DoD News Briefing ,Thursday April 8, 1999 - 2:35 p.m.
Also Participating; Major General Charles F. Wald and Rear Admiral Thomas R. Wilson of the Joint Staff
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon. Welcome to the briefing.
We're going to start this afternoon with Major General Wald, who is the Vice Director for Plans and Policy on the Joint Staff; then we'll move to Rear Admiral Wilson, who will go through some of the damage assessment. Then we'll have time for a few questions and answers.
We also -- General Wald can give an update to you after we've gone through the BDA portion of the briefing, an update on the humanitarian front. Then, as I say, we'll have time for questions and answers.
Our goal today is to complete the briefing in time so we don't step on our seniors. With that, I'll turn things over to...
Q: What about the three POWs? A quick update on that, where that's at.
Captain Doubleday: That stands much as you've reported it. There was a plane that flew today to Belgrade. Our ambassador to Greece, Nick Burns, reports that the plane took off and that the acting president of Cypress is presently in Belgrade. The plane has left Belgrade. The party intends, from all appearances, to spend the night there. So we will watch that very closely.
Our position in the United States is that the three soldiers were taken illegally. We believe that they should be released immediately. We believe also that it is immoral to use them as any kind of bargaining chips, and we are certainly not going to negotiate in any way for their release. Their release must be unconditional, and we expect them to be treated under the Geneva Convention and for them to be returned expeditiously to our hands.
Q: Mike, is it your understanding, nonetheless, that Milosevic is setting certain conditions on the release of the men?
Captain Doubleday: I have no understanding at all of what Mr. Milosevic is doing.
Q: Any progress at all to report on...
Captain Doubleday: I have no progress to report. We're watching, of course, developments much as you are.
Major General Wald: Good afternoon.
An update again on the weather. As I showed you yesterday, the weather over the last few days has been fairly good, mostly green, some yellow. What that means is over most of the area in Kosovo and Serbia, the weather has been operationally good. It's starting to get a little bit worse over the next couple of days.
An update on targeting from yesterday. Once again, over 22 target areas struck. As I explained yesterday, those target areas may have several different aim points and may take several different aircraft or weapon systems to attack those.
Once again, the engagement area, as I showed you yesterday, where several aircraft on multiple targets, possibly. It depends on if they find those targets, and I'll show you that in just a moment. But this particular area of engagement here could end up having, as I said, dozens and dozens of targets, and that's where the majority of our effort was spent yesterday afternoon.
The target types. Admiral Wilson will refer to these a little bit later, but the categories and the prioritization is still as listed, and we're starting to take the fight heavily to the VJ and MUP army and police forces in Kosovo.
Quickly on the engagement area, just a kind of a graphic to show you a little bit of just one mission. This is a group of aircraft that could be flying generally in the same timeframe. Some support aircraft that may be involved and are generally -- JSTARS, AWACS. JSTARS for search of actually ground targets, moving targets. AWACS, airborne command and control, and airborne command and control ABCCC for the coordination of the air-to-surface aircraft.
Yesterday, we had Dutch F-16s that went against anti-aircraft artillery and armor; U.S. F-16s against military vehicles; U.S. A-10 aircraft against military vehicles generally in these areas. We had French Super Etendard aircraft off the aircraft carrier Foch that's stationed in the Adriatic, as well as Dutch F-16s and British GR-7 Harriers against military vehicles in a staging area depicted here.
What I'd like to do next is take a few moments to show you some video. As they're getting the screen ready, I'll explain what the video will show you.
I'll have six different pieces of video for you. I'll explain each one as we go, but as a general overview, the video will show laser-guided bombs. The first one is an F-16 with laser-guided bombs on a bridge, excuse me, on an armored personnel carrier in the engagement area.
Next we'll have A-10 aircraft. The first one here I'll go through right now is an F-16 on an APC, armored personnel carrier, in the engagement zone.
Major General Wald: This was yesterday.
The next one will be an A-10 aircraft with a Maverick electro-optical guided missile on a bridge. This was the day before yesterday. It looks a little bit cloudy as you're coming in, hazy. As it gets closer you'll see the bridge start to become more and more clear.
The bridge had been hit earlier, but there are vehicles on the bridge. One vehicle, at least, is still being used. You see as he's tracking in, it gets more clear as he gets closer. He's going for the main bridge span abutment in this area.
After I'm done with this clip, and you'll see down to impact. At impact, of course, the TV goes off because it explodes with the bomb itself, the missile itself. But I'll show this clip again and show you that this is not without risk.
