DoD News Briefing, Wednesday, May 5, 1999 - 2:00 p.m.
Also Participating: Maj. Gen. Chuck Wald, J-5 and Brig. Gen. Leroy Barnidge Jr., 509th Bomber Wing
Related briefing slides
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
Before we move to the generals, let me give you a little rundown on what the lineup is going to be.
Of course, Major General Chuck Wald is here. He'll give you an operational update in just a minute.
Today, however, we're also joined by Brigadier General Leroy Barnidge who is the Commander of the 509th Bomber Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base. He's here to give you a run-down on B-2 operations. So we welcome General Barnidge. He will follow General Wald.
Before I turn it over to the generals, though, let me give you a quick update on some of the activities that have been going on.
First of all, with regard to the tornadoes in the Midwest, Oklahoma and Kansas have called up more than 850 Air and Army National Guardsmen and women to help provide security, shelter, and debris removal services. The Army Corps of Engineers has deployed 29 soldiers from the 249th Engineering Battalion for duty with the FEMA headquarters in Oklahoma City. They're providing or are preparing to provide some emergency water, ice, and power generation if and when that is needed.
More than 350 military personnel from Tinker Air Force Base and from Fort Sill are supporting local efforts to shelter, provide food services, and search and rescue services to those who are victims of the tornadoes.
I think some of you have already seen the coverage of a group of refugees moving towards the United States today. That group is now scheduled to arrive at McGuire Air Force Base at about 4:20[P.M]. this afternoon. That's Eastern Daylight Time. They will immediately move to adjacent Fort Dix for processing.
This is one of three focuses that we have on refugees. This group of 453 refugees coming on this first plane [is] going to have to go through the processing that is required when they get to the United States, and that, of course, is handled by Health and Human Services and also the State Department.
The First Lady will be traveling up to Fort Dix this evening to welcome that first group of refugees coming to the United States. There will be follow-on flights later this week on Friday, and on Monday and Wednesday of next week.
In addition to these refugees, there is another category or refugees undergoing this process in theater. Those refugees will be coming directly to the United States commencing later this week. They will go immediately to sponsors and families, relatives, that are already here in the United States. Those individuals don't have to be processed in the same way in the United States, and as a result they will not be coming to Fort Dix. The group coming to Fort Dix will probably be there for at least a couple of weeks while they go through this processing.
The third part of this program is the part that you've already been hearing about which is the construction of refugee camps in Albania. One of those camps is already under construction. That's a camp for 20,000.
Secretary Cohen has authorized the European Command to construct a second one of these camps for an additional 20,000 people, refugees, in coordination with the government of Albania and the non-governmental authorities as well as UNHCR, which are working the refugee challenge that is taking place throughout that entire region. So that will update you on refugees.
The other thing that I would like to report to you is that the International Committee of the Red Cross visited today for the first time with the second of the two Yugoslav prisoners of war who are presently in Germany. The ICRC delegation included one official and a translator, and they were accompanied by a U.S. doctor who was present to report to them on his findings as to their medical condition.
My understanding is that the second one of these prisoners of war was reported to be in good condition. I would refer you to the ICRC for further information about their visits.
We, by the way, don't know when they're scheduled to visit again.
With that I would like to...
Q: If I can just ask you one thing before you go, Mike...
Captain Doubleday: Yes.
Q: There were reports from the Yugoslav region this morning that perhaps one or perhaps two convoys, medical convoys, were struck from the air. One came from Greece, apparently, and one came from Doctors Without Borders. Have you anything on that?
Captain Doubleday: Let me ask General Wald to come up and start his briefing by addressing that. I think he's been talking to some of the people over there in theater on this subject.
David, did you want one before?
Q: Yes. Is it true that the second Apache crash has prompted the Pentagon to order a safety stand-down with the Apaches?
Captain Doubleday: To my knowledge the Pentagon, first of all, has not done that, nor would it be appropriate for the Pentagon to do that. Any such action would normally be taken at a much lower level, for instance the unit commander or somewhere in the chain of command over there. And again, maybe General Wald knows whether that has occurred. It would not be unusual for that kind of stand-down to occur after an accident for some period of time, but I don't think it would be any kind of an order that would come out of the Pentagon.
Q: Mike, what's the total number of refugees headed to the United States? Do you know?
Captain Doubleday: Right now, today...
Q: Total. Not today. Today and...
Captain Doubleday: Well, we've indicated that up to 20,000 can come to the United States. Now Fort Dix can handle 3,000 at any one time, but since this is kind of a two-pronged process -- one of the processing centers being here in the United States and the other one being over in theater -- we're not constrained necessarily by that number. And we also have a second location in mind, if we want to expand further the processing done at military installations.
Q: Do you know about how many you're expecting?
Captain Doubleday: Right now I believe it's 20,000. Eventually there will be 20,000.
Q: What about in these -- I think you mentioned there would be four flights of refugees in the next ten days?
Captain Doubleday: I think they'll probably have about the same number that this one has. This one has 453, and my guess is that most of them will have similar numbers of refugees on board. But the numbers who have gone through the processing in-theater, we don't really have any visibility on those since they don't come through any military installations.
Q: Do you have further information since Cohen spoke this morning about whether or not the two Yugoslav prisoners will be returned, handed over?
Captain Doubleday: No. Other than the fact that one of the things he was looking for was to have the ICRC visit with the prisoners of war, and that now has occurred. He indicated during that early morning press conference that he wanted the process to go forward, and he wanted a recommendation to come to him. But no decision has been made on that.
Q: Has a recommendation gone to him?
Captain Doubleday: No. To my knowledge, no recommendation has gone to him.
Q:...would they be turned over to a neutral third party like the ICRC or the Swiss? Or how would that work?
Captain Doubleday: At this point I just can't speculate on how it would happen.
Okay? General Wald.
Major General Wald: I think you had a question on the convoy that was reported.
There were two convoys, I believe. What I've understood from talking to people in Europe is that they've reviewed every possible mission they can review, every tape they can review over that period of time, and there are no indications whatsoever that we attacked even close to one of those convoys. So we can find no evidence at all that that has any truth to it. And from what I understand, the convoy people are in contact back to their own headquarters or their supervisors, and they don't know whether they were attacked from the air or the ground, so they can't even verify whether it was an air attack. So whether it was the Serbs or not, I couldn't tell you.
Q: Do these humanitarian groups that are operating to some limited extent inside Kosovo, do they tell you where they are? Do you keep track of where they are so you do not hit them?
Major General Wald: I think there's some indication where they generally are. I'm not sure if they're tracking them, per se. But they're not an ATO or anything like that.
Q: There was a report that said they're in touch with the Greek military who coordinates with NATO to determine where they're going and when they're going.
Major General Wald: Correct.
Q: So that's accurate?
Major General Wald: Yes. Well, of course, I know the Greeks know that and they certainly would tell us. So that's correct.
Q: Also, I wonder if you could quickly address whether or not to your knowledge there's going to be any stand-down of the Apaches temporarily?
Major General Wald: Just like Mike said, once again, that's not a Pentagon decision, but I have not heard of any of that. I don't believe the Army has an intention to do that, but you can ask them.
Q: General, just a question. Was the Apache operating alone, or was there another one operating with it that may have seen the Apache, the first one, go down?
Major General Wald: I haven't heard if there is a witness to this or not. They're investigating it, but there were more -- that was more than one Apache operating in a training environment when this occurred.
Q: Does this alter plans at all to use the Apache for the mission, that they will move forward into Albania...
Major General Wald: From what I understand, this doesn't alter any plans that were made previously.
Q: Does it make anyone more cautious about using them since you've already lost two of them, and they haven't even been shot at?
