mobile, but in both cases it makes them less effective against the KLA.
Q: What kind of opposition is the KLA meeting from Serb forces in the field? Has that declined at all? Is there fighting between the KLA and the Serbs?
Admiral Wilson: In some cases the pockets of KLA are attacked by Serbs, and in other cases they conduct, the KLA conducts attacks against the Serbs. It's really not a lot different than it was before, except I think that they have vastly increased numbers, and they seem to have better leadership and a better tactical scheme about how to conduct operations. But I'm not saying that the KLA is going to be victorious against the Serbs in the near-term. What I would say is I believe Milosevic was apprised by his military that they could take care of this problem in a week or ten days, and now, 55 days later I think they are -- certainly the IDPs are a problem because they're out of the country, and the refugees. But with regard to the two militaries, they are, the UCK has got a more motivated and better trained and more numerous force.
Q: Are KLA attacks increasing?
Admiral Wilson: I believe they are, especially in certain areas.
Q: Admiral, General Jertz in Brussels this morning talked about an increased number of SAM firings, rapid escalation. Somebody said 33 sitings today. He put it as desperation to try to get a kill. Is there also getting to be a "use it or lose it" mentality? Do you see any sense that they've realized that their "rope a dope" policy of sitting back is not working? That the attrition is getting too much?
Admiral Wilson: I think the level of SAM firings pretty much goes right, charts with the level of our strike activity. And the more we -- the last few days we have had a lot of attack sorties going into Yugoslavia. When we have a lot of airplanes in the sky, they shoot more SAMs, which is kind of a natural expectation. But virtually all of them are shot in ineffective, unguided modes.
Q: On the International War Crimes Tribunal, could you describe the nature and the volume of the intelligence that NATO turned over to the tribunal? And also address this question, which is some folks in Serbia are skeptical about it because they see NATO's not exactly an impartial observer in this -- so if NATO's a source for much of the information, how clear is it?
Admiral Wilson: I really can't address the question about what entities and who turned over information to the War Crimes Tribunal. I just don't have the information. I'm sorry.
With regard to the Serbian people being skeptical, they are the victims of a pretty immense propaganda effort, and they get only what Serbian radio and TV puts out which is largely what the government wants put out. So I believe that they could believe that this is a plot, but anybody who has seen what's happened to these people coming out of Kosovo into Macedonia, into Albania, it's clearly an atrocity and a crime of war.
Q: In your estimation how far are the Serb forces from reaching the point where the cumulative effect of the NATO bombing would make them unable to mount an organized defense against intervention by a NATO force. How far away is that point?
Admiral Wilson: We really haven't done that kind of estimate that I can share with you.
Q: Two questions. One, can you detail [...cough...] information about special operations, America's special operations troops that are in Albania, what sort of help or training or any kind of [...cough...] to the KLA has had any effect on the KLA having more success in the last few weeks?
Secondly, given all the numbers that you've given us, 50 percent 80 percent, 90 percent, and the fact that they are dispersing and hiding now, are we running out of targets? Is there enough for 1,000 aircraft to look for?
Admiral Wilson: There's still plenty of targets left. Most of the percentages I was giving you had to do with sustainability targets. There are still, obviously, a lot of military forces which are out there. They're harder to get to than fixed installations, but a lot of installations as well in the First Army and the Second Army.
With regard to -- it's not my area -- the U.S. training, and there is none going on that I know of. I just can't comment on it.
Q: Can you comment on the KLA recruiting methods? One of our people in the Albanian camps is saying that they're, in some cases, drafting or forcing refugees into the KLA. Is that true?
Admiral Wilson: I haven't seen those reports, and I can't confirm that that's occurring. I believe some of that kind of activity was occurring even last year within the country of Kosovo, so it's not impossible that it's occurring. But I believe also there are plenty of volunteers. We have people from New York and other places in the U.S. that are over there in KLA training camps.
Q: Admiral, there have been periodic movements of refugees out to the borders. Can you explain -- from the inside out. Then there are pauses, and it will start up again. Can you explain what pattern is at work there? What they're trying to do?
Admiral Wilson: I don't think there's an identifiable pattern, and there are multiple causes, I believe, for the surge. It may be because of activity by Serb forces that causes a pocket of displaced people to decide to leave. It may be that their own sustainment capability with regard to food and basic necessities has reached a point that they decide it's better to leave. So there's multiple reasons why it could surge and flow like it does, and all of those I think come into play.
Q: Admiral, what has been the KLA's most successful engagement or operation in the last week, say, and can you describe those in a little bit of detail?