As you can see, it tracks it all the way down into the target area. That van coming in from the left is probably the last time he'll see the light of day.
On this particular film, same one, but you'll see a highlighted area in the upper right hand corner of the screen, and you'll see flashes. This is the same one I showed you a moment ago. That's AAA, air-to-air artillery, being fired at this A-10, probably either 23mm or 37mm. You can see the flashes coming on. He sees this himself as he's coming in.
The ground flashes and then the tracer airbursts, you'll see that usually only the tracer is about every fifth or sixth bullet, so he's taking what we would consider moderate to heavy AAA all the way in on this run.
So as I explained earlier, this is not without risk.
Q: Why do you bother to hit a bridge that's already collapsed?
Major General Wald: They were still using part of that bridge. The determination at that point was to take the full bridge down so they couldn't repair it with these...
Q: What does the acronym NRDY mean in the upper right hand corner, where your AAA is?
Major General Wald: That just means his weapon is ready.
Q: When you drop the bridges, is it closing down the (inaudible)...
Major General Wald: That's another reason for dropping the bridges. It does close navigation in that particular river area.
Q: Is the Danube open or closed?
Major General Wald: I can't tell you if the Danube is open or closed. I'll defer to Admiral Wilson on that.
Q: Do you have a name for that bridge?
Major General Wald: I do not have the name of that bridge.
The next video we'll show you will be that we are picking up convoys in the engagement area. This is a Maverick on an A-10, again, with a convoy. You'll see he has to break this off. He does not attack it. The reason is he's being fired at. But he does relay that information of that convoy back to other aircraft, and our understanding is that was probably attacked by other aircraft later.
The next video I'll show you will be a highway bridge attacked in southern Serbia, five miles north of the Kosovo border. This is the Raska bridge. F-15Es with 2,000-pound, laser-guided bombs. This is at night. It looks like day because of the infrared. He destroys that bridge.
Q: When was this?
Major General Wald: That was three days ago.
The next clip I'm going to show you will happen fast, so you've got to get ready, but it's just to show you this is not without risk. It's an F-16 that's flying toward its target with its infrared LANTIRN video on, and in the upper portion of the screen of this next video you'll see surface-to-air missiles being fired at the aircraft. It looks like a black streak going by so you'll have to look close. But once again, we're not making this for television production. This is combat. But you can see that it's not without risk in this area.
The first one coming up -- you see it right there -- that's one SA-3 followed directly by another one. Those were probably not guided by radar. Maybe ballistic. But still the threat is there.
The last clip will be F-16 video, laser-guided 2,000 pound bombs against the Lukanti [ph] explosive plant. You can see in the cursor, he's tracking the building.
On this film -- I want you to notice on the bottom just before his bomb impacts -- in about four seconds you'll see four more bombs from other aircraft into the screen that hit their targets, and these here have a direct hit. All those bombs were direct hits with no collateral damage.
Q: What was the plane that was...
Major General Wald: That was an F-16 with 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs.
After that, I'll have Admiral Wilson come up and talk BDA, and then I'll be back up to talk about the humanitarian. We'll get questions in a minute.
Rear Admiral Wilson: Good afternoon again.
I'd like to depart from our normal procedure today. The matrix that you've been seeing is still a valid matrix on the functional damage assessments.
Essentially our narrative descriptions of target sets are about the same. I've indicated before, it's a broad and deep military, and we continue to work very hard on certain aspects of it, which is the army, the police, and their sustainment, lines of communications. I'd like to cover that today.
Before I do that, however, I would like to just kind of go through what's happened in Kosovo in the last couple of weeks as the Serb army and police have essentially conducted, first more intense and widespread counterinsurgency ops, followed by this ethnic cleansing.
You can see by the colors and the areas where the emphasis was and where it has been at the end of their campaign, or toward the end of their campaign. Now we have evidence that in fact the tempo or operations is significantly reduced, in part because of the ceasefire; in part because they may have already cleansed a portion of the province, and also because I think we're having an impact on their operations.
But essentially through the last couple of weeks, it just started up here where I think they judged the UCK military force command and control commanders were the strongest, and then essentially worked its way down to where in the end, the beginning of April, end of March, the beginning of April, their principal area of operation was in the southwest. Then finally, the extreme southwest here along the Albanian border and moving up toward Montenegro.
So this is, just to give you a feel how the operations that they have conducted unfolded, and where the majority of the forces that we're concerned about currently are located, which drives a lot of our operations against the forces that are currently deployed in the field.
