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DoD News Briefing, Monday, April 19, 1999

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
April 19, 1999 2:05 PM EDT

Operation Allied Force update. Also participating in this briefing is Maj. Gen. Chuck Wald, vice director for Strategic Plans and Policy for the Joint Staff (J-5).

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. Welcome. It seems to be a diminished but still boisterous group here today.

Let me start out with a couple of announcements.

First, as you know, Florida has been ravaged with forest fires. Military forces have been dispatched to work on the firefighting efforts in Florida. The Florida National Guard is on active duty [in] state. They're using four bucket-equipped Black Hawk helicopters and crews to help with the firefighting in Florida. They've made hundreds of water drops already, and they'll continue supporting the operations until asked to stand down.

Second, on the budget front, the supplemental. My understanding is that the White House is going to have a briefing later today to roll that out and answer all your questions or the questions of your colleagues, so the details of the supplemental will be forthcoming from the White House.

Third, many of you have asked over the last several weeks about stealth technology and whether it was compromised by the plane that went down over Yugoslavia. Tomorrow we plan to have Major General Bruce Carlson of the Air Force, who used to command the F-117s at Holloman Air Force Base here. After General Wald and I brief, you'll be surrounded by Air Force two stars. But he will be here to answer questions on the impact of that on the stealth technology program.

Finally, Pat Sloyan isn't here, but he asked about access to pilots at Aviano and other air bases. I discussed this with General Clark over the weekend, and you should be able, or your colleagues should be able to talk to pilots at their discretion, obviously. There's nothing in the Constitution that says a pilot has to talk to the press, but should they want to talk to the press they'll be free to do that. We are going to, however, adhere to the rule that they talk by first name only and not identify where they're from. This is to protect both them and their family's privacy.

With that I'll turn it over to General Wald who has some...

Q: Just two quick things, Ken. On the Reserve callup and on the 300 aircraft, the approval of the 300 aircraft. Has there been any movement on either front?

Mr. Bacon: There has been no movement on either one of those. They're still being worked by the system. I would guess it will be a couple of days until we have definitive numbers.

Q: On both the Reserves and planes.

Mr. Bacon: Right.

Q: One policy question before General Wald comes up. It is evident, regardless of what is being said in this building, that the NATO warplanes are remaining high. In fact General Leaf said that today.

Is not the operation faced with a problem if they remain high? They are out of harm's way, but they cannot adequately distinguish what they're trying to hit on the ground. Isn't there a contradiction here, and how do you plan to solve it, or how does NATO plan to solve it?

Mr. Bacon: First of all, I'm not sure it's evident at what altitude they're flying, but I'm not going to comment on what altitude they're flying.

Q:...what he's saying at NATO?

Mr. Bacon: I think we'll just leave the altitude of the planes unstated.

Secondly, I think there was an extremely complete briefing from Brigadier General Leaf this morning on exactly the steps that our planes take to identify the targets on the ground, and I'd call that a definitive briefing, sort of Observation 101. I would just -- I don't have anything to add to that.

Q: If I may, if you listened to the briefing, it said that the OA-10 with the binoculars came in after the strikes, after the vehicles were hit. There was no clear definition other than the pilots of the F-16 thought they were military vehicles, quote/unquote.

I ask again, how can you tell from 15,000 feet?

Mr. Bacon: Our pilots will do the best they can from whatever altitude they're flying to carry out the procedures that General Leaf described.

Q: Then you enhance the danger of hitting civilians, don't you?

Mr. Bacon: Ivan, I think you had a totally complete briefing on that, and I have nothing to add to it about the procedures.

Q: There's been this debate within NATO about whether Serb TV transmission facilities are a legitimate military target or not. Has that been resolved within NATO, and does the United States consider it to be?

Mr. Bacon: I have nothing to say about specific targets and nothing to say about the debates about targets that NATO forces may or may not attack.

Obviously, we can't talk about targets. We did issue a warning from this podium to the press several weeks ago in response to inquiries we've gotten from many news organizations. That warning said that we cannot guarantee the safety of any people in Belgrade, any people in news organizations in Belgrade. It's a dangerous area, and news organizations should react accordingly. But beyond that, I can't make any comments about specific targets in Belgrade or elsewhere in Yugoslavia.

General Wald?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Good afternoon.

The weather over the last few days has been as it has been for -- as last weekend as well, it's been kind of up and down, some not so good and some better. There's been some holes we've been able to work with, and we have been able to use all-weather munitions over the last few days. The forecast is for it to start clearing a little bit, and as we get into the spring season, it should start getting better day in and day out.