Major General Wald: From an operator's perspective, I don't think you can get any more cautious than we are of doing the job right. What I say there is that the training missions they fly, whether it be Apaches, aircraft, or any other type of training, but now we're talking about aviation, is very demanding. It's got a lot of risk attached to it in peacetime as well as combat. I think there has been an average of 130 deaths in helicopters (sic) over the last six years in training incidents. So it's...
Q: That's overall training.
Major General Wald: Overall training. Exactly. So it's a high risk environment not only in training, because we train to do the wartime mission; but then you add onto it, for example, in Kosovo or in the FRY when they're shooting at you -- it adds that. So we said all along there will be risk. I think when you look back on what's happened in Kosovo over the last month or so, it's been, I think, our success has been almost unbelievable from the standpoint they've flown over 15,000 sorties and have just a couple of aircraft that have either crashed or had to land with damage. So the numbers are outstanding, but it's a high-risk environment. It's high-risk in training, and it's high-risk in operations. It's exacerbated by the fact that we get shot at. So it isn't risk-free, whether it's in training or operations.
Q:...this and aircraft and airframes that have some problems that perhaps you have not detected earlier, when in one week you've lost two -- (inaudible) percent of your force.
Major General Wald: Our indications are there is no specific problem. The incidents were unrelated. There are times where you have an accident here or there -- sometimes they're clumped up -- and many times they have nothing to do with each other. They're not necessarily related. It's just circumstance that happened at this time.
They're training hard in terrain that they're not used to flying in. That's the reason they are training right now. Under tough conditions. They're flying at night with night vision goggles on. Some of them have night vision goggles on. One of the two pilots. They have a heads-up display on a monocle that they're looking out of. They're flying hard missions. They're flying under conditions they would think they would be flying under in combat, so it's very demanding.
But no, there isn't any relation between the two and it has nothing to do with anything doing in Kosovo or anything else.
Q: Were these pilots, or one of them, wearing night vision goggles?
Major General Wald: I suspect they were. Normally one would be flying with night vision goggles. I think you had a briefing on that a week or two ago and there's that detail available.
Q: In that briefing Colonel Hackerson told us that this unit had just completed a rigorous night training course in Germany. He said that in his opinion he thought this was the best-trained Army unit, Army aviation unit available for this.
Given that and the situation, what is left is the conclusion that the best-trained Army aviation unit is not ready for combat in Kosovo or is being withheld from that combat for fear of casualties.
Major General Wald: I think it's just the contrary. They wouldn't send anybody but well-trained units to this type of mission. Once again, I go back to what I said earlier. Whether it's in training or operations, this is dangerous business. We forget that because we have such a good safety record.
There's a tendency to think they're flying airplanes. Some people have said in the paper that we're flying above the threat. I'll go back again. We are never above the threat. The implication, I think, is that flying airplanes has some kind of safety attached to it is wrong. I mean flying airlines is safe. Flying the type of missions we fly in the military has a danger attached to it. That's why we get flight pay, part of the reason.
So the fact of the matter is that an aircraft crashes -- we have aircraft crash at times in all types of training missions, whether it be Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, it happens. It's regrettable. People know that there's a risk attached to it when they go up and take off in an aircraft. That's why we have ejection seats in our fighters, for example. But the fact of the matter is, this has nothing to do with their level of training. They're well trained; they're ready for the mission.
Q: General, the one thing, you said initially, that you really didn't know what caused this second crash. Then you said the two crashes were unrelated as far as circumstances. Did somebody from the field apprise you of that, that they were unrelated? Or are you assuming...
Major General Wald: No, that's what I've heard. From the indications so far of the last incident and this one. They weren't related from a materiel standpoint or a type of training standpoint. They may have similar circumstances attached to it when this is all said and done, but they're in the middle of the investigation right now.
Q: What are you looking at as far as possible causes?
Major General Wald: I don't know what the cause is. They're investigating it. But it could be a number of things. It could be materiel; it could be the terrain; it could be a number of things. Could have flown into a bird; could have flown into a wire. Once again, they're in the middle of the investigation, so until that comes out I'd be speculating, which I just did.
Q: Is there a conclusion about the crash of the first one, what caused that?
Major General Wald: I haven't heard what the conclusion of that one is yet. Have not.
Q: Are there any replenishment plans, and would that have to go through the NATO command structure again, or could you just (inaudible) by yourself?
Major General Wald: Well, there's one aircraft en-route now to replace the first one, and I imagine they'd handle this one the same way they would there. They'd go back and work it through the unit for a request for replacement.
Q: What is the status of Task Force Hawk in terms of its end strength, 5,300 I think is the target.
Major General Wald: I think they are right at around just under 5,000 now. They're getting pretty close to 5,150, I believe is the number. They're pretty close.
Q: Are the ATACMs ready to go, too?
Major General Wald: Almost everything is closed out except a few personnel.
Q: Have the forward bases, the forward positions near the border that would be used for some of the MLRS systems, have those been prepared? Is this unit ready to go?
Major General Wald: Well, the unit is ready to go, but I'm not going to tell you where they're going to deploy to for operational purposes.
Q: One of the other aircraft that's taken a hit recently is an F-117 on Friday. It was an SA-3, apparently, nearby exploded and knocked off a piece of its tail. Do you have any indication -- the plane did return safely to Germany -- do you have any indication that Serbs are able to track or identify F-117s, or is this just another...
Major General Wald: We have no indication whatsoever that they can track 117s.
Q: I take it...
Q:...talking about downed aircraft. There's a picture that's been running on I think Serb TV of what looks very much like the engine of an A-10 on the ground. Has an A-10 been shot up badly enough so that it lost an engine?
Major General Wald: An A-10 was hit two or three nights ago by AAA or a MANPAD. There was a picture of it in one of the newspapers, as a matter of fact. It looked to me like the cowling that surrounded that engine came off. That's probably what you saw there. That aircraft landed at Skopje and is being recovered.
Q: So there's not a new downed...
Major General Wald: No, there is not.
Q: That's an old picture.
Major General Wald: That's a picture of probably the one that was hit the other day.
Q: Do you know what happened with that F-117, how it managed to get down?
Major General Wald: I'm not going to talk anything about 117s today.
Q: Would I be correct in assuming that the President has not yet signed an Executive Order for the use in combat of the Apaches?
Major General Wald: From what I understand, there has been no decision in that area at all.
[Charts available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/#slides]
I'll go through the ops brief -- it's not very long -- and then we can answer some more questions afterwards.
[Charts - Weather Conditions]
As I mentioned yesterday, we saw some weather coming in, and we got hit real hard with weather last night, and it's been not so good today either, so the number of missions went down. They still flew about 500 missions, but the number of pre-planned targets went significantly down. They did hit some fielded forces.
Today, there were over 700 sorties scheduled, but the weather, as I said, is bad today. It looks like it's going to start moving out over the next 24 hours, we hope. It could stay, but if it doesn't then we'll be down for weather a little bit over the next couple of days. But as I said earlier, for the next couple, two or three months, the weather should start improving, and as that improves you'll see these sorties -- I think the day before yesterday we were in the 600 range. Today plan for about 740 or so. You'll see that OPSTEMPO continue to stay above that level and increase on certain days.
[Chart - Level of Effort - Day 42]
As I said last night, a lot of weather, so mainly some fielded forces down here. A radio relay site. And much of that along the border with some outposts and some targets of opportunity and some fielded forces were attacked by B-52s as well.
[Chart - Refugees in Theater]
The humanitarian continues. It appears they're moving a lot of the folks into the Macedonia area -- 7,000 into Albania, but nearly 12,000 into Macedonia. And I think Captain Doubleday talked extensively about the plan for camps and where they might be going.
Major General Wald: No, they attacked with gravity bombs. We don't have any dumb bombs.
Q:...these new smart fuses that allow for the (inaudible)?
