DoD News Briefing, Wednesday, June 2, 1999 - 2:10 p.m.
Also Participating: Major General Chuck Wald, J-5
Related briefing slides
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
I don't have any announcements, so I'm going to turn it over to General Wald immediately, and then I'll come up and take your questions afterwards.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/#SLIDES]
Major General Wald: Good afternoon.
[Chart - Weather Conditions]
Real quick on the weather, we had a little bit last night as predicted, and today it's cleared up. It's clear as a bell through the whole AOR. It looks like maybe a thunderstorm or two through the next few days but the weather should be good again for the next week or so.
[Chart - Level of Effort - Day 70]
Last night or yesterday, 47 targets. Today, Ivan, 31,000 sorties averaging about 850 scheduled a day, which 70 percent of those would be combat-type sorties.
Yesterday, I briefed for three days they had 32 artillery. Yesterday alone, they had 20 artillery revetments attacked, which is the best day they've had for attacking artillery. Hit a tank, 16 armored personnel carriers, an SA-6 site, several command and control sites throughout the AOR, including one in Kosovo. Continue to hit sustainment. The air defense, I mentioned one of those already. And continue to hit lines of communication. I'll show some bridge attacks on both video and imagery.
Still the preponderance of the attacks are on the Kosovo VJ/MUP employments in the southwest section of Kosovo.
[Chart - Serbian Air Defense]
Some questions on how many SAMs they fired. On this chart I'll show you the SAMs that we have observed, they have observed being fired at them over the last couple of months. Over 266 SA-6s, 175 SA-3s, 106 manned portables, they've observed, and a lot of times you don't see those, so these are all observed. 126 unidentified, for a total of almost 700. This is just a picture of the AAA over Belgrade. They continue to fire AAA all the time, so it hasn't stopped. I think last night they had five or six SAM shots that they observed, so they continue to shoot at the aircraft that are flying over both Kosovo and the FRY.
[Chart - U.S. Forces]
Just an update on the aircraft. 720 total U.S. These include the ones Mr. Bacon mentioned that are going into Turkey. The aircraft carrier is still out there, three amphib ships, and a large portion of those are still fighter/bombers and reconnaissance-type aircraft.
[Chart - Allied Forces]
Allies have 325 total, of which 239 are fighter/bombers. They still have the aircraft carrier Garibaldi from Italy which has Harriers on it, and the French have the Foch which has Super-Etendards and Etendards on it. Thirteen other nations are supporting with aircraft.
[Chart - Operation SUSTAIN HOPE - Last 24 Hours]
On the humanitarian side, the refugee movement out of Kosovo remains very low. The U.K. has now elected to pick up the funding of one of the camps that the U.S. had been looking at building. They'll build one in Macedonia.
Fort Dix, now is not going to have any more refugees come into Fort Dix. What they'll do is move the refugees that are there out to host families, and then the remainder of the refugees coming in from the area will go directly to, mainly JFK, but other ones will go into areas that are close to where they will have a host family, so they'll go all throughout the United States direct to host families. 158 moved out of Fort Dix yesterday, and then the International Rescue Committee had a successful drop of leaflets yesterday -- or this morning I should say -- to tell the IDPs that food will be coming through drops tomorrow.
Q: Is that plane (inaudible)?
Major General Wald: They reported they did see some AAA fired in their vicinity. Whether it was at them or not, we're not sure, but we assume it may have been.
Q: Has the Fort A.P. Hill option been dropped now?
Major General Wald: That still is a back-up in case they need it, but I don't think that's going to be playing right now.
Q: Why the change from Fort Dix?
Major General Wald: Well, they're changing now because it's more efficient to go ahead and transport the individuals right direct to the area they're going to go to, the host family, and they're going to process them right in the Macedonia area.
[Chart - PROVIDE REFUGEE - Refugee Status]
Major General Wald: These flights were canceled, and then we're starting to go into the JFK mode here, and you can see the numbers. 5,340, and 3,748 still at Fort Dix.
[Chart - Refugees/Level of Effort]
The numbers haven't changed a lot, camps or refugees. The shelter's gone up to nearly a million, and they continue to build camps as we spoke in the past, and the camps are being winterized. Camp Hope for us, itself, has actually educational facilities there being built with it for the young children, so it's going to be a very good camp, for IDP.
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied+Force] [Photo - Nis Airfield, Serbia - Post Strike]
We continue to take their runways down. This is the Nis airfield itself. You can see here where B-52 strikes have taken out portions of the runway in this section. This portion is totally destroyed, and then the taxiway here has been hit, so their runways continue to be destroyed, even though they still try to fly off some of those with helicopters and some of their fixed wing, but we haven't noticed much flight in the last couple of weeks.
[Photo - Obrenavac Transformer Station, Serbia - Post Strike]
This is an Obrenovac transformer station. The reason I show this, I showed it the other day where they had struck in this area, and one over in here. They've been repaired probably temporarily, but we went ahead and hit it again last night, and now it's down again.
[Photo - Secondary Bridge, Kosovo]
Just to show you here, this bridge has been destroyed. A major bridge over a highway. This is a work-around they're trying to build. You can see they're trying to work around some of these. It probably wouldn't take very heavy vehicles, but it may take some kind of foot soldier or something like that, so they're trying to work away the LOC closures.
