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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 113-99
March 19, 1999

U.S. AIRCRAFT ORDERED TO DEPLOY IN SUPPORT OF NATO OPERATIONS

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today ordered the deployment of seven additional U.S.-based aircraft to the European Theater in support of NATO operations. The aircraft have been alerted to be prepared to move within 48 hours.

These U.S. forces, which were previously committed to NATO, are deploying to their forward staging bases in Europe to increase their readiness status for potential air operations over the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. These aircraft are part of a total of approximately 200 aircraft that the United States currently has committed to support air operations developed by NATO last fall. Most of the U.S. combat aircraft committed to the NATO effort are stationed at bases in Europe.

Deploying aircraft include three EA-6B Prowlers and four KC-135 refuelers.

NATO stated on Jan. 30, 1999, that it would take whatever measures are necessary, including air strikes, to compel compliance with both the demands of the international community and the achievement of a political settlement. NATO has given Secretary General Javier Solana the authority to order air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugolsavia. No further North Atlantic Council decision is required.

This deployment is another in the steps U.S. forces are taking to be prepared in the event a decision is made to respond militarily to the situation in Kosovo. The international community is determined to see an end to the violence and repression in Kosovo.