Major General Wald: I'm not going to talk about fusing. But the bombs have all types of fusing. They can be delayed fuse; they can be milliseconds of delay; they can be extended delay; they can be fuses that, as you mentioned -- I don't think they're using that type of fuse right now. I think they're probably more of a delayed type fuse or an instantaneous, but I don't think they used that last night, Tony.
[Chart - Operation SUSTAIN HOPE Last 24 Hours]
I just wanted to mention here, just an update, as Captain Doubleday mentioned and I mentioned a minute ago, about 11,600 across the border, most of those into Macedonia. The second site's coming up. The refugees arrive at Fort Dix today, about 453.
[Chart - CAMP HOPE]
Camp Hope is being built as we speak. The first refugees should be able to move in early next week. This is one module of about 240. The idea here is to have, like I say, about ten persons per tent, 240 in a module itself. They'll have sanitary areas as well as kitchens and water areas here. The idea here is so they're not crammed up in one big area, and they are kind of separated. So this one here would have about ten of these modules per 2,500 person camp, and then there will be about three or so of those per camp.
[Chart - Ft. Dix CONOPS for Refugee Reception]
Once again, this was covered a little bit earlier and detailed. The HHS is the lead federal agency with the FORSCOM lead for the military. 747s will bring them in. The 18th Airborne Corps with the 1st COSCOM will stand up at Fort Dix to help interface with Health and Human Services. The plan there is to not have more than about 3,000 refugees at one time, about 1,000 per week, and that should take about 20 or so weeks to fill that out.
Major General Wald: That's where the 18th Airborne Corps is coming out of. As you know, Fort Dix is closing down, so they brought the 18th Airborne up to interface with the Health and Human Services.
[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation +Allied + Force]
Just a little bit of imagery from the last couple of days. This was a TV transmitter in southern Serbia. You can see the areas here that were hit earlier. Then they went back again and hit a couple more. Those buildings there that had the radio transmitter and TV area were destroyed, and that's shut down, which is disrupting TV in the area.
[Photo - Prizren Army garrison, Serbia - Post Strike]
The Army garrison in Prizren -- you can see that these three areas here, this was a large truck and munitions storage area and some buildings over here. They were both destroyed. It's pretty much gone. They hit fielded forces, we continue to do that.
[Photo - Pristina Fuel Depot, Serbia - Post Strike] [Photo - Pec TV & FM Transmitter, Serbia - Pre Strike] [Photo - Pec TV & FM Transmitter, Serbia - Post Strike]
Pristina Fuel depot. Pristina continues to be hit. This was actually a rail trans-loading area here. These are large underground fuel bunkers here. They were both hit and destroyed as well as this building here. And there was an SA-6 over in this area that was destroyed protecting it.
[Photo - Kosovo Polje Ferronickel Plant, Kosovo - Post Strike]
This is the Ferronickel plant that we've shown several times , a large target area with several buildings in it. You can see we continue to take down some of that, and this is still burning over here. Fuel tanks. This has fuel in it. Some of these buildings are destroyed, taking away the VJ/MUP's supportability.
[Photo - Military Deployment Area Damaged, Kosovo - Post Strike]
This is a military deployment area that was out in the field. When we find fielded forces and can verify it, we'll attack them.
This area here was struck, there were some military APC-type vehicles in here, and you can see some of the other areas that were struck along here. I believe from what the imagery said, it was some vehicles in those areas as well.
Then Obrva airfield. What I want to point out here is this was struck earlier. These intersections were actually taken down. They've been repaired in the mean time, but subsequent to that we've taken out some more of their repair and support facilities, so we'll continue to take those down. We did see some flight activity out of there for awhile. Now it's shut down again.
Q: Excuse me, General, are those, the smaller holes there, are those gravity bombs?
Major General Wald: These could be LGBs, a 500-pounder, possibly.
Q: And on the previous picture, too?
Major General Wald: Those are more than likely LGBs. On point targets like that...
Major General Wald: Right.
I have some imagery to show you today. Gun camera film.
This is a Serb refueling point in Central Kosovo. Once again, an F-16 a few days ago. This is actually another rail car they've moved out into a dispersal area. Once we find them, we'll hit them. This one was actually, once again, full of fuel.
We'll take out -- it's actually a fairly good-sized secondary, so that one actually must have been full of fuel. And once again, this is all adding up over time, that he's losing his ability to sustain.
This is a Galeb fighter bomber. This is over the field that the MiG-29 that was shot down yesterday was planning to land at. They keep moving their aircraft around on the ground, but when we catch them in the open we'll attack them.
This is an F-16 with an LGB. You can see another one has been attacked to the right, burning.
The pilots are losing their proficiency. They're good at driving around the ground, but not too good at flying any more.
Another Galeb. This is the other one that was burning a moment ago.
F-16 with a laser-guided bomb. Sitting on the ramp. They'll move these around every couple of hours or so.
There were questions whether these were actual aircraft or not, and they were actual aircraft through the photo interpretation.
MiG-29. As you know, we shot one down yesterday. This is another one that was on the ground out in the open, caught it out in the open with an F-16. We'll take down one more of their front-line fighters. That's destroyed. So three aircraft, four aircraft total yesterday.
Serbian troops in south central Kosovo with an F-15 with cluster bombs, CBU-87.
This is actual aircraft, another aircraft filming this cluster bomb. This is an F-15 filming the attack. It's difficult to see, but you can see when we do get the fielded forces, they'll be attacked with that type of weapon as well as some other more precision-guided.
This is another F-15E with a cluster bomb. This also is being filmed by the wingman. You'll see the bombs down below start going off and above here.
They're in an assembly area of some sort, even in the trees we'll go ahead and attack them with that type of weapon.
Major General Wald: Those were fielded forces. Those were troops in the field.
Q: Were there any vehicles?
Major General Wald: We couldn't see the vehicles, but there were troops.
This is a 117 against a radio relay site. He has a very robust command and control set up. He uses a lot of work-arounds, but his ability to use his front line IADS has been degraded, so the work-arounds cause him problems and give us a better chance for him not to have as much command and control.
This is a truck in the vicinity of Belgrade, F-15E with an optically guided bomb. There are three trucks here. You'll be able to see them very clearly as he drives in the weapon. You can see one truck under the cursor, two behind him. All three of these trucks from this bomb were destroyed. It looks like he has fuel in the flat bed of it.
The explosive storage area in Pristina, we continue to take down. That's one of his major resupply areas for his Serb MUP in the Kosovo area. This area has been struck numerous times on different buildings, and we continue to eat away at his capability to have any sustainment whatsoever.
A large secondary in here is, obviously, full of some type of munition. Continues to blow and burn.
Once again, our resupply just keeps on coming.
Serbian vehicles in western Kosovo. Cluster bombs again. Once again, hitting his fielded forces in a bigger way over the last few days. You can see the vehicles under here. And I want to show this because this was filmed by another aircraft. The other ones drop these cluster bombs. It actually misses. I know that some of you wanted to see a miss once in awhile, so I'll show you one here. You'll see it lands over here. So that's a miss.
Q: Is that one bomb?
Major General Wald: That's a couple of bombs. That's probably one of the luckiest guys in the world sitting next to that road, so he probably moved pretty quickly after that.
Q: What did the (inaudible)
Major General Wald: ...trees. And that will happen once in awhile, Bill.
Q: General, the F-16 yesterday, did he use an AMRAAM on the MiG-29? And did the MiG engage, or was it just a target of opportunity?
Major General Wald: First of all, I don't think he engaged. I think what they were trying to do was actually do an ambush on our folks and have them drawn into a SAM ring. And the F-16 shot two AMRAAMS out at him. Both of them hit him.
Any other questions?
Q: Yes, sir.
