DoD News Briefing, Wednesday, June 9, 1999 - 2:20 p.m.
Related briefing slides
Also participating in this briefing is Major General Chuck Wald, J-5.
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
As you probably know, the talks are either continuing or they're about to continue. The Serb team had left but then turned around and came back, so the Kumanovo talks are about to start again if they haven't already.
This highlights that we're now involved in a three-part strategy. Simply, we are carrying on the talks to flesh out the details of the Military Technical Agreement that will form the basis for Serb withdrawal and KFOR entry into Kosovo.
Second, we are continuing the bombing, the NATO bombing campaign, as the talks continue, and General Wald will talk more about that later. He's back from the theater -- spent some time in Aviano, some time on the THEODORE ROOSEVELT -- so he has a good, even a keener perception of what's going on there, and will talk about that later, as well as what happened yesterday and what's going on even as we speak as part of the air campaign.
The third element is to continue preparations to move the KFOR or peace implementation force for Kosovo into Kosovo. In that regard, I spoke about two elements of the U.S. force yesterday, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit which remains on ships in the Aegean waiting for the Military Technical Agreement to be completed. When it's completed, it will then leave its ship and move ashore and move up into Macedonia and then into Kosovo.
The second element that we discussed yesterday was the 1,700 people from Task Force Hawk. They have begun to move down from the Tirane area toward the Albanian/Macedonian border to position themselves to move quickly into Macedonia and then into Kosovo at the appointed time.
There's a third element I can identify now, which is the initial entry force of what the complete force will be named -- Task Force Falcon. This is the initial entry force that will come down from Germany and begin to prepare the way for the Army force that will come in following the enabling force of Marines and the elements of Task Force Hawk.
The commander for Task Force Falcon is a brigadier general who is currently the Chief of Staff for the V Army Corps in Germany. His name is Bantz, B-A-N-T-Z, Craddock, C-R-A-D-D-O-C-K, brigadier general. He's known as John Craddock. He will command the entire Task Force Falcon.
The initial entry force that will come down is about 200 people, and it will arrive within three to five days after the Marines go in. It will consist of a...
Excuse me. Could you stop talking over there, please?
It will consist of a command post, a brigade headquarters, a brigade reconnaissance team, a mechanized platoon with four Bradley fighting vehicles, some enhanced communications capability, and a small logistics package. That will go on the ground to, as I say, help set up the headquarters and plan the way for the rest of the force coming in.
The Army forces in Germany have begun to load their equipment on trains, and they will then be taken to the port of Bremen and loaded on ships and come down...
Mr. Bacon: Bremerhaven. And come down on ships from Bremerhaven to Thessaloniki in Greece where they will be offloaded and then travel by road up to Kosovo.
Q: How many in -- you're not talking about the 200...
Mr. Bacon: I'm talking right now about the 200 -- I talked about the 200 people. What they're loading is the equipment for the Task Force Falcon, which will be 7,000 Army people from the 1st Infantry Division in Germany. Tanks, etc.
Q: Task Force Falcon is the whole 7,000?
Mr. Bacon: Task Force Falcon will be the name of the 7,000 American soldiers who will be stationed in the American sector in Kosovo.
Q: So they are starting to load equipment...
Mr. Bacon: They're starting to load their equipment, their heavy equipment -- tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, etc. -- in Germany on trains so they can go to a port where the equipment will be put on ships and taken by sea down to...
Q:...in Germany, or one...
Mr. Bacon: They're from various places in Germany. There's a complex map that shows where they're all coming from, and at the appropriate time, if you're interested in this level of detail, we'll trot it out, but I think now it's premature.
In general, they're preparing to get ready. They should be in place in about 30 days from the time the Military Technical Agreement is completed.
Q: Do you have a name for the full operation?
Mr. Bacon: Task Force Falcon.
Q: No, I'm talking about for the whole peacekeeping operation.
Mr. Bacon: I believe it's called Joint Guardian, is the name of the KFOR operation. Joint Guardian.
Q:...move this equipment now, or...
Mr. Bacon: They're beginning now. I was told this morning they're beginning to get it ready to put on trains, assembled to put on trains.
Q: Our contribution in the KFOR force after, not counting the enabling force...
Mr. Bacon: The enabling force will go in first. That will be about 4,000 people in all. It will set up the operation. It will set up the headquarters. It will begin providing force protection. It will set up a Joint Military Commission similar to what we have in Bosnia. I know there are six Bosnian journalists here, and the Joint Military Commissions have been very important in Bosnia as a way to create dialogue between the U.S. forces and the local population in order to sort out various issues. And they will very quickly set up a Joint Military Commission in Kosovo as well as a headquarters and begin force protection and patrols.
Q: That's in the town we can't pronounce...
Mr. Bacon: Gnjilane, right. That's the town that...
Q: Is that 4,000 figure just a round-off of the 3,600 from yesterday? Or...
Mr. Bacon: I said that 200 more people are going down there, so that will get it up to 3,800, but on the theory that numbers always grow, we're talking about an enabling force of about 4,000 people in Kosovo.
Q: Sorry about these numbers, but the 200 refers to...
Mr. Bacon: That refers to the initial entry force, the headquarters, the initial entry force for Task Force Falcon. So these are people who will come down from Germany and begin to set up the headquarters. They'll join the Marines and the Task Force Hawk people.
So there will basically be three elements. The first is the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. That's, 1,900 people. The second is 1,700 people from Task Force Hawk. We talked about that yesterday. That involves eight helicopters, and it involves a light infantry unit. Then there will be the 200 people, the initial entry force, from Task Force Falcon. They'll come down and begin setting up.
Then as the Army force comes in, the Marines will leave. The Army force will come down with its equipment.
Q: Will the Task Force Hawk people remain?
Mr. Bacon: I don't think that's been decided yet. That will be worked out later.
