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DoD News Briefing, Thursday, April 29, 1999

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
April 29, 1999 2:00 PM EDT

Also participating in today's briefing are General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman, JCS and Maj. Gen. Chuck Wald, J-5

Related briefing slides

Secretary Cohen: Good afternoon.

The Chairman and I would like to give you a brief update on where we are and where we're going with our air campaign.

As all of you know, we concluded last week a very important, and I would say very successful, NATO Summit. I concluded this morning talking to my counterparts in Germany, France, and Italy, and we have periodic updates. They remain extremely enthusiastic about the accomplishments at the Summit and wish to, again, accelerate and intensify the campaign that's underway.

As we indicated to you at the very beginning of this campaign, our goal was to degrade and diminish Milosevic's military capability to the point where he would either agree to meet the demands set forth by NATO or witness a change in the balance of power and forces on the ground. We have during the past four weeks been attacking his integrated air defenses; his command, control, communication systems; his lines of communication; his propaganda machine; his aircraft; and now we are focusing on forces in the field.

We intend to intensify this air campaign, and I signed a deployment order for some ten B-2s [sic B-52s] that will be leaving shortly to join the forces in Europe in order to intensify that air campaign.

We will start to attack during more hours, more targets, and from more directions. We intend to take advantage of pressing this campaign forward with the full support of our allies, in addition to moving forward on the interdiction of fuel supplies. That matter is still before the military committee in NATO, but we expect movement on that in fairly short order.

Q: Did you mean B-52s?

Secretary Cohen: Did I say B-2s? B-52s. (Laughter) Well, those too. Those are coming.

But let me pause here and turn it over to the Chairman. He has several charts he'd like to present to you. General Wald will then follow his presentation. The Chairman will then conclude the briefing; then we'll open it to questions.

General Shelton: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Good afternoon.

I appreciate the opportunity once again to come before you and to give you a brief update on my perspective of how Operation ALLIED FORCE is unfolding.

As you know, NATO is now in the 37th day of a sustained, significant, and intensifying operation against both the military forces as well as the special police forces in Yugoslavia, and the organizations that both support as well as sustain their operations.

As you heard from General Clark just a few days ago, NATO is conducting air operations over Yugoslavia, both day and night, virtually around the clock.

Our military strikes have taken a heavy toll on Milosevic's forces and his security infrastructure.

[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/#slides]

Some of you have seen the chart that I'm getting ready to unveil here before, and maybe you were in the gallery when I briefed Congress just a few days ago. But I wanted just to reiterate this strategy.

[Chart - Allied Force Campaign]

As you know, let me say first of all, we faced three formidable challenges in the area. First was the integrated air defense system; secondly was the terrain; third was the weather.

The weather has continued to degrade operations on occasion. I'll talk more to that in just a few moments.

We started after the integrated air defense as part of setting the conditions. That was the first thing we went after, using long-range precision munitions. The idea being use these long-range precision munitions to include the TLAMS, the CALCMs, and other precision munitions dropped from Air Force aircraft and Naval aircraft against these air defense systems, then to go after the army and special police infrastructure, and then move into the types of targets that are shown here as we attempted to isolate the forces in the field.

Finally, as a part of the domination phase, to decimate the forces in the field along with a couple of other categories of targets which are classified.

[Chart - Weather Conditions]

I spoke to the weather just a few moments ago. The weather has been a challenge. As you can see back here on the 25th for air ops, we show it as red. That means virtually degraded for air ops. The 26th was the same way. However, as we get here to the 29th, it has gotten better. In fact today is a good day for weather, and as you see for the next several days, it's projected to stay that way. That's both into Belgrade as well as in the Pristina area down in southern Serbia.

[Chart - Level of Effort Last 24 Hours - Day 36]

Yesterday we hit 28 targets. This is day number 36. It ranged from the command and control that you see shown here in Kosovo up to numerous command and control facilities around Belgrade as well as the fielded forces indicated by the green figures shown here.

We also went after more sustainment targets and air defense as also indicated. A total of 28.