Over the last two days, over 31 different targets throughout the FRY and Kosovo itself. The Kosovo engagement zone has had several periods where the weather has been workable and there have been several sorties flown in that area with good success.

We continue to focus on military forces, not only fielded, but their sustainability, command and control. Air defense continues. Fuel, bridges, and industry.

Q: How many targets?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Thirty-one.

Humanitarian. Over the last 24-48 hours, about 24,000 to 48,000 more [refugees] into Albania and another 10,000 into the FYROM. The border, from what I understand, is open in some places. It closes and opens just as it did last week, and there's no indication why that is necessarily.

Contributions. Still 54 nations. Eleven of those have taken in displaced personnel. I didn't mention Austria last week. They're in there as well. About 11,000 tons worth of food, equipment, fuel and shelter.

In Tirane over the last 24 hours almost 100,000 humanitarian daily rations; into Skopje almost 65,000, and we'll continue to move those in through the ISB, the intermediate staging area at Ancona.

Totals for Tirane, nearly half a million; and into Skopje over 600,000 HDRs, and we still have about a half a million HDRs in Ancona. They've started moving those humanitarian daily rations by barge to Durres, and there's been -- moving those rations over the last couple of days has helped with the efficiency. Then they offload them into Tirane, or in Durres, to Tirane by truck, and then by helicopter up to the camps.

As I mentioned earlier, the border crossing sites remain open. Twenty-four thousand refugees in the last 24 hours approximately. There's estimates by the UNHCR and others that over the next week or so there could be up to 200,000 more refugees coming out. They're working to expand the camps in Albania for an additional 38,000 refugees -- both UNHCR and the non-government organizations.

JTF SHINING HOPE -- the CONOPS for refugee construction has been worked out, and that will be in Albania. They'll build a tent city there in small enclaves of about 2,500 each for about 20,000 total. The tents departed Travis for that on the 19th. The last aircraft now is scheduled to close at Ancona for those tents, for that Albanian refugee camp that we plan to build on the 23rd. The plan is to move the equipment there, move the equipment into Albania and then hand it over, the camp and everything else to the UNHCR once it's complete.

As I mentioned earlier, the first ferry from Ancona delivered 46,000 HDRs to Durres on the 18th. That should start eliminating any backlog in Ancona.

The question why Task Force HAWK isn't in Tirane yet. They had some fairly heavy rains over the last few days. I might add that they're planning for the helicopters, the Apaches, to start moving tomorrow, assuming this is taken care of, but they have put aluminum matting down.

The area where the actual American task force will be located is in a little bit of a lower area of that Tirane area, so the mud, etc., has accumulated, and this is part of the reason it's taken a little time to get there. Mother Nature.

Just a couple of images. This is an image in northwest Kosovo of a refugee convoy moving down the road. You can see several vehicles. This is a vehicle convoy of over 100. They continue to move. That's to the west of Prizren.

Additionally, an image of a refugee camp -- it's not really a camp; it's an area in Kosovo itself that looks, from the photo interpretation -- you can't tell from this, but from photo interpreters -- that it's actually been attacked by what looks like maybe mortars. There are damaged vehicles in this area, so a chance that the IDPs may be being attacked in Kosovo itself.

Then a photo of an area here, a Serbian airfield that was attacked yesterday. This building here is fully destroyed.

I'll go back to show you what it looked like the day before. This was the previous day. This is a military vehicle holding area. You can see where the tracked vehicles were going into this building. It's been destroyed.

Then lastly I'll show you this cockpit video. This is a bridge at Kursumilja where there was a bomb that hit right at the approach end of this bridge, took that down, and then another one in the middle of it. That bridge is still standing, but it doesn't look like it's structurally sound now, and you probably can't get on the bridge from one end or off the other. So I'll show you imagery of that in a moment.

They continue to fly missions today. They've had some success with some attacking of vehicles in Kosovo. Up to a dozen different APCs, tanks, trucks, and they continue to fly sorties throughout the FRY.

The first image is of a highway bridge. This will be an F-117 laser-guided bomb. It's some place in Serbia.

This is not the bridge I showed you the imagery, but you'll see here we're going to hit the approach end of the bridge, which is the best way to take it down for a long period of time. F-117. And imagery, post-strike imagery is still being analyzed, but it looks like that bridge has been taken down as far as being useful.

Next, an F-117 against a petroleum refinery storage tank. We continue to take down their petroleum, oil, lubrication ability.

Q: What's the black out on the left?

Maj. Gen. Wald: This is some of the data from the aircraft that I don't want to show you.