Q: At one time then, there will be closer to 11,000 U.S. troops taking part -- the 7,000 that will be the permanent part of KFOR plus the 4,000 that are parts of initial entry forces...
Mr. Bacon: As I think I just explained, the enabling force will leave as the...
Q: But over time we will have had that many taking part in different...
Mr. Bacon: There will be 11,000 separate soldiers, or 22,000 separate feet on the ground in Kosovo. (Laughter) Separate American feet. But they won't all be there at the same time. There will be 11,000 separate soldiers there -- and Marines -- but they won't all be there at the same time, because the enablers will start leaving as the Army starts coming in.
Q: Ken, [will the Apaches] move down to Macedonia with Task Force Hawk, or will they go directly...
Mr. Bacon: Well, they aren't going to fly over Kosovo at this time. They will, as far as I know, I think they'll transit down through Albania and probably fly into Macedonia, then at the appropriate time up into Kosovo.
Q: How many (inaudible)?
Mr. Bacon: Well, if this transition takes place as planned, if the movement takes placed as planned, which is that all of Task Force Falcon, the 7,000 soldiers from Germany, primarily from Germany, are there within 30 days of the Military Technical Agreement, the Marines will start leaving sometime prior to those 30 days.
Q: The 1,700 are moving now out of Albania toward Macedonia?
Mr. Bacon: They're moving toward Macedonia, but they're not in Macedonia yet.
Q: When do you expect them to be...
Mr. Bacon: Nobody's going to go into Macedonia until we get the Military Technical Agreement, is my understanding. The reason is there's already a lot of congestion in...
[Chart referred to is a map of Kosovo, which has not been uploaded.]
Mr. Bacon: Well, it's not, the distances aren't very far. You can see that the border is right here, and Skopje is there. It's not very far. I think it's relatively -- they can move relatively quickly. They think they can be there in 48 to 72 hours. The Marines can get up from Thessaloniki into Kosovo in 72 to 96 hours. So they'll be -- remember, after the Military Technical Agreement is signed, the withdrawal will begin and there will be some period of time of withdrawing forces before NATO declares a bombing pause. After NATO declares a bombing pause, the U.N. Security Council has to vote a resolution that will provide for the KFOR to go in. Then NATO itself has to vote an Activation Order -- that's sort of the NATO legal authority for the KFOR to go in. These three events should happen relatively soon after one another. But there will be some time -- we will know, maybe there will be a lapse of up to 24 hours before any troops begin moving anywhere, that is 24 hours after the Military Technical Agreement is signed.
Q: Ken, what do you hear through your channels -- I know you don't like to discuss them too much, but is there progress being made? Are we getting close? Can you tell us what maybe the sticking points are?
Mr. Bacon: No. I think it's encouraging that the talks are continuing. The Serbs initially left for a break of an evening and decided to return and continue the talks. But these talks have been long and difficult so far, and I don't think there's any reason to suspect that there would be a rapid conclusion, but there could be. We hope there will be.
The one thing we do know is that as long as the talks continue -- until there is an agreement -- NATO will continue its air campaign, and in the last several days that air campaign has been inflicting heavy damage on Serb forces.
So right now Slobodan Milosevic has a choice. He can sign this agreement or have his people sign the agreement and have the withdrawal begin and the bombing stop after the withdrawal's been certified, or he can continue to watch Serb forces take heavy losses. That's the choice.
Q: Let me just do a quick follow-up on that. You said the air campaign is continuing, but we're getting evidence it's slacked off around Belgrade. Is that true?
Mr. Bacon: Well, you ask me this question every day, and I give you the same answer every day, which is that the air campaign has ebbs and flows. I think you'll see that when General Wald puts up his chart, that we are attacking generally forces on the ground in Kosovo, but we continue to attack some targets outside of Kosovo, and where those targets are varies from day-to-day.
Q: Yesterday, you showed us on the map the exit routes and exit points. Can you show us up there how the phased part of this operation would work? In other words, the demarcation line?
Mr. Bacon: I think it's premature to talk about the phasing at this stage until the talks are over.
But there's one thing I should clarify since you mentioned clarification. I said something in error a couple of days ago about the mutual security zone, the 25-kilometer zone. I said that it applied to both air defense and to ground forces. This zone will run from the border of Albania all the way around through Serbia to the border of Macedonia. It will be 25 kilometers for air defense forces and five kilometers for ground forces. So within this air defense zone, the ground forces will be five kilometers from the border with Kosovo, and the air defense forces will be 25 kilometers away, which will mean that the planes patrolling inside Kosovo will be out of the range of SA-6s, which is...
Q: Ken, you're pointing. What's the red square?
Mr. Bacon: That's for the next part of my presentation. I'm prepared to move on to that now if you're ready.
Q: A point of clarification. You say the Task Force Hawk that are going to join the enabling forces started moving. When you say moving, are they actually on the road, or are they starting to pack up? When do you expect to have them on the border area?
Mr. Bacon: I don't know whether they're there yet, but I understand they are beginning to move, and whether that's packing or actually wheels rolling yet, I don't know.
Q: Are the Marines still definitely the first troops in, or might the Task Force Hawk troops go in first if it works out that way in terms of timing?
Mr. Bacon: No, the Marines still plan to be the first people in.
Q: In terms of the sequencing, is it your understanding that after there is a bombing pause declared and before the NAC votes on the Activation Order, that that will be the moment when, in between there, between when the U.N. Security Council votes on its resolution, there will not be an Activation Order until there's a U.N. resolution, a Security Council...
Mr. Bacon: My understanding is that -- as described yesterday by Secretary Albright and by Minister Cook of the United Kingdom -- my understanding is that the U.N. Security Council Resolution will come first. That will be the first action after the bombing pause. Then the Activation Order will come after the Security Council Resolution.