Admiral Wilson: I think their most successful operation was -- I won't describe exactly where -- but in southwest Kosovo where they overran a Serb army or police unit and captured a large supply of ammunition and weapons, which then they could use for themselves. It's those kinds of things that are successful, [like] cut[ting] off an artillery unit so that it can't be effectively used in an operation.
We've had reports of some, a small number of Serb patrols or units which are retreating or running as opposed to fighting. But the UCK often retreats and runs as well, so I want to keep myself balanced here because...
Q: What kind of weapons cache was that? What did they get? Heavy weapons?
Admiral Wilson: There was a report that they had captured a couple of heavy weapons, yes.
Mr. Bacon: Three more questions. Gail, John, and then Richard.
Q: Admiral, you said that the KLA is better trained and better led. How do you account for that? They clearly aren't in a position to set up military academies or go into sophisticated training. How is it that they have become better trained?
Admiral Wilson: There's some training going on by different folks in Albania: some former Yugoslav army people, soldiers, who are no longer in the army and have the experience of fighting against the Serbs that have now -- maybe ethnic Albanians who were once in the Yugoslav army and who have now joined this army on their side.
I don't want to over-emphasize that. A single two or three good leaders can make a dramatic difference in pulling a military unit together. We see more coordination among various sub-zone commanders than we used to.
Q: To follow that, is NATO helping those people find the KLA?
Admiral Wilson: Helping them what?
Q: The ethnic Albanians and the people that you mentioned, is NATO helping them find the KLA so that they can provide this...
Admiral Wilson: Not that I'm aware of. We're not directly supporting the KLA.
Q: Two quickies. One, there have been some press reports that not only are Serb forces not withdrawing from Serbia, or from Kosovo, but they have in fact increased their numbers. You don't seem to reflect that in any way.
Admiral Wilson: No.
Q: You don't see them increasing their numbers in any way?
Admiral Wilson: I see some unit rotations which have occurred. We have evidence of some repair, like engineer units have come in, small units. We've seen as many as eight convoys depart. But we have no basis, reliable basis on which to estimate an increase of Serb strength in Kosovo, except for maybe an increase in the paramilitaries. The paramilitaries are probably there in more force, not really organized or responding [more] to control than they were two months ago.
Q: As you degrade the ability of the Serb army to fight and defend itself -- this is a press kind of question -- how long can they hold out? Can they keep fighting for months? For years? How do you assess...
Admiral Wilson: I know you get tired of this word, but it's true, we are gradually reducing and degrading their capacity. It is a, part of it has to do with will, and we obviously have not destroyed their will to conduct what they're doing in Kosovo yet. But we are accomplishing the military mission which is to continue to reduce their capacity.
I think their long-term prospects for the Army is pretty dim, when you take a look at what's happened to their infrastructure, what's happened to the entire ability of the country to support the army. It has been significantly degraded for the long-term and has continued to be degraded for the near-term.
Q: By your estimate, have any significantly-sized units been rendered ineffective by the focus on sustainment yet? And second, what's your estimate of Serb military casualties in Kosovo?
Admiral Wilson: Let me take the second one first. The Serbs have been very careful in protecting information about casualties, and we don't have a good estimate about numbers of casualties, although we have received some reports recently that they have great concerns, because the casualties are far higher than they expected. But I can't tell you how many.
Your first question was?
Admiral Wilson: Oh, to a specific unit, right. Well, the Third Army, the Pristina Corps, is a pretty good-sized unit. It's been significantly degraded. Seventy percent or more of their infrastructure, their maintenance, their storage, probably a quarter of their armored vehicles, many of their trucks.
So the Pristina Corps right now is still able to kill people, tragically. They're still able to hide and disperse and conduct operations. But they're not the fighting force they once were, if they ever were a good fighting force.
Mr. Bacon: Thank you very much.
Q: When is the change of command?
Admiral Wilson: It's 27 July.
Mr. Bacon: Thank you, Admiral.
Mr. Bacon: I just have two announcements. The first is Lieutenant General McDuffie will be here tomorrow. He's the director of the Joint Staff for logistics, and he'll bring you up to date on the humanitarian efforts, camp building, etc. in Albania and Macedonia. He'll be here at 1:30. Lieutenant General McDuffie.
Second, we welcome back one of our former Marines -- Steve Manuel -- with a bunch of students from Penn State University. They must feel that they've won the lottery. They've come to a briefing, and they'll be here for hours. They'll return military experts. (Laughter)
With that I think I'm going to turn it over to General Wald whose briefing in many respects will back up and illustrate many of the points that Admiral Wilson has made. I will come back by popular demand only.