This was an attack on the center holding tank. You have to assume there may have been a little damage to the tanks next to it, but we wouldn't call those destroyed yet.

Next is an F-18 attack on a fuel tank at the Podgorica airfield. We continue to take down their ability to sustain both ground and air. That fuel tank looks like it was full. That's destroyed.

Next is an F-14 against the Kursumilja highway bridge I just showed you. This will be against, first, the center span where I showed a hole in the bridge. Watch under the cursors and over here. In this case that F-14 was filming another bomb that went off from his wingman.

Next are armored vehicles in Serbia from an F-15E. This aircraft is actually filming the attack from his wingman. You'll see the bombs hit down in this area here. And from photo interpretation later, that looks like those tanks were at least hit if not destroyed.

Petroleum storage pumping facility from an F-117 some place in Serbia. Once again, under the laser cursor. You'll see that was more than likely destroyed. Once again, it's hard to tell from the imagery whether it was actually destroyed, and we'll follow up with after-attack photography.

There's a MiG-21 at Pristina airfield yesterday with an F-16 out of Aviano. You saw General Leaf on TV today earlier. He's doing a great job at Aviano. He's got 171 fighters on the ramp for a base made for 54.

This is a buddy lase. You'll -- the arrows -- actually his wingman attacking that MiG-21. It looks like it's full of fuel, and I'd say it's probably not viable.

Another F-117 -- control building, a radio relay site some place in Serbia. This is on a mountain. Tough target to find. It's under the cursor. Once again, strategic relay, command and control. Night target. In all likelihood at least put out of business for awhile.

Another radio relay site from an F-15E out of Aviano Air Base. LGB. See the large tower above it? This is going after the actual control facility underneath the cursor. It's a very large tower. He'll hit the control facility first. Some damage to the control facility if not all.

The next is the same target with another F-15E from the same flight, same mission. This was yesterday. You'll see they're going to drop CBU-87 on this facility. Some hit the tower, some hit the control facility. More than likely they're probably not transmitting very well.

Highway bridge in Kosovo with an F-117 going against the abutment again. You'll see from the bottom the bomb come in. He's aiming here. Here comes the bomb right here. It looks like a pretty good shot.

Q: Now that's real time, correct?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Except when we paused it. We don't have the ability to stop the bomb in flight. (Laughter)

The next is another F-117 against the center span of the same bridge. This is that bridge I showed you a picture of earlier. He's going after the center span here. In this one you'll see concrete and debris fly through the air afterwards, if you look close, so there must have been some damage to the bridge. Large chunks of concrete. Probably structurally not sound anymore.

The last one I'll show you is an F-15E against an air defense radar in southern Serbia, optically guided bomb. This was a target of opportunity.

You'll see in this picture there's a church next to the target. The pilot sees that and actually steers the bomb off from the target, which if you can do that, it's very fortunate. It's a good thing we can do that.

That should finish the film for today. I'll take any questions you have.

Q: Are all the Apaches in Brindisi now?

Maj. Gen. Wald: They are not all in Brindisi. Some are still in Pisa. They're moving toward Brindisi. The plan right now -- if the weather holds and nothing else occurs, they should move in tomorrow.

Q: Also, you said last week that current plans are only to put in 24, that the other 24 were on hold.

Maj. Gen. Wald: That's correct.

Q: That hasn't changed?

Maj. Gen. Wald: No, that's correct.

Q: So there are no others being moved other than the 24 that are in transit.

Maj. Gen. Wald: That's correct.

Q: General Wald, you showed us the picture that depicted what you said was the apparent attacks on internally displaced persons. Can you tell us how common that is? And how would you answer critics that say however effective NATO's air campaign is in inflicting damage, it's not doing much to prevent that kind of situation?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I don't know how prevalent it is. I don't think NATO's air has stopped that at all. NATO's mission, once again, is to reduce Milosevic's army's capability to do exactly what I showed you in that picture. So we're going to continue to do that. It goes across the board. We'll cut out his sustainment, we'll hit him in the field if we can. But once again, the mission is to reduce Milosevic's military, and once again, the time of that will be depending upon Milosevic's decision.

Q: Is it frustrating at all that you don't really have a good option from the air to try to prevent that kind of violence that's going on?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Personally, it's a little bit frustrating. But I don't think anybody said air could do everything. We have a mission with air; it's clear. It's defined. The campaign is going down that path, and we'll continue that. Probably the best thing we can do with air is defeat his army so they can't do that in the future, and I think we're going down that path.