Q: Time to withdraw?
Mr. Bacon: General Wald will talk more about that, in fact has a photo that he'll show you. But we have seen no evidence yet that Serb troops are withdrawing. We have seen the assembly of some heavy equipment transport trucks or HETs in the Nis area, and General Wald will show you a picture of that. We've seen -- the standard practice for the Serb military is to move its heavy equipment by rail. But many of the rail lines have been damaged, so that's now difficult. They appear to be assembling a group of HETs, heavy equipment transports, that they could use to take out tanks and other armored vehicles.
Q: Have you seen anything that you can identify in terms of activity different from between VJ, MUP and paramilitary? Or is this just general signs involving Serbs in general?
Mr. Bacon: I don't think we've seen that degree of differentiation. I want to point out again, what we haven't seen is the most important movement, and that is movement out. That has not yet occurred.
Q: At the NATO briefing today they described a type of artillery tactic which they said was commonly used by ground forces that were in the process of retreating. In other words, you lay down an artillery attack as you are getting your forces away to make it more difficult for the enemy to close on you.
Do your analysts see that kind of a tactical retreat on their part?
Mr. Bacon: We have not seen tangible evidence of a tactical retreat. In terms of that particular tactic, I'm not sure why they would have to use it, because Mr. Thachi, the political director for the Kosovar Liberation Army, promised Secretary Albright yesterday that the KLA would not attack the retreating or exiting Serb forces. We anticipate, for reasons that we've discussed here over the last week or so, that they will honor that commitment.
There's no good served by the KLA attacking the retreating Serb forces. It would only impede their departure. And everybody wants the most rapid possible departure. By everybody I mean NATO as well as the KLA. That's what will ultimately form the foundation for allowing the refugees to come back -- the departure of the Serb forces, the entry of the NATO forces, and the establishment of a secure environment.
Q: What would you say would be the major security threat that the Marines will face when they first come in?
Mr. Bacon: I think they have to worry about mines, obviously. I think they have to beware of snipers or people who have not pulled out -- who should have but didn't pull out -- who hide in the trees or the forests. I'm not predicting that will happen, but clearly any military force would have to be worried about that and take measures to protect against that.
As I pointed out, the British announced yesterday that they plan to seize the high ground along their entry route as they move from Skopje up to Pristina, and one of the first things they plan to do is move in and seize high ground in this area, which is fairly hilly, so that they will control, in the best Army tactics, the high ground, and then be able to monitor the route from the hills and the mountains as they watch the tanks roll in.
Q: Will they also then deal with the mine threat to a certain extent? Or is that the first people in?
Mr. Bacon: Yes. As I said, the two -- well, the Brits will as well. Obviously, the first troops in will do the initial demining.
But as you can appreciate here, the Brits are going to roll up here into Pristina, which is their headquarters, but also will be the KFOR headquarters and the NATO headquarters in Kosovo. Our sector includes Urosevac right here, which is on the main road. But then Gnjilane over here, we have to peel off and move east down this -- it's also a main road, but it's not as much of a super highway as this is. We'll, of course, be responsible for the demining along this road here as we move to our area.
Q: Are the mines mainly along the border area, though, or do you know?
Mr. Bacon: Well, I think that's one of the things we don't know. In Bosnia when we moved in, we followed the United Nations forces, so we had a somewhat better assessment of what had happened on the ground. We haven't had people on the ground in Kosovo, obviously, for the last 11 weeks. Therefore, we don't have a clear idea.
There are some reports coming out of Kosovo and Albania today that Serb troops are burning villages, and there have also been reports in the last couple of days that Serb troops have been laying down mines. So we'll just have to see whether these reports are accurate, and we'll have to be very careful in the early days about making sure that the routes are well cleared.
This is exactly analogous to what happened in Bosnia. You may remember there were pictures -- I remember a piece; it might have been by John McWethy, but it was on ABC -- of soldiers lying on the ground poking with bayonets to find mines around Tuzla. So there will be extensive demining activities.
Q: Will the Serb authorities know where the mines are? I mean isn't it possible that they simply lack records of...
Mr. Bacon: It's possible, but certainly they have a better chance of having records than we do, for two reasons. One, they were the people who put down the mines, and two, they've been moving through this area. So presumably to move safely, they have to know where the mines are.
Q: What about unexploded NATO ordnance? Do you have any estimate on how many bombs and missiles might be there that didn't explode? And is that expected to be any sort of a problem at all?
Mr. Bacon: We don't. I don't have an estimate of that. I suppose there's some statistical estimate. I don't know how useful it would be. General Wald may have an idea of what percentage of ordnance...
General Wald: Very small.
Mr. Bacon: Very small, he says. So maybe it's not a big problem. But obviously, it's something that our forces would have to be...
Q: In the demining, will some Serb troops physically stay behind to help, or will they only share their records and their maps of where the mines are?
Mr. Bacon: The intention is that some Serb troops -- they will not stay behind. They may return to participate in demining operations.
The plan is that all Serb troops -- army, special police and paramilitaries -- will leave. Then very small numbers, in the hundreds, will be allowed to come back under tightly supervised conditions, so we don't buy ourselves new problems. Some of those could participate in demining.
Q: Will they take any sort of humanitarian supplies at all when they go in? Tents, anything that would be to provide any direct, immediately relief to the Kosovar Albanians?
Mr. Bacon: That will not happen initially. Obviously, one of the things they'll do is complete an assessment. Our Air Force has been looking at the possibility of airdrops, principally from C-130s, to internally displaced people -- the 500,000 or so people, many of them in the central area here -- who have been driven from their homes and are living in the hills.
One of the things that the military and the humanitarian operators will do when they arrive is perform an assessment of the health and food conditions in the country and decide how urgently that has to be addressed.