Next chart, please.
We've talked before about the damage done at the various garrisons in Kosovo. We initially went after headquarters and command and control elements. At the garrisons themselves, we have continued to pound away on the garrisons and continue to take out vehicular storage areas, maintenance areas, support buildings, barracks, and primarily where they have some of their armored and mechanized units and their heavier equipment and heavier ammunition.
So we have good imagery in the last few days that indicate these garrisons -- two at Pristina and one at Urosevac -- have been severely struck, and essentially they're probably more than 50 percent destroyed in terms of the kind of aim points and facilities at those garrisons that we went to attack.
You also recall General Wald's engagement area box that we've been working in in the last several days. We have a lot of reports from pilots. We have other reports which are coming out of Kosovo which allow us to piece together some of the damage. It's certainly not a complete picture. You remember last week I showed you some vehicles in the field that were damaged. But in the last 24, now maybe stretching into 36 hours -- the end of yesterday's events which were daylight in Kosovo and then throughout the night -- we have continued to strike Serb forces in the area shown here.
At Istok we know that we hit a staging area where a significant number of personnel casualties occurred among the force that was up there. An army force near Decani was attacked by aircraft. And we know that not only were tanks and vehicles damaged, but also self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery. They use this not just for anti-aircraft operations, but also have used it in the last year to fire on a ballistic trajectory into the cities which they're trying to clear, to get people to run and leave before they go in with their MUP infantry.
A MUP convoy was damaged down in the Dakovica region which is down in the southwest. We know that multiple vehicles there were destroyed as a result of these strikes. We know this both from pilot reports, but also other information that we have. And another military convoy, we're not sure whether it was MUP or VJ or army, more up toward the central region but still in the southwest, was attacked. And not only was it attacked, but they turned back to the area that they were coming from based on the pilot debriefs.
So this is clear evidence that not only are we successful in attacking the garrison areas, but mounting evidence that they're feeling the impact among their deployed forces.
Next chart, please.
Excuse me, I need to mention this. We're continuing to see strong evidence, by the way, of supply problems and fuel problems plaguing the Serbian forces in a number of different areas and among a number of different units.
I wanted to make a point that the attacks on the lines of communication which have been more aggressive in the last few days and more successful, are enhancing the fact that we have damaged their POL supplies and ammo depots. These show the principal routes coming into Kosovo, road and rail. The main routes really are from Kraljevo down this way here, and from the Nis area here.
There are multiple bridges that have been attacked. We tried to attack the ones with the longest spans because they're the most difficult to repair. What you saw in the previous example, the bridge was dropped, but we also aim in many cases for the abutment, where it's built up on either end, to make it more difficult to conduct repair operations and keep the bridge out longer. So just because you drop one span is not a reason necessarily to not continue to try to take down and do more damage to the bridge.
Here, it's a road bridge. We think that's completely interdicted. It's both in from Montenegro, but also an alternate route off of this route down here. This is both road and railroads down here. We believe that the rail line is 100 percent interdicted at this point.
The road traffic, because some bridges are damaged and down, is disrupted but not completely choked off. We'll never completely choke it off, and the idea of course is to reduce the daily throughput that they can get on these roads and force them to go into not only passes and roads where they may have a much slower pace of operations, but also where we might be able to engage them better.
On this route here we don't necessarily believe at this point that it's completely choked off the main rail and roads, but we do believe that severe damage has been done both to the rail and road bridges, such that the weight of vehicles that can go across them is lessened, the number of vehicles. And in fact as assessments continue, we may find out that they are indeed disrupted.
These bridges over here we have conducted attacks, but we do not have assessments at this point on the degree to which they are currently interdicted.
We believe that we can reduce by more than half on these routes the amount of through-put capacity going into Kosovo or potential for going into Kosovo on a daily basis.
Next chart, please.
I think that the petroleum, oil and lubricants -- POL is the acronym we use --is perhaps the most damaging target set in terms of long-term sustainment which is currently being engaged.
The Serbs have two principal, large oil refineries, one at Pancevo and one up here at Novi Sad. We continue to do assessments on these refineries, but from all the evidence we have, we believe right now that neither one of them is operating. We believe that the Pancevo refinery is not only not operating, it's probably not capable of operating, and it produces nearly two-thirds of the refined oil that Serbia can produce. The rest of it is at Novi Sad.
In Novi Sad we know we have done a fair amount of damage to our designated aim points as evidenced by the large explosions which occurred the night that they were attacked, and by subsequent examination of the intelligence. We believe it's not