United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DoD News Briefing, Wednesday, April 7, 1999

Presenters: Captain Mike Doubleday, DASD PA
April 07, 1999 1:45 PM EDT

Also participating in this briefing is Maj. Gen. Charles F. Wald, USAF, vice director for Strategic Plans and Policy for the Joint Staff (J-5).

Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.

We have with us once again Major General Chuck Wald. General Wald is the vice director for Strategic Plans and Policy, the J-5 shop of the Joint Staff.

I think some of you may already know that prior to returning to Washington in 1997, he was the wing commander of the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano and has experience in the very part of the world where we're now involved in operations. So he is a likely candidate to do these briefings.

His plan today is to go through a briefing much like he did yesterday, and to answer some of your questions. I'll stand by to try and help out in the unlikely chance there are some questions he is unwilling to answer. Then we'll close.

I'd like to point out that Secretary Cohen is continuing on his trip. He had a briefing, a short briefing earlier today in Brussels during the visit to NATO headquarters. If any of you have not had an opportunity to take a look at that transcript, I would recommend that you do so.

With that, General Wald.

Q: Mike, would you talk about the three prisoners first, what's happening?

A: (Doubleday) Frankly, what we know about that at the present time is primarily what we have seen in news media reporting. We, of course, are of the mind that these individuals should not have been abducted in the first place, that they should be released immediately. We believe, of course, that they should not be used as any kind of bargaining chip, since this is contrary to the Geneva Convention. But we also would be --we would welcome any assistance that might occur from the present situation. We don't have any update for you that offers anything concrete.

Q: One quick follow-up, though. If they are released to Nicosia, will they be debriefed at the embassy, will they be debriefed at Landstuhl? Do you know yet?

A: (Doubleday) We don't have any kind of detail like that.

Q: Would the United States be willing to give safe passage in and out of Belgrade during such an operation?

A: (Doubleday) First of all, I want to make it clear that we're not going to stop our current operations because of this. I think that the track record of Milosevic is not all that great on adhering to any kind of promises he makes. The operation is going to continue. However, having talked to people on the operations side, we have total control of the operations, and certainly if it's necessary to have an aircraft fly into an area or out of an area at any time, that could be arranged.

Q: The answer is yes then, you would allow, you would arrange for an aircraft to...

A: (Doubleday) I'll leave it with the way I said it.

Thanks.

General?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Good afternoon. I'll do the same type of briefing I did yesterday, starting with the weather.

As you can see, the previous days, as I said yesterday, were in the red, were not so good. In the last few days we've had favorable weather.

Q: The mike...

A: (Wald) Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I can use all the help I can get.

As I said earlier the weather has been advantageous to us over the last few days. It continues today. And as I'll mention a little bit later, it has made a little bit of a difference, particularly in the Kosovo area. We've been performing operations in what we call the engagement zone down in the south part against the VJ and MUP forces.

Next.

A review, again, as yesterday. Over 28 targets struck. You heard that earlier today probably from the NATO brief. Once again, the engagement area I mentioned is in the southwest part of Kosovo where there's been a heavy concentration of our efforts over the last 24 hours. Both A-10 NATO aircraft and the USS ROOSEVELT aircraft that are now flying in Kosovo flew the majority of their missions in that area.

Early reports back are, from the crews -- they were very, very satisfied with the missions today. The A-10 was employed, and we're very satisfied with that. We'll see the results later. I do not have specifics on targets, but as I said earlier, the early reports are excellent.

Once again the target types. Military forces, we're concentrating on that. That, of course, depends on how the campaign is going. Fuel, the POL as we mentioned before, sustainability, lines of communication in both bridges and roads. We'll concentrate on that to keep him from moving his forces and supplying his forces. Command and control for both the control of the ground forces as well as the integrated air defense. Air defense itself, and then some industry. The industry targets are military industry for sustainability.

Next slide.

Not a lot of change in the BDA. This is a campaign. It's working, as I said earlier, but we are degrading his air defenses. You heard from Admiral Wilson yesterday that his front-line fighter force has been cut in half. That's the MiG-29s. We continue to degrade his SAM capability and the threat we're receiving from SAMs. And, of course, his sustainability for those SAMs is being hurt quite a bit as well.

The command and control, as I mentioned earlier, for both his fielded army and the police, the MUP, has been degraded and his intelligence capability, of course, has been degraded as well. They do have work-arounds but we're degrading his static capability in a big way.

The army and police, actually the fielded forces, as I said earlier -- we've had some success, better success today. We'll continue to focus on that. This is a campaign. It's a full campaign for sustainability, fielded forces, for his command and control and for his IADS. During that campaign those forces will be struck at various stages and in various amounts over that campaign. We'll continue to go back against his IADS as we see necessary.

Then on his industry and infrastructure, as I said earlier, POL, his fuel to sustain. Both the production, distribution and storage has been hit hard and disrupted. The resupply of his forces in the field has therefore been degraded, but the industry portion, as well, has been focusing on the ammunition production as well as the lines of communication.