Clearly, the most efficient way to get in food is through convoys, but the roads will be clogged with military vehicles. That would have to be sequenced. Airdrops could be helpful in the early stages, and that is, in fact, something we're looking at.
Q: Ken, do you have any up-to-date information after yesterday's report to us about the ground war within Kosovo, specifically in Junik and Mount Pastrik?
Mr. Bacon: Nothing has really changed since yesterday. If anything, the fighting has died down a little. There still tend to be some engagements between the forces, but nothing dramatic. And no, nothing has really changed in the Mount Pastrik area where the forces, the KLA forces, have been sort of pinned against the border, and the other, up here in Junik, there is still some fighting. Junik's right there. There is some fighting going on, but nothing changed dramatically since yesterday.
Q: How many tanks do you have with the initial entry forces?
Mr. Bacon: Well, quite a few. I don't have them laid out here, but if you ask Colonel Bridges, he can tell you. The Task Force Hawk group, for instance, is 1,700 soldiers going in. It has one tank company that has 14 M1-A1 tanks. It has a mechanized infantry company that has 14 Bradley fighting vehicles in it. This is just the initial group of 1,700 from Task Force Hawk.
The Marine Expeditionary Unit, the 26th, doesn't have tanks, but it does have light armored vehicles, 13 of them, one company of those. It has some armored amphibious vehicles, 15 of those, which are tank-like in that they're armored and have some weaponry on them. They have an artillery battery. They have 27 HMMWVs, these jeep-like things armed with TOW missiles, which can be used in anti-tank or anti-armor engagements. Then, of course, a lot of helicopters.
Now that's just in the initial entry force. Also the group coming down from Germany, the lead element of Task Force Falcon, will have four Bradley fighting vehicles in the mechanized platoon that it's bringing with it.
Q: Do you anticipate all of Task Force Falcon's weaponry coming by ship, or are they going to airlift some in, possibly to Macedonia, and then drive in?
Mr. Bacon: It's always risky at this stage to say all, something's going to happen all one way. The good thing about plans is they can always be changed. But right now they seem to be contemplating primarily a maritime transport of equipment down there.
Q: Was the notion that everything, including all personnel then, would be in place and all of it up and running within 30 days?
Mr. Bacon: That is their hope.
Q: Just one other quick question, just to make sure I'm covering it. Do you see any evidence of any Serb mischief-making near the Montenegrin border area or in the north in Hungary? Do you see any evidence they're...
Mr. Bacon: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q: Ken, can you tell us about the red square?
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied+Force]
Mr. Bacon: Yes. Several days ago people asked me if we were seeing any destruction of evidence of atrocities, and I said that we had heard reports of destruction but we didn't have any firm evidence. Now we do have some firm evidence.
[Photo - Grave Tampering near Izbica, Kosovo]
This is the mass grave site at Izbica. That red dot -- maybe you should just turn it around. The red dot is approximately where Izbica is, the town of Izbica. It's very small.
We've known, we've had reports since April that people have been killed in the area of Izbica and buried in mass graves, and this is a picture of what we believe is a mass grave site taken on the 15th of May. There are 143 graves here.
On June 3rd this second picture shows what appears to have been a bulldozing over this area. That's what this black splotch is here.
This has been monitored from time to time. There was a period when bad weather prevented monitoring every day, but this June 3rd picture seems to show that this area has been tampered with.
Coincidentally, we have reports from refugees that -- and actually from the Kosovo Press, which is a Kosovar newspaper that's now printed in Albania, and from television reports in Tirane -- that Serbian troops entered Izbica on the 3rd of June and destroyed graves of people who were killed there. There were reports that many bodies were exhumed and that earthmoving equipment or bulldozers could have been used to cover up the mass grave site.
So this is one example that we have run across recently that leads us to believe that there is some evidence supporting the refugee accounts of tampering with mass grave sites.
Q: What do you believe happened to the bodies that were exhumed?
Mr. Bacon: According to the refugee reports, they were carried off to Klina, which is a town that's 14 kilometers, about 14 kilometers north. Klina is right around here. K-L-I-N-A is how one spells Klina. You can look at it later, but Klina is just above this little patch. In fact Izbica is so small that it's not designated on the map, but Klina is.
There's a weekly report made available to members of the press and others who are interested put out by the government that summarizes information we have on atrocities and human rights abuses. The latest edition of that report that came out on Monday says under Izbica, "Serb forces have reportedly killed 270 ethnic Albanians since mid-March. Kosovar Albanian refugees reportedly saw bodies that appeared to have been tortured and burned. Overhead imagery confirmed the presence of a mass burial site. Video taken by a Kosovar Albanian in Izbica from mid-April showed the corpses of at least 100 ethnic Albanian men, most with wounds to the head." Now this video actually has been shown on television, and I think many of you have seen it.
Now we have a new chapter, which is a picture that leads us to believe that there may have been efforts to tamper with that mass grave site.
Q: Just to be clear, because when we look at this picture, the area where -- you can see the individual graves. Now it just appears to be one big, a black area. Is that because of the work of earth-moving equipment or bulldozers? Or has there been some burning or torching of this area to try to destroy evidence? How do you interpret that?
Mr. Bacon: I think that it's difficult to be completely clear about what happened, but it looks as if a bulldozer or other earth-moving equipment has been run over where the individual graves used to be. That's what appears to have happened, but we don't have pictures of bulldozers running over this site. What we do have is a picture that looks like a mass grave site has been either covered up or excavated in some way.
Q: Do the refugee reports indicate what happened after the bodies were taken to Klina?
Mr. Bacon: No. They said they were carried off. The refugees reported that "bodies were exhumed and carried off in the direction of Klina, and that the remainder of the graves were covered over in an attempt to disguise their existence."
These are the refugee reports and the only evidence we have that this has happened is this picture.
Q: Do you have any evidence the bodies were cremated?