Major General Wald: Good afternoon.
[Chart - Weather Conditions]
As we've talked about over the last several days, the weather is going to be good for the next few days, out through the 5th at least, maybe a little spike in here for some thunderstorm activity. We're going to change tomorrow out to August. That shows August is even better weather here. But throughout the next few months, it should stay at this cycle and good weather.
[Chart - Level of Effort - Day 64]
A pretty good effort yesterday throughout Kosovo and the FRY itself. You can see six command and control targets were struck, many of those TV, radio- relay-type stations, and some other bunker-type stuff. Quite a few fielded forces in the Kosovo area, 21 of those targets including 20-plus armored vehicles, which Admiral Wilson kind of explained how that works. They'll report it through the pilot. We'll get it on a film. Then it's a matter of trying to do the verification process. So this was a little bit ahead of what his analysis is, but I would trust his numbers.
Then you go down to some mobility, a few LOCs, a railroad bridge and a highway bridge. So we continue to fly heavy. I think tomorrow they're planning around 900 sorties scheduled again, which you'll probably get 350 or so of those will be attack-type, and then the rest will be support with CAP and suppression of enemy air defense.
Q: Only 350 strikes tomorrow? That's way down.
Major General Wald: No, actually when you count the CAP, the combat air patrol, which is probably another 300 or so, and then suppression of enemy air defense is probably another 200, so still in the 700, probably 700 total combat-type sorties.
[Chart - Force and Sortie Comparison]
The sorties themselves, Ivan, as you just kind of asked a question about that, here's what it breaks down to so far. Almost 27,000 sorties. The U.S. and allies have both flown about an equal amount of strike sorties. Then the support in here actually includes combat air support as well as suppression of enemy air defense as well as ISR, tankers, etc. So a large majority of these sorties here are actually flying over, in the area where you could be shot at by SAMs or AAA.
They mentioned in the NATO brief today there were 33 SAMs shot. That was the night before last. They continue to fire SAMs. Some of them are being fired with the use of their actual SAM radars now. A little bit more with the guided fashion, which would indicate several things. I think Admiral Wilson explained what that might be. It could be because of the fact that they're flying in the area where they may have more SAMs, but also their ability to do some of their more sophisticated integrated air defense work has been degraded, so they're having to depend on a little more traditional methods.
[Chart - Level of Effort/Refugees]
The big change on the level of effort is 140,000. The equivalent for 140,000 people worth of shelter did arrive over the last 24 hours, which is good, as they'll be setting up more camps. Some of those would be the tents that they would be using to build winterized camps. Then they continue on here with 40-plus camps. There will be more built over the next few weeks.
[Chart - Operation SUSTAIN HOPE - Last 24 Hours]
Up until this morning, they continued to move refugees out of Kosovo. I understand this morning the Serbs did close off the border into Macedonia again. Albania had just over 100 yesterday. There were still 1.6 thousand departed the Former Republic of Macedonia yesterday. Fort Dix had 45 depart yesterday. They're still looking at various humanitarian airlift options that the CAOC will be tracking, if they start flying, to make sure they are deconflicted.
To tell you the truth, I hadn't seen Admiral Wilson's brief before a minute ago, and it was an outstanding brief, but it does kind of track along with what we've been talking about, so I'm glad about that.
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied+Force] [Photo - Belgrade SAM Support Facility, Serbia - Post Strike]
But he mentioned SAM support facilities. This was one in northern Serbia that some of their SA-3 work and SA-6 work had been done on. These four buildings here are very difficult to see but have all been destroyed. These are some of the other support buildings that have been damaged. They had both probably SAM maintenance storage in that area. One of the issues that's very difficult to determine, they had I think around 2,200 actual SAMs at the beginning of this operation. I believe -- I've got a chart coming tomorrow -- they've fired probably around, we know of at least 400 that we've watched. So they probably have fired several more than that. But the question really will be how many of those SAMs have been destroyed in storage, which you've seen several indications that we're hitting their ammo storage. So they still have a robust integrated air defense capability, and their SAMs are still numerous, but we're degrading it in a big way.
Q: General, is the 2,200 just strategic SAMs, or is that...
Major General Wald: Mainly strategic. Then, of course, the MANPADs are hard to figure there as far as how many they have hundreds of those.
Q: General, you don't talk about HARMs. Have HARMs been effective in taking out the radar? And do you think the word is out that it is an effective weapon, and maybe they don't turn it on?