[Photo - Vladicin Han Highway Bridge over Morar River, Serbia - Post Strike]
This is one I showed yesterday, a bridge here that was dropped. I guess I'll show it today. I've got this one on the right. I don't think I have one of this [on] gun camera today. You'll see that several bombs hit this bridge and dropped the span here.
[Photo - Popavac Highway Bridge NW over Nisava River, Serbia - Post Strike]
This one I did show yesterday. It dropped this span here. You can see they had one drop in the road here. Whether that was intentional or not, I'm not sure, but it's beneficial.
[Photo - Pristina Army Garrison, Serbia - Post Strike]
This I show you just because it's a large area that we've talked about several times. We've attacked. There are over 30 aim points in this area. These, each one would be a building. You can see many of those have been destroyed already. There may be some of this facility that could still be usable, but it's being destroyed pretty much piecemeal, and over half of that's been destroyed as we speak.
Q: Any sign of any withdrawal of forces, or is it still the same?
Major General Wald: We haven't seen any withdrawal of forces.
The weather has been outstanding. As you'll see here, this is 1:30 this morning. There's a little bit of clouds in the upper section of Belgrade, but it didn't cause much of a problem for flying. The rest of the AOR's in good shape.
The projection for the next several hours, up through tomorrow morning, looks clear. It turned out there was a little bit of a cloud area up in northern Belgrade as you just saw on the photo I showed you. That was not predicted via the computer, but it didn't cause a problem for flying.
You can see there will be a little bit of weather tomorrow possibly move in for a period of time, some thunderstorms, but it doesn't appear that it will cause too much of a problem. There were some sorties canceled yesterday, but they hit all the targets.
Command and control. This is an FM radio relay station in Novi Sad, northern Serbia. An F-16 with a 2,000-pound bomb attacking the main production area of this facility. You can see it's been hit back in this area before. His command and control continues to be degraded and is suffering.
Lines of communication, we talked about bridges earlier. It's causing them to have a real problem with -- this is the Vladicin Han highway bridge, which I showed on the imagery a minute ago. You can see they'll hit it right in this section, which, from imagery last night, we were able to determine it was dropped.
But his ability to resupply with food, ammunition, and equipment is being cut off quite a bit.
Sustainment. Once again, long-term. Even though he's fighting the UCK in Kosovo, his ability to resupply is being hurt in the long-term in a big way.
This is a storage building near Belgrade. You'll see his wingman's already dropped. It's an F-16 with 2,000-pound bombs on this building. It will destroy the building. It looks like there was something in it. Probably ammunition. It continues to burn.
Many of the SAMs I talked about earlier in some of these buildings -- the electrical transformer station, the one I just showed you a minute ago, was hit. This is an F-16. There was more than one strike on this facility. That was the image I just showed you from after the attack. You can see the other attack here.
Petroleum storage tank in Smederevo, central Serbia. An F-16 with an LGB. You'll see the bomb hit this large tank. It's obviously full. It explodes, and the secondary explosion takes out that tank as well. Those probably had POL or petroleum in there.
Integrated air defense, we continue to take his IADS down. This is a Straight Flush radar. That goes with the SA-6 SAM system. It's an F-15E with an optically guided bomb last night. You can see as it gets closer, we'll stop it -- it shows that it is in fact an SA-6, Straight Flush radar.
The more he uses these and turns them on, it will be better for us to find them, and we'll attack them and destroy them.
Forces on the ground. The MUP training center in Pancevo, central Serbia. Once again F-16s two days ago. Taking out his ability to have a place to go back home and relax or rest. If they do need to go back for R&R in Kosovo, they're not going to have a place to go.
The Prizren army barracks, southern Kosovo. It's a fairly large complex. F-16CG with a 2,000-pound bomb, two bombs. I'm sure that building is destroyed.
Another attack on the same army barracks, another F-16. That's the admin building. You'll see the bomb hit the edge of the building as it comes in. It looks like it does quite a bit of damage to the building.
Of all the bombs we've dropped, 99.6 percent have actually hit the target out of the 20,000 bombs.
Q: What percentage?
Major General Wald: 99.6 percent.
Q: Out of how many thousand?
Major General Wald: Nearly 20,000.
Some military vehicles in central Kosovo, just north of Pristina. You see it's been attacked previously here. These vehicles here then will be attacked by this aircraft. It lands in the middle and more than likely destroys several and damages beyond repair the rest of them.
His overall inventory of all types of equipment -- SAMs, vehicles, are going down continuously.
Q: A NATO briefer this morning, (inaudible) Major General, reported (inaudible) where apparently A-10s are loitering in an area and getting the lead from a forward controller and going in. We don't see any A-10 footage. Is it because they have different gun cameras or something like that?
Major General Wald: The A-10 with the gun camera itself is very hard for it to show up on a video like this, and when you shoot or fire a Maverick missile -- which they have also -- as soon as the Maverick leaves, that doesn't film anymore. So if we get some good A-10 footage -- they're doing a lot of firing, but it's just the film itself.
Q: The tanks that you're telling us that have been taken out, can you tell us if most of those recently have been taken out by A-10s or F-16s or a mix?