[Chart - Allied Force Missions Flown to Date]

To give you an update on how many missions have been flown to date, as you can see, about 12-1/2 thousand missions have been flown overall. The ones that go in armed, that drop the bombs that carry out the strikes, or the strike and the combat air patrol totaling about 7,500 out of the 11,500.

The combat air patrol are aircraft that stay on station for up to six hours. They have designated targets they can go to or they can go to targets that are picked by an airborne FAC, and then he directs them against a specific target. In just a few moments, I'll ask Chuck Wald to come up and show you an example of one of those that took place just recently.

But each one of those on station about six hours. It means the pilots stay in the cockpit roughly 10 to 12 hours in order to carry out that mission.

We also have a good number of tankers in the area, each one of those servicing about eight to ten of these aircraft that are out operating in the area. A large number of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft such as the Predator, as well as numerous other manned aircraft that fly in support. The support aircraft like the AWACs, a total of 500 of those missions that have been flown. Then special aircraft like Commando Solo, the psychological operations bird. Rivet Joint, Compass Call, many of the other electronic type aircraft that are necessary to carry out these types of missions.

Put that chart back for just one second. One point I wanted to point out. Today, there are a total of 670 missions that are scheduled to conclude, almost 300 direct attacks or caps. Today is a big one.

Next.

[Chart - Mobility Support to Kosovo Operations]

It also takes a lot of mobility support. These are the big guys from the C-5, the Galaxy, to the 141, to commercial flights, almost 2,000 of those types of sorties flown to date. And I talked about the tankers, 884 sorties or tanker support. That includes basically an air bridge that runs from the United States right over into the operational area. In addition to supporting this operation we also, of course, are supporting the humanitarian effort. You can see that totals 446 missions that have been flown to date, with a very heavy amount flown by 130s as well as C-5s right down to 141s. But a lot of hours, a lot of missions.

I'm going to ask Major General Chuck Wald, United States Air Force, to come up now and show you some of the gun camera tapes from some recent missions.

Chuck?

[Chart - Strike Mission: Serbian SA-6 (vicinity of Pristina) 27 April 1999]

Major General Wald: As the Chairman mentioned, I'm going to show some gun camera, but today first I wanted to show you a mission that has some video and voice with it of a mission that was flown two days ago. Actually, I showed you the film of this -- if you can hold off on that just a second.

This mission was flown two days ago. Yesterday, I actually showed you the video of an aircraft filming this; the FAC, forward air controller, filmed this mission. It's an SA-6 site near Pristina, near the runway. And as the Chairman mentioned and the Secretary a moment ago, we're taking down his integrated air defense. And this was a very important target for us to open up the airspace near Pristina.

During the film, first of all, the target was an SA-6 surface-to-air launcher with missiles. It's under a tarp. The forward air controller on the film, they'll identify his voice as the FAC, forward air controller. It's two F-16CGs out of Aviano.

The strike aircraft that are actually dropping the bombs are F-16CGs from Aviano carrying 2,000 pound laser-guided bombs.

There are several support aircraft on all the missions. I don't tell you exactly how many, but some of the general categories. There will be F-16CJs with HARM missiles and EA-6B jammers on this mission, AWACs, airborne command and control, ABCCC C-130 aircraft. And you'll hear additional strike aircraft checking in through the area and with the FAC as this mission goes on.

The mission, although it looks like it's daylight in the film, is actually a night mission. It's totally dark out. They're wearing night vision goggles and using an infrared LANTIRN pod for the systems on the aircraft. They're being fired at during the mission as well, and you can tell from this mission that it's very complicated, but you'll see the professionalism of the pilot as well as the aircrew and the FACs, and the pains they go through to make sure they have the right target, checking back and forth.

On the film itself you will see some of the video change from black to white, black to white. That's showing the pilot's trying to get the best discrimination on his LANTIRN pod.

The pilots are flying, although it looks slow, at about 500 miles an hour, and I won't tell you the altitude, but they're out of some of the threat range.

Q: Did you say the pilots actually wear night vision goggles?