Major General Wald: Well, I hope it is. I know it's effective. I hope the word's out. It has been effective when they turn the radars on and leave them on and we're in the area. The HARM has worked very, very well. They have fired a lot of HARMs. That combined with the EA-6 and its jamming as well as some of the other jamming platforms, some of the allies, has proven to be very, very effective. But even in cases where we have that ability in some localized areas with optical-type firing, they will fire the SAMs. But yes, you're right. The HARMs work very well.
[Photo - Obrenovac Transformer Station, Serbia - Post Strike]
Admiral Wilson talked about the electrical power. This is an area that has been struck in northern Serbia, one of the main electrical power transfer stations. As you can see, we're not hitting the production, just the actual transformer area. These are a little bit harder hits here that would take -- they actually have to go out and repair this area here before this will become functional again, so it will take it down for a little longer. But it's, once again, not the production. It's just the transfer switching yards.
By the way, as I stand here and brief this, I'm just about positive this is the first time in history people have actually gotten real-time information on what's going on, within 24 hours of what's happening. I think it's important to note that. Maybe Milosevic needs to watch some of this.
[Photo - Nis Transformer Station 2, Serbia - Post Strike]
But you can see the same thing here on these switching stations that basically are taking a little bit harder hit, take a little bit longer to repair, but once again, do leave the ability to -- once this conflict does end, the nation would have the ability to have power.
[Photo - Drmno Thermal Power Plant, Serbia - Post Strike]
Once again, same type of thing here. This is a thermal power plant over in this area. You can see it hasn't been hit. Just the switching area has been struck. And once again, more of a physical-damage-type weapon where they'll have to go back and spend some time repairing towers and wires, etc.
[Photo - Kosmaca Highway Bridge South, Serbia - Post Strike]
Once again, we continue to go after LOCs. This is a reasonably significant railroad bridge, actually a highway bridge over a railroad. It was dropped here, and that railroad actually was cut off. But it really didn't matter much for the railroad, because that had been cut off down here a ways further, so that railroad's closed at that point. Then a fairly large bridge over a good-sized river stream here. Those have both been dropped over the last 24 hours.
This is the Bor copper smelter and refinery area, eight miles southwest of Belgrade, and this building here is pre-strike. That was what was hit last night, and we'll show a cockpit imagery of this with an F-15 that hit it last night. That has the ability to provide the necessary ingredients for weapons and bullets and ammunition, etc.
[Photo - Defensive Positions East of Dakovica, Kosovo]
I'll show a film of this actual site here. It probably doesn't look like a great picture from where you're sitting, but these are artillery revetment areas, and these are actually mortar areas or defensive fighting positions -- we're not sure which -- in here. We actually hit this one last night. We had hit them both, but I'll show a film of this a little bit later. That's in the Kosovo area.
We should have 14 images today. The weather this morning, as I said, was outstanding. You can see very little cloud cover in the whole area. Kosovo is almost totally clear all the way up to Belgrade, back over. The air refueling track was outstanding as well. So this is the type of weather we're hoping to have for the next few weeks.
Theater of operations over the last, up to 2400-Z. This was the computer prediction up through the morning timeframe for tomorrow. You can see some low fog was predicted. We had a little bit of that, not too bad. The weather is actually a little bit better than predicted, but you can still see it pretty good.
Some high clouds that don't become much of a factor. There are some puffies over there, but the whole of the area is workable as we speak, and they're having good success again today.
Admiral Wilson talked about sustainment. Here is the copper smelter and refinery plant at Bor in eastern Serbia. I talked about it a minute ago. F-15E last night. 2,000-pound LGBs, two of them. A pretty good hit. It looks like it hit the main structure, and that facility is probably non-functional.
The Pristina military storage depot in Kosovo. Another one of their military Third Army storage areas. It's an F-16 with a 2,000-pound laser-guided bomb, two of them.
As Admiral Wilson said, the Third Army is -- of course that's the one in Kosovo -- is being degraded significantly. Vehicle storage building in Krivovo. Support base, central Kosovo. This area has been hit before. I doubt very seriously if they'll use these buildings again, or this one after it's hit. Or whatever was inside of it. You can see they've been struck before. So his long-term picture is very, very bleak.
Prahovo petroleum storage. We talked about, Admiral Wilson did, about the fuel. These are three areas that will be in the films I show you. This is an imagery from yesterday. Some of this was already destroyed. This was actually a transshipment area, a pumping facility and storage building.
First is the storage building itself. Once again, F-15Es with 2,000-pound bombs. You can see -- I just pointed this out a minute ago on the previous film. The river is to the top, and that's the Danube River along this storage facility. It had been struck earlier. There were 240,000 gallons of fuel here before. That's all gone. Now the facility has been completely destroyed.