A couple of photos that are probably a little bit difficult for you to see in the back. But I just want to go over just one target area that was hit two days ago. It's a VJ army barracks in southern Serbia.

As you can see here, the four major buildings of that barracks surrounding what is a heliport -- the H in the middle is a heliport.

There are civilian populated areas in very close proximity to that target. As you know, we do a tremendous amount of target planning and work on that target with some very sophisticated planning tools, and are very, very, very careful on our collateral damage. It's one of the important areas that we watch in all our planning. But you can see the before picture of that particular barracks area and then the after.

Next chart.

As you can see, significant damage on all four of those buildings. You might call that significant damage. I'd probably call it destroyed. The heliport area itself has been covered, probably rendered unusable at least temporarily. You can also see there has been no damage to the civilian area that's very close.

Next chart.

Q: Do you know how close that civilian area is?

A: (Wald) It looked to me like it was within about 100 meters or so. I can get the actual distance for you, but it's fairly close.

Turning to the humanitarian side, the only difference from what I briefed you yesterday is we do now have commercial flights coming out of JFK in New York into Skopje with humanitarian daily rations, and also the plan now, as you know, will be to take the U.S. portion of the refugees that we will be accepting back into Guantanamo. We'll be flying out of the region into Guantanamo Bay in the very near future. We're ready right now to take 400. In the next week we think we can take about 1,700 to 2,000, and within 30 days about 10,000; then over a 30-60 day period, up to 20,000.

Southern Command, General Wilhelm, is in charge of that effort for Guantanamo Bay. He has a team in place in Guantanamo preparing the reception area. As I said, we are ready to receive 400 as we speak today, and we'll be receiving those refugees over the next few days.

Right now, the State Department is in charge of processing the refugees that will be coming to the United States. But once again, this is a little bit unusual, as you know. These are families of people. We want to make sure that we retain those families together as much as we can, and as they process those, we'll be taking those on.

Next.

Just a little bit more granularity on the key air and sea ports. Ancona will be the intermediate staging port for the strategic lift of humanitarian aid that comes out of the United States. There's also a port at Bari in Italy, in the southern portion of Italy, that will be used to transport some of the humanitarian aid into a port called Durres in Montenegro [sic, Albania], where then it will be transshipped either to Tirana itself or into Kukes in Albania.

Additionally there are the aerial port and the sea port in Thessaloniki, Greece, the international airport at Macedonia, that's been used previously to transport some of the early arriving KSFOR forces that had arrived previously, as you're aware of.

The one point I wanted to make here was in Tirana today there is an advance team, led by Major General Bill Hinton, who is the 3rd Air Force Commander in Mildenhall, England, and Brigadier General Helland of the United States Marine Corps that will be in charge of the Combined/Joint Task Force SHINING HOPE, which will be the effort for humanitarian aid on the military side. That will interface for NATO with the United Nations relief effort. They are in place in Tirana today to see what they can do to improve the capability of the field there, to make it a 24-hour operation.

As you know right now, as I mentioned yesterday, the field is only daylight. It has the ability to take the maximum of one large aircraft on the ground at one time. There's no control tower there. So we have a team in place to go ahead and set up a control tower, to put in temporary lighting for 24-hour operations, as well as a temporary approach control system to increase our capability to put larger aircraft in there in a bigger number.

Q: How long are the runways or runway, General? Is it firm enough to take a large aircraft?

A: (Wald) It is firm enough to take a large aircraft. I believe it's about NATO standard, which is usually around 8,000 feet.

Next slide.

Just a little bit of fidelity here, I won't go into this too deeply, but I want to mention one thing in Tirana, the difficulty.

As you know, the LOC, the line of communication, from Thessaloniki up into Skopje is a fairly good road, although there aren't very many of them. But the road from Tirana to Kukes, which is the area where most of the refugees on the Albanian side are located, is over very, very difficult terrain and it's not a very good road.

Just a data point, to take a truck from Tirana to Kukes over this 75-mile road would take ten hours. So what they're looking at is using helicopters, which would take 30 minutes flight, cut down the time. Not very efficient with the helicopter because of the size of the load it can take, but once again, the ten hour versus 30 minutes is very attractive, so we'll have to work through that. That's just one of the difficulties they're working through.

Next chart.

Just an update. As I mentioned yesterday, 73,000 Humanitarian Daily Rations [HDRs] have already arrived into Tirana. Seven hundred 8-person tents have arrived, over 100,000 gallons of water, and 15,000 tons of clothing. The clothing are mainly really just the necessities for children and some of the adults there.

The additional 225,000 rations have arrived in Ancona, [and] will be starting to be transshipped by C-130 into Tirana as we speak. We expect about ten C-130 flights a day. And in Skopje itself, you can see that 4,000 HDRs, and going down through what's arrived there, 1,000 tents. And that will be starting to be transshipped via truck up towards Skopje and actually shipped out into the refugee areas as we speak today.

Next chart.