Can you summarize to date what percentage of Serbia's military fuel reserves have been hit? We've talked a lot about the POL's refining capability. What's the best estimate of how many of the military stocks in the field have been hit or eliminated?
Major General Wald: I'm not sure exactly the number. I think it's in the 30-40 percentile, something like that. We'll have to get back to you on that because we're not actually keeping every number up here.
Q: Is there concern that ships are still getting into Bar to unload fuel?
Major General Wald: I understand there are some ships that continue to go into Bar, but that's just one small portion of what he needs. We'd like to cut that out, too. He still has to transship that fuel via rail, and then of course the rail bridge, as you know, is down. Then he has to get around that, so it makes it difficult, and if he's out in the open we'll catch him. On the other hand, when you start taking down all his, first of all his production as we talked about before, a lot of his storage. You see it every day here. It's starting to eat away at him, so he's having a little bit of a problem with it, as you know.
The fielded forces are pretty much trying to sit in one place most of the time because they don't want to use their fuel up. So it's starting to have an impact on him moving around out there.
Q: In that connection can you tell us any more about how Visit and Search is going to work and when it's going to start?
Major General Wald: I can't tell you that because it's at the NAC, and they're working it.
Q: You've shown us several videos of fuel trucks or fuel-carrying railroad cars being struck. How do pilots know that a truck is carrying fuel, or don't they know? What is the level of certainty required? Does it take some sort of on-the-ground intelligence to confirm it's a fuel-carrying truck?
Major General Wald: No. If you see a rail car sitting out there all by itself with nothing around it, that is a military vehicle. And it will be struck. When it blows up like that and it looks like a fuel car, let's say, you have to assume fuel is in it. They can tell that it's a fuel-type rail car, so that certainly will be a target.
Q: Is there anything like that that fits that profile that's struck that you believe was not a fuel-carrying...
Major General Wald: Not that I know of. There may have been some struck that didn't have fuel in them, but I don't know of any rail car that looked like a fuel tank that was struck at all.
Q: Those railroad cars are on railroad tracks, correct?
Major General Wald: Yes, they are.
Q: How many MiGs are left?
Major General Wald: I think they have about four or five MiG-29s and they've got a few dozen MiG-21s left.
Q: Could you give us a little more detail on the B-52s, General? Was it a couple of B-52s? Were they attacking field deployments of artillery along the border?
Major General Wald: The B-52s attacked fielded forces as well as the runway, and they will fly in anywhere from one to more than one at a time. I think last night a couple of them flew. It depends on the day and the time.
Q: Two of them attacking along the border there?
Major General Wald: They attacked in Kosovo.
Q: Yesterday, I think you were describing, when I asked about the dumb bombs, you were talking about the pattern that today's B-52s drop. Can you describe that again? What size or something...
Major General Wald: Well, the pattern now -- in Vietnam, and I saw them drop a lot over there. It usually could be upwards to a mile or more long on that string of 110 bombs, and they'd usually fly with three of them in Vietnam. We've changed our tactics since then. They would drop three, the B-52s would usually drop over 300 bombs on an area that would end up being more than a mile long.
Now, with their avionics, they can drop a string of bombs, 54 of them, that is usually a string of about 1,000 feet maximum, and they do it with fairly good accuracy.
Q: Are these 1,000-pound bombs?
Major General Wald: They're either 500-or 750-pound bombs for them.
Q: What can you tell us about the F-18s to be based in Hungary? How many, and where, and...
Major General Wald: I just saw the report from Hungary. The truth of it, SACEUR is still working the bed-down plan, but I thought it was pretty good that another NATO nation is willing to take on aircraft. I'm not sure if that's the type of aircraft or where they'll go. But once again, I think it goes back and shows you that NATO's in lock-step on this mission with 19 countries. As a matter of fact, they're offering more facilities and more use. So I'd take that as a real positive.
Q: Can you give us a sense of how many more air corridors that will give you to relieve some of the congestion you're having right now?
Major General Wald: Well, I won't talk to you about air corridors, because we don't want Milosevic to know the air corridors. But any additional air corridors will help in two ways. One, it will give us a little more flexibility in where we want to operate from. And it will cause him to have a little bit more of a problem to figure out where we're coming from. So ideally, we'll have corridors coming in from all over the place before it's over, but we're working on it.
Q: Are the new corridors now approved, or are you still working that?
Major General Wald: There isn't any reason to approve a new corridor until we want to start operating, and that approval for the corridor will come right from the Combined Air Operations Center that does the Airspace Coordination Order, and they'll develop it.
Q:...countries that the corridors are over?
Major General Wald: Well, we wouldn't operate out of there, if we didn't have approval, so -- we don't need approval to fly over the FRY -- so that's not a problem.
Q: The Foreign Minister announced (inaudible) F-18s, but that could be Canada as well as...
Major General Wald: It could be Spanish, could be Canadian, could be U.S. Navy...
Q: You still don't know.
Major General Wald: No, I don't know that.
Q: Has the power grid been hit again since three nights ago?
Major General Wald: I'm not going to talk about the power grid today. (Laughter)
Q: You talked about it three nights ago. Why not today?
Major General Wald: No.
Q: It has not or...
Major General Wald: I don't think it has. I haven't heard it has. So, no.
Q: General, one of the themes in this room often is how long, how complicated many of these operations are, how long the logistics sometimes take. Has the Pentagon worked up any kind of estimate, looking ahead, to how long it would take, given a permissive environment, to move what is it, half a million refugees back into Kosovo? And what kind of time the troops would need to be on the ground before refugees came in to get things in order? To get mines removed, bridges rebuilt, and so on. Any kind of, however remote, however general estimates on that?
Major General Wald: I don't know the estimate of now. I do know there was an estimate when KFOR was going in, and things have changed since then. Obviously, a lot has changed. There's been -- like you mentioned earlier, some of the bridges have been mined. The situation, where they could go, has changed, because many of their houses have been burned. The situation on the ground has changed. So I'm almost positive SHAPE is working on that potential for when this would occur, but I can't give you the exact time or how long it would take. It would be longer than previous, I would suspect.
Q: If I can just follow up. Since it would be longer, and given that we're now in May, is it still feasible in the view of military planners to talk about the possibility of returning any refugees to Kosovo in calendar year 1999?
Major General Wald: I would certainly think so. Yes.
Q: When does the weather turn bad enough that it's no longer possible?
Major General Wald: First of all, this all depends on -- we have planning for a lot of things. We have planning for the return of the refugees; they're planning for that, I think. But the real trigger here is whether Milosevic wants this to happen or not, and when he decides to have it happen. If he doesn't decide, it will happen when we decide it happens at our pace.
So the question really is when does he decide he's had enough and when they can start moving in. But even in bad weather, you can move people in and out.
Q: After the Persian Gulf War there was a lot of criticism about the delay of intelligence information sensors getting to the operators. Has that improved here now? Are you getting a quick relay or sensor information to the operators?
Major General Wald: It's night and day from the Gulf War. As a matter of fact, it was back in 1995, night and day when we started DELIBERATE FORCE. We had -- the ability had changed in a matter of months, actually, when we first started flying, getting ready for DELIBERATE FORCE, the intelligence improved -- and I've heard numbers, and I've talked to General Horner about this -- our intelligence is in a magnitude of number bigger than they had, better from the standpoint of real time information to both the cockpit as well as on the ground, better.
When I was at Aviano we had probably, I'm sure, even at the squadron level, which is the lowest flying unit we have in the Air Force, better intelligence than they had at the "black hole," if you will, in the Gulf War, because of a lot of satellite communications, a lot of new equipment they've come up with. We're able right now, today, to take real time imagery and put it in a rehearsal-type equipment like Power Scene -- Tony's talked about before many times, real time.