Major General Wald: That's correct.

Q: Or they rely only on the LANTIRN?

Major General Wald: I beg your pardon?

Q: They do wear night vision goggles?

Major General Wald: Yes, all the F-16 pilots at Aviano are wearing NVGs as well as using the infrared from their LANTIRN navigation and attack system.

As we run through, I'll let the film do its talking for itself.

[Begin Video]

I think with that you can see that it takes a lot of effort between a lot of crews. Each one of those aircraft has another aircraft flying with them checking for AAA or SAMs, and you can hear the other aircraft coming in, checking in with that FAC. That forward air controller has to write all this down while he's flying, single seat, at night. So it takes a lot of work.

Two other videos. One is an F-15E with optically-guided bomb against the Novi Sad petroleum facility. I've shown you this facility a couple of times. They went after it last night.

This is the cracking tower on that facility to ensure it stays non-productive and out of commission. You can see the target coming up underneath the actual video here. At the end he gets the bomb right on the end of the building.

The next one is the Novi Sad petroleum, the same target with the distillation tower at this point, and this is to make sure this facility stays closed.

F-15E with an optically-guided bomb last night. Both of those are direct hits.

[End Video]

Sir?

General Shelton: Thanks very much, Chuck.

Q: Was the aircraft we were seeing doing the lasing?

Major General Wald: The aircraft you were seeing on this film was doing the dropping of the bombs. Yesterday, I showed the forward air controller.

Q: Were they basically flying straight and level, in a dive mode, or can you tell us...

Major General Wald: They change a little bit. Some straight and level, some maneuver. It depends on -- they don't want to be predictable.

General Shelton: As you can see, our pilots and crews and those of our NATO allies are doing a superb job under some very demanding circumstances. I'm looking forward to meeting some of these great professionals when I leave to go over and visit with them in the region later this evening.

Before we get to your questions, I'd like to emphasize that I'm in daily contact with my NATO counterparts, and as Secretary Cohen said earlier today, I've never seen greater unity among them nor greater resolve than they have had during this current air campaign.

Milosevic clearly has underestimated both the political will of the NATO alliance as well as the devastation that NATO air power has been able to bring to bear on his forces. But equally important, I think, are our ongoing diplomatic efforts and the intensifying international economic pressure that is being applied to Milosevic's regime. NATO military power is a great hammer, but it is not the only tool in our foreign policy tool box.

Thank you. Now we'll have time to take your questions.

Q: General, you've already destroyed his refining capacity. What's the point in rehitting these oil refineries? Are you just making the rubble bounce here?

General Shelton: David, in some cases we want to make sure that it's not able to be brought back up quickly. And in this particular case, that was the key facility. There were other pieces of it that could still be put back in operation. This ensures that it won't be any time soon.

Q: Mr. Secretary and General, might I ask, number one, why are you sending more B-52s if you're almost out of CALCMs? What will they use? Dumb bombs? And also, has the President signed now the authorization order to use the Apaches?

Secretary Cohen: With respect to the B-52s, they not only carry CALCMs, they carry a variety of other weapons, and what they will use will depend upon what the target selection will be on any given night or mission. So we'll leave that up to SACEUR to determine which targets, what sort of munitions he wants to place on them. They certainly are capable of dropping the kind of munitions that would be for large staging areas and where there is a massing of artillery and other types of weaponry.

With respect to the Apaches, the President has not signed any employment order. We have talked with General Clark this morning. He is now preparing the Apache forces, as such, going through the training missions, make sure that the troops are properly trained and equipped and well familiar with all of the area in which they have to operate. And when he believes they should be employed, he'll make such a recommendation, and we'll take it up with the President at that time.

Q: Can you indicate if that will be soon?

Secretary Cohen: He indicated they've got some more training to do.

Q: Mr. Secretary, on the weapons on the B-52, we have been told that partially because the Air Force is sort of (inaudible), but partially for the missions you describe, that many of these B-52s will be dropping the MK-82 500-pound dumb bombs. You're talking about large concentrations of troops and what have you, but dropping from altitude in a so-called carpet bombing, doesn't that bring about possible collateral damage again?