Major General Wald: A lot of them have been attacked by A-10s. I think over the last few weeks the A-10 has done a lot of the work on artillery, but the other aircraft as well. The Navy with the TR has been hitting it with the [F]-14s and the [F]-18s as well as the F-16s, and the NATO aircraft have been attacking them. But a lot of the A-10 work, as you would expect.
They're flying a lot of the FAC missions in this what's called the "hog pen" endearingly, because the A-10 is called the "Warthog." That's a special area they're working over southwest Kosovo where the VJ/MUP are doing a lot of their work. And since they're congregating there, that's where the targets are, and that's where we'll continue to attack them.
Q: But General, with regard to the humanitarian airdrops that's been reported this morning, the IRC, the International Rescue Committee, with funding from AID is going to be dropping small packets, relatively small packets, two-pound, I believe, in to the IDPs in their places.
Now, it also has been reported that the Serbs have not given permission; this is a non-permissive activity. The question to you would be, what more can you tell us about it, and has the -- what is it, the CAOC -- has the CAOC been informed? Is NATO on board with these activities?
Major General Wald: The Combined Air Operations Center has a schedule of when they will fly the missions. The Moldovans are actually flying it, AN-26 Soviet-type aircraft. USAID, as Mr. Bacon had mentioned yesterday, is funding some of that. That group, the IRC has agreed to pass on to the Combined Air Operations Center and General Short's folks there at the CAOC, to let them know what time they'll be flying, where they're going to be flying, what altitudes they'll be at, etc. So that's the extent of the coordination.
Also, by the way, they're on the same frequency. They are listening. So they have access to our frequency. The aircraft we do in conjunction, but there's no talking back and forth. There's no coordination from the standpoint of their working with us, per se. We're just watching where they're at and avoiding them.
Q: You're saying they can monitor NATO...
Major General Wald: They have a frequency they can monitor for a problem, but that would only be as an informational-type information.
Q: The pilots, would you think this would be wise in a non-permissive environment for these airdrops to go forward?
Major General Wald: I mentioned the other day, I think they're brave to take the risk to try to do this from a humanitarian standpoint, but if I were recommending it, I would not recommend they do it from an operational perspective. But there are other reasons to do this, so...
Q: General, you said yesterday that NATO does not have direct communication with the Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic Albanian rebels, and that the benefit of the air campaign to the rebel offensive is coincidental.
Nevertheless, that said, is the air campaign and the concentration on Serb forces massing in response to the UCK having the effect of providing close air support for the rebel offensive?
Major General Wald: No, it's not close air support. [For] close air support you have to have somebody on the ground actually talking to you through the mission, or somebody in the air coordinating that target for that mission. So de facto I'm sure the UCK is benefiting from the fact that we're bombing the VJ/MUP. De facto, I would suspect we're benefiting also because they're congregating the VJ/MUP. Once again, it's hard to believe, but it is a coincidence that it's happening. It's beneficial to us and to the UCK. But once again, we're not supporting the KLA or the VJ/MUP. We're attacking the VJ/MUP, and the KLA happens to be in the area at the same time.
Q: Nevertheless, the rebels seem to be having only limited success going against the VJ. What does that indicate? Does that mean, for instance, that despite all the efforts to degrade and demoralize Milosevic's military forces, that they're still capable of handling the rebels?
Major General Wald: From what, I guess what you just said, it's probably fairly close. The fact is they are an organized, reasonably organized army, the MUP and the VJ. They have heavy equipment. The UCK does not. They have artillery. The UCK does not have heavy artillery. But the fact of the matter is about two months ago the UCK couldn't even mount any type of offensive whatsoever. They couldn't even fight. So they're growing, and the VJ/MUP are going down. So I think in the future that bodes not very well for the VJ/MUP.
Q: You made an astonishing claim here. You said that of the nearly 20,000 bombs dropped, 99.6 have hit their targets. Given the hype that happened after the Gulf War about one bomb/one target, can you walk us through a little bit where this fairly incredible statistic comes from?
Major General Wald: It comes from watching all the gun camera film, and I for one didn't give a lot of hype for one bomb/one target in the Gulf War. I think that was a media kind of myth.
But the fact of the matter is, I think from changes from Vietnam, for example, was probably the change that there was one bridge in North Vietnam called the Paul Dumoy [ph] bridge that we tried for years to attack, and at the end of the war they received laser-guided bombs, and in one day took the bridge out. So I think that was probably the exuberance at that time, if you will.
But there are some targets -- where you saw the Straight Flush radar today, that's one bomb/one target. There are other targets like the barracks where it may take more than one bomb per target. It may take dozens of bombs per target. But I think all in all when you look at this, I, certainly, as much as I have been around air power, would have never predicted that it would have been 99.6 percent of the bombs would hit the target. I think it's phenomenal.
On the other hand, I think there is probably a misunderstanding that you can take one bomb against any target out there on any day and attack it and be successful every time. That's not true. They're still being shot at all the time. There's weather. There still is some potential for mechanical problems on bombs, but I think the number is very, very impressive.
Q: The part that missed, those are collateral damage -- People are going to say 99.6, but they've hit a lot of civilian targets they didn't mean to.