Q: General, also from this Pentagon and from NATO, we keep getting the word that the air campaign is successful. Adding up what you told us with today's or last night's strikes, we're at some 250 or 300 targets.

Is there anything you can tell us without compromising security as to some idea of how many of those have been taken out? We see a lot of gee whiz, but we really don't get a handle on what's really happening.

Maj. Gen. Wald: There was an article in one of the newspapers this weekend that gave a real clear definition of what all those were. That was released by NATO. I would defer to that article.

But I will say that over time as this accumulates, I think you have to make your own estimate of how much damage is being done to the FRY army and their military. I would consider it significant. Now maybe Milosevic doesn't, but he's going to have to make his own mind up how much he can tolerate, how much he can take.

Q: Let me go to the briefing by General Leaf and ask in that second convoy that he was (inaudible), I believe, may have caused civilian damage from U.S. and other allied planes who attacked that.

He also said something about Serbian helicopters, and I was wondering, doesn't the United States have the capability to track any planes that are flying, whether they're Serbian or NATO planes in Kosovo? In other words, can Serbia put planes in the air without us knowing it?

Maj. Gen. Wald: First of all, I'd go back to General Leaf's statement. I watched it today. I was very impressed. I thought it was outstanding under tough conditions.

He's got a wing, first of all, of 171 aircraft he's operating right now, with several thousand extra people there [on] temporary duty. He normally would have around 54 aircraft there. He's running a full-time operation around the clock, 24 hours a day, trying to make sure he does the mission right. In the mean time, he's taking time out from that to go back and make sure he can explain the story right. From what I saw, I don't think anybody could have explained it in more detail, in a better way, in a more professional way. So from that point, I would refer back to his statement. I thought he did a great job.

Now from the other question, I don't think there's anything in the world that can be 100 percent perfect at anything, no matter what kind of machine it is. So if the Serbs and the FRY want to take a chance to fly, they'll do it at their own risk, and I won't go any further than that.

Q: But will you track it? Or you can't say?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I won't say what we can or can't track because I don't want to stand up here and help Milosevic try to figure out his problem.

Q: Is General Leaf the CO of Aviano?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Yes, he is.

Q: On the refugee flow, do we have any indication of what percentage -- are many of them those people who have been hiding out in the hills for some time, or is there a fresh drive of refugees down from the north?

Maj. Gen. Wald: From what I understand, they come from different types of situations across the board. Some have been in the hills; some have traveled for several days; some have traveled for shorter periods of time. I think they're getting a debrief from all of those from the UNHCR, and the details, I'm sure, you could get from ICRC or the International Red Cross or the UNHCR, I think. But from what I've heard and understand, they're coming out in various, from various places, various times on the road, in various conditions of health, and I understand they are continuing to move refugees out at a large pace.

So I would suspect over the next week or so -- speculation is, if they're going to move another 150,000 to 200,000 out, they'll be from all over the place in Kosovo in various degrees...

Q: The MUP are still pushing...

Maj. Gen. Wald: That's what I understand.

Q: The fact that you have these substantial refugee convoys in these vehicles, they seem to be able to get fuel for those uses. Does that suggest that there's plenty of fuel for any use?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I don't think so. I think they probably have enough fuel to get the -- well, if we go back and understand that, first of all, their two main production plants are down. If you've looked over the last few weeks of the number of storage areas we've hit, the fact that their lines of communication are being cut -- they have husbanded fuel; we know that from various sources. They had some fuel stocked up in Kosovo. That will only last a certain amount of time.

I suspect they're having the refugees use their own transportation. They probably give them enough fuel to get to the border, and from what I understand, at the border they're taking everything from the refugees they can -- their identification, their vehicles. They probably take the fuel, too.

So from what I understand, they are starting to hurt for fuel inside Kosovo. That's from various sources. I would suspect it would become worse over time. It's limiting their movement somewhat, as well as the air is limiting that movement. So they're starting to hurt. How much they're hurting, I don't know, but you can use your own imagination over time what this kind of attacking would do to the infrastructure and the sustainment they have.

Q: Now you're talking about going to the next step, which is a maritime interdiction operation in Montenegrin ports to try and stop fuel ships. So could you talk for a minute about what the U.S. hopes to accomplish with that part of the mission? And does that not now carry the next step, which is not hurting just the Serb military and degrading that, but actually causing distress to the civilian population with that expansion of the mission?

Maj. Gen. Wald: First of all, Mr. Rubin, I think, explained this for about 20 minutes today on his press conference, and I think what he said is exactly what's happening, so I won't go into any more detail than that.