And a second part of my question is, you say to degrade and diminish. How close are we to the end game? Are we getting close?

Secretary Cohen: I think we have some time to go yet. The President indicated we're prepared to carry this on as long as necessary. As you know, I have requested supplemental funding through the appropriation process to carry the air campaign through to the end of September, the end of this fiscal year. So we're prepared to go as long as necessary. We don't have a particular end state in terms of a date, but we do intend to continue to take down his military capability. As far as the...

Q: What about collateral damage?

Secretary Cohen: Well, we're always concerned about collateral damage. The particular munitions to be used with the B-52 -- we'll also have in mind collateral damage. We'll try to take that into account on each, and we do take it into account on each and every mission. And we'll do our best to make sure we minimize it.

Q: General Shelton, do you see something in Slobodan Milosevic's words or actions that would sustain the argument that he underestimated the punishment he would get at the hands of NATO?

General Shelton: I think from the very beginning what we saw was a Milosevic that felt like he could do two things. Number one is that he would be able to take out the UCK and the KLA within a very few days. The estimate was five to seven days. Numerous reports that the Serbs felt like that's all it would take them to do that. Of course we know today that that is in fact far from true. In fact, there are probably more UCK/KLA members today than there were when the operation started. So he underestimated that.

The second piece was that all of the intelligence indicated that he felt like the NATO Alliance would fall apart after two to three days of bombing. Of course he's seeing now on the 37th day of bombing greater solidarity and a very cohesive group of 19 nations that just reinforced that during the NATO Summit.

So I think he has underestimated on both counts.

Secretary Cohen: If I could add one other factor. Whether he is taking this into account, there are others who have, most recently his former deputy prime minister whom he dismissed yesterday for voicing concerns and opposition to Milosevic's policy. So I think that there are others around him and very close to him who see that he has miscalculated seriously.

Q:...two particular goals that the Administration has, either to convince Mr. Milosevic with force of arms to give in to the demands of NATO, or for him to witness change in power on the ground which will in effect achieve the major goals of NATO.

On the second point, I know that there's some distaste for the KLA in certain areas, but wouldn't it be worth considering helping the KLA with some arms so as to reach that second goal more quickly and perhaps save a lot of lives?

Secretary Cohen: As we've indicated before, we are trying to demilitarize the region rather than to militarize it. To the extent that we were to engage in a violation of the arms embargo, others would see fit to do exactly the same, so we'd witness an escalation of the arms flowing in, rather than a de-escalation.

Our goal is ultimately to have a disarmament on the part of the KLA as well as the Serb forces being moved out and to allow the refugees to go back into a safe environment. So we think that that would be counterproductive.

Q: It would be counterproductive because others would simply arm the Serbs?

Secretary Cohen: Correct.

Q: Their allies are still free to arm them.

Secretary Cohen: Right.

Q: That's not now happening?

Secretary Cohen: That is not now happening to any degree that we have detected. One of the things that we have tried to show as far as the various presentations we've made is that we have eliminated now about 60 percent of his ammunition and production capability. We have taken out about 60 -- I'm getting into percentages again, but a large number of his aircraft, his MiG-29s, his front line. So we are degrading those capabilities rather significantly. We have not seen a replenishment of those to any degree that we have detected.

There may be some attempts to smuggle weapons into the Serbs, but they will not be able to match what we're doing on a daily basis.

Q: What means does the United States plan or advocate in closing off the oil imports, refined product imports from abroad, from outside of Milosevic's borders, especially out of Bar and sea ports?

Secretary Cohen: As you know, during the course of the NATO Summit all of the Ministers agreed that it would be inconsistent with our policy, on the one hand, to be destroying the petroleum refining capacity of Milosevic, [and] at the same time allowing refined products to reach his military. And so there is solid support within and amongst the allies to have an interdiction program, and that is being put together by the Military Committee as we speak. There will be a recommendation, we think, within a matter of a few days -- sooner rather than later, we hope -- and as soon as there is a consensus that's developed, it will go to the NAC in terms of how it will be implemented.