The way ahead over the next few days, we expect nearly 300,000 more HDRs to be shipped via commercial air into Albania. Yesterday, I mentioned those tents were going to arrive on the 11th. Through some great work from some of the folks on the ground at Travis they pushed it up, and with commercial air it will arrive today. That's excellent on the tents.

Then into Macedonia we expect over half a million tons of, a [four] thousand HDRs to be shipped over the next couple of days. Then you can see on the cots and tents, Germany MilAir. And once again, those flights into Skopje, into Macedonia itself will be out of Ramstein Air Force Base via strat lift.

That concludes the update, and I'll take questions.

Q: One question, but a prelude. Coming out of Travis, how are they going from Travis? Are they going into Ancona?

A: (Wald) Yes.

Q: Or are they flying in somewhere else and then transshipped?

A: (Wald) No, they're flying direct from Travis, 4800 miles, 11 hour trip, into Ancona, where they'll land and then the bulk will be taken off and transshipped in in C-130s.

Q: Thank you.

My question is, at the NATO briefing today Sir David said that last night's strike was the first major breakthrough in taking on armor in Kosovo. Can you expand that a bit? He said they went after a column. Was that tanks, APCs, trucks? What was it, do you know?

A: (Wald) I don't have the fidelity on exactly what it was. They were military vehicles. I did not have any reports of whether they were tanks or trucks. The reports I have heard back though, that there was -- they were very satisfied with today's operation, and we'll get fidelity on the numbers I think tomorrow, we hope.

Q: General, can you tell us, Secretary Cohen said in Brussels today that he expected there will be new aircraft deployed to the region. Can you give an update, what kind of planes those are...

A: (Wald) I've heard that they're looking at the possibility; I think it depends on whether the CINC obviously needs those and whether the operation dictates that. But if there were, they would be similar to the airplanes we have there today. I would suspect they'd be fighter aircraft, and probably some support aircraft as well and maybe tankers. But once again, that decision hasn't been made. They're working through it.

Q: Where would they come from, and specifically what kind of...

A: (Wald) I can tell you what's there now. There are A-10s there; there are F-15s there; there are air-to-ground as well as suppressive enemy air defense aircraft. So I would suspect it would be a range of those type aircraft. And once again...

Q: Where would they come from?

A: (Wald) They would either come from Europe or from CONUS. Once again, that decision hasn't been made. They're working through it.

Q: General, I assume you all expect to continue hitting the fuel infrastructure.

A: (Wald) The campaign that I understand from the CINC, and what I would understand from a professional standpoint, is that the campaign will continue in all areas. So they will continue until deemed necessary, continue hitting both the military fielded in the field, the integrated air defense, the command and control, and the sustainment and their LOCs.

Q: Have you any estimate of how much of his refining capacity you've cut with those strikes on Pancevo and Novi Sad?

A: (Wald) I'm not sure exactly [with] those targets what the percentage was, but there has been a significant portion of their ability to produce POL for military use, has been struck.

Q: I believe you said yesterday that you hit about 12 of 100 fuel storage dumps, most of those being military.

A: (Wald) If that's what Admiral Wilson briefed yesterday, that's what we've done. I do not...

Q: Can you give us an update on that, or do you...

A: (Wald) We'll continue to hit all the targets as the campaign progresses, and we continue to hit their ammo storage areas in a big way.

Q: Can you give us a better view of the border area between Macedonia and Kosovo? This morning as the sun came up, the 25-kilometer-long band of refugees that was trying to get out of Kosovo had vanished. Do you -- you fly over that area all the time. What do you see and what do you believe happened?

A: (Wald) The flights, as I understand, are flying over the border at times, and we're getting ground reports from the humanitarian relief folks as well.

What I understand is that the refugees have been turned back at the border by Milosevic. His reasoning for that, I would leave that to either speculation, or he could answer that himself. But he, using refugees as a tool for his strategy, obviously is something that we as professionals aren't used to doing or understanding. So I could only speculate. You'd have to ask Milosevic what his plan is there.

Q: Where did they go?

A: (Wald) Our understanding is that they're being turned back from the border, and from one story I heard, this may or may not be true, he's asking them to go back toward their villages and homes.

Q: I think what he was asking is, you have flights over the line. Surely somebody was watching this line of people. Where did the line of people go to?

A: (Wald) We don't specifically fly over the borders to watch the people there. So if we see them, it's probably because of circumstance or almost a coincidence.

I won't talk about operational capabilities as far as what we do for reconnaissance, but the most valid, not valid, but probably the most accurate reports would probably be from the people on the border that are actually helping the refugees.

What our understanding is, those refugees have been turned back, and our understanding is they've been asked possibly to go back toward their villages.

Once again, it would be speculation as to what Milosevic is doing. You'd have to ask him.

Q: Are you concerned that if they're going back to their villages that that will make your job harder in terms of targets?

A: (Wald) I think the job is about as hard as it's going to get for targeting, regardless. So once again, you'd have to get into Milosevic's mind to see what he's trying to do with those refugees.

Q: Will NATO be looking for those refugees?