The other thing I'd say is that any hardship that the civilian population in the FRY is under at this time because of what's happening, certainly is not our target. But I would say that you'd probably have to ask Milosevic how much of that he wants to put on his own civilization there, or population. So that's his problem to figure out.

We have a mission. We're going to reduce his arms capability to do what he's doing in Kosovo to the point where he can't do it any more. The Serbian population is not our target. So Mr. Milosevic needs to decide how much pain he wants to put his own population under.

Q: General, will the ENTERPRISE be stopping and joining into this battle as it comes around? What can you tell us about that?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I can't tell you anything about that at all.

Q: Can you update the number of NATO troops that are in Macedonia and also in Albania at this point? Have those numbers gone up at all?

Maj. Gen. Wald: The number in Albania has been going up. There are in the category of about 2,000 there, but that's mainly force protection for the Task Force HAWK that we've talked about before. And in Macedonia itself, I don't have those numbers. I'll get them for you tomorrow. But it hasn't increased over the last few days.

Q: There was a brief reference yesterday in the Washington Post about Austria and that Austria has provided information to NATO on the Operation HORSESHOE. I wonder, was that the only information that you got about that subject? Or were there other sources that you got information on this drive of the (inaudible)...

Maj. Gen. Wald: First of all, I'm not going to talk about intel sources here. But Admiral Wilson I think about a week or ten days ago described a situation that he thought was going to occur, had predicted it to occur, and I would refer you back to that discussion, but I won't talk about intel sources.

Q: What's your latest on the clashes between the KLA and Serb forces?

Maj. Gen. Wald: They continue. The KLA continues to do some hit and run, and it seems as their morale is still pretty reasonable, and they are causing a problem for the Serb FRY army police.

Q: Are the Serbs attacking across the Albanian border to KLA...

Maj. Gen. Wald: Over the last few days, I haven't heard of any attacks across the border as we did last week.

Q: The Serb military has been under bombardment now for almost a month. What's the morale like for the Serb military? Is it starting to degrade?

Maj. Gen. Wald: It's hard to tell specifically unless you're on the ground with them, but I think from different sources we've heard the morale is in some areas less than it was when it started. I think if you can use your imagination, that if you had gone out into the field in Serbia now, not Kosovo, and then they rotate their troops back and forth, at least they try to, to give them a little rest, and you go back home and your barracks isn't there, it probably isn't a very good thing. And the fact is you see most of the things around you starting to be destroyed, or a lot of those. And the fact is it's hard to get maybe munitions and fuel. You can always speculate that their morale has to be affected somewhat, but I can't tell you how much.

Q: We're getting reports that three more POWs were taken by the KLA and that one of them was a Russian. Is that true, and was the Russian, is it a Russian national, or was he a member of a Russian military unit?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I haven't heard of any reports of that, Ivan, whatsoever.

Q: General, you were talking earlier about the arrival of oil at the port of Bar in Montenegro. Can you give us some idea how much oil has arrived there and how it's shipped from Montenegro into Serbia, and whether those lines of communication, whether that's a pipeline or tanker trucks or whatever, and whether those present useful targets?

Maj. Gen. Wald: First of all, I didn't talk about oil coming out of there; somebody else did, I think. But I think they have both trucks and a pipeline, and I won't talk at all about future targeting whatsoever.

Q: In terms of the number of Serb troops in Kosovo, can you give us an idea, has that number gone down over the past month? Has it increased? Has it stayed the same?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I think the total number, from what I understand, hasn't changed much at all.

Mr. Bacon: I can answer that.

There's been a slight increase. We've always looked at the troops in terms of ranges, and we've given a range of troops both in Kosovo and near Kosovo. If you add the two numbers, those in Kosovo and those near Kosovo, the top range has gone up about 3,000 since this began on March 24th. In other words, when you added the two before there were about 40,000 either in Kosovo or near Kosovo. Now there are about -- 43,000 is the top range. and the range is -- I would say it's from 39,000 or 40,000 to 43,000 is what our estimate is now.

Q: How about tanks, APCs, and artillery? Has that gone up too?

Mr. Bacon: That hasn't changed that much. I don't have the latest figures on those, but we had before about a total of 400 tanks in the area. I don't know how much more they've moved in. We are now hitting tanks more aggressively, but we don't have a good total yet on how many we have hit, and we've been hitting APCs and artillery as well.

Q: I wonder if you all could both comment on reports that the air attacks are now aiming at the pocketbooks of Milosevic's family and buddies and supporters? And firms and -- I mean might be dual use, but also especially targeted that might be owned by friends of the Milosevic family.