I believe there should be an interdiction of the supplies coming in, and I believe that force should always be an option. You have the EU which has already passed the resolution saying that they should cut off supplies of energy going into Serbia, and we believe that that will be successful, certainly with the EU members, and that third countries we trust would be visited and searched as required in the event that they decide to try to put products into...

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you plan a trip of your own to the region, and General, could you give us your itinerary of what you expect to do while you're there?

Secretary Cohen: I have not planned a separate trip. I just came back from a trip two weeks ago to the region. The President, as you know, is going over to Germany next week. Whether I will go on that trip or remain here has not been determined yet, depending on mixing of schedules and trying to accommodate what is already on my schedule and match that up with the time the President will be leaving. I may be able to go on that if I can arrange other visitors who are coming here next week and try to reschedule that. But I'll leave it to the Chairman to tell you what he intends to do this evening.

General Shelton: My plan would be to visit with the commanders and troops in about three or four of the areas in the operational area. Obviously, for security reasons I'd just as soon not mention the specifics of where I'm headed.

Q: Mr. Secretary, as you intensify, as NATO intensifies the air campaign, aren't you in danger of performing the (inaudible) problem -- destroying Yugoslavia to save it? And secondly, if Milosevic sees his future as going to jail as a war criminal, what is his incentive to buckle to making his country rubble?

Secretary Cohen: First of all, we're not making his country rubble. We've had that capacity from the beginning, and we have chosen to be very selective in the targets. We have targeted the lines of communication, the bridges, his capacity to fuel his military machine, as such. But there [are] many, many targets which could be on a list which are not on a list because we don't intend to rubble his country in order to save it as you put it.

I think he has every incentive right now, and he has had that opportunity from the very beginning, to reach an agreement which is consistent with the principles laid down by NATO, and I think he is going to have to take that into account, whether he is going to continue to see his military, which is the means in which he really remains in power, systematically degraded or reach an accord which incorporates all of the key provisions that NATO has demanded.

Q: Can you please tell us when the ground troop plan will be finished by NATO? And secondly, can you give your best estimate of the strength of the VJ and the MUP now in Kosovo, please?

General Shelton: I think that -- and your question is hypothetical, if in fact there ever was a decision to use ground troops.

Q: That, sir, and your personal opinion at the moment as to where you think it stands. Is there a utility for them at this time?

General Shelton: I think without a political consensus to even plan for the use of ground troops right now, that makes that strictly a hypothetical question. But if, in fact, there were plans developed, I would not take any of the options off the table in terms of the troops that would be available to, as a U.S. contribution to a NATO-led force.

Q: Mr. Secretary, what sort of message do you think it would send if the House couldn't muster the votes to support this air campaign? And do you think that as time goes on with the campaign, it's going to be harder and harder to keep the American people behind this?

Secretary Cohen: As far as keeping the American people behind this, I think they only have to turn on their television sets every day and evening to see the kind of horrendous suffering that is now portrayed on the evening news, suffering that has been inflicted by Milosevic's atrocious military operations. I don't think we've seen this level of barbarity in decades; certainly not since the end of World War II in Europe have we seen anyone descend to this level of barbarity. I think that's being revealed each night, to hear the stories of young men being rounded up, lined up with their hands behind their heads, on their knees, with a bullet put in the back of their brains. I think that will solidify the American support for what we are seeking to achieve.

As far as yesterday is concerned, I believe that such a vote does conflict with the strong solidarity expressed by all of the NATO leaders, all 19 countries. In fact all 42 countries who attended were very strongly in support and in favor of what we are seeking to achieve, and I think a vote signalling less support on the air campaign is counterproductive in that respect.

It is my hope that the Senate will not follow suit, but we will continue to wage this effort, and we will continue to take this case to the American people, and we will continue to go after Milosevic until such time as we achieve our goals.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you said that NATO is prepared for a protracted air war, but all evidence seems to indicate that the 800,000 plus refugees now trapped inside Kosovo don't have that kind of time. General McDuffie briefed us the other day, [and] said that the latest flow of refugees out of Kosovo indicates they have no food, water; they're much weaker.