So an example would be during, just prior to DELIBERATE FORCE in Aviano, we had to, because one of our machines was broken, fly in aircraft to England to get imagery of the targets, and it took 24 hours. A year later I had a piece of equipment at Aviano where I wanted to see 50 photos on an area I was looking for, and they downloaded them in a second and a half.
So the fact of the matter is, it's unbelievably better for intelligence all the way down to the unit level.
Q: And it's modem'd to the aircraft, too, right?
Major General Wald: There are some capabilities to modem actual information to some aircraft, some imagery that's being worked on. There's the ability to modem target information into the cockpit of an aircraft. I think General Barnidge will talk about some capability they may have in the B-2 where they can actually program the bombs in the wing of the B-2 from the cockpit, and in the future will be able to modem that from the ground into the wing of the aircraft or the bomb bay, I should say, or on the wing of a fighter and actually program bombs. So it's changing very, very rapidly for the better.
Q: Sir, of the images that you've shown us over the last couple of weeks, including today, how many of these aircraft have taken advantage of having information actually modem'd into the cockpit?
Major General Wald: All the F-16s at Aviano, for example, have the ability to take modem'd data into the cockpit. You have to have a certain type of capability. Any aircraft that has DataLink, there are certain aircraft -- the F-14s, F-18s have that. The B-2 has that type of capability. So in the future, most of the U.S. aircraft will have that ability as they are either modified or brought on board.
Q: I have a couple of questions.
If you make your 740 sorties today, will that represent the high point of sorties...
Major General Wald: I think it will, but the weather's looking like it won't happen.
Q: That's the second half of the forward-looking question. At the time of Rambouillet they were talking about a force of 28,000 in a permissive environment to go in and stabilize the situation in Kosovo. What's the current estimate as to how many troops, now that the place has been devastated?
Major General Wald: I heard General Clark speak on TV today. He answered the question very well. We're in the middle of planning. It's not done yet. I think it would be presumptuous for me to talk anything past that today.
Q: Can I ask a question about the number of sorties? Why, if the weather is so bad, would you send up 750 sorties...
Major General Wald: Well, we won't. They'll cancel...
Q: That was planned.
Major General Wald: That was planned. They'll send some up, some against some pre-planned targets with the right type of weapons. Then they'll send other ones up that would be maybe on alert or a tanker or try to get into the target area and see if some of the areas would break, so...
Captain Doubleday: I think this is one of the last ones...
Q: A question about one of the video clips you showed, the one of the attack on fielded forces that were underneath the trees.
You explained to us about the rigorous procedures that pilots go through to identify the targets. What happens in a case like that? How do they know what's underneath the trees?
Major General Wald: Well there's various sources, as you know, finding out where things are. In the case where we have a verification that that is a target in that area, then we'll go ahead and hit it in that particular way.
Now some other ones where...
Major General Wald: That was probably not a target of opportunity somebody went out and saw. It could have been relayed back to them through some kind of verification -- maybe a FAC of some sort; an A-10 could have done that. I don't know if that was the case in this one. Or it could have been a target that over time we were able to study and with various methods determine that was a target.
But if you go out and find a target that we hadn't seen before, and we showed you one of those missions a few days ago, I think, where it took awhile to verify what it was. So it depends on the situation, what type of source we have to verify the target, who's there to see it, if there's any potential for any collateral damage or not. So it varies from target to target.
Thank you very much.
Captain Doubleday: Okay, next up is Brigadier General Leroy Barnidge who is going to discuss the operation of the B-2 aircraft.
Q: Mike, I have a couple of questions for you. Do you want them now or afterwards?
Captain Doubleday: Let's get General Barnidge first, and then I'll be happy to stick around and answer to your heart's content.
Brigadier General Barnidge: Good afternoon, everybody. I am Leroy Barnidge. I'm the B-2 Wing Commander out of Whiteman Air Force Base. It's a real pleasure to be here with you all today to talk about the B-2s' first use in combat.
I suppose the way I'd like to approach it is to tell you the bottom line first. The B-2 works. The reason it works is because it's an incredible technological marvel, and we've got an entire wing full of thoroughbreds who are making it work. It's working today; it worked yesterday, and it's going to work tomorrow. I simply couldn't be more pleased with the way the crews are doing, the way the jet is doing, and the whole team that is putting this thing on.
The jet's performance really has exceeded all of our expectations right now. It is a combination of stealth, long range, large payload obviously, and precise munitions, and it makes it not only a world-class, long-range bomber, but also a pretty valuable asset to have in the skies over Serbia today.
We've flown most nights of the operation, although not all. And throughout our participation in it we've had a perfect on-time takeoff record, and we've had all refuelings to go as scheduled.
To date we've dropped well over 500 JDAMs or Joint Direct Attack Munitions, as you know, and if you do a little bit of math, you'll see at 2,000 pounds a bomb, that's a little over a million pounds worth of ordnance, and some of it has been pretty lousy weather, yet everything has gone where it's supposed to go and hit what it was supposed to hit.
In fact the BDA that I've seen -- I've seen zero collateral damage from our strikes, and that's a pretty good record.
Throughout our participation I'll tell you that the airplane, being the technological leap that it is, is only as good as it is because of the folks that we've got operating it, maintaining it and supporting it.
I'm a little bit prejudiced -- pretty proud of what we've got and pretty proud to advertise what we've got. But the folks who operate in and around the B-2, in my opinion, are the heroes of B-2 operations today. They're the reasons for whatever success we have achieved. They're the reason for that success. It's clearly the best team that I've ever operated around.
And one final comment. I can get real comfortable running around beating my chest saying that the B-2 is the reason that all good things have happened, but we are a small part of a pretty big team out there. This team is comprised not only of our American air power team, but also the NATO alliance. Our view from Whiteman and from Central Missouri is that we're just real real glad that we can make a valuable contribution to this team, and we plan on continuing to do just that.
With that, I'll take any questions you've got.
Q: General, in the mission planning. Do you keep our NATO allies out of the process? Do they know where and when you are flying? Do they know the targets you're going after ahead of time?
Brigadier General Barnidge: The way I'll talk to that is that we get an approved target list, and that target list does come from the Combined Air Operations Center, from the air boss, the CFAC in that case. And this target list is then the basis for what we begin our mission planning in Missouri about. We build the missions from takeoff to landing, and it works very well.
Q: Does the United States keep its allies in the dark about the missions that you are flying?
Brigadier General Barnidge: I'm not directly involved in that coordination process. I'm sure General Clark, or someone else, or General Short could help you out with that. But I do know that our list is approved, and we do go after our list.
Q: The B-2, as you know, is a strange-looking bird. Is it tough to fly?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Strange looking? It's wonderful looking!
Q: Strike that. It's a wonderful-looking bird.
Brigadier General Barnidge: Yes, sir.
Q: Is it tough to fly, particularly in areas of say aerial refueling, takeoff and landing, over mission holding (inaudible), what have you. Is it all by computer, is it fly- by-wire? What can you tell us about the flight characteristics of...
Brigadier General Barnidge: Well, it doesn't make coffee, but it does do most other things. However, as you would want, the pilots -- in the airplane that you was riding on -- the pilots are well checked out to do everything that's necessary. The plane is highly automated. You can't do refueling automatically and it can't land itself automatically, but it can get real close up to those points. The rest of it it can do automatically if requested.
What the pilot does is improve where he has the opportunity to do, on an already good thing, and it works well.
Q: Just to follow up, the refueling, is it pretty stable? Is it a stable platform? Does it yaw?