Major General Wald: We didn't hit a lot of civilian targets. There have been some targets that have been hit that were not intended to be hit, that in a case like this is to be expected. It's something that we said in the beginning is risk. We don't want to do that, but it's going to occur. But I think when you look at the other side of the coin, there are pilots, air crews out there taking a lot of risks every night, doing a great job and hitting the targets. It's pretty impressive. That's the best I can say about that.
Q: The British defense minister briefer was asked about an estimate of Serb casualties of up to 2,000. He said he felt that was quite low and it was more like 10,000. Do you have a figure?
Major General Wald: I have no idea whether 2,000 or 10,000 is the number. I don't know the number. I haven't even read what the number is. I suspect there are some casualties on the ground. When they're around certain targets, you would expect that, but we don't know what the number is. We're not there.
Q: Two nit-picky questions. This 99.6 percent, is that actually bombs that the military has seen hit targets, or is that merely an extrapolation that we know 12 or 15 bombs went awry so all the rest of them were...
Major General Wald: They know after every drop where every bomb goes. They come back. They debrief it. An aircraft, say for example the B-52, may take overhead imagery of those bombs. So I imagine it could be a bomb or two off, but in 20,000 it's pretty good. So no, they watch every mission; they watch where every bomb goes; they make an account for that, and then after it's all said and done that's the number they come up with.
Q: And the second one is that every morning Major General Jertz gives his account of how many targets and what was struck, and they're always a little bit different. He said 32 artillery pieces; you say 29. The same on SAMs. But he said nine APCs,;you said 16. Should I assume that yours are more accurate, since they're later in the day, and you have benefit of more BDA, or how do I...
Major General Wald: We're getting our numbers directly from European Command. So I just take the numbers they tell me they hit. If there's a disconnect between NATO and us, it may be the fact that they may be overlapping a little bit into what goes on today, possibly. I'm not sure. But the totals, after it's all said and done, are in consonance with each other.
Q: General, the 99.6 would then make this the most accurate air campaign in the history of air warfare, would it not?
Major General Wald: Without a doubt.
Q: Can you comment on the report today that the KLA is in fact in contact with NATO and that NATO did provide close air support; they actually have talked to each on that. Also, the KLA is in contact to let NATO planes know where their troops are so that they won't be bombed by accident like they were a few days ago.
Major General Wald: The only information we have on the KLA are there are some sources and intelligence that we won't talk about. We've said it before. We have all sorts of intelligence, various means. We do not have any clear, direct, open lines with the KLA that we're talking with them and coordinating any of the attacks with. So we use any information we can to find out where they are. As you can understand, I won't talk about all of that. But I can assure you that from a military perspective, I know of no contact where we're talking to the KLA and saying "where is the target?"
Q: So that report was wrong today?
Major General Wald: Which report are you speaking of?
Q: In the Post.
Major General Wald: I don't know if it's wrong or not. I'm just telling you what I know.
Q: General, the KLA was apparently unsuccessful in Mount Pastrik, I guess it is. Can you talk a little bit about other operations they've been working on recently? Have they succeeded elsewhere? What is the...
Major General Wald: They have an area to the north of that area that was a line of communication toward the Junik area, which was in northwestern Kosovo. That line of communication remains open. That was successful.
The one to the south in Pastrik continues to be contested, so they continue to fight there, from what we understand.
Q: Are there other areas, are there various, further into the interior of Kosovo...
Major General Wald: There are other areas that the UCK and the VJ/MUP have had some sporadic contact with each other, but it's not a continuous-type situation like we've seen in the Pastrik area.
Q: It's not a situation where they are holding real estate?
Major General Wald: There are areas where the UCK holds some area, the real estate. But once again, it's not being fought over necessarily. They have some areas that they are inside Kosovo as well.
Q: Thank you.
Major General Wald: Thank you.
Mr. Bacon: Yes, Charlie.
Q: That availability with the Secretary today was useful. Thanks.
Mr. Bacon: They always are. I assume the availability on Friday was useful as well.
Q: My point is that they always are, and I hope this reverses the trend and that he will continue to have availabilities from visiting defense ministers. If not formal press conferences like this, at least give us a crack at a couple of questions at a photo opportunity.
Mr. Bacon: Charlie, I understand that you talked to the Secretary on Friday, and you talked to him again today, and I think that there's been a lot of access, but at any rate, do you have another question?
Q: No, no. But we hope that you as his press advisor will press that issue.
Mr. Bacon: I note that.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Ken, can you give us a late dump on the diplomatic efforts and how you read the tea leaves?
Mr. Bacon: I cannot, basically. Those diplomatic efforts are ongoing. As you know, Mr. Chernomyrdin expressed some restrained hope, said there was a chance of peace before he left. We'll just have to see how President Milosevic reacts.
Our view is clear, that we have five important conditions. These are not frivolous conditions. They're absolutely central to establishing the type of peace and stability, a secure environment that's necessary to allow the refugees to return home.
Mr. Ahtisaari and Mr. Chernomyrdin will go and present the current plan to Mr. Milosevic, and he'll have to make a decision. The decision, basically, is a simple decision, it seems to me. It's "does he want to end the destruction of his country through the constant bombing, or does he want to continue it?"