Mr. Bacon: Without getting into specific targets, let me just say that there have been from the beginning four pillars to Milosevic's power. The first are the army and security forces; the second is his control of the political party; the third is his control of the media and the propaganda instruments; and the fourth is his control of flows of corruption. That comes through his overall influence over the economy.

To the extent that he has put members of his "tong," supporters of his in charge of crucial industries such as the fuel industry or the ammunition industry or the chemical industry, they would be hurt by these attacks. But remember, the overall goal of these attacks is to make it more difficult to support and sustain the military. That's why we're going after petroleum; that's why we're going after lines of communication, and that's why we're going after the industries that supply ammunition or missiles or aircraft repair or guidance systems or whatever.

Q: How about power-generating stations?

Q: So you're saying that hitting these targets would be an ancillary benefit if it would hurt the supporters, but you're saying that you're not hitting any of these targets as a main reason of causing these people not to support him, unless they have some...

Mr. Bacon: You have to go back to our base, which is our military mission. The military mission is to reduce, degrade, disrupt the ability of his military to operate. So the targets we're hitting are fundamentally in pursuit of that purpose.

To the extent that they happen to be owned or controlled by members of some economic elite who have gotten access or ownership to these assets because of their friendship or political support of Milosevic, that would be a secondary impact. But the primary impact is to choke off the military.

Q: What about his power-generating system, though. Is that coal fired? Is that the grid? Is it a modern grid? Is this a target?

Mr. Bacon: I'm afraid I'm not an expert on the mechanics of the power-generating network in Yugoslavia. I'll try to look into that and come back with a detailed description.

Q: Is his electrical system, his power system, which clearly the military uses, is that a target? Have we taken out any elements of it?

Mr. Bacon: There have been reports of power going out from place to place, but I think you can see from the fact that they're getting TV reports out all the time that there's enough power to support their TV enterprises.

We have taken out some power plants that are close to oil facilities, so presumably those are oil fueled plants, but that's derivative of attacking the petroleum facilities.

Q: Do you think, General, that eventually, or sooner or later their lack of fuel supply will degrade the electric power-generating system?

Maj. Gen. Wald: It's very possible, I think, just as Mr. Bacon has alluded to, it could be a part of producing the electrical power. It could be an ancillary effect.

And to answer your question, too, Charlie, on the previous question. On our targets, we have no idea who owns the target when we hit them in our targeting folder. It's none of our business in the military necessarily.

Q: There have been reports that the French have specifically vetoed targeting of things like the power-generating plant. Do the French or any of the other allies, do they have an opportunity to block decisions to hit certain targets?

Maj. Gen. Wald: First of all, NATO has 18 besides us. They all have a vote on everything. They can vote on whether we start this or not. They can vote on whether we continue. They can vote on everything. That's the strength and probably the weakness a little bit of what we have going on here. But the beauty of the fact is we're a coalition. This is not one nation against Serbia. Therefore, as 19 nations we all have an equal vote, so I won't talk on specific targeting, but the fact of the matter is this is 19 nations going against Serbia together. We're not the only ones that vote. Everybody votes.

Q: Can you say whether they have a vote on specific -- whether they're voting on specific targets?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I won't talk about specific targets. I will tell you that as we go down this campaign, the mission that's been given to General Clark has been given by 19 nations to execute. That's who we answer to.

Q: Just getting back to this pesky convoy question. We did get today from NATO the most complete briefing we've had so far. However, the picture is still somewhat incomplete.

Based on the early briefings that NATO gave, the impression was left with many people and was widely reported that NATO was acknowledging that it had bombed a refugee convoy. It seems what they're saying today is something more complex than that.

In your opinion, did NATO mishandle this incident and the reporting of it in the beginning and create a false impression?

Maj. Gen. Wald: No, I don't think so at all. I think under many circumstances, and first of all as we said earlier, there's risk involved here both ways -- both to the air crew and to people on the ground, unfortunately. We try to minimize that.

This is a very, very complex, comprehensive operation that's going on day and night in tough conditions. As I kind of alluded to earlier, General Leaf was up briefing this in detail today, spent a lot of time with the rest of his operators as well as General Short at the CAOC who's running the air war and General Clark to try to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.

Under normal conditions we wouldn't probably go back and do a review of every individual bomb that didn't hit in the right spot right in the middle of a campaign. But because of the sensitivity and the importance of this particular case, they took time out to do that. I think the way General Leaf handed that situation with the detail is about as good as you're ever going to get any place, any time.