Brigadier General Barnidge: No, no. It refuels like a champ. You're a little bit further up under the -- and excuse me if I get to talking this way -- but you're a little bit further up under the tanker than you are in other platforms. When I was flying B-1s, you'd pull up, and you'd stick the boom in your right foot or your left foot, depending on which seat you were sitting in. In the old B-52, you'd stick it way back yonder. Well, the B-2's a little bit further up under. It's a little more pitch-sensitive than perhaps some others. But every car drives a little different, too. It's a piece of cake to pull up; you get your gas, and off you go.
Q: I need to talk to you a little bit about this issue of forward deployment. I've been (inaudible) for a long time. Two years ago when the knock about flying in the rain came in, which was an unfair knock...
Brigadier General Barnidge: You bet.
Q:...the Air Force said they were going to get shelters so they could put this thing in Diego Garcia and closer to the action rather than having it fly these whirlwind 29 hour missions. Why no shelters? If you had shelters, could you forward deploy and cut the cost and the time of deploying the bombers?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Well, the shelters as I understand it, and I'm not an acquisition guy, I'm a bomber pilot, all right? But the shelter thing I understand is still in the mill for us to get the shelters. But more importantly, what you're getting at is this forward deployment question.
I'll tell you what; we can forward deploy the thing tomorrow if you want to, but the answer is, the way we're doing our missions today is the right answer. You take the requirements the CINC has got; you take the infrastructure that we have got; you take the number of sorties that's required; you put it all together in a pot, and you say what is the best way to locate the jet and to operate the jet. That's the way we're doing it today. If we got a different set of requirements, a different set of circumstances tomorrow, then that may change the way that we operate the airplane.
Q:...maintain the LO... (inaudible) maintain those things out of the element?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Well, certainly things are easier inside than outside. And if you owned an expensive car, you'd want to park it inside and take good care of it. But let me give you an analogy.
I've been in the wing for almost a year now. We were planning a large deployment last fall to MacDill Air Force Base to try out some new things on this deployment thing. And so we were all postured, we were even beginning to load the cargo planes to head down to MacDill. I got a phone call, said: " no, you can't go into MacDill, Barnidge, you're going to Guam." This was in September of last year. We sent three jets over there for 35 days, and they had one hangar that would hold a B-2. We operated out of Guam for those 35 days. We had airplanes. Some of the airplanes were loaded for combat. Another airplane we used as training missions. We flew a lot of sorties out of there, some of it in monsoon-like conditions, and yet we kept the jets wartime ready. We can keep that jet ready to go.
A major thing we may have to deal with differently, but we haven't had any major problems with this airplane. That's the beauty of it. This rascal just keeps on running. And the evidence, I'll give you today, is just the regularity that we've participated.
Q: How many sorties have you flown?
Brigadier General Barnidge: How many?
Q: Uh huh.
Brigadier General Barnidge: A bunch.
Q: A little more accurate than that?
Brigadier General Barnidge: I'm not going to tell you exactly. We've flown most nights out of the campaign. How long has the campaign been going on? But we've been there most nights. Not all nights.
Q: A related question, then. How many individual aircraft have flown missions, and what's your typical turn-around time between when one gets back and it's ready to go again?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Sure. I got the turn-around time. What was the first part?
Q: How many individual aircraft of your inventory have actually flown a mission?
Brigadier General Barnidge: We have on Whiteman Air Force Base nine B-2 bombers. The buy, as you well know, is for 21. We are a new program. I don't know of a major weapon system, major long-range bomber anyhow, that has ever been in the fight as early as we have been.
Of the nine, one of them is in a final contractor modification; one of them is in what's called phase inspection; and one of them we're using to maintain the schoolhouse, because we're still training pilots. We're still creating a B-2 force. So you put all that together, and what does that mean? With six ships, that's exactly right, that we've been flying this operation with since day one.
Now again, I go back to the lady's question in the back. We have flown most nights. You take six jets and fly most nights -- I don't care how many nights you pick -- and that means those jets are hanging in there and they're hanging in there in a big way.
Q: How are they doing with regard to -- how is the B-2 doing with regard to SAM challenge, any other kind of ground-to-air challenge? Have you even noted, have they even known you were there?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Stealth works.
Q: General, you did some math on the sortie question. Do two B-2s fly at once? Is that still the way it works?
Brigadier General Barnidge: It's still the way it works -- it is if we launch it that way. (Laughter)
We fly a very flexible schedule. We fly a very unpredictable schedule. And the reason is we don't want anyone to know where we're going, where we're coming from, when we're going to be there, or how fast we're traveling or anything else. So we do fly in varying numbers of airplanes.
Q: So my question is, 500 JDAMs, 16 JDAMs per plane?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Correct.
Q: I imagine you discharge all of these things...
Brigadier General Barnidge: Not always.
Q: Not always. The most that could possibly be is like 31 different sorties, so, 15 nights of flying. Is that right?
Brigadier General Barnidge: If it was a single plane -- I don't have my calculator -- My wife is the math major, all right? But I assume if you were flying single ships all the time, that may be an answer. But we've flown well in excess of 40 sorties.
Q: General, what can you say about the dwindling supply of JDAMs?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Probably, the best answer I can give you, and again, I'm not an acquisition type, but the best answer I can give you is I have never not attacked a target because I didn't have a JDAM. And I don't see that that will ever be the case.
Q: In your remarks at the outset, you seemed to imply that the JDAMs have a 100 percent accuracy rate. Is that what you meant to say?
Brigadier General Barnidge: The accuracy (inaudible). Reliability is a different question. The reliability of the thing is how reliably did this accomplish its guided flight path down, and the thing is doing phenomenally.
The accuracy -- the common phrase I use back home is, is we measure missed distances with a yardstick. It is an incredibly accurate munition, partly because of the munition, partly because of the capability of the targeting system on board the airplane. You've heard the term GATSGAM, GPS-Aided Targeting System. That's the system on board the airplane that is one-half of the equation. The other half, of course, is the Joint Direct Attack Munition.
Brigadier General Barnidge: No.
Q: We have been told that the stealth technology of the B-2 is "light years" ahead of the F-117. Is that true, and would you...
Brigadier General Barnidge: I don't know what "light years" means, but I will say that I think it's fairly well acknowledged. The 117 -- and one of my best buddies in there is General Bill Lake who runs the 117 wing -- I think it's fair to say that's a second generation, and we are a third generation kind of stealth technology. And there are significant differences between the two.
Q: How do you work air crews with these missions? Is there more than one crew assigned to each plane? How often does each pair fly? And is it two people for...
Brigadier General Barnidge: Right. There's only two chairs in the jet. And you don't carry any spares on the floorboard or anything. We have, and I guess I made the rules, and that's the reason why I haven't flown to date is because I've got to live with my own rules. Most experienced folks have gone first. So we've taken our most experienced folks. We racked the crew members up into an experience base, as well as those who have been in combat before and other things you would consider combat-quality indicators. As a result of that, some few have gone more than once, but an awful large number of them have gone through one time.
Q: General, let me make sure I've got this right. It's better to be based in Missouri and fly a 33-hour mission than it is to be based in Europe or Diego Garcia and fly a 12-hour mission?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Not as a flat statement. It is the right answer for the conditions that exist today, to operate the way we're operating. That's the right answer. Given the requirements, given the number of jets we've got, given all the ingredients that go into the equation, this is the right way to operate. Tomorrow it may be different circumstances, and we'll operate differently.
Q: General Wald talked about the capability to actually program the JDAM in flight. Can you tell us about that?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Sure. It's actually quite a simple concept, although they've got a lot of physics and mirrors involved in it. The JDAM, of course, rides in the weapons bay of the airplane. The airplane flies en-route to the theater, and the airplane is talking to the satellites and comparing the information, the location information from the satellites along with the on-board navigation systems. You put that together and it's constantly updating the weapons as to where they are in space.
