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DoD News Briefing, May 12, 1999

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
May 12, 1999

Also participating in this briefing is Major General Chuck Wald, J-5

Related briefing slides

[Chart - Weather Conditions]

Maj. Gen. Wald: The Secretary and the Chairman both mentioned the weather. It actually shows here it's supposed to be red today. It's been good all day. Yesterday it was outstanding, clear all day, and the day before as well. So over the last few days, we've flown more sorties than we had in the past, several more, in about the 100 range more. Tomorrow it looks even better. As you see this forecast coming up, the experience we've had in the past is we should start having several periods of really good weather over time. As that happens, the operational tempo will increase significantly. I think tomorrow they're talking in the 700-800 range of sorties.

Q: Today we did what?

Maj. Gen. Wald: About 660.

Q: Is this an all-time high?

Maj. Gen. Wald: It's getting more and more. I'm sure it will be the highest.

[Chart - Level of Effort - Day 49]

Yesterday, as I mentioned earlier, about 61 targets. Thirty-one of those plus were fielded forces. There was another MiG-29 destroyed. I'll show you a film of that in a little bit. We used -- a cluster bomb destroyed that target. Also five more MiG-21s on the ground, several command and control targets and sustainment. Air defense continues to be struck hard, and we continue to take his bridges down, mobility to -- if he does decide to leave, make it harder for him, or if he decides to reinforce, make it even harder to reinforce.

Q: You said 69 targets?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Sixty-one plus.

[Chart - International Contributions (Non-US)]

Real quickly, just to review, we haven't gone over this for awhile. The contributions continue to come in. They need contributions for the refugees. Twenty-five countries now have accepted refugees. You can see the number of short tons of both shelter, food, equipment, and bedding, but once again from what we understand, the international community does still need food and shelter, and as it gets toward the fall period, we'll need even more.

[Chart - PROVIDE REFUGEE - Refugee Status]

The refugees continue to come into the States. There's about 1,277 at Fort Dix right now. The capacity there is 3,000. 1,379 have actually arrived in the States. Some of those have gone to families, as well. You remember the first 102 out of this flight from JFK actually went directly to families. Those flights will continue over the next month until they hit around the 20,000 capacity range.

[Chart - USG 20K Refugee Camps]

Camp Hope was handed over to the CARE, international NGO organization, today. The plan was to ramp up to be finished at about day 12, and they actually finished a little early. They think the next two increments to the camp, for the full camp to be completed, will be about the 25th of May. They should start moving in individuals tomorrow into the camp, then it will be fully turned over to the UNHCR, CARE, and other organizations at the end of the month.

[Photos available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/#Operation+Allied +Force]

[Photo - Nis Base, Serbia - Post Strike]

I just wanted to show a few images today. I'm going to show three runway images. This is the runway at Nis airbase. That was hit here by, these are actually Mk-82 bombs from a B-52. All the bombs landed near, around the airfield.

The difference here between how we were hitting these airfields before and now is you can see some areas here where several bombs have hit, and it makes it just about impossible to repair that runway quickly, so out of their seven major airfields, five of them are closed down right now.

[Photo - Sombor Airfield, Serbia - Post Strike]

Another one at Sombor. Same type thing. These are two B-52 sorties that were flown. This distance here, as I said, is probably about between 500 and 1,000 feet -- a very tight cluster on both of these. You can see the damage to the runway is pretty significant at both ends here.

[Photo - Obrva Airfield, Serbia - Post Strike]

Once again, Obrva airfield, same type thing. A couple of aircraft cutting off both the major taxiway, which can be used as an alternate runway, and the runway itself. Once again, those are closed. You'll see later in film that some of the aircraft are being moved around on the runways, and when they do that, we'll catch them out in the open.

Q: That's the work of cluster bombs?

Maj. Gen. Wald: That's the work of Mk-82, 500-pound, gravity bombs.

[Photo - Sjenica Air Base, Serbia - Post Strike]

Sjenica airfield, same type of thing. You can see the airfield itself being hit by, in this case, I think there's about 84 Mk-82s in that area, and it closes the runway down. Makes it very difficult to repair.

I just selected a handful of the film from yesterday. There are dozens of these films that I can show, but I won't. I'll show several for Charlie. I know you're looking forward to this today again. (Laughter)

Q: I want to see the Chinese Embassy one. (Laughter)

Maj. Gen. Wald: I think you saw a lot of that on TV already from the BDA from the ground.

[Begin Video]

This is some lines of communication. Once again a bridge, F-16 out of Aviano with laser-guided bombs. Hits both ends of the bridge almost simultaneously, two different aircraft.

That bridge was not dropped. It is probably open to foot traffic at best, but you wouldn't want to take anything heavy across it now.