I think it's very clear right now that NATO is winning, and he's losing, and this trend, these two disparate trends are at accelerating rates -- in other words, NATO is winning at an accelerating rate and he's losing at an accelerating rate. So he has a choice to make and he'll have to weigh what it means to him and to his country and to his people in making that choice, and I hope he makes the right choice.
But it's clear that NATO is going to continue until its conditions are met.
Q: Could it work if there are two separate security forces -- one NATO and one Russian?
Mr. Bacon: Without getting into details about aspects that have not been sorted out, just let me say that we have an arrangement that works very well in Bosnia, and I don't think there's any reason to assume that we couldn't have an arrangement in Kosovo that works equally well. That's an arrangement whereby Russian forces participate in the security operation, but they are not under direct NATO control. It's worked well for several years in Bosnia, and I assume that we can find a similar command arrangement that works well in Kosovo.
Q: Can you explain just a little bit for those of us who have forgotten exactly how it works in the Bosnia model? They're under NATO command but not under direct control. How does that work?
Mr. Bacon: They're not under NATO command. They serve with a U.S. division in a sector in Kosovo and...
Q: You mean Bosnia.
Mr. Bacon: In Bosnia, excuse me. And we have a command relationship that works directly between Russian commanders and American commanders. There are offices at SHAPE where the Russian commanders are in residence. Russian advisors and commanders have worked side-by-side. This was set up by General Joulwan when he was the SACEUR and CINCEUR, and then they work shoulder-to-shoulder in Bosnia.
Q: So you are not concerned by the fact that Mr. Chernomyrdin has said there will be quite distinct and separate zones, and they will not answer to any NATO or any European general; they will answer to their own generals only?
Mr. Bacon: Well, as I say, I think that there are still details to emerge on this, and I don't think it's appropriate for me to get into the details right now. All I'm pointing out is there is an arrangement that works very well in Bosnia, and I have every confidence that we can work out a situation in Kosovo that works as well. Exactly what the details of that arrangement will be, I think it's premature to discuss now.
Q:...remarks out at the Air Force Academy, the President said that, in announcing the 7,000 troops that the U.S. would contribute, that some elements of that are already in Albania. Does that mean that Task Force Hawk will be part of the 7,000 or some part of Task Force Hawk?
Mr. Bacon: I think the exact structure of our forces are still being worked out by European Command and by the Joint Staff. I would anticipate that we'll send a combination of forces, some maneuver battalions -- probably three maneuver battalions -- and they're likely to come from the 1st Infantry Division in Germany. We'd send several engineering battalions. There will be an aviation task force. I'm not sure that that has been worked out entirely yet. There will be some combat service support soldiers, some military police -- some MPs for security -- and there will probably be an artillery battalion as well.
The exact composition of this, the geometry of the force is still being figured out. NATO has not completely finished what they call the force balancing process, which is making sure that they have the right numbers of the proper skills. For instance, they're still looking for more engineers, and it may be that some of the people, some of the forces will be heavier in engineers and lighter in other areas, but this is what right now we see as the type of force that will be self-contained and be able to provide the engineering capability, the patrolling capability, the internal force protection security capability that's necessary for our force.
Q:...Army and Marines...
Mr. Bacon: The three maneuver battalions would be armor, essentially.
Mr. Bacon: Three maneuver battalions would be armor.
Q: Would they essentially all come from Germany? The European theater?
Mr. Bacon: I assume that the bulk of them would come from there, yes. I mean in part because now we are sending forces from the United States to Bosnia; for instance, the new forces coming into Bosnia this summer will be from the 10th Mountain Division in Watertown, New York. So I think that, initially, we'll start with the European forces in Kosovo.
Q: How soon could you move, say, one maneuver battalion? People look at the Apache issue and say, "well, it's taken them weeks." Can you give us a sense of how quickly movement can happen?
Mr. Bacon: No. It all depends. There are basically three ways to move: one is by plane; one is by train; and one is by ship. It depends on how they choose to move. All this will be worked out according to NATO's plans.
Q: 1st Infantry, you said three armor battalions and...
Mr. Bacon: It will be a combination. Don't hold me to this because the geometry can change, but it will be several, perhaps three armored battalions; it will be several engineering battalions; it will be an artillery battalion; there will be some combat service support troops; there will be probably a battalion of military police for force protection, and there will be an aviation task force, which will include some helicopters. That's basically what will comprise the force.
Now the numbers, the proportions could change, but that's basically what we're thinking of right now.
Q: So 1st Armor in Germany? You said 1st Infantry.
Mr. Bacon: The 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One.
Q: A question on Canada here, because Canada's defense minister is trying to find out why Canada was kept out of the key meeting in Bonn last week.
Mr. Bacon: I can't answer that question. I didn't know that there was a problem with that.
Q: So Ken, according to what the SecDef said this morning, tomorrow there will be beginning or a continuation of planning for KFOR as well as planning for an offensive-type of force. What is the...
Mr. Bacon: That's not what he said this morning.
Mr. Bacon: That is not what he said this morning. I urge you to go back and read the transcript. That's not what the Secretary of Defense said this morning.
Q: What did he say this morning, and what, if any, deadlines on...
Mr. Bacon: He said that the President will meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff tomorrow and that they will discuss principally two things about Kosovo. One will be the air campaign and how that's going and the prospects for its future success built on its current success. The second will be the deployment of the peace implementation force, KFOR. Those are the principal issues they'll discuss.