A: (Wald) Will NATO be looking for those? Of course we will. We're looking for -- we always are very careful about collateral damage. That's one of the difficulties of this mission is where the civilians are. But once again, we'll do the best we can with the intelligence we have.

Q: General, a point of information and then a question.

The point of information, the incident that Ivan just asked you about, the successful hit of an armored convoy in Kosovo. What kind of aircraft made that hit?

A: (Wald) From what I understand, it was a combination of U.S. and NATO, and I do understand there were A-10 aircraft involved.

Q: Not British Harriers?

A: (Wald) I understand there may have been British Harriers involved, and there were also aircraft from the USS ROOSEVELT involved -- both F-18s and F-14s.

Q: There's a report out of Ottawa that says that the Canadian Defense Ministry is now considering the possibility of NATO ground troops having to go in Kosovo conceivably without a peace agreement, and that their military planners are working on that possibility.

Are American military planners working on that possibility now?

A: (Wald) I would say the same thing that's been said before. We have no intention of putting ground troops into Kosovo. I would also say that any prudent military planner probably would plan not only in this case but any case, for all possibilities. I can't speak for the Canadian Government on their planning.

Q: General, we were originally told from there, I believe, that it would take the Apaches seven to ten days to be ready to begin operations, and now we're being told that it's going to be more like a month. One, is that true? Two, what is the reason for it being twice as long or...

A: (Wald) I hadn't heard the month, but I would say that seven to ten days, I think, was talked about earlier, before the humanitarian crisis actually occurred.

Number two, as I mentioned earlier, if it were Albania and they needed to use Tirana, I've already kind of depicted the difficulty with the runway there. So it's a balancing act between the humanitarian and the operational mission.

But I can say that they're preparing to deploy in Germany as we speak today, and the intention is for them to get there as soon as possible, in the seven- to ten-day, maybe two-week period, for an initial capability. Then it would take a little bit longer for them to be full up and running. But obviously there's a lot of complication here, and the operational requirement will dictate the speed of that, plus the reality of the humanitarian crisis.

Q: Have they even decided where to put them yet?

A: (Wald) I'm not sure there's been a final decision of where they'll go, but I'm sure that Tirana, if they go into Albania, Tirana will be one of the places they actually start using.

There's some other discussion on possibilities of moving those forces they're working through today, the possibility of moving some by rail, some self-deployed, some by air.

So the point is, they are working through the plan. They should be deploying shortly, from what I understand, and then the length of time until they're fully operational is still up in the air.

Q: Was it a mistake not to deploy those Apaches sooner?

A: (Wald) No, I don't think so at all. The CINC has asked for the Apaches to arrive at a certain time. He's working through that. If there was, I doubt if there was a mistake on his part, because he knew exactly what he wanted to do. So the timing of that was based on the CINC's requirement.

Q: During DESERT FOX, after they had hit some Republican Guard barracks, we learned that there were thousands of troops in those barracks, and that was one of the successful hits. You've been hitting barracks. Are there troops in the barracks? If so, can you give us some idea...

A: (Wald) The indications we've had is there sometimes have been some troops. We haven't heard of any large number of troops. I mentioned on the barracks that I did show you there, our indication is those troops were deployed in the field. Now I guess you can put them in the category of displaced persons.

Q: Two questions. You mentioned one time that the job is about as hard as it can get for targeting. Could you elaborate on that? Also I have another one after that.

A: (Wald) The difficulty I think is probably from the standpoint of, first of all, we're very very careful on collateral damage, as you know. Number two is, even though I showed you a chart earlier where the weather is green or yellow, which means it's fairly good, that does not mean there isn't some weather there, the possibility of haze or fog.

Additionally, it is hilly terrain. There are a lot of trees. The last thing I would say in Kosovo is there are a lot of civilians there that are innocent civilians, particularly Kosovar Albanians, and as we talked about earlier, they're moving those back in, so we have to be very careful in that respect, too.

So it's not open terrain; it's not open desert; there aren't clear lines of where the bad guys are and the friendlies are. Once again, we're very careful. So that I think in itself causes a very difficult, presents a difficult challenge.

The other thing we understand is that the VJ and MUP are moving in amongst the population, and that makes it very difficult itself. So they're spread out and dispersed.

Q: You had earlier said that anyone would be planning for ground troops. However, earlier Kenneth Bacon had ruled out any sort of planning. He said there wasn't even any contingency planning going on.

Now you're saying there is some planning for ground troops.

A: (Wald) The difference between Mr. Bacon and me is he's a policy guy and I'm a military guy. On the policy side, our intention is not to put any ground troops in, period.

Q: He was talking military. He was saying there had not been any contingency planning for ground troops.

A: (Wald) I do not know of any planning being done. I only said that a prudent military person would plan for the full contingency of possibilities across the board. I know of no planning that SACEUR has done. I know there's none been done here. That's not our job. So I would say Mr. Bacon's comment stands.