Mr. Bacon: As I've said before, there have been many stories of cremation, and we have looked into them, but have yet been able to confirm that there have been cremations. I think that's something that we could learn more about when human rights investigators actually get to go back into Kosovo.
Q: Was that the motivation behind striking the copper smelting plant? Was there a fear, a suspicion, that that would be the crematorium? Or is that unrelated?
Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that that -- I think it was unrelated. I'm not aware that was the reason for striking it.
Q: Is the picture on the Web site, or can we get a copy of it?
Mr. Bacon: All these pictures go on the Web site, so this will appear on the Web site.
You should all know that the still pictures are automatically put on the Web site after the briefing, so you should be able to get a copy of it there. The motion pictures are not.
Q: A couple of things, just one really briefly. That black mark that was referred to, that's just a shadow, right? That's a shadow basically of a hill. Correct? Or you don't...
Mr. Bacon: Well, I think you can draw your own conclusion. We, what we have is a shape that seems pretty precisely to match the shape of the other grave site. It seems pretty odd that a hill would be exactly that shape.
Q: That's what I'm asking. What you have there is dirt piled up basically on top of where the graves were...
Mr. Bacon: We have a picture that suggests, that may suggest that an effort has been made to cover up this mass grave site. We have refugee reports that bodies were exhumed and efforts were made to cover it up. And we have a picture that appears to suggest that's the case. But what we need to do is to get investigators in to actually take a look at what happened here.
Q: The other thing, on a different subject. You referred earlier to reports of additional mining activities going on, placement of mines. Are those media reports or intelligence reports? If they're intelligence reports, do you have any detail as far as the scale of this or where it happened?
Mr. Bacon: No. They're reports mainly from refugees. Much of our information comes from refugees coming across the border who presumably would be available to talk to the press as well.
But it's hard to know from talking to these refugees in a series of conversations sometimes the magnitude of the activities they describe. Remember, these people tend to be stressed when they come across. I'm not suggesting the evidence isn't accurate, but it's a question of putting together a lot of verbal reports and trying to come up with a complete picture of what's happened.
Q: How soon might the human rights investigators be allowed in? Could they go in with the enabling forces, or will they have to wait until after most of the peacekeepers get there?
Mr. Bacon: I think that's a good question that I can't answer. The U.N. Security Council Resolution does require cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. So I assume that there will be an effort to get people in relatively soon.
Clearly, this issue of atrocities is on everybody's mind. It's one of the reasons why we're so anxious to get the Serb troops out and NATO troops in.
Let me turn it over to General Wald who has a very good report.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/#slides]
General Wald: Good afternoon.
[Chart - Weather Conditions]
We'll start with the weather, as usual. The weather today has been not so good in the north part of the FRY area. The southern part, in Kosovo, there's been actually a little thunderstorm activity. Then over the next several days it should improve. Today they've had some good weather in the Kosovo area.
They've had several tanks and artillery pieces attacked. They had a B-52 strike on a Serb VJ assembled military where they were taking on the UCK and destroyed several tanks and artillery pieces.
General Wald: Today. They'll continue to fly throughout the day and night.
[Chart - Level of Effort - Day 77]
Yesterday was a heavy day on fielded forces around the southwest portion of Kosovo. There were 16 fielded forces attacked -- a total of 17 fielded forces, ground force targets, one air defense target. You can see the numbers. Seven tanks, five artillery, APCs, fielded forces. And to date, 34,000 sorties flown.
Q: Do you have any "to date" figures on any of these other categories like tanks, artillery?
General Wald: The numbers for tanks, I think, is somewhere in the 25 percent of what they had, and artillery is somewhere in the 50 percent total, but I don't have the exact numbers today.
Q: What's that one fielded force up in Serbia?
General Wald: That was, this area here was a command bunker.
Q: Can we get those numbers perhaps once, if in fact the war comes to a close any time soon? Can we get a final tally on some of these things?
General Wald: We're starting to work some of that up now, but once again, it's not over. So when that's finished, we'll get the numbers.
[Chart - Operation SUSTAIN HOPE - Last 24 Hours]
On the humanitarian side, that continues. Some of the refugees continue to depart out of Fort Dix. I think there's just over 3,000 there now. Another 100 or so to depart today. And then another 331 arrived at JFK yesterday, or today I should say, this morning. They continue to drop food. The numbers now are up to just about 4,000 HDRs, and 1,350 of what they call "Swiss biscuits" were dropped as of today. They continue to have some sorties scheduled out through the next three or four days. They're looking for some more aircraft, but the USAFE command headquarters is looking at how the Air Force could drop some HDRs and the ConOps for that as we speak.
[Chart - Level of Effort/Refugees]
Once again, you can see support is pretty high for the amount of people that can be fed. This is about two months worth of that food available. They'll still need food to be donated.
The support for the shelter, it was up to 900,000, but after they took a final count -- some of the nations were counting the amount of people a tent could handle by the weight -- they've gone back and they figured out exactly how much they had, and it's just over 800,000 for people to have shelter. Much of that's being prepared for the winter itself. You can see the beds, etc., for the medical side of it.
[Chart - USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT]
I was on the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT on Sunday. Many of you know the type class it is and the specificity as far as what it has for size and operational capability. 97,000 tons of displacement. It can go over 35 knots, which is pretty outstanding for that size of vehicle. It stands at 244 feet. They serve almost 20,000 meals a day out there. They've got almost 3.5 million gallons of fuel on board. The crew, they have over 5,000 folks out there. The average age is 19-1/2. The young man that was driving the boat, steering it, was 19 years old. I don't even think he had a driver's license. (Laughter) They have over 80 aircraft out there, eight squadrons. They have the oldest F-14, the first one that ever was built operationally, still flying with them. Doing a great job. Real impressive. And the morale is way up. Very impressive. Every place I went, morale was sky-high. And they really have a real sense of the mission, which I was impressed with. And the fact is they really feel strongly they're doing the right thing. They feel they're on the side of the angels, and they want to continue this until it's successful and Milosevic makes the right decision and pulls his troops out. So, very impressive.