Is it possible you can win the air war but at the result of an even larger humanitarian crisis in the mean time?

Secretary Cohen: As a matter of fact, a number of countries have been developing plans to get humanitarian efforts and means of rescue to the refugees, so we're seeing a much greater effort being coordinated, and we think that we'll be able to provide some relief. Not as much as we'd like, but some relief.

But we are not going to in any way back off our demands that the conditions set forth by NATO be met. Otherwise, it would be to reward Milosevic for what he has done in terms of his ethnic cleansing campaign. So we intend to continue with our air campaign, and we will intensify our humanitarian efforts as well as the diplomatic initiatives. Again, the diplomacy is designed to bring about a compliance with NATO's terms, and we will involve other countries to the extent they can contribute to that. But we're not in the process of negotiating with Milosevic.

Q: Can you share with us any details about some of these plans? I understand there are actually some humanitarian convoys already going into Kosovo. Now is that at the acquiescence or in negotiations with the Serbs or the Yugoslav government?

Secretary Cohen: I'm not aware of any negotiations that have been undertaken. Whether or not Milosevic has decided that a better course for him to follow rather than attacking humanitarian relief efforts is something that he will have to calculate, but I'm not aware of any negotiations on this. There may be on the part of individual countries who are seeking to bring the humanitarian assistance to the refugees, but I'm not aware of it.

Q: On that issue, Mr. Secretary, are you saying that NATO, the NATO Military Committee has abandoned the idea of, or planning for NATO to use it own resources to help the IDPs?

Secretary Cohen: No, as a matter of fact it's one of the major items of discussion amongst all of the NATO leaders, to find ways in which we could in fact help relieve the tremendous social pressures that have been generated upon all of the front line states and to get relief to the IDPs.

Q: I'm talking about the IDPs that are inside...

Secretary Cohen: Right.

Q:...discussions...

Secretary Cohen: They're not complete yet. They're still trying to find the best way to achieve those goals.

Q: Mr. Secretary, what's the status of the POWs being held by the Serbs? And is any consideration being given to any kind of a prisoner swap between the Serb officer and the Americans?

Secretary Cohen: The only information I have is the same that has been made public, that there has been a meeting between them and the International Red Cross, that they appear to be in good health. I don't know that a detailed physical exam has been conducted yet. As far as efforts on a prisoner swap, I'm not aware of any arrangements that have been either contemplated or undertaken.

Q: Why not? Why isn't that an option?

Secretary Cohen: We believe that the three soldiers who are now being held are being illegally detained. We believe they should have received from the first day protection under the Geneva Convention, which they did not. And we demand their immediate release. So we have not engaged in any negotiations at this point, at least that I'm aware of. I don't believe they've undertaken any negotiations about prisoner swaps at this point.

Q: Mr. Secretary, in your view -- I know the rules of engagement haven't been set up yet -- but in your view should tankers attempting to deliver oil, refined products to Montenegro, if they are not willing to stop, should forces be authorized to disable or board them if they are not willing to stop and be diverted?

Secretary Cohen: I believe it would fall within the category of armed hostilities, and I believe that the SACEUR should have whatever flexibility is required for him to achieve his goal.

I would point out that any third country that appears to be in violation of the EU position or that of NATO certainly runs the risk of economic or other types of political reaction, as well as the potentiality of military. But there will be serious consequences that would flow to countries who are openly and flagrantly supplying energy to a regime that has engaged in this kind of brutal behavior.

Q: May I follow up on that, please?

Is there an agreement in place between the President and President Yeltsin that you know of, or someone at your level, that if the interdiction is put forward or the blockade -- whatever you call it -- that Russian tankers and ships and Ukrainian ships will not try to run it?

Secretary Cohen: I'm not aware of any such understanding or agreement. I think that President Yeltsin and other spokesmen have indicated on the part of Russia that they do not want to be drawn into the conflict. They would like to play a role in bringing about a peaceful resolution. We have indicated what the terms of that resolution would be. To the best of my knowledge there's been no discussion of...