Q: General, we're now into the third week into the bombing. What's your assessment -- not the CINC's, but your assessment of the effectiveness of this campaign to date?

A: (Wald) Well, I'm not an intel guy; I'm only an operator. Like you said before, I'm not the CINC, so I'd leave that officially up to him. But from what I've seen in the reports, it's going along well, and there has been progress made, and we are being successful at performing the military mission we've been given. And that, once again, is to degrade the VJ and MUP capability, repress the Serbs.

I think if you look at the array of targets and the amount of damage we're doing to his sustainment, his lines of communication, and his IADS and command and control, we are definitely degrading his capability. It's a matter of how much of that degradation he wants to sustain and how long it will take. But I would say it's going along very, very well.

Q: General, were you surprised there's not more AAA and SAM fire coming up? There hasn't been very much during this whole mission, apparently.

A: (Wald) I'm not sure where you're getting your intel reports. From what I understand, there's a lot of AAA and SAMs. Not as many SAMs, but a lot of AAA. I can tell you from personal experience that there is a lot of AAA -- there was enough in Bosnia when I was there. There's a lot more in the FRY. So the reports I'm getting back is there is a lot of AAA, and from what I understand, they're shooting quite a few SAMs, too. We've had some over the last few nights.

So from a military perspective, from a pilot perspective, one SAM is a lot to me. I know there's a lot more than one, so I think where you're hearing your information - maybe on some days they aren't shooting as many SAMs, but they're always shooting AAA.

Q: General, how about the air crews? The morale of the American air crews and the flight line guys? Four hundred sorties last night; ramping up steadily. They must be pretty stretched now. How are they doing?

A: (Wald) Ironically, they're probably not very stretched from a morale standpoint. I'd say it's probably pretty high. And from personal experience, the morale stays high in an operation like this.

My understanding is General Shelton was in Aviano yesterday and visited with the troops. He was there to give the troops a morale boost -- came back with a morale boost of his own. So the morale, from what I understand, is sky high.

Q: General, between the air campaign and the humanitarian lift that's now come into place, are there any plans on calling up Air Force Reserve units to help with refueling tankers and so forth?

A: (Wald) I think -- once again it's kind of in the planning stage issue again, and I kind of had to answer yours earlier -- that's a policy issue that will be addressed at the time, but there's always that consideration and what you would need to do in that case, but I haven't heard of any official request for that.

Q: There are I think three Guard units that have been called up, though, Air Force Guard.

A: (Wald) I haven't heard that report yet. Maybe we can get something from the captain later.

Q: Have the A-10s fired in anger yet, sir?

A: (Wald) Well, over the last ten years they've fired in anger a lot. And yes, they fired in anger last night from what I understand.

Q: Everything I learned from air power, I learned from Chuck Link, and recently I've been digging a little bit into ground troops. One of the lessons that came out of the Persian Gulf War that worked great was to keep Iraqi forces from dispersing. What you do is you pull up to the border with your tanks, and then they have to stay there because to move back would make you vulnerable to a land invasion, then they're easy targets for air power.

What's the other way of keeping them from dispersing the way they're doing? Is there some other tactical option that we're just not aware of that will draw them out that you guys know about, that maybe you can give us a little...

A: (Wald) First of all, this is not the Iraqi military. Number two, the terrain is very different. But number three is, you don't fight every war the same way. As I've said earlier, we're attacking not only his fielded forces, which we had some apparently success last night, but we're taking on his sustainability and his command and control.

There are different ways to fight different battles, and the scenario, the environment, of course, would dictate that. I think the CINC in this case has got a great plan.

Q: A different question, totally unrelated.

Jamie Shea said this morning at the NATO briefing that 30,000 refugees that were in a no-man's land are now in a tent city. Those are different refugees from the 25,000 who have disappeared?

A: (Wald) I don't know that number. I'd have to get back with you on that. I hadn't heard that.

Q: Again, following on the refugees. People will find it hard to believe that you didn't or were unable to track the movement of tens of thousands of people away from the border in an area where we're fighting a conflict. I realize watching those people is not your first priority at all times, but is there any information you can give us about where they moved? Did they go by foot, by vehicle?

A: (Wald) Our understanding is they have been asked to move back into Kosovo and they're dispersing, and I will have to get more information [for] you. But one of our jobs -- I'm sure they're walking. Now whether Milosevic has provided them transportation or not, I haven't heard. But I do understand they're moving back. We're not sure where they are. Our intel may have some better data on that. I can try to get that for you tomorrow.

Q: General, when is it likely that the Apaches get into action over there?

A: (Wald) I can't speak to that right now. It's an operational issue.

Q: Can you go back to something that was addressed yesterday. The juxtaposition between the target sets that you're hitting and the humanitarian crisis on the ground, that those target sets do not always help to alleviate.

Was the air campaign designed with some flexibility in it so that if you saw the crisis elevating you could respond in some way that would more quickly stop the sort of purging of villages that we've seen? Or was it never designed that way? If so, can you explain why not?