They will discuss broader issues as well, such as the impact of the Kosovo operation on readiness. They'll talk about funding issues. They'll talk about force sustainment issues, such as recruiting and retention. They'll talk about the types of issues that the chiefs deal with on a day-to-day basis. The President, who has consistently funded increases in the Defense budget in order to support readiness, in order to support retention, in order to support training, wants to know how the military is looking after 70 days of this campaign.
The Secretary was asked if the question of ground forces beyond the peace force would come up, and he said he anticipated it would come up, but that the United States has made no decision and has no plans to go beyond the peace force. That's the operative force that we're planning for right now.
Q: And there's no deadline for any of those plans.
Mr. Bacon: There is no deadline for any of these plans. We know how to deploy troops in the winter. We've proven that in Bosnia before. We certainly know how to operate in winter. And certainly the people of Kosovo know how to live and move in the winter since they do it every year.
Q:...progress of NATO's reassessment of what it would take to have a ground operation in a non-permissive environment?
Mr. Bacon: The progress is ongoing.
Q: Is it unreasonable to assume that the chiefs aren't going in there completely unprepared to talk about what a ground invasion would entail, how many troops, etc.?
Mr. Bacon: We haven't made any secret of the fact that this is likely to come up and they're likely to talk about it, but as the Secretary made it very clear, there is not a consensus within NATO for anything other than a peace implementation force. I think one of the shaping forces of this operation from the very beginning has been political reality. Because this is an alliance operation, it has been boxed in by what has been politically realistic through the allies. Right now, I don't believe anybody feels there is a consensus among the NATO allies to send a ground invasion force to Kosovo. What there is a consensus to do is to send an enhanced peacekeeping force, and that, in fact, is what NATO is in the process of assembling right now.
Q: I got that, but I can't imagine that they would go in without some sense of: "Here, Bill, here's what it would take. Do we want to pursue this or not?"
Mr. Bacon: I'm sure they will be able to answer any question their commander-in-chief asks them.
Q: For clarity, today Mr. Clinton said he was going to release 48 more airplanes to the theater. Isn't this the 48 you talked about last week?
Q: Sixty - Eight.
Mr. Bacon: Yes. These are the ones that I think Secretary Cohen signed a deployment order for back in early May. But the fact is, they're just beginning to move. The first increment of F-16s is on its way, should arrive soon. Then some groups of F-15s will leave in the next couple of days.
Q: Another point of clarity. How many tanks and Bradleys are in a maneuver battalion?
Mr. Bacon: I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that.
Voice: In excess of 50.
Mr. Bacon: In excess of 50.
Q: As the chiefs get into whatever way they're going to describe what might be required for a non-permissive environment ground force, could we also be briefed on what the parameters and what the various numbers would likely be? Is that going to be a big secret? Or is that because it's politically sensitive that you don't want to talk about it?
Mr. Bacon: I think you're leaping to a conclusion that's unfair to reach for right now. Nobody is talking,except the press at this stage, about sending an invasion force to Kosovo. The Secretary made it very clear this morning that the force on the table is the enhanced peace implementation for the KFOR.
Q: He made it very clear that it will be discussed beyond KFOR, and that there probably will be...
Mr. Bacon: He said it's likely to come up. It's certainly an issue that's on people's minds.
Q: What I'm asking is, could we have some sort of idea of what numbers they are talking about for the different contingencies beyond KFOR?
Mr. Bacon: First of all, NATO hasn't finished its own assessment yet. At the appropriate time we can consider that.
Q: A related question. Former commanders, such as General Joulwan, Admiral Smith, and so on, have essentially said that it would be totally irresponsible for the United States not to be thinking about such things, whether or not NATO is right yet to tackle those issues. So what can you tell us about what the United States is doing about those contingencies and planning? I assume it's going on because it would be very irresponsible not to do that.
Mr. Bacon: The Secretary spoke to that today, and he said it's not going on. I have nothing to add to what...
Q: I'm not talking about NATO. I'm talking about the U.S...
Mr. Bacon: The issue here -- I think it's very important to go back to the beginning and to review the facts. The facts are that this has been a NATO operation from the start. Therefore, it has been shaped by alliance sensitivities. The alliance has never had a consensus to deploy ground troops in anything but a peacekeeping force. Therefore, the alliance has not planned in any concrete or detailed way for ground troops beyond the peacekeeping force called KFOR.
It's very easy to say, if you're outside of this process, that NATO should have planned for a ground force.
Q: No, but...
Mr. Bacon: Just let me finish this.
If the question before NATO last fall or this spring had been do we plan for a ground force? Do we draw up firm plans to deploy ground troops to invade Kosovo? NATO would not have come to a decision to do that, and we would be doing nothing. That was not what the question was.
The question, therefore, was does NATO launch an air campaign, or does it do nothing? NATO decided it would launch an air campaign. That air campaign itself was shaped by certain political realities. Many people have said they would have designed the air campaign differently. Secretary Cohen has said he would have designed the air campaign differently.