You see some of the other fires burning from a previous strike.
Pumping station. Once again, another F-15E. You can see under the cursor here, they'll hit that pumping station, and then right afterwards they'll hit a target right below there, which is the transloading area, and that now is rendered totally dysfunctional.
No residual fuel in that area. Probably some in the pipes. You see some of the previous damage here.
This is the transloading area. This is one of the areas they were getting some of the fuel into the FRY, Yugoslavia, through the Danube. That's not going to happen anymore. You can see the previous fire burning here, and then you get the -- his wingman hit the transloading area.
Some of the IADS, integrated air defense. Seven through ten will all be hardened aircraft shelters at Ponikve airfield. These shelters probably have something in them.
The next film I'm going to show you, you'll see the front door and the back. The bomb will penetrate the hardened shelter, and then you'll see the explosion come out the front. If there was an airplane in there, it's not an airplane anymore.
During the Gulf War, the film we had after we were able to get into Iraq, inside these bunkers, it was totally destroyed inside, and the aircraft were totally destroyed inside.
This one here penetrates. There's not a lot of a secondary explosion coming out so it may or may not have had an aircraft in it. Whatever is inside is not functional any more.
Another hardened aircraft shelter. You'll see some secondary out of this one coming out of the front. There's a bomb went by.
Q: Is this in Kosovo or...
Major General Wald: Yes, it is.
I'm sorry, it's not. This is in Serbia. It's in western Serbia.
Another hardened aircraft shelter, the same place. You'll see a bomb hit here, and you'll see another one hit almost simultaneously just to the top of the screen from there. You'll see the top hardened shelter actually has a secondary come out of it.
There's probably an airplane in that one, or something like that. So they're destroying those hardened shelters, and they won't have any place to hide the aircraft.
Forces on the ground, there's a couple of artillery. I showed you an imagery of one earlier. These are hard to tell if they are actually artillery pieces or dummies, so when you go back and do the review -- it's one of those things Admiral Wilson was talking about -- whether or not that's an actual piece or not will be difficult to determine until we start doing better analysis. But if there was an artillery piece in there, it's not in there anymore.
This is the one I showed you in imagery. You can see the either mortar positions or fighting positions, we're not sure which. Whether that's a dummy or not, once again, it doesn't matter. We'll hit it. And if there was an actual artillery piece in there, there isn't any more. If they don't have their artillery out, they can't fire it, so...
Q: Can you go over again the theory behind hitting power transfer stations instead of the actual plan itself?
Major General Wald: The theory is two things, really. First of all, it's a command and control target for him to coordinate his fielded forces, communicate with the fielded forces.
Number two is -- it isn't something that's going to, after he complies with the NATO demands or he gives up or quits or is totally destroyed -- we're not attacking his population. So after this is over with, we'd like his population to have the ability to have a normal life, so we're not going to take down their ability to have electricity after it's over.
Q: General, at the NATO briefing today they described how in one case an allied pilot had to evade two missiles, and one of the missiles exploded so close that he could feel it shake his plane. Can you give us any more details on that particular incident? Was that a U.S. aircraft involved?
Major General Wald: I don't know if it was a U.S. aircraft or not. This happens not routinely, but periodically. I know I've talked to some of the pilots over there that have had AAA go off near their aircraft, have had SAMs go off near their aircraft. And if it were me flying, I'm not sure if it was from the explosion or me shaking myself where the airplane was shaking. But that's not totally uncommon, that...
Q: You don't know any particular details about this incident?
Major General Wald: I know they fired some SA-6s last night, and it could have been any of the NATO aircraft, because there were so many aircraft flying both in the FRY and Kosovo from all the nations last night that it could have been a number -- there was probably more than one incident, frankly.
Q: General, you've hit three of Milosevic's homes. Have the homes of the Interior Ministry, the commander of the Armed Forces, have they been hit?
Major General Wald: I don't believe so. I haven't heard that. I don't know of any targeting of any homes, per se. They're only bunkers. I don't think they...
Major General Wald: I don't know of any other homes with bunkers that have been attacked. The bunkers are what we're attacking, as you know.
Q: General Wald, Admiral Wilson talked about rotations of Serb army forces into Kosovo. How are those rotations taking place without you seeing them on the roads and striking those convoys?
Major General Wald: Well, the first I actually heard about convoys leaving was from Admiral Wilson today, and I don't disbelieve that. But they may be operating in small groups of vehicles, in treed areas, on back roads for all I know. But from what I understand, there isn't any large indication of large convoys moving any place.