I'll have a couple of films of some of the pictures of some of the things I saw on the carrier here in a moment.
[Photo - Belgrade - Novi Sad Transmission Tower, Serbia - Post Strike]
Just some imagery over the last few days. This is a couple of days old. The reason I show you this is this was one of their major electrical transmission towers previously. All there is now is a hole with some water in it. That does two things. It stops the electrical transmission of the power itself and also makes it very difficult to repair that. So that was hit about a week ago.
[Photo - Batajnica Airfield, Serbia - Post Strike]
This is the Batajnica airfield, their major airfield up north. They struck three MiG-29s there two days ago. This actually was a command post itself. There's some derelict aircraft here that aren't worth hitting.
The runway itself is semi-repaired right now, but I don't think there's much there to fly out with. I think...
Q: Are they about down to zero for 29's?
General Wald: They may have one or two left. Maybe. They're probably not flyable. About one and a half.
[Photo - Kikinda Army Garrison, Serbia - Post Strike]
This is Kikinda army garrison in Serbia itself. You can see this area here had some fuel storage and ammunition storage areas. Both of these were destroyed. These areas are totally devastated.
[Photo - Pristina Fuel Storage Facility, Kosovo - Post Strike]
Pristina fuel storage. This is the largest, one of three large fuel storage areas in Kosovo itself. This one had about 115,000 gallons of fuel in it. That's been totally destroyed and the fuel destroyed.
[Photo - Pristina General Storage Depot Lebani, Serbia - Post Strike]
Pristina general storage depot. You can see here these four buildings. There used to be a little building here. They've been totally destroyed, along with this one here, is also destroyed. So the Third Army, the majority of their infrastructure is totally destroyed.
[Photo - Heavy Equipment Transport Activity, Serbia]
This is the picture Mr. Bacon was talking about a minute ago. This is Nis, which is in the south, southern part of the FRY itself, just to the east of Kosovo. There are 12 heavy equipment transporters here, tractor trailers, that they've moved in over the last few days. It appears that they're in anticipation of actually trying to move those into Kosovo to move the VJ/MUP army out, but we haven't seen them move out of garrison yet.
Q: You're not going to take those out then...
General Wald: We have no plan to take anything out that will help them move, if they want to make an agreement right now. Anything that moves in Kosovo or the FRY as a military vehicle, obviously, it's still a target.
Carrier ops was outstanding as well as -- I went to Aviano. I went to Moron, Spain. Thirty-seven tankers in Miron. Trapany, Italy. They have the Guard and Reserve there. The CAOC in Aviano.
This is a deck, picture of the ROOSEVELT just an hour before the first takeoff. They bring most of the aircraft up. This is a 2,000-pound GBU-10. You see the size of that. They're loading that. This is two hours prior to their taking off with that particular aircraft. They've got munitions all over the deck. It's safely done, but you can see that they're storing them where they can.
This is on the opposite side of the runway. This is one of the squadrons, the F-14 squadron. You can see 20 APCs, 20 tanks, side of the aircraft. In the back he had, you can see the complement there of 30 artillery and about eight radar. This is an SA-6 there, Straight Flush.
This is the USS Gonzalez pulled up beside us, last day on the cruise in the Med. That was the first ship that fired the first weapon in the Gulf War.
This is a 20 year old female. She's called "Cat Woman." She's the one that approves the launch prior to the aircraft taking off. Twenty years old.
This is the weather as of this morning. You can see there were some clouds over the northern part of the FRY, and Kosovo is pretty clear.
The weather for the next few days is clearing now. It should stay excellent. This is projected for the next few hours, on into tomorrow morning. You see that area of clouds I showed earlier here. That did disrupt some of the flying over the northern part of the FRY. Moving out. Then behind it it shows the weather will start getting clearer as the day goes on, and it has happened.
Q: Excuse me, General, you said B-52s flew today?
General Wald: Yes.
Q: How many sorties did you plan for today? You've told us before how many...
General Wald: I think the number today was around 800 total, and tomorrow's 810 total scheduled.
Q: How many of those are attack sorties?
General Wald: I'll get that in just a second, Charlie, if you remember your question.
This is petroleum storage at Pancevo refinery. This is an F-15E with an AGM-130 missile. It's electro-optical. You can see it comes out through the weather now, clears into that tank. That was a direct hit. There was fuel in it. There was burning afterwards. Obviously, the picture goes away when the munition blows up.
This is another petroleum storage at Pancevo again. Same type of weapon. You can see as it gets down lower here. There is some fuel in here. We had imagery of that, of these tanks burning after the hits.
This is a Long Track early warning radar in southwest Kosovo. This is an F-16 with 2,000-pound LGB again. Fielded force type thing. Early warning. So they continue to fly and take out military targets.
Q: When was that one?
General Wald: This was I think two days ago, the 7th of June.
Forces on the ground. This is one of the heavy equipment trailers we talked about earlier. This is not the one in Nis. This is actually one in Kosovo itself. You can see it trying to put it into an area here. This is actually an abandoned residential area. It's a direct hit. Two days ago.
Q: If you were hitting those two days ago, does that mean that's one truck they can't use to take tanks out, right?
General Wald: That's right. That's what the MTA's for. Here's a tank. They can either drive them out, or they can take them out in pieces. They've got every opportunity...
General Wald: ...to sign -- I beg your pardon?
Q: Isn't that counter-productive?
General Wald: Well, if they signed a peace agreement, it would be, but they haven't yet. So until they sign, they'll continue to be targeted.