The fact is, the air campaign started out according to very clear NATO guidance, and it has expanded progressively, systematically, and steadily since it began. It's continuing to expand. And this will be the focal point of the meeting tomorrow. They will look at the air campaign. They will review the accomplishments to date. They will look into the future and talk about what the next steps are in the air campaign. They will talk about what's happening diplomatically, and they will talk about NATO's plans to deploy a peacekeeping force. This is the focal point of the meeting tomorrow.
Q: I understand everything you've said, and we all understand that it is a coalition operation, and we can't -- if the coalition doesn't want to do something, it doesn't plan for it. But I want to just talk about the United States military and what it's thinking about if things do not succeed, if the air campaign does not ultimately succeed, and if -- most people agree that there are very high stakes, that NATO must prevail in one way or another eventually. It has to. So I'm just asking -- I find it really almost unbelievable that you can't say that "yes, we think about such things; we don't share them with our friends until an appropriate time, but please assure the American people that at least you think about these things."
Mr. Bacon: The military thinks about all sorts of things. The fact of the matter is we are part of an alliance. We are operating as a central part of an alliance but still in the alliance. We have to act the way the alliance wants to act.
You are absolutely right. We will win. NATO will win. There is no doubt. I think it's increasingly clear to anybody who watches the process of this campaign, who listens every day to the types of targets we're striking, who realizes that we have shut off the power in 80 percent of Serbia, who looks at the impact we've made against the Serb military, who looks at the way we've damaged their ability to sustain their military by taking down the petroleum industry, the electric power industry, the command and control. Anybody who looks at the way we've been able to dominate their air defense system realizes that we've been inflicting very steady and heavy damage on the Yugoslav military and the country's ability to sustain its military, and we will win. I don't think there's any doubt about that.
It's a question of time. That is really up to Milosevic. As I've said many times, we can damage and destroy his military, and we are. We can't predict what impact or how quickly that will impact on his will or the will of his people. But there are increasing signs that what's happening is having a big impact on morale. We have reports of more desertions. We have reports of trials where people are being imprisoned for not showing up to their military duties. These are public reports that have been carried in Reuters and other, even in Yugoslav media, talking about what's happening.
There was a report today about a soldier, a public report, about a soldier who deserted and swam across the Drina River. He said, "I did not want to fight for the personal interests of Slobodan Milosevic. That's how he explained deserting. He didn't feel that this was a fight worth fighting in Kosovo.
So we are getting increasing signs of strains within the military, of strains within the special police and strains within the country, and they are going to have an impact.
Q: Ken, you keep saying there's no consensus for a ground invasion, but is there a similar lack of consensus just to do the planning for one so that people would know what they're talking about?
Mr. Bacon: NATO is in the process of doing that. As I've said many times, the second time around will be more complete and more detailed than the first time.
Q: On the KFOR, the forces you described. Does that mean this concept that existed back when it was 28,000 of sending in Marines quickly and then rotating them out and the Army in, a heavier force in, that's gone by the wayside and there would not be a lighter force that went in first to get in there quickly? These would be the only forces that went in?
Mr. Bacon: No, there could still be an enabling force. It would depend a lot on the timing of the deployment, how much time we have to get ready for it, where the deployment goes. The Bulgarians have announced, for instance, that a NATO team has been there looking at the possibility of deploying through Bulgaria, which would open another avenue of entrance into Kosovo.
If we have to send an enabling force in quickly, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is there in the Adriatic and would be able to deploy very quickly and probably would be a central part of an enabling force.
Q: When you were talking about SETAF, that would be part of the enabling force?
Mr. Bacon: SETAF could be part of the enabling force as well. These are some of the details that are in the process of being worked out, so you have to be flexible on these details. I urge you not to report them as chiseled in concrete. But certainly the SETAF and the 26th MEU would both be parts of an enabling force if necessary.
Q: Ken, is...
Q: Is the enabling force separate and apart from KFOR?
Mr. Bacon: The enabling force would go in quickly, establish, do some preliminary work and then would come out as the heavier forces came in later.
Now this is assuming that the entire force is not pre-positioned ahead of time. But these are exactly the type of details that will depend on the schedule. They'll depend on what if anything happens from peace negotiations. They'll depend on NATO plans, and the details are not firm, so I urge you to look at them as part of a mix.
Q: So the number of Americans could be greater than 7,000.
Mr. Bacon: No. this is what's called replacement. The first group would come in, and then as other people come in, the first group would come out.
Q: So it would be 7,000 total, but it may not be the same people all the time.
Mr. Bacon: This happens in Bosnia all the time. People, there are rotations.
Q: What is SETAF?
Mr. Bacon: Southern European Task Force.
Q: So just so we understand, if they had to move in sooner rather than later and they hadn't all assembled in neighboring countries already, then you would use more of the 27th (sic) MEU and things like that that are floating there and could go in...
Mr. Bacon: Yeah, they could be there tomorrow if necessary.
Q: You've added a third country from Albania and Macedonia as assembly areas -- you've added the possibility of Bulgaria also?
Mr. Bacon: Well, Bulgaria has announced that there was a NATO team there looking at the possibility of allowing NATO troops to move into Kosovo from Bulgaria. It's reasonable when you think about it.
Q: Sofia, Bulgaria, is very close to...
Mr. Bacon: Right.