Okay, then when you get within the target area, you use this GPS-aided targeting system to look out there and refine the exact location of the target. Location error is an issue that we must deal with and refine. We're finding, quite frankly, over there, that most targets are very accurately located. But anyhow, you do that with the radar set of the airplane. You then feed to the bomb that information as well. When the bomb departs the airplane it has an exact, updated knowledge of where it is in space; it has exact, updated knowledge of where it's supposed to go on the planet's surface, and then it uses the GPS information in flight to guide it to that point.
Q: Can you change your mind about a target, say you're an hour from the target and you want to hit a different set, so you just get new...
Brigadier General Barnidge: Hopefully, it's more than an hour before, because you're in-theater by then, but certainly. We've done that, and done that not routinely, but a number of times.
Q:...your reaction to some observations in the Pentagon annual test report from Phil Coyle, the top tester. He said the defensive management system, the one that's supposed to alert the crews to where enemy radars are, is operationally (inaudible). And maintenance and reliability, he said the LO system is excessive to keep this plane going. Can you address both those issues?
Brigadier General Barnidge: I don't know what an excessive LO system is. We have turned planes as fast as it takes us to rearm and refuel them. That's as fast as we've turned some of the planes. Some of the planes have taken a little longer. The reason is I will not allow a jet to go across a target right now unless it's as good as I can make it, because I have the capability to do that.
Could we go with a degraded jet? I don't know. I don't want to answer that question right now, because it's, frankly, not worth the risk.
As far as the defensive management system on the airplane, it's a maturing system just like so many other new systems around, and it's coming along nicely.
Q:...says it's not working well at all, though.
Brigadier General Barnidge: Well, the system is not working well? Our guys use the system today, I will tell you that. And the degree that they count on that, they use it with a myriad of other information that they get and so I think it's pretty important to us. It's mature state or state of maturity has not at all impacted the way that we've operated the airplane.
Q: In operations, does it work in conjunction with radar jammers like the EA-6B that are -- does it fly alone to the target, or does it work with other aircraft?
Brigadier General Barnidge: We always prepare ourselves the best that we can. That involves the support packages out there. In fact, you say EA-6s, the Prowlers, of course the Prowlers are out there. There is also some HARM-shooters around, and there's some Eagle-drivers around, a MiG CAP, and of course we have the RJ, the Rivet Joint, the AWACS, and a number of other assets that are out around there. We don't have to use them all very often. Obviously our jammer buddies are always there and willing to help, as are all the rest. We prepare ourselves the best we can, but we don't fly in a gaggle with all the rest. That's not what anybody wants to do. So in that regard we are slightly autonomous.
Q: Can JDAMs hit moving targets?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Can JDAMs hit moving targets? It goes against a fixed target location, so I guess in that answer, no. It certainly hits movable targets, but not moving targets.
Q: Related to that, General, are you satisfied with the capability to hit mobile targets if the B-2 does have one, or is there anything in development right now that would be able to hit those mobile targets through bad weather?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Again, we go -- the weather is not really an issue with us but we can certainly go against targets, and do routinely go against targets which have recently arrived at the location that we're bombing. I don't know how to give you...
Q:...targets of opportunity?
Brigadier General Barnidge: We don't go out and troll and then roll in on a target, no. That's what the fighter guys do. No, we don't do that.
Q: What can the plane do in this conflict that others couldn't, or that you're making...
Brigadier General Barnidge: Get there any time, any day, in any weather, and do what it's got to do and get home.
Q:...hit something different, or...
Brigadier General Barnidge: I'm sure, as we were talking earlier. We flex to other targets and have done that a lot in this...
Q: But targets that wouldn't be able to be hit otherwise. Is there anything the B-2 can hit that some other plane being used in the same conflict couldn't hit?
Brigadier General Barnidge: I'd like to think so, because you've got to take this airplane -- what was it built to do? Go into the most lethal environment, go into the hardest to reach or hardest to get at targets, and come home knowing that you've accomplished your mission. We can do that.
Q: All of your raids have been night raids, haven't they? You haven't...
Brigadier General Barnidge: We fly at night, sure. You bet.
Q: Your judgment both as a pilot and as a taxpayer, is the $40 billion price tag worth it?
Brigadier General Barnidge: No, ma'am, it's worth three times that amount. (Laughter) This jet works and it keeps our guys alive. It keeps Americans alive.
Hey, gang, stealth saves lives. That's what it's about. We've sent two B-2 pilots; they go out there and carry 16 very precise munitions. You can take my Buddy Bill Lake's 117s, a wonderful machine, but they carry two of these JDAMs or two 2,000-pound bombs on board each one. That's equivalent to eight F-117s. We can take this thing thousands of miles; we can go into very lethal environments, and we can put the bombs exactly where we want them. Then we bring the guys home, turn the jets, and do it again. That's not a bad return on your investment.
Q: How much does it cost to fly per hour? I've seen figures as high as $14,700 and $6,000 from your wing. What is it?
Brigadier General Barnidge: The cost per flying hour that I pay -- and that includes fuel, that includes the consumables and stuff, as well as the depot stuff -- the latest number I got was $5,193 per hour. That's roughly equivalent, and I just learned before we walked in here, to the F-15 world. I don't know the F-15 numbers, so don't blame that one on me. It's General Wald. But the numbers are very good. And every day that goes by, we get a little better at maintaining it, a little better at operating it.
Q: Sir, how many refueling missions less would you use if you flew out of a place like Mildenhall?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Again, it depends on your route of flight. If you went down and went down through the Med or straight across France.
Q: Across Italy and then...
Brigadier General Barnidge: There's any number of scenarios, so really, there's as many different answers to that question. I'm not avoiding your question; it's just there's many different answers as there are routes of flight, quite frankly.
Q: You've said here a few times that it makes more sense to fly out of Whiteman, but you're looking at...
Brigadier General Barnidge: ...circumstances, that's right.
Q: You look at the B-2 perspective. There's a whole lot of tanker missions and tanker support people tied up in getting you guys to the European theater that otherwise might be available to do other missions. I'm wondering on that specific point, to get you guys basically to EUCOM, how much...
Brigadier General Barnidge: Sure, the closer you are to the fight the less tankers you need.
Q: So how many tankers do you need to get to EUCOM?
Brigadier General Barnidge: To get...
Q: To get to basically the European theater. Not necessarily the targets, but where you can start picking up...
Brigadier General Barnidge: If I was to fly, go [to] Fairford, England, today, we'd probably use one tanker. But if I flew by way of Bermuda, I may use two. It depends on your route of flight.
Q: What do pilots do to drop bombs? Is there a burden on the pilot? Is the pilot busy at the moment of bomb drop, or is this highly automated where he simply pushes a button or something?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Remember, we talked about using the radar and the GATS targeting system to refine the target location. And that's what he's doing during those last few minutes. Sometimes he's moving fast, and sometimes he's sitting on his hands, as he says. It just depends on how accurate the target location was. We generally find it fairly accurate.
Q: And then they're fire and forget, right?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Yeah, they're dropped. They're released out of the weapons bay. It doesn't have a rocket motor on the end of it. It's just a gravity munition.
Q: Nor is it guided in by the pilot. He peels out at that point.
Brigadier General Barnidge: Well, sometimes we turn off. Sometimes we do other things. But certainly it drops out of the weapons bay, and then it's on its own, guiding itself.
Q: Let's try the first question that was asked again. That is how compartmentalized is the planning for your missions compared to, in relation to all the other CAOC planning for the other...
Brigadier General Barnidge: I know what you're asking, and I'll tell you what, the marvel of this deal is, of this operation, has been that we have been seamlessly integrating with an entire NATO strike package, but oh, by the way, we launch 13, 14 hours before everybody else does. Yet, I'm not talking about we synchronize in with them; we seamlessly integrate with them. The reason that happens is because the totality of the planning process has been from my little simple perspective, totally integrated. I could not ask for a better, more integrated planning process, and user-friendly operation.