Q: Two quick follow-ups. Your feeling is that those are rotations rather than reinforcements?
Major General Wald: It's exactly as Admiral Wilson said. They probably are trying to rotate some out. They've been fighting for two months, and I suspect the probably are trying to rotate some out. But [from] all the indications and all the intelligence and all the things I've heard, there isn't an increase in the numbers at all.
Q: And on the electricity targets, how sure are we that we're not hitting parts of the power grid that are interconnected to other countries. Is there any evidence that we're causing power shortages across the border in other countries?
Major General Wald: No, and we're very sure.
Q: General, was there something on one of your briefing displays about airdrops? Did you mention something about airdrops?
Major General Wald: That's been reported many times, Bill, that there are independent NGOs and private organizations and organizations that are non-military looking at dropping food from the air.
Q: But they...
Major General Wald: They have not done that yet, no.
Q: Oh, they haven't.
Major General Wald: No.
Q: But all they lack apparently -- what can you tell me about a Russian/Greek/Swiss consortium of NGOs just lacking some kind of a paper with a signature on it now in order to start flying and to help the IDPs?
Major General Wald: I can't tell you any more than what you just said. I know if they do that, we certainly hope they will let us know they're going to try to do it, so we can avoid having a problem with it.
Q: One other thing. You mentioned LOCs. What LOCs...
Major General Wald: Lines of communication.
Q: Oh, the L-O-C's. Sorry. Any locks on the Danube River that are being taken out?
Major General Wald: No. There are locks on the Danube River, but we aren't attacking those.
Q: General now that the allies have done such an effective job of knocking out Serb television facilities and knocking out electricity so it's hard for that, for propaganda to get out, are you considering any propaganda of your own in terms of trying to inform the Yugoslav people about the decision by the War Crimes Tribunal to indict their president? I'm thinking about leaflet drops or perhaps broadcasts into Yugoslavia. Are there any plans for anything like that?
Major General Wald: First of all, on the knocking out the television, it's not just us. The international consortium EUTELSAT has determined today to deny Yugoslavia the use of their satellite for international broadcasts, which I suspect may be a little bit disconcerting to some of the media, because you won't be able to see some of the propaganda. But...
Major General Wald: EUTELSAT. So they made the determination to deny Yugoslavia the use of that satellite, which will be important, because it takes away some of his propaganda machine for internal, the FRY primarily, and also external somewhat.
Number two is, the use of Commando Solo's been discussed numerous times. I would suspect -- on Commando Solo I've seen their broadcast schedule of their programming, and they take lots of different types of programs that are unavailable to the United States as well as intersperse it with messages for advertising on their Commando Solo. So they will have radio programs from the United States on there that are factual news, and they will also send reports of things like, I would suspect -- I haven't heard this but I would suspect -- they'll be trying to report to the Yugoslavian people the fact of the matter is he's been indicted.
There have been millions of leaflets dropped over Kosovo, tens of millions of leaflets dropped, with all different types of messages on them. So we continue to do that. As a matter of fact I may bring one tomorrow to show you an example, if you'd like. So those are all being used.
I guess you could call it propaganda, but the fact is, we're trying to get the facts out. So factual propaganda -- we're doing that.
Q: We've been told in recent days that the Danube River has been a major source of fuel for Yugoslavia coming in. Now that the Prahovo facility is destroyed, does that mean no more oil can come in via...
Major General Wald: Well, that will hurt them, but there are other ways they can do that. They can offload basically in a fuel truck sitting by the river someplace. I think they'll probably try that. They smuggle it across. But the ability to have bulk fuel in that particular area will be cut back. And, of course, I think Mr. Bacon mentioned yesterday into Montenegro, we haven't seen any indication for nearly a month of fuel arriving there via the port. So it's going to start hurting him, both the supply and then the fact that we're taking down his sustainment.
Q: Is Prahovo the only facility of its kind on the Danube?
Major General Wald: There may be another one, but I think it's been hit. I'm not sure if it's functional.
Q: Farther into Yugoslavia?
Major General Wald: A little bit further. There may be some smaller ones, not as big as that.
Q: General, a procedural question regarding the KLA. I've heard the public statements that you're kind of keeping them at arm's length and so forth, but on the occasions where you do have to have some kind of contact or communication with the KLA, for example, when they inform you what sites they've taken over inside Kosovo or when they turned over those prisoners to the United States. How did that work? Who actually, physically talks with them, meets with them? Who's the liaison between NATO's military and the KLA?