Q: Ken, you said this whole thing's been delivered by political reality, as you put it, and the political reality is there is not a consensus in NATO for any kind of ground incursion, a ground war. But there's a military reality here, too, in terms of winter is approaching in terms of military planning time. Are you saying there's not a need, forget the political consensus. Are you saying there's not a military need now to at least begin planning for the possibility of a ground invasion?
Mr. Bacon: NATO forces and Partnership for Peace forces including Russian soldiers, have shown they can move in the winter. We went into Bosnia in the winter.
Q: I'm talking in terms of a military, a possible military invasion, a large military invasion force. You say there's not a need now to plan for the possible contingency for a military invasion?
Mr. Bacon: I didn't say that. I said we're not planning. Secretary Cohen said NATO is not planning. What we're doing is concentrating on the KFOR.
Q: There's not a need for the United States to start planning for this?
Mr. Bacon: Charlie, I think you should go back to the beginning of your question. There's not a consensus now for anything but the peacekeeping force.
Q: You were talking earlier about the possible command structure for an international security force. Is unity of command now not a requirement?
Mr. Bacon: I didn't say that. What I said was that we have a very workable command arrangement with the Russian forces participating in the Bosnia peacekeeping force. That's what I said. And I'm confident that we will be able to come up with a similar arrangement in Kosovo. It may not be the same arrangement we have in Bosnia. But we have shown that we can work very well, that NATO troops, but particularly American troops can work very well with Russian troops. Should the Russians participate -- and I assume they will and hope they will -- I'm confident that we'll be able to work out some sort of an arrangement, but without being specific on what the details will be.
Q: What kind of helicopters and other aircraft will be in the enhanced force, what its function would be?
Mr. Bacon: I'm sure there will be some Black Hawks, there could be some attack helicopters. I think there will be a variety and its function will both be force protection, but also mobility, carrying people around. Just as we have a lot of helicopters in Bosnia to move people around from place to place.
Q: The Apaches, Black Hawks...
Mr. Bacon: I don't know. I don't know whether there will be Apaches or not. I think that will have to be decided.
Q: The number of helicopters?
Mr. Bacon: It's premature to say at this stage.
Q: The ferocious fighting you told us about yesterday, can you bring us up to date on that? And there have been reports that the KLA took a lot of casualties in that and that they sort of were pinned on Mount Pastrik, I guess it was. I'm just wondering on balance, yet Serb forces have the mass to do that which allowed NATO strikes to hit them. On balance, who came out how?
Mr. Bacon: It's not over. It's still going on. There are conflicting reports. I don't think either side has won. I don't think either side has lost. I think the UCK is still in Kosovo, is still fighting for territory around Mount Pastrick. The latest reports I've seen, it's ongoing. They have not moved forward to the degree they wanted to, obviously, but they have not been thrown out.
They are facing a more mobile, heavily armored force with more artillery than they have, but it's a smaller force, and it, the VJ, the Serb force, is under fairly constant attack from NATO. So as they try to mobilize and move, they get attacked. This, I think, is still in the balance, and the fight continues.
Q: Is this sort of the biggest instance of moving Serb forces being attacked by NATO that we've seen in the seven weeks? The most moving vehicles...
Mr. Bacon: I can't be certain about that. I'd have to go back and check. Certainly, we have devoted, NATO has devoted a lot of assets to hitting Serb forces close to the Albanian border for several weeks. This is an area where they have concentrated their forces. It's an area, for obvious reasons, where they've arranged their forces in order to stop the UCK from doing precisely what it has done, and that is open lines of communication or avenues into the country. They do have an avenue in through Junik, as Major General Wald mentioned. They continue to retain that avenue and to keep it open. They're trying to open a second one farther south, and that's the one that's under contest right now.
Q: Why hasn't the President held a meeting with all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before now? Why now? And why didn't he do it sooner with all the Joint Chiefs?
Mr. Bacon: First of all, his principal military advisors are the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and he sees them on a very regular basis. He also sees General Ralston quite frequently. So he is very much in contact with the military and with his commanders. He does see the chiefs from time to time, and it's to usually talk about a wide range of issues, and that's what he's doing. This is something that was planned actually at least a week ago and maybe two weeks ago, so it's not something that was laid on quickly.
Q: It's the first meeting of all of the Joint Chiefs since the Kosovo operation...
Mr. Bacon: That's true.
Q: Will the Secretary be briefing him on his secret trip to Bonn last week?
Mr. Bacon: I'm sure the Secretary has already informed the President of what he learned from his colleagues in Bonn last week.
Q: You mentioned some desertions. Is there new evidence of large desertions, other than the one guy swimming the Drina River? Not unit-sized things like we saw about ten days ago?
Mr. Bacon: We have not seen any other reports of mass desertions like that. There are certainly a lot of reports of small desertions -- onesies, twosies, fivesies, etc. Of course they add up over time. But we've seen nothing like the Krusevac incident that we had from Kosovo a couple of weeks ago.
Q: You mentioned the discussions with Bulgaria. Is it now an expectation in the planning that as part of any peace deal NATO troops will be able to cross portions of Yugoslavia other than Kosovo? Because Bulgaria doesn't share a border with Kosovo.
Mr. Bacon: I think we're looking at a variety of options right now.
Press: Thank you.