Another highway bridge. I just show you that we continue to take down his lines of communication and his ability to resupply or to leave in great numbers will be hindered.

The first bomb landed actually in the water; the second one landed at the abutment. They say it was damaged beyond repair. We'll get EO for that later.

Continue to hit his petroleum sustainment. Part of what General Shelton alluded to earlier about their tanks [being] parked is that they don't have the fuel to operate their tanks like they'd want to. They still have fuel, but not a lot.

This is at Nis airbase. Two bombs, two different sorties. This one here you can see is an actual, there must have been a lot of fuel in this one, because the plume's about as big as I've seen since the beginning of this.

Command and control. He's having a tough time with his command and control. He still has work-arounds, but we continue to take it down.

Kragujevac army barracks. F-16 laser-guided bomb. You'll see those two flights, two F-16s, two targets. A military relay site in Central Serbia from an F-117 LGB. There's actually two targets here as well. These are two aircraft. One will hit here, one will hit over here. You see the bombs coming in on primary and secondary targets.

That's the first aircraft's bombs. You'll see another one here in a second. There's the second one.

As this adds up, he's having a difficult time with his normal command and control, and he has to use work-arounds, which makes it a lot easier for us to detect that as well.

Military radio relay station. This is a tough target. You'll see as this bomb enters the building -- it actually has significant damage on the rest of the building as it starts -- the explosion egresses from various parts of the building.

Q: What are the buildings all around that target?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Those would be considered collateral damage buildings that we wouldn't want to hit. Obviously that's a tough target for a pilot to hit.

Forces on the ground, fielded forces.

Barracks in central Serbia. This is an F-117 with a weather abort. The weather came in and he wasn't able to drop.

I'm still trying to find some shots for Jamie that show misses. (Laughter)

This is one of those targets where you have to come off. There was some AAA coming through there as we left.

A barracks of central Serbia, restrike. You can see this individual here is pretty fortunate, gets out of the way in time. I'm sure he doesn't know it's coming, but it's fortunate for him.

Q: Same barracks?

Maj. Gen. Wald: No, that's a different barracks.

Q: There were people in them at the time?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I'm not sure if there was or not. It was night, so could have been.

Serb forces support building in the Kosovo engagement zone. F-16 with LGB. This is a couple of days ago. Continue to hit the fielded forces taking away his ability to either sustain, or where they live, or where they command and control from, or where they sleep, or where they can have shelter or heat, so they can live outdoors like the people they're trying to make do that.

There were 31-plus of these targets yesterday. There were some clusters down below in a second engagement.

Some military trucks in the Kosovo engagement zone. This is a miss. It looks like it hits, but it turns out to be a miss. There's some damage on the trucks. It didn't destroy all four of them. And there's a ridge line right here, and it could have been the laser maybe goes over them.

Some more trucks. That actually, the first one, that was a hit. This is the one that was a miss. Right here you'll see it a lot better. These are backwards. The first one missed; the second one hit. There's the little ridge there. The laser probably is on the other side, and it just went over the top. We restruck that on the second one.

Some tanks in the tree line. This is F-16s with cluster bombs. Once again, these targets are out in the open in areas where there wouldn't be as much chance for any collateral damage. This is a forward air controller actually filming these bombs coming in. It's not his bombs; he's filming his wingman.

Integrated air defense site.

Q:...cluster bombs be able to take out tanks?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Yes, they would.

This is a MiG-21 at an airfield in Batajnica, and you'll see this is actually not at the airfield itself, it's off of it on a road. You'll see underneath it as it comes in, this is actually an F-15E with an AGM-130 optical bomb. You'll see the netting over it. They tried to camouflage it, as it comes in, unsuccessfully.

This is a MiG-29. This is the 11th one out of 14 that have been destroyed. This is cluster bombs at Nis airfield. Once again, they try to move them around as best they can, but without much success here. You can see that actually does start burning and blowing up. So the majority of his front-line fighters -- that was actually an F-16, excuse me.

Q: So 11 out of 14 MiG-29s have been destroyed?

Maj. Gen. Wald: We think it's 11. There may be one that's just damaged out of that 14, but we think there's 11 destroyed.

Q: Do you have any simpler numbers like that, just round numbers, for the tanks?

Maj. Gen. Wald: General Shelton gave a percentage of what it is, and I think it's -- it's in the dozens.

Q: Dozens of tanks?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Dozens of tanks.

Q: The Secretary said on Monday that you had not stopped bombing -- there were no orders to stop bombing Belgrade -- and yet Belgrade has not been bombed. Could you tell us why?

Maj. Gen. Wald: The CINC, General Clark, will decide when to hit which targets at which time he wants. There have been some targets close to Belgrade, I understand, over the last few nights attacked. I don't know of any order whatsoever from any place that I've heard of to stop.