Major General Wald: I know of no U.S. military or NATO, frankly -- I don't know of any NATO. They may have. But from a U.S. perspective, I know of no U.S. military at all that have talked to any of them. So I don't know who they talk to. We receive a prisoner; they get turned over to NATO somehow. So I don't know.
I suspect with the humanitarian people coming and going; I would suspect the UCK comes out, too. Maybe Mr. Bacon's got a better answer to that.
Mr. Bacon: The two prisoners were not turned over to us by the KLA. They were turned over to the Albanian government, which in turn turned them over to U.S. authorities.
Q: How about the other instances of communication? We're told...
Mr. Bacon: The KLA has a very active public information program. They talk frequently to the press. They have their own press operation. And learning what their intentions are and what their accomplishments have been is not difficult at all.
Q: There's no proactive effort to find out where they are, for example, in Kosovo, so you don't bomb them and that sort of thing?
Mr. Bacon: You just heard the general respond to that.
Q: He responded in terms of military. I'm just curious who is, what that communication is. I mean there is, it seems some kind of communication. I can respect that he's saying it's not a military person. I'm just wondering who...
Mr. Bacon: The KLA communicates publicly, as I said, with the press. There are certainly -- there are Kosovo verification monitors in the area that are still working in Albania and Macedonia that have come out, they were part of the KVM force. The OSCE force that was working within Kosovo before March 24th, many of those people are still around and have contact with the KLA, I believe.
Q: Have any more prisoners been turned over?
Mr. Bacon: None that I'm aware of, no.
Q: In the past you said the United States has not trained, armed or equipped the KLA. Is that still the case?
Mr. Bacon: Admiral Wilson addressed that, and he said it is the case.
Q: The Colombian Defense Minister yesterday resigned along with ten top generals, apparently dissatisfied with concessions that the government had made to leftist guerrillas. I know the Secretary visited there last year. Is there any concern that there's a major crisis near in the war against the guerrillas in Colombia? What's your reaction? Has there been any contact?
Mr. Bacon: I see that General Wald is leaving just when I need him to answer this question. (Laughter)
Look, we have been long concerned about the security situation in Colombia. We have supported the Pastrana government's efforts to try to reach an accommodation that meets the needs of the government. They're working hard on that. This is primarily a political dispute within the government of Colombia. I believe it's a dispute over the proper tactics that should be employed in dealing with the guerrilla groups. The guerrilla groups clearly have destroyed a sense of security and stability within Colombia, and the government is working very hard to try to get that back. And I suspect under President Pastrana they'll continue to do that.
Q: Apparently, the reason for this, as I understand it, was that the government turned over, apparently, a large portion of land to the guerrillas, and there was a dispute over that. Does the United States support that?
Mr. Bacon: As I say, Charlie, this is an internal operation that the government is working to resolve, and I don't think it would be appropriate -- we are clearly in favor of -- our primary interest in Colombia is stopping the drug trade. We have been working with the government to do that, and we will continue to work with the government to do that. To the extent that the guerrilla groups are the protectors of the drug lords and are somewhat financed by the drug lords, then there's some connection between the guerrilla groups and the drug trade, but our efforts remain centered fundamentally on stopping the drug trade.
Q: Have there been any -- just one more brief one. Has there been any contact between the Secretary and the defense minister on the...
Mr. Bacon: This just happened yesterday. I'm not aware that there's been any contact.
Q: I didn't mean in the past 24 hours. I mean recently about the situation, has there been contact?
Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that there's been any contact recently. As you know, the Secretary was in Colombia earlier for the defense ministerial meeting, but I'm not aware that there's been recent contact with Minister Lareda and Secretary Cohen.
Q: Can you help us sort out how accurate is this report in the London Times today that says President Clinton is now ready to consider a full-scale invasion of Kosovo if there's no peace agreement within the next three weeks, and that he is considering committing up to 90,000 U.S. troops to...
Mr. Bacon: The report is inaccurate.
Q: In what respect? In all respects? I mean there is...
Mr. Bacon: Basically in every respect.
Q: There is an assessment that an invasion could take as much as 200,000 troops. Is that...
Mr. Bacon: That assessment has not been completed.
Q: Under such a plan, would it not be logical to assume that the United States would provide a large number of those troops, if there was an invasion option...
Mr. Bacon: Our policy has not changed. We have no intention and no plans to deploy a ground invasion force into Kosovo. We support the KFOR, which is the peace implementation force, and we support the expansion of that force and the rapid deployment of that force, additional deployment. Of course, some of it's already there.
Beyond that, we have made no other commitments, and it remains the policy of this government that we have no intentions or plans to participate in a ground invasion force.