A: (Wald) I guess I'd say it this way. You'd have to go back to what the military objective is, what our mission militarily is, and that's degrade the VJ and the MUP military capability. It was not to stop the humanitarian outflow of personnel; it was not to, it had nothing to do with that necessarily from a military mission. Obviously, a spinoff of that is we would prefer that not to happen. But the planning was not to avoid a refugee crisis.

Once again, we knew that Milosevic was probably going to do something like this either before or after or whatever. Our feeling is it was inevitable he would have tried to do this one way or the other. Our best estimate was, the best way we can help -- not help, but take away his capability to do this in the future and to resolve this issue now is to take on his military capability and to degrade it from having him have the capability to do that in the future, and that's exactly what we're doing.

Q: In the first week when you saw the scale of what he was doing, which was larger than most people would have guessed, was there any discussion that you should add among the goal as an urgency that you hadn't considered before, try and stop tanks and troops? First, can you tell me was that even a discussion? And secondly, why, if it was, you decided not to...

A: (Wald) I can't tell you if that was a discussion at the CINC level, but I can just say this from a military perspective. There's a lot of concern for the refugees.

But once again, the mission itself is to degrade the VJ/MUP military capability, to sustain operations. And from a flexibility standpoint, within the target base we've had for that, I think they're doing a great job.

The best thing that probably can happen right now is for those refugees to be able to have an opportunity to go back to their homes without being threatened by Milosevic. The best thing we can do militarily to do that is to take his ability to threaten them away from him, and that's exactly what we're doing.

Q: To what extent does the NATO political arm become involved in terms of target selection and expansion of targets?

A: (Wald) I think in any case, politicians have the ability to say yes or no, you're going to perform military operations; and in general, politicians stay out of the specifics of targeting.

Q: Do you have to go to them for every...

A: (Wald) I understand we do not have to do that. Once again...

Q: Assuming that the status quo, in other words, that Milosevic sticks to his policy, and the NATO alliance wants to stay until the job is done, and the goals are achieved, and we're seeing this gradual plus-up of forces -- aircraft, land equipment, all of that -- what's your assessment now of how long it's going to take to achieve your goals?

A: (Wald) I can't give you an assessment of that. I can just tell you that we're committed to see this through, and we're having success. And once again, there's no doubt in my mind we will be successful. I can't give you a time line.

Q: When you mentioned Tirane, you're trying to light up that airport at night and bring in...

A: (Wald) Right.

Q: Now the stuff that arrived there, the supplies that you listed, none of that's gone up the road yet, right?

A: (Wald) Some of it has. There's been some helicopters. Most of that stuff that's arriving at Tirane so far has been shipped up forward. Some via truck and some via helicopter.

Q: When you give those numbers of what's in Tirane, has that gone on already, or...

A: (Wald) Some of that has moved forward. They're moving it forward as we speak. I'll try to get the exact number.

Q: When you mentioned (inaudible) the Apaches, are you going to base the Apaches there? Was that the idea? And that you didn't, or you just want to move the Apaches...

A: (Wald) No, there's been no decision to base the Apaches there, but as anything else, that would be a logistics hub to get them started going. So that's what I meant.

Q: Why did you mention the Apaches in connection with Tirane then?

A: (Wald) I said if they did go into Albania, obviously Tirane would be one of the locations where we would forward deploy the logistics or transship logistics that they would need to support that operation.

Q: General, for two weeks NATO airstrikes have been hitting fuel depots and rail lines and bridges that are needed to deliver that fuel to the front. Today we understand Milosevic has asked the Russians to resupply Yugoslavia with fuel. What evidence, if any, is there, can you share with us about what effect that's having at the unit level in Kosovo.

A: (Wald) The unit level of an offer by the Russians?

Q: No. The hitting the fuel depots and the rail lines.

A: (Wald) Our indications are that is starting to affect the units. It's been more difficult for them to find POL. It's been limiting their capability to move around as they desire, and it's starting to have an effect.

Now it's very difficult to put a percentage on that or a specific, but our -- indications are it is starting to take effect.

Q: In other words, do you see APCs, do you see tanks, trucks, running out of gas?

A: (Wald) No, I don't think they've seen any running out of base, per se, and if they're stopped, we're not sure if it's because they're out of base or just taking a coffee break. But our indications are they are starting to have difficulty, and they're starting to husband their fuel a little bit more.

Q: General, you indicated the barracks that were struck may have been largely empty. Apparently some other buildings that have been struck, how valuable is it from a military standpoint when you strike a building that is largely empty?

A: (Wald) I think it's very valuable from a psychological aspect. They know their barracks has been struck. I think it keeps us on the moral high ground if there aren't a lot of casualties. Once again, that's not the point. If there were casualties, they're part of the military structure.

But the fact of the matter is, I think if they were to march back home or had indications that their barracks were gone, and they have de facto become displaced persons, it's got to play psychologically on the troops in the field.

I think it would be just like anybody else. If I had my squadron building destroyed, it would probably psychologically affect me because what's happening is we're taking the fight right to where they live.