Q: General, do you have to fly on IFR when you talk off from Whiteman, or do you have a special clearance?
Brigadier General Barnidge: No, there's not much special about our clearances. We do take off on a regular IFR flight plan. That flight plan goes to a certain point along the way, and then we do other things.
Q: They know you're coming, in other words.
Brigadier General Barnidge: I certainly hope not.
Q: I mean if anybody is integrating air traffic control can find out that you're in the air at a certain time at a certain...
Brigadier General Barnidge: We go to great lengths -- and you've got to remember, now, I'm flying peacetime training missions all the time there, so our jets take off, and I defy you to pick out which one's got bombs on it and which one doesn't.
Q: Do you always take (inaudible) when you target, or do you sometimes operate without the GATS for a mission...
Brigadier General Barnidge: Sometimes, especially during our mission planning -- we've got a wonderful mission planning system. And because of that, sometimes we decide it's better not to -- because there's nothing to see, is the reason. Therefore, you take a look with the radar, but you don't do anything, you're just kind of validating what you already know.
Q: But you will take a look with the radar.
Brigadier General Barnidge: Oh, sure. But we have a very good radar, which is not interceptable. I'm not sure that's a word, but...
Q: This program, this is getting on ten years old or longer, isn't it?
Brigadier General Barnidge: The first one arrived at Whiteman December 17, 1993.
Q: So you only have nine planes?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Yes, sir.
Q: Do you think these political decisions to stretch out the production have been good ones at this point?
Brigadier General Barnidge: I don't know. I'm not going to even comment about that. But what I am going to comment about is the -- I've got nine jets. We're sitting here, and six of those I'm using in an operation that has got a very heady integrated air defense system, and the jet is performing flawlessly. There's not many other platforms that have gone in with that few assets and done as much as we've done with this airplane.
Q:...use a lot more?
Brigadier General Barnidge: I think anybody would always be happy to have more resources, but I'll tell you what, I can get the job done today with the things that I've got.
Q: I'm sorry if I missed this, how many times on a typical mission from Whiteman to Belgrade do you refuel?
Brigadier General Barnidge: We refuel twice each way. Twice on the way and then twice coming home. And I say refuel, because that in fact is what it is, but it's not because you're about to run out of gas. It's because you're kind of topping off to make sure that you've got plenty of gas for any contingency on board.
Q: A couple of years ago down at Whiteman they let us talk to some pilots who had spent 30-some-odd hours in your simulator replicating...
Brigadier General Barnidge: Yeah.
Q: My question is this, in the weeks leading up to the strikes, did the pilots now flying this mission actually do 31 hours in the simulator practicing a bomb run over...
Brigadier General Barnidge: We -- actually we do dress rehearsals for most missions, even training missions in the simulator. This is America's B-2. This is not Whiteman's. This is not Air Force. This is America's B-2. A very expensive platform. That's the reason why we're blessed to have the most capable crew members, the most capable maintainers in the world, and we go to great lengths to make sure that everything we do with this airplane is done with great deliberance and forethought and that includes certainly a lot of simulator time.
We have a three-pronged approach. We fly T-38s; we fly the B-2, and we fly the simulator, and all three are key ingredients in making this force as capable as it is.
Q: Is it accurate to say, though, that the guys who have flown the opening night flew in the simulator just to approximate what it was like flying 31 hours to Yugoslav...
Brigadier General Barnidge: It's more than accurate. It's a fact. Sure.
Q: Can you at Whiteman take the (inaudible) or do you every few weeks have to send the jets over to the West Coast ranges to do that?
Brigadier General Barnidge: We maintain a good perspective of our signature, and that's about as much as I'm going to get into that. We have a good idea of our signature.
Q: Can you share with us some of the personal things that the first pilots to fly them in combat (inaudible)?
Brigadier General Barnidge: Absolutely. Pure adrenalin, excited, and when can I go again? That was the words.
The guys, I asked every one of them, how much sleep did you get? The answer is typically between two and six hours. I guess it depends on your physiology. I'd be one of the six hour guys, I think. They're comfortable. They carry plenty of food. They have on-board restroom facilities, very primitive, but they're there. And the guys each construct their own little support system for their own personal needs and preferences. And it works really well.
Sincerely, we've had guys who -- they all get off the jets; they're excited about what they're doing; they're excited about what they have done, and truly do ask when is the next one to go?
Press: Thank you, sir.
Q:...What does the law require (inaudible)? Would the law require the U.S. if they decide these POWs to return them to Belgrade, or what's the law require, do you know?
Captain Doubleday: I frankly can't answer your question at this point. I think as you heard Secretary Cohen say this morning, he is interested in having the ICRC visit with the prisoners. He wanted to go through a process that he wanted to see to completion before he made a recommendation about whether they should be released or not. My understanding is that should the United States decide to release the prisoners, they would be turned over to either the ICRC or to a third country which is neutral, and that, under the Geneva Convention.
The other rules that I am familiar with with regard to the Geneva Convention have to do with access by the ICRC to the prisoners, treatment of the prisoners, the details of how they can be incarcerated during the time that they are prisoners, and ability to communicate with family members.
Q: Do you have anything for us yet on the debriefing of the U.S. POWs, the three servicemen, as to where exactly they were apprehended and their treatment afterwards?
Captain Doubleday: I don't have anything beyond what General Grange said, I believe, yesterday on the subject. It's his belief that these individuals were abducted from Macedonia. The debriefing process is still going on, and until that is complete and until we get a full picture of exactly what occurred, you won't have a full readout on what the final determination is.
Q: Is there any formal investigation into the recent problems with satellite launches? By the Air Force or by any other part of the U.S. government?
Captain Doubleday: I think I may have something that I can give you on that one. The information that I have is that there is no relation. These were, first of all, different rockets, and they were different payloads. For more detail on that, I would refer you to the Air Force, which has a lot more detail than I do.
Q: Is there any formal investigation by any U.S. government body into any of these?
Captain Doubleday: I don't know whether there is an investigation. I do know that every time there is a failure, there is a very careful look, review, investigation as to what occurred. Whether there is anything that correlates all of them, I can't say at this point.
Does anybody else have anything?
Let me just give, before we close, two pieces of information that came up. Actually, one of them I just gave to David regarding what the requirements of the Geneva Convention on the turnover of prisoners of war, that is to say with, they should be turned over to either neutral third countries or to the ICRC.
The other thing you asked about the destruction of fuel storage areas, and I believe that if you'll look back in past transcripts you'll see that NATO has estimated that about 70 percent of the fuel storage of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has been destroyed at this point.
Q: Today in Europe either General Clark or General Shelton said that the Serb military command is vulnerable to collapse, or words to that effect. Do you have anything to back that up?
Captain Doubleday: I can't take it any further than that. What you've heard here over the last several weeks, I think that Admiral Wilson and others have talked about morale problems, have talked about difficulties in command, control, communications. All of the elements that make for an effective leadership system in any kind of a military operation are being degraded systematically, and General Clark was referring to indications that he has from various sources that they are vulnerable at this point.
Q: You mean logistically, not for political reasons or any sense of mass desertion. It's all because of what's been taken out of service...
Captain Doubleday: Certainly, that's a foundation of it, yes. I think the point that General Clark made was that Milosevic is in power because he holds power. And basically his military power is being degraded systematically. He called attention to the fact that the ability he has to control forces in the field, the ability he has to resupply those forces, the ability he has to repair those forces, the ability he has to replace those forces, and even the forces deployed and maneuvering in the field are being degraded. And at some point he will come to the realization that either his entire military is going to be destroyed, or he will adhere to the objectives of NATO in this campaign.
Thanks very much.