This is artillery revetments in central Kosovo. This is an F-15E with laser-guided bombs. Lots of artillery over the last few days. This is 2,000-pound bombs again.
The pilots, in talking to them, have been able to determine a lot better what a dummy is or not a dummy because of the time they've flown over it.
This is a tracked vehicle. Laser-guided bomb again.
The forward air control mission, as I said earlier, the pilots -- mainly they're A-10 and F-14s, some F-18s are flying forward air control missions -- know the area very well now.
Armored vehicle in southern Kosovo. F-16 with a 2,000-pound bomb, a direct hit. There are some secondary explosions off to the side.
More armored vehicles. This is in the vicinity of Mount Pastrik. Mr. Bacon mentioned this earlier. There's still some fighting going on. This is an F-14 off the TR, kind of washed out in here. You can see it better on the cockpit video. They took out some artillery on that site with the F-14 Tomcat.
The question is, is it counter-productive. It would sound that way. The fact of the matter is, there's no agreement signed. They continue to fire artillery. They continue to fight. They continue to burn houses. So until the Military Technical Agreement is signed, the military mission is to continue to attack VJ/MUP forces, and we'll continue to do that.
Q: Out of the 800, how many strike missions?
General Wald: Out of the 800 tomorrow, or today I should say, about 175 of those are strike. Still at about the 70 percent range for combat-type sorties.
Q: General, this is really more an intel question. There seems to be some discussion that the talks about the number of days given to schedule Serb forces out -- can they actually extract themselves, physically move out of Kosovo within seven days?
General Wald: I believe they can. It's going to be difficult. They'll have to work at it, but they're going to need to do that. I think everybody's heard once the agreement is signed and there's verifiable evidence that they are moving, then we'll let them go ahead and move.
Q: There was some talk that they claim they can't. They need ten days or so.
General Wald: I think that's what the talks are all about right now. I think Sir General Jackson is handling that, and I think he has a good feel for whether they can do it or not, and whatever they come up with, that will be the agreement.
Q: Can you sketch out the B-52 attack a little bit? Tell us what was dropped, what you believe was hit, where it happened?
General Wald: First of all, it was in southwest Kosovo. It was against some Serb VJ assembled forces that were actually fighting. It was, I believe, Mk-82s today. I think yesterday they dropped Mk-84s. The 84 is a 2,000-pounder. Today they dropped 82s. If it was 82s, probably 44 per aircraft. There were tanks, artillery, trucks, APCs, and forces in that attack. I understand after the attack there has been some verification of the artillery, tanks, APCs and trucks being destroyed, and there were forces moving out of that area after the attack.
Q: Any sense of how...
General Wald: On foot. On foot, from what I understand.
Q: How large of a force was it?
General Wald: I don't know how large. There are indications it was fairly large, but I'm not sure how large.
Q: General, do you have any of the figures to date of the number of -- you gave the total number of sorties. How many of those were strike sorties, and how many bombs have been dropped at this point?
General Wald: We'll get the exact numbers, but the numbers of bombs I think is in the 22,000 range. Sorties, we already talked about 34,000 plus. Strike sorties is usually I think around, about 25 percent per day is strike. We can get you the actual numbers later. But then there is suppression of enemy air defense involved with that, combat air patrol as well, some forward air control missions. Then they actually have other strike, BAI-type missions that are against fixed targets. So...
Q: You said a couple of times in the course of the briefing -- I'm sorry, did you have something else...
General Wald: Right. Out of -- there were 9,372 strike sorties flown as of yesterday.
Q: You said a number of times in briefing over the recent weeks that if they continued this trend for some period of time, that at some point Slobodan Milosevic would have very little left of his military. I know the war is not over yet, but if it were to end today, how would you characterize what he has left of his military at this point? Is his capability reduced by half? Or is there a way to characterize in a general way the extent of how things have been degraded over this 77 day campaign?
General Wald: Mr. Bacon just handed me this.
Army and police, one-third of the armored vehicles are gone. I can give you all these numbers. We'll give you that later. But it's hard to tell totally what his capability is, but I would say from a broad perspective his Third Army is in very bad shape. He has no infrastructure to go back to for his Third Army. Much of his artillery and fielded forces for tanks and APCs has been destroyed. We'll give you the actual numbers later.
First Army has been hit hard. His capability from a long perspective is very, very bleak from the standpoint of trying to replace his equipment.
All of his, almost all of his -- we talked about it earlier - front-line fighters have been destroyed. Whatever he has left, I'm sure, is probably not flyable. If it is, it would be very hard to maintain.
A large majority of MiG-21s are destroyed. I think 25 or 30 percent of those. A large majority of his Galebs have been destroyed. A larger percentage than MiG-21s, I believe. He still has some SAMs, but many of his top radars for controlling SAMs have been destroyed. He still has some capability there.
Long-term sustainment from the standpoint of building munitions or fixing vehicles has been hit extremely hard. His capacity to store fuel has been hit in a very, very big way. He's going to have to spend a lot of money for infrastructure reconstruction.
So I'd say from a military perspective, long term, he needs to wonder now whether he has a military that can defend his own country, I believe. He'll have to watch that.
Q: General, originally there were 40,000 troops in or around Kosovo. Obviously, there aren't [that] many, unless there have been reinforcements.
General Wald: Well, there have, as Mr. Bacon has mentioned many times, I think, some reservists that have been brought in.
Q: Are you still working under the assumption that there are 40,000 Serb forces? And you must have some kind of idea...
General Wald: We're making the assumption now that it's probably less than 40,000, but they still have a substantial number of people there. It would probably be -- it's hard to tell exactly what the number is, but it's somewhere below 40,000. It's probably over 35,000.
Q: How would you know -- if you're not clear on the number -- how would you know when they're all gone?