Q: You don't think they'll run it?

Secretary Cohen: I don't know. I would hope that they would not consider that because again, there are economic and political consequences to openly defying the EU resolution as such and that of NATO.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can you shed any light on the Bulgarian, the missile that apparently went astray and hit in Bulgaria? And do you run the risk of alienating Yugoslavia's neighbors with such things?

Secretary Cohen: I don't really have any information at this point that could be helpful to you. It is still being investigated.

We always regret when there's any error that takes place, or errant missile I should say, that goes astray, and we try to prevent that from taking place. But we have had, I would think, something in the neighborhood of roughly 4,000 precision-guided munitions that have been expended with very few that have gone astray. I think that most of our friends and supporters understand that that will take place from time to time. It has been at the very minimal level to date, and we hope to keep it that way.

Q: Will NATO suspend or alter its attack plans in any way while Jesse Jackson is in Belgrade?

Secretary Cohen: I can't speak for any NATO plans other than the fact that we intend to continue to carry out our campaign. The White House has indicated it did not support the mission for the very reason that we are engaged in a campaign, and it's dangerous, and we intend to continue waging that effort until we satisfy our goals.

Q: Was there any indication that Milosevic is closer to coming to a settlement on this?

Secretary Cohen: I don't have any indications coming from him. As I indicated before, you have people close to him, his deputy prime minister, who felt that Milosevic was making a mistake. He was rewarded for his honesty by being fired. Whether there are other people who will step forward and say this is a serious and substantial mistake on the part of Milosevic, we'll have to wait and see. But I suspect there are growing numbers of people who will be willing to express in some form their dissatisfaction with Milosevic's policy.

Q: Are Greek-registered tankers still taking oil to Bar? And are shipments still going through Slovenian ports and being transshipped then into Bar?

Secretary Cohen: I can't answer that question. I know that Greek tankers have gone in the past. I don't know what the status is as of this time.

Q: Would a ceasefire be a possibly successful solution for getting the dispersed people in Kosovo, getting those people out without further torture or physical degradation? Would you look at that as a possibility of making a deal of a ceasefire for awhile?

Secretary Cohen: We're not interested in making a deal with Milosevic other than according to the terms that I've outlined. We will examine ways in which we can provide relief to the internally displaced persons, but in the mean time we have to continue our campaign, air campaign effort, and we will do so.

Q: Are you surprised by the result of Milosevic so far? You mentioned it's now day 37. Are you personally surprised by his ability to take this?

Secretary Cohen: I'm not surprised by Milosevic's ability to take this, as he has surrounded himself with a bevy of yes-men, maybe yes-women as well. But the fact is that if you look at the charts that have been put up, out of the 37 or 38 days that we've talked about, I would daresay that less than a half a dozen have been unimpeded by weather. And if you take a look at what we've been able to achieve given the obstacles that the Chairman mentioned as far as the rugged geography, the mountainous region, the weather, the redundant air defense systems, plus having about five or perhaps six -- I'll turn it over to General Wald -- clear days, then I think that we have achieved remarkable success in our efforts to date. And so I think that Mr. Milosevic will see day by day that as we intensify this campaign and start to take down more and more targets from different areas around the clock, you may see a different reaction. But in the event that we don't, then we will continue.

Q: Mr. Secretary what inspired this press conference today? It's so rare to have both you and the [Chairman of the] Joint Chiefs here...

Q: We appreciate it.

Q: We appreciate it very much.

Secretary Cohen: I thought Ken was getting much too much time with you and not enough exercise. (Laughter)

Q: (inaudible)

Secretary Cohen: Well, we briefed the congressional leaders yesterday. Essentially we gave a briefing to the congressional leaders. The President and others felt it was a good briefing, we should give it. The Chairman's leaving tonight, so I thought if we're going to have a presentation of what we've been giving congressional leaders, then we should do it before he leaves.