So with the weather really good in the Kosovo area, that was a good place to go with the type of targets we needed to hit, and there was a large concentration of the attacks in the Kosovo area. As you saw, there were bombers, B-52s as well as B-1s. So the majority happened to be in that particular area at this time. There's not a moratorium on any target that I know of.

Q:...number on how many to date, now that you've had the most successful day to date, how many sorties, how many attack sorties, how many fixed targets, how many targets of opportunity have been hit so far in this campaign? What are we up to?

Maj. Gen. Wald: The sortie numbers are in the category -- and this is counting support and tankers -- in the category of 20,000 or so. It's probably a little less than that. The attack sorties are, where they're actually dropping a bomb on a sortie, is over 5,000. There are combat air patrol sorties that are in the same number of sorties, probably about 4,000 or so.

As -- the air superiority is -- we gain more in air superiority, some of those aircraft that are flying combat air patrol will be re-rolled to bombing. Then there are suppression of enemy air defense sorties as well.

So out of that 20,000, the number of actual aircraft that are flying strike combat support seed type missions are probably in the 14,000 or so range, and I think the number of bombs is getting close to 10,000. Some of those targets, of course, have been restruck several times. Some of these bombs actually on one target, as you saw. On the airfields you're dropping 84 Mk-82s at a time, so the numbers don't tell the real story.

Q: Secretary Cohen yesterday used the number of approximately 380 targets to date, both fixed and targets of opportunity. Do we just add the 61 to that 380? Are we up in the...

Maj. Gen. Wald: Well, what will happen is several of those 61, if you saw the bridge that wasn't dropped, that could possibly be reattacked. I'm not sure if they will, depending on how they feel. But some of these targets, I think the targets the Secretary was talking about, include some of the fielded forces. But generally they're the fixed targets we're talking about.

If you go out and hit a target of opportunity that's four trucks, after you come back and you've actually destroyed it, it may go onto the list as a target per se. Really what we're mainly talking about in the macro number is the large fixed targets.

Q:...talking about 350, I mean 450 fixed targets so far?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I think the Secretary mentioned a number, if it was correct...

Mr. Bacon: The answer is there have been about 270 fixed targets and about 100 targets of opportunity on top of that for a total of slightly more than 380 targets. That includes, as I said, 270 fixed targets, and about 100 targets of opportunity.

As the General explained, a target of opportunity might have four or five trucks or it might be one tank. It just depends where we find the concentration of vehicles or equipment and what sort of ordnance we hit it with.

Q: Of the 31 targets in the engagement area, how many of those would be pre-planned fixed targets, and how many of those would be targets of opportunity?

Maj. Gen. Wald: There are both pre-planned. Let me explain it this way.

If we go out -- if they go out today and the weather is excellent, and for some reason the forces are moving around, they will hit those forces. If they aren't moving around, before they go home, they have a backup target they might hit. That would be a fixed target. So some of those 31 could be targets that were pre-planned -- they knew where they were. Or if they went out and had an opportunity to find a tank, and they would bomb that tank; they'd do that instead and then go back after that.

Q:...bomb something.

Maj. Gen. Wald: They will bomb something.

Q: Are you saying that the first thing they're going out for is whatever they find, and then if they don't find anything, then they go for this fixed target?

Maj. Gen. Wald: There are some missions that are actually rolled to do what's called close air support, which is a little bit of a misnomer because we don't have friendlies on the ground. But they are actually out there to support with a forward air controller, and they would roam the area to try to find a target that either was popped up at that time or by intelligence of some sort we found.

They actually have bombs that can be dropped on fixed targets as well. They will go out and support a forward air controller. And they don't go out and just drop their bombs. We want to have bombs available on a moment's notice, so they would be in the area with the forward air controller.

There are other aircraft that actually go out and hit targets that are fixed.

Q: To follow Charlie's question on Belgrade and the reason that (inaudible) has not been bombed in a few nights. Are the maps, is all the intelligence available being reassessed and revised? And are people who have been on the ground there -- that are NATO people -- have been on the ground in Belgrade being used to give personal intelligence about these particular targets?

Maj. Gen. Wald: First of all, we're not going to talk about the intelligence, but I will say that, just as the Secretary mentioned, it's under full review from top to bottom with every methodology we can use. In the meantime we won't talk about future targeting, but nothing's off limits that I understand.

Q: General, today, yesterday, B-52 strikes. Where were they? What did they, what size capability...

Maj. Gen. Wald: The B-52s are striking. As I showed some pictures here, they're attacking targets that would be beneficial for that type of weapon. So they're attacking targets that are a little bit more of an area-type target. It could be a runway, it could be fielded forces, it could be that type of thing.

Q: Attacking revetted positions along the border?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Sometimes, when we find them. That would be a type of target they could attack, possibly.