General Wald: Because we will have a peacekeeping force that goes in and monitors as they leave, that they're not there anymore. So there's an assumption based on the MTA that when they start departing, we see a verifiable departure that the ARRC, General Jackson and NATO forces will go in, and they will actually be in place to monitor this.
Q: So would the schedule that is being talked about and hammered out right now, be based upon 35,000-plus troops and the time it takes...
General Wald: I don't think the concept is that we're going to have somebody at the border counting bodies as they leave. I think the concept is to see large movement, verifiable movement of them leaving, them not fighting anymore. And then when the NATO force gets in, they'll go through their procedures, and they'll have a way to verify there isn't any fighting going on anymore.
Q: To piggyback to that. The question of casualties. [NATO] officials in the last couple of weeks, when asked, have said there are possibly up to 10,000 casualties including possibly 5,000 Serbs dead. In your travels to Aviano, the CAOC and various places, did you get a sense at all in terms of what casualties have been caused by the pilots?
General Wald: No, I didn't at all. I've seen film of, as a matter of fact I'll try to show one later, tomorrow I guess, where they attacked a gun pit. They missed by a few feet on the first one, and on imagery there were people running away from that gun pit, and then they attacked and blew up the gun pit, so those forces actually survived. So who knows? Sometimes there may be people surviving, sometimes not. It's going to be very difficult to tell until we actually get on the ground. Even then, I'm not sure we'll ever know for sure, because I imagine they would take their casualties with them as they leave.
Q: Where does NATO come up with the 10,000 figure? It's been repeated a few times.
General Wald: I think it's estimates from various sources and some HUMINT and other intel sources, their methodologies they use. But I can't tell you if that's correct or not. But I have heard numbers in the thousands of those casualties as well. But the pilots and the air crew in the field are not dwelling on that number. What they're looking at is the equipment and the forces they're attacking. Ironically, most of them are appalled at what they see on the ground. They have a tough time figuring out why people are wondering why NATO is doing this, because from what they see flying over the top of the area, it is amazingly appalling, and to see how they operate, the Serb VJ, doesn't really quite jive with our way of thinking.
So I think the biggest theme I brought away from the trip was first of all, morale is extremely high, and they want to see this through to the end. They don't want to have some agreement that doesn't fit what we started out with. And number two is most of them are shocked at what they see in their flying over the area.
Q: What kind of technology's used to verify -- we keep hearing the term "verifiable withdrawal." Is it fair to say a lot of the technology that's been used to target them and blow them to smithereens will be employed?
General Wald: I'd say that's accurate. Not only fair. I'm sure they'll be flying the ISR assets in a way that they can verify. And after the fact I'm sure there will be some verification required with air and other means -- the Predator, Hunter, other intelligence means. So, yes, they'll be used in the same fashion to ensure that the agreement is being met.
Q: General, what was the purpose of the trip?
General Wald: The purpose of the trip was to go out and get a feel for what the field, what the morale was like, what the feeling in the field was like, whether what we're saying here is actually accurate to what we hear and what we see. Get a sense for how they feel about their support back here, how they feel about the military mission they've been given. I think it's amazing, the lack of cynicism in the field. It's impressive. I think it's amazing the amount of support they feel they've gotten where they need it. I think they know the general American public supports this. I think the NATO people I've talked to, their pilots and air crew feel the same way. It's amazing to me the lack of controversy there is amongst -- the captains are the ones that usually speak up, and they'll tell you exactly like it is if you've ever been around them. And they told me exactly like they thought it was.
On the carrier, they wanted to keep going until this thing was solved properly, as well as at Aviano. Aviano has been working awful hard. They've been ridden hard for about seven years, and there was no lack of flight left in their spirit whatsoever. I thought they were pretty mature about the situation as far as the military mission they've been given, had a lot of faith in their commanders. And they were, probably the biggest surprise to me was how surprised actually the air crew were and how well things were working from not just the mission itself, but from the actual equipment they were using.
I want to mention one thing about the aircraft carrier. They got into the area -- they weren't planning to go into the Med. They were planning to go into the Gulf and were told to turn north and go to the Adriatic Sea as they were going toward the Gulf. And they had planned to do some more work-ups before they got to the Gulf. So they started their missions with still some of their training they needed to do yet to be done. So they started out without some of the training on some of the equipment they hadn't used before, and used it for the first time. They were as amazed as we are at how well some of that's worked. So they've done a great job. I'm really impressed with them. And their attitudes are great.
Q: Did you get any sense from the crews or the commanders, any sense of surprise that this thing took this long to accomplish the breaking of Milosevic?
General Wald: I don't think it was a surprise so much as I don't think anybody exactly knew how long it would take. But I think the biggest sense I got was that they don't want to finish it until it's finished. They don't want this thing to end until it's to the point of -- they feel it should be finished. They're wondering why Milosevic would put his forces through this at a point where he obviously -- all he has to do is agree to the terms of agreement and his forces can go on home. So I think they would be somewhat shocked as to the fact that he's still putting them through this. But from the standpoint of how long it would take, I don't think anybody really knew for sure.
Q: Did you hear any airmen that you spoke to believe that the end is near, that...
General Wald: I think the airmen I spoke to across the board wondered why Milosevic had waited this long. I think from a responsible standpoint, most of these people are -- the ones that fly the aircraft are mostly officers. They know what it's like to be responsible for troops, people that work for you. I think most of them wonder why somebody would put their people through something like this this long and why they'd wait so long.
Q: Do you think it's excessive and it could be (inaudible) hoping for peace, or could we say that?
General Wald: I think they hoped for peace before it started. That's kind of the military ethos. But they don't think we did anything excessive, by any means. They think Milosevic certainly has done...
Q: I wanted to ask, a clarification. On the F-14 Tomcat you showed us with the markings on it, they were kills from that one aircraft?
General Wald: No, that squadron.
Q: That squadron.
Press: Thank you.