Q: Wouldn't it just make you madder, General?

Q: Getting back to the Russians, apparently there's a humanitarian convoy moving through Hungary on its way to Yugoslavia. Do you know anything about that? Apparently NATO is concerned that there could be some armaments on these trucks.

A: (Wald) I've heard there's a convoy going through, and I haven't heard what's on it. I know NATO's aware of it, and that's the most I'll say right now.

Q: Are we going to search the convoy?

A: (Wald) I don't know if NATO will do that. I know Hungary as a sovereign nation has the right to do that, and if they do that, that's up to them.

Q: General, have buildings that have been used by the government of Serbia, especially by Mr. Milosevic and his higher ups, have those buildings been attacked already? Maybe the headquarters we were told about yesterday. Is Milosevic or any of his government a target, or by accident could they be?

A: (Wald) Well, by accident anybody possibly could be a target. But once again, we do everything we can not to have accidents and do a lot of mission planning. But as far as Milosevic being a target, I wouldn't speak to that. That's not my job, and I don't make those plans.

Q: Can I follow up on your answer from the barracks? You said if you don't hit troops, it keeps you us on a moral high ground. So is your goal not to hit troops who are in the barracks?

A: (Wald) No, our goal is not to hit them or not hit them. Our goal is to destroy the capability of the VJ and MUP to perform military operations. In targeting vernacular, troops are a target. They're part of the targeting.

Q: But are you trying to hit troops while they're in there so you kill them so that that degrades the ability of the VJ, or are you trying to minimize casualties?

A: (Wald) If the troops are in the barracks at the time and they're destroyed with the barracks, that will degrade his capability to have the military perform what they're doing.

Q: ...try to hit them when they're in the barracks so that they...

A: (Wald) We don't try to hit them when they're in the barracks or not. If they do, technically they're a military target, and it will help us meet our objectives.

Q: You talk about moral high ground if they weren't there. What did you mean by that?

A: (Wald) The moral high ground?

Q: If they're not there, that keeps us on a moral high ground.

A: (Wald) What I'm not going to say is that we're out necessarily with the desire to destroy humanity. Our desire is to destroy his military. Degrade it. If they're part of his military, so be it.

Q: About degrade, who decides degrade? Is it a political or a military decision when you've degraded enough?

A: (Wald) I think it will be a combination of decisions. First of all, the CINC in the field, General Clark, SACEUR, will have the ultimate decision on that, but it's also a combination of how Milosevic feels about his army.

Q: How many SAM launchers have you actually been able to take out?

A: (Wald) That's a military number I'm not going to talk about.

Q: Order of magnitude?

A: (Wald) A large percentage.

Q: The launchers?

A: (Wald) The launchers themselves, no. There's been a combination of him launching his SAMs and us taking out those SAMs, plus taking down his capability from an integrated air defense standpoint. And there's a reasonably good number of those that have gone. He still has a large number left, and he still has a very viable integrated air defense system up and running and the SAMs to go with it.

Q: Going into this third week of the campaign, how much of Kosovo Province, percentage-wise, has been cleansed, ethnic-cleansed by Milosevic? Has it changed at all? And have you -- as you say, you're satisfied with the progress of the air campaign -- have you seen any kind of withdrawal...

A: (Wald) The last question, I have not personally seen that, and that would be an intelligence answer.

But from the first question, the number that I'm hearing is 1.3 million displaced personnel from Kosovo. I understand the population for Kosovar Albanians is somewhere between 1.8 and 2 million.

Q: And the land itself, how many villages? Can you give us a sense, is it three-quarters of the province has been cleansed?

A: (Wald) A significant portion of Kosovo from the northwest sector to the southwest sector has been, from what I understand, cleansed. And there have been cities of up to 60,000 and 70,000 people that are, what I understand reports of, that they're vacant. That's the best I can do for you on that.

Q: Have you seen any let-up at all in the last 24 hours?

Q: A couple of questions on the engagement area in the southwest. First of all, why was that selected? What is going on in terms of Serb activity in that area? And second, are there strike packages during the daylight in that area, or is it strictly still at night?

A: (Wald) I'll answer the last one first. We're flying missions 24 hours a day, not continuously, but both in day and night.

Number two, what I understand the reason for the troops massing in that area, because they have started from the northeast sector of Kosovo and pushed the Kosovar Albanians down through the southwest sector, that's where much of the VJ or a lot of the VJ army is at this point. So it's kind of a congregation point for then, which is good. I'm not saying they're massing in numbers, but that would be the best answer I could give you from a military perspective.

Q: On the daylight question, I realize they're flying things during the day, but have there actually been airstrikes performed during the daylight hours?

A: (Wald) Yes.

Q: Today? Just yesterday or..

A: (Wald) From what I understand over the last 24 hours there's been daylight strikes.

Q: Over the last 24 hours that we've heard ceasefire, offers of ceasefire, the possibility the three prisoners might be released. Have there been any signs at all of retreat, the Serb army or police moving back a little bit, or the ethnic cleansing stopping somewhat just in the last 24-48 hours?