Q: (inaudible)

Maj. Gen. Wald: Yes.

Q: General, on close air support, you said it was a bit of a misnomer (inaudible) on the ground, but we keep hearing reports of (inaudible) between the KLA and either the VJ or the MUP. To your knowledge, are any of the targets of opportunity or any of the pre-planned missions in support of the KLA in its clashes with the VJ or the MUP?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Absolutely not.

Q: Why not?

Maj. Gen. Wald: That's not what we're there for. We're there to degrade the Serb VJ army to the point that Milosevic decides he's either had enough, or his army's degraded to the point where it becomes ineffective. As a consequence of that, if the UCK has more good fortune and effectiveness, that's the consequence. That is not the objective.

Q: But General Shelton made it clear that one of the outcomes that's foreseen is as the balance of power changes on the ground as between the KLA and the VJ and the MUP...

Maj. Gen. Wald: I think just exactly the way he said it. That's a consequence. That's one of the factors that Milosevic has to take into account. There are several things he has to decide on, and when he finds there is a point when he has a disadvantage for whatever reason, whether it's because he wants to defend his own country, whether it's because his army says "you're crazy and what you're doing is not what we signed up for," when the people of his country decide, or when the UCK decide, any of those, there could be a consequence. But the idea is for his military to lose effectiveness, and they are losing effectiveness in a big way.

Q: General Wald, you spoke a couple of weeks ago about the Serb army reinforcing in Kosovo. So first of all, has that now stopped? Have you seen no additional reinforcement? And can you give us your latest estimate on VJ and MUP forces in Kosovo now?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I understand the VJ and MUP forces are about the same level from the standpoint of the macro numbers. We haven't seen any indication of large reinforcements. We're watching for it. And as they do reinforce, we will attack them.

Q: So if the numbers are static, how do you explain the numbers being static then if no reinforcements?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I think saying they're static is probably a misnomer. I think they're going down. But it's hard to tell. We aren't out there counting individuals. But from the standpoint of their overall capability, it is going down because of what we just talked about. It's hard for us to count individuals.

Q: (inaudible)

Maj. Gen. Wald: My intuition is the whole thing is going down.

Q: General, what constitutes the most successful day of bombing in the 50 days? Is it strictly the number of sorties or your ability to restrike targets more quickly, pass information around? From a layman's standpoint, what constitutes the most successful day?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I think the last part you just said, the ability to either hit pre-planned targets effectively and add on to that our ability to find fielded forces and hit them effectively. And our ability to find fielded forces is increasing.

Now what's happening in reverse there, Tony, is that his fielded forces aren't moving around as much. They're hunkering down. They know they can't move. Weather like this is the most bothersome thing to Milosevic and his army that can happen. I think some of the things you've seen over the last few days, some of the ploys he's tried to pull are because he knows darn well the weather's getting good, and when the weather gets good, he has no sanctuary per se. And when he does come out of sanctuary, he'll be attacked.

Q:...your Predators and JSTARS and all your intelligence working better now?

Maj. Gen. Wald: It's a combination of all of that. They're all working very well.

Q: General, during the Persian Gulf War, there came a time when Iraqi soldiers were afraid to stay in their tanks, and when they would hear allied planes or helicopters, they would get out of the tanks in anticipation of them being attacked. Have you seen anything like that in terms of the Yugoslav army forces? Is anybody getting out of their tanks? Are they afraid to stay in their tanks?

Maj. Gen. Wald: I've heard anecdotal stories of people leaving where they were at night because they've heard bombing. We see tanks sitting, what appear to be probably unmanned in some places, next to buildings at times. I showed you an airplane today that's sitting out in the middle of a runway. That's the last thing a pilot wants to see is his airplane blown up, so I can't imagine they'd just leave it out there for a target.

So I suspect they're probably, if they had a choice they wouldn't leave any of these vehicles any place where anybody could attack them, and they would be doing something different with them except parking them some place and not using them. So I suspect your answer's exactly that.

Q: When would you expect to start flying this encirclement that the Secretary talked about, coming in from the north and the east as well?

Maj. Gen. Wald: We're coming in from both the north and the south, as you know. The other areas of entry should be within a matter of days, I believe.

Q: By the weekend, or...

Maj. Gen. Wald: I can't tell you exactly when it will be. It would be just like telling you exactly when we're going to hit a certain target. It wouldn't be right.

Q: General, what keeps them going so long against NATO and [the] most powerful countries, well trained in the world? Who is behind, who is supporting him?

Maj. Gen. Wald: Milosevic you mean?

Q: (inaudible)

Maj. Gen. Wald: The only thing I can answer, and I mean it sincerely, is he obviously has a lot more of a tolerance for his people's pain than he has to take himself. So he has no regard for what his people are having to endure.

Thanks.