Q: General, as we talked about the complicated communications between forward air controllers and the attack aircraft to verify targets visually, did that break down in this case, and is there anything unusual about an OA-10 going in and discovering there are civilian vehicles in this convoy after the attack had already begun?

Maj. Gen. Wald: No, there's no case that's exactly the same. What you try to do is use all the different assets you can. As a matter of fact, from what I understood from General Leaf is the OA-10 pilot actually identified military vehicles in the convoy as well.

So the fact of the matter is, he went over; he identified civilian -- I would use every possible means I could as an aircrew, pilot, and in this case I think they did. So no, I wouldn't say that at all.

Q: Among the assets you have available to monitor events out of Tirane, are the Joint Stars and the Predator drones and Hunter drones. Have those drones and Joint Stars now been more focused to monitor convoys before any potential attacks?

Maj. Gen. Wald: The JSTARS, everybody knows what it's for. It's always been doing that, so nothing's changed with that mission.

Q: General, let me go back to the internally displaced for a moment. Especially those that get to the border, and they aren't allowed to cross. I take it that the Serb VJ is preventing those people from coming across? Is that...

Maj. Gen. Wald: It certainly isn't the UNHCR, Bill. Yeah, it is.

Q: By force of arms, are they congregating there until they are allowed to come across?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I've seen films; I've seen some overhead where there's long rows of vehicles waiting to cross the border. I showed one last week. It appears they back them up, they wait, they go through, take all their belongings, their identification, anything valuable, their vehicles, take the fuel from them, and they do it methodically. So yes, they are stopping them, and if they didn't want them to go across, they won't let them. We've had indications where they close the border periodically. So it's not a -- they're not helping them leave from the standpoint of being nice to them. They want them to leave, and they're not being nice to them as they do leave.

Q: There's a report that Serb troops over the Macedonian border are in trenches in preparation for a land assault. Can you say anything about that?

Maj. Gen. Wald: No, I can't say anything about that.

Q: General, obviously we know about the report about the three MiG-29s that went into Bosnian airspace, two of them were shot down. There's a report from the Italian...

Maj. Gen. Wald: You're talking about a couple of weeks ago.

Q: A couple of weeks ago. Not today. The Italian newspaper is now reporting that there have been at least four instances of Serbian aircraft coming out over the Adriatic, and that one on April 9th nearly resulted in a dogfight. Can you confirm, is that true?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I haven't heard any military confirmation of that whatsoever, and I've never heard over the last seven years of any MiG-29 or any other aircraft flying over the Adriatic from Serbia.

Q: From Montenegro?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I haven't heard of any from Montenegro, either.

Q: Back on a question on the convoy situation. On the ABCCC, now that you see after the fact what its role was, can you clarify at all this situation where apparently it had had information from British Harriers and either didn't receive it in a timely fashion or didn't transmit it back to the shooters? Are you satisfied with the role of the ABCCC, or was there a transmission problem here?

Maj. Gen. Wald: No, I don't think so. The ABCCC has been operating at Aviano Air Base continuously now for seven years, temporary duty. They've been in that region continuously for seven years almost day in and day out. They know the business, they're trained up. There's probably nobody better trained in any weapon system in the world today. So I doubt very seriously if they missed something. And the story may be wrong, too, so I don't know.

But there's a lot going on in ABCCC. There's a lot of operators. They're very good at what they do, but once again, human nature. I don't know the details of that story you're even talking about, but anything could happen. But if anybody's going to do it right, I would suspect they are.

Q: There are reports that various unpronounceable yet toxic gasses are resulting from NATO bombs on certain industrial targets in Belgrade, and it's creating these clouds of gas. Apparently one is moving toward Belgrade. Can you confirm that that's happening, and how are you tracking them? Is there anything that can be done...

Maj. Gen. Wald: We'll let Mr. Bacon talk to that one.

Mr. Bacon: There have been such reports in the Serb press, but the Serb press has also pointed out that the plant went into a controlled shutdown as soon as the plant [attack] began. We believe that some very volatile gases may have been released and that they quickly evaporated.

Q: No evidence that it's moving towards Romania...

Mr. Bacon: No, absolutely not. In fact, as I said, Serb press reports themselves pointed out that the plant was shut down very quickly.

Q: Can you just further describe the targeted facility; what was it?

Mr. Bacon: It was a chemical plant, and there was some ethylene and, I think, vinylchloride gasses that were released.

Maj. Gen. Wald: Fuel production.

Mr. Bacon: It was a fuel production plant.