A: (Wald) I don't think anybody's taking the ceasefire offer seriously, but I would say this. He has his objectives and the CINC has his own objectives, and we'll follow our objectives.

Press: Thank you, General.

Captain Doubleday: Before we close, there are two things that I wanted to mention.

First, earlier there was a question about reserve forces. I'm going to provide you a list now of five Air National Guard air refueling wings supporting Operation ALLIED FORCE. They are the 155th out of Nebraska; the 186th out of Mississippi; the 134th out of Tennessee; the 126th out of Illinois; and the 108th out of New Jersey. Additionally, the 193rd Special Operations Wing from Pennsylvania is providing EC-130 support.

Lastly, I think many of you have seen a memorandum for correspondents that we put out earlier today. I just would like to repeat the contents of that for those of you who may have missed it.

Over the last day or so we've had a number of news organizations who have contacted us asking for advance warning of military operations that may be taking place against targets in Belgrade, citing their concern for people who are associated with news media organizations in Belgrade.

I just want to let people know for the record that we're not in a position to give any kind of advance notification on military targeting. There is a substantial risk involved in covering any kind of a military operation. As General Wald, as Secretary Cohen, as Ken Bacon have all pointed out in the past, we go to considerable lengths to plan operations to avoid any kind of casualties amongst innocent civilians, but we are unable to protect any particular group of people. So I just think it's important to point out, as there have been a number of attacks in the Belgrade area in recent days.

Q: Do you know how many Air National Guard refuelers? Are they in theater now? Are they in Germany now? Are some of them on the way over?

A: (Doubleday) My understanding is that all of these are currently supporting the operation.

Q: I understand the families...

Q: You mentioned the EC-130s in Pennsylvania. Are any AC-130s involved in this operation? Any of the gunships?

A: (Doubleday) No.

Q: I understand that the families of sailors and Marines in the NASSAU ARG are being told that they may not be home for a couple of weeks past their scheduled time. That's something you all have worked very hard to avoid. Can you enlighten us on that at all?

A: (Doubleday) That's correct. There's a release that the Navy has just put out indicating that the USS NASSAU Amphibious Ready Group will remain on station in the Adriatic since they're involved in these urgent humanitarian operations. The Amphibious Ready Group is made up of NASSAU, PENSACOLA, NASHVILLE, and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They were originally scheduled to return home on the 13th of May. The Navy and Marine Corps are presently hard at work getting word to families about this. I think there is an appreciation, certainly amongst the crew, that the operations that they're involved in are critical. And since this is an ongoing operation, the decision has been made to extend them, or extend their deployment for this period of time.

Q: What exactly are they doing in the humanitarian operation?

A: (Doubleday) I think you're aware that they have been designated to actually participate in support of the NATO operation to do refugee centers, if necessary. There are some numbers, small numbers at this point, but significantly larger numbers that could actually be deployed to help set up tents and do any other kind of work that may be necessary to alleviate the crisis.

Q: When are they to be back, and...

A: (Doubleday) They were originally supposed to be back on May 13th. At this point I'm not certain that we've determined exactly how long they're going to have to be extended, but, certainly, we're all hard at work trying to work out a relief for them if that is possible.

Q: Where are they homeported?

A: (Doubleday) I believe that all of these are homeported at Little Creek in the Norfolk area.

Q: Every day we come here and ask you to define degrade or ask you about the number of targets that you've hit. What is the reason that you couldn't give us a more complete detailed assessment of, say, the first week of targeting, of those that you know that you've hit, where you've hit them, and that sort of thing, so that we can make our own judgment about what degrade means, for instance?

A: (Doubleday) Ken actually addressed this last night in a television interview that he did, and I would certainly echo some of the things that he said, citing the fact that there are concerns, I think, on the operational side, that there is an ability, certainly with Milosevic and his people, to assemble information in a way that could be used to affect the operations in an adverse way where our troops are involved.

I think because of that, and because this whole business of keeping score is sometimes very misleading, that we have reduced the scorecard in this operation, and it may be that in the future we'll be able to provide more detail on the scorecard, but right now we're going to hold where we are.

Q: Are you able to say in a more specific way how it would be that Milosevic's forces could use information about, for instance, the bomb damage assessment from a week ago, which is what my question was. Couldn't we have the first week of assessment in a more detailed way. You're saying no, and I'm -- can you help me understand how that could possibly be?

A: (Doubleday) Yes. I think the more information you provide to him on what we believe we have accomplished and how we accomplished it, what munitions we used, what aircraft we used, when they took off, when they landed, all of those kinds of things play into an intelligence picture that provides him with information that we do not want at this point to provide.

Press: Thank you.

Q: How was the F-117 shot down?

A: (Doubleday) That is still ongoing, and when we have something for you, I'm sure we'll release it.

Q: Talking about intelligence, what about the Russian intelligence-gathering ship? Where is it, what's it doing, what are we doing to keep it on a leash?

Additional Links

Stay Connected