I might add that there's no apparent consensus within NATO for such a force right now. What NATO is doing is dusting off some earlier assessments. I suppose it will do a little more than dust them off and perhaps present [a] somewhat more detailed analysis than it did last summer and fall when it looked at the ground invasion options, but I would not interpret that as a decision by NATO to move in that direction.
Q: The British government yesterday announced a fairly detailed list of forces, additional forces, that it would be willing to contribute to a beefed-up KFOR, all this in advance of the force generation meeting in Brussels that's now on for Tuesday. Has the U.S. and the Pentagon identified its similar list as of this point, said to be around 7,000 for this large a force?
Mr. Bacon: Not that we can talk about publicly, no.
Q: India, Pakistan, has the Pentagon or the United States detected any changes in the posture of Indian and Pakistan forces? Any reason to worry that they might escalate beyond the...
Mr. Bacon: Well, there's always reason to worry. We've been long worried about the conflict over Jammu and Kashmir. We've repeatedly warned both countries to try to settle this peacefully. We have offered to help them in any way we can to settle it peacefully, and we're worried any time there's a spike in the fighting, and clearly in the last couple of days, there has been a spike in the fighting.
But our policy is unchanged. We think this is something for those two countries to resolve, and we are willing to do what we can to help them resolve the crisis.
Q: Is there any sign that they're bringing in any more significant forces into that area or...
Mr. Bacon: I believe that the airstrikes were somewhat of an escalation. I think it may be the first time India has used fixed wing aircraft to strike troop concentrations up there. My understanding also was that India did attack an area on its side of the line of control, which is basically the dividing line between the countries' two interests. It was attacking, I believe, what it considered to be guerrilla operations by Pakistan-connected forces within the Indian part of Kashmir.
Q: Admiral Wilson talked about evening the playing field militarily on the KLA's behalf. Has something changed here? Does NATO now regard the KLA as somehow a more worthy ally?
Mr. Bacon: I don't think he said anything about that. He just stated the obvious, which is that after 64 days of pounding the VJ, the Serb army forces, and the Serb special police forces, the MUP, have been diminished in their capability. They still have the ability to carry out some military operations but not nearly the mobility or the firepower or the confidence that they had a little over two months ago. So to the extent that one group is being diminished in strength day after day and the other group is growing in strength day after day, the gap between them is getting smaller and smaller.
But Admiral Wilson also pointed out that the Serb army forces were heavily armed, much more heavily armed than the Kosovar Liberation Army is, and although the Kosovar Liberation Army has in recent days seized some heavier equipment and some ammunition, mortars, some RPGs, etc., it does not begin to close the gap between the two forces. But obviously, the gap is closing at some rate.
Q:...see that continue? You'd like to see the KLA grow stronger and...
Mr. Bacon: Our goal has never been to empower the KLA to create more fighting. Our goal has been to end fighting in Kosovo. We've made that very clear. That was a fundamental premise of the negotiations in Paris over the fall. It remains our hope that we can create a secure, stable environment in Kosovo that will allow the refugees to return and will not carry on the fear or prospect of continued fighting. That's one of NATO's goals.
I think it's inevitable right now in a very uncertain situation -- that is NATO is attacking the Serb forces -- that they will grow weaker and weaker. That's our goal, after all. And it's also inevitable, because the Serbs have thrown out so many Kosovar Albanians that the refugee camps have become very fertile fields for recruiting for the KLA, because the KLA remains the organization that is working most directly to get Kosovar Albanians home again.
To the extent that NATO is also working to get Kosovar Albanians home, we have a common interest, but that doesn't mean we're working in any connected way.
Q: Did General Clark recently get any new targeting authority that allows him to even further broaden the types of targets that are struck in this allied campaign?
Mr. Bacon: General Clark has been getting progressively broader targeting authority from almost the very beginning of this campaign, and he continues to do that. Without getting into any specifics, every day or every week he gains authority to strike a wider range of targets. I think you can see from the impact that NATO has had, that the target set has increased systematically.
Q: One quick follow-up. Do you know of any specific plans to drop leaflets, for instance, to inform the Yugoslav people about the indictment of their president?
Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that there are specific plans, but that may be just because I haven't asked the question. We do know that people in Serbia and Kosovo receive information in a number of ways from the outside. They do get Radio Free Europe. Some of them get BBC broadcasts. I believe some get Voice of America broadcasts. And we do have leafletting. They may get broadcasts from other national broadcasting systems as well.
Q: How many can still get CNN?
Mr. Bacon: Thanks.