Q: I understand the Red Cross is trying to make a deal with Serbia to get to the displaced internally. Is this making any progress? Or are the Greek NGOs making any progress?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that they are. I hope that the Serbs would allow them to make some progress so we can begin to address the massive humanitarian pain and dislocation that they've created in Kosovo, but I'm not aware that they have yet allowed any food or help to get into these internally displaced people.

Q: Is the KLA recruiting in the refugee camps? And if so, to what extent?

Mr. Bacon: The KLA says it's recruiting extensively and successfully in the refugee camps.

Q: On the three American soldiers, do you have any information that would indicate they're being held anywhere other than Belgrade? And also are you pursuing the possibility of swapping the one Yugoslav soldier for any of the Americans?

Mr. Bacon: First of all, I don't think I should comment on where we think or don't think these soldiers are being held. Second, they should be released. That's been our view from the very beginning. They were not combatants, unlike the Serb soldier. They were not combatants; they were not involved in a fight, and we believe they should have been released immediately.

Obviously we will pursue any reasonable means to get them out.

Q: That would include a swap then?

Mr. Bacon: Any reasonable means.

Q: General, just what class of aircraft have been flying in the last 24 hours? Have all classes of American aircraft been employed?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I believe -- yes, I believe all classes have flown in the last 24 hours.

Q: Do you have a count on the number of convoys that NATO air power has hit during this conflict?

Maj. Gen. Wald: No, I don't have a count of that. the only ones we heard about today were on the tape.

Q: Do you have an idea that...

Maj. Gen. Wald: It depends on what your definition of a convoy is, I guess. I won't go down the road, but the fact of the matter is two vehicles could probably be a convoy. We haven't counted them up as such, but no, I don't have a count of that.

Q: Ken, do you have any information about the question we asked the General about, about the three additional POWs, one being a Russian? Do you have anything on that?

Q: Is the reason that you're not releasing the location of the F-117 strike the concern that some data could be correlated and maybe some blips on radar or something and teach the Serbs how to find it?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I'll let you make your own conclusion, but... (Laughter) I wouldn't tell you if it's right or wrong. Maybe General Carlton can tell you tomorrow.

Q: Sir, approximately how many B-2 sorties have been flown in the first three weeks?

Maj. Gen. Wald: We're not counting sorties like that, but I'd say probably dozens.

Q: Two dozen, three dozen?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Yeah, two dozen, three dozen. (Laughter)

Q: Is it fair to say also that they've dropped most of the satellite-guided bombs in this campaign thus far?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I won't talk about exactly who's dropping what type of munitions, Tony, but they are dropping satellite-guided bombs.

Q: Can you tell us the status of the long-range artillery missile systems that are going into Albania?

Maj. Gen. Wald: They're in place at Tirane today as we speak. They're not deployed yet, but they're there, so...

Q: When do you think Task Force HAWK would be ready to actually start operating and having the Apaches fly missions?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I think they're hoping for by within a week or so to be ready to start flying, but I won't comment on when they're going to be operationally employed. That still is a decision to be made by the operational commander. But if they get over there tomorrow, they should be working their way into the operation to figure out how they're actually going to operate, get themselves set up. But I won't say a date and how they're going to do that.

Q: Could you just a month into this give us your assessment today on where the capabilities of the Serb air defense system, their SAM sites, their radars, why you think they're turning on a little bit more these days than they were several weeks ago, and the kind of threat it still poses.

Maj. Gen. Wald: First of all, it poses a great threat, still. But number two is, I'd say, because of some degradation of their integrated air defense, they don't have the sophistication to decide as easily when to fire or not, and they don't have as many off-board capability to track with their SAMs. So they may have to use organic to that particular SAM system. So I would say it's because they're probably being degraded a little bit, and maybe they're starting to feel the hurt.

Q: Do you have any percentage indication -- have we, are we at the 50 percent point yet, are we at the 30 percent point?

Maj. Gen. Wald: First of all, I'm not going to go down percentages. We've talked about that before. The person that really needs to worry about percentage is Milosevic. He needs to decide whether they're at 50 percent or 30 percent.

Anybody else have a question? We'll take one more.

Q: You were talking about the Apaches; you said if they get over there tomorrow. Do you expect all of them to get in tomorrow?

Maj. Gen. Wald: If the weather holds and they've got everything set up, they should. We're hoping for that. I would say by Monday if everything holds.

One last, and that's it.

Q: In planning for the additional 300 and some-odd airplanes, has the Joint Chiefs of Staff determined that the Pentagon needs to go out and buy more jet fuel to supply those planes?

Maj. Gen. Wald: No, there's plenty of jet fuel around.

Thanks a lot.

Press: Thank you.

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