Ken indicated that he was ready to stand by at 2:00 o'clock; we said, well, we'll just come down and do it now. So it's really spur of the moment. The Chairman's leaving, the fact that we did make a presentation similar to this, a little more detail perhaps, yesterday. But we thought it would be a good idea that you have the benefit of what we've been presenting to Congress.

Q: General Shelton, could you tell us what is known about President Milosevic's activities, how he's spending his days, his time, how much is known about that? And you mentioned Milosevic's miscalculations. I'm wondering, sir, who among the national security principals told the President that six weeks into this we could well be waging a war of attrition with Milosevic?

General Shelton: Let me respond to the first one. I think that in terms of what we know about not only President Milosevic himself but about all of his other forces is an operational level of detail that I don't desire to discuss. I think that falls into the category of if I knew it I'd probably be stupid to say it here, because he watches TV like everyone else does, and that's a good source of information for him, a good source to help him arrange his own schedule, so to speak.

In terms of how long it would take, the national security team, all of us, understood going into this operation that in fact given the weather, the terrain, the integrated air defense system, the way that they are organized, the redundancy of many of their systems -- both integrated air defense as well as command and control -- that it would take a campaign. It would not be a three- or four-day war. It would not be a 30-second commercial, as President Clinton has said. But rather, we would have to maintain a sustained air operation in order to reduce his capabilities to the degree that would probably be necessary, and that was understood from the very beginning.

Obviously, many of our allies understood that, contrary to what Milosevic thought. So here we are, and we are continuing to carry out that mission.

Every day he loses more capability, as you just saw from those three tapes, and those are only three of about 10 or 12 that Chuck Wald had that he could have shown today. And that's just a small percentage of what's otherwise available.

So it's taking its toll. I think if he understands the magnitude of what he's up against and the unity and the solidarity of the alliance, and he knows what his losses have already been, what it will cost him to have to reconstruct, to regain the military capability that he has lost up until now, and that will continue to be eroded, I'm sure he'd be thinking twice.

Q: Can I just revisit one question briefly? If there is no sign at the moment that President Milosevic is willing to give in to NATO's demands, isn't it pure speculation to say that he has underestimated what he would face at the hands of NATO? You quoted people around him, but he's the one who matters, it seems to me, in the equation.

In the absence of any sign he's willing to give in, isn't it speculative to say he underestimated what he would face?

Secretary Cohen: I've tried not to characterize Mr. Milosevic's mindset. I don't know what works in his mind. I don't think any of us can make that determination. What we have said is that we're going to carry out our campaign irrespective of what he's thinking at any given time.

At some point in time, those around him who help keep him in power are going to have to make a calculation, if he does not, that this is going to result in the systematic decimation of much of his military, which keeps him in power. So whether he makes that judgment or others make that judgment, we think it's important to carry the campaign through.

So we have not tried to calculate at what, any breaking point, when will he come to the realization that he is witnessing the downgrading or diminishing or damaging of his military. If he doesn't see it because he fires everybody around him who would bring bad news, others would somehow surface that. We saw just the beginning of that with the deputy prime minister. There may be others. We just have to await the outcome of it.

Q: Mr. Secretary, why the news blackout on the F-117 loss? The Serbs knew why it was lost; they've got the wreckage, and yet your Department has refused to say how it was shot down although it's been reported it was a missile.

Secretary Cohen: I don't think we know for certain, George, as to how it was shot down. We are still completing the investigation. And frankly, if they knew how to bring the F-117 down, I would think they would be much more successful since that time. If you look at the number of sorties that have been flown by theF-117 and you consider that we continue to fly them today, and yet we had the one loss, and I wanted to say, the chances are we would lose more aircraft. But in view of the fact that we've had so many sorties since that time and no losses, I think it doesn't lead to any one conclusion. [Whether] they knew exactly how to bring it down or whether it came about by accident or malfunction, combined with the artillery or surface-to-air missiles, we just don't know. And the last thing we want to do is to put out information which later might be contradicted and have you judge that the Pentagon was confused about its operations.

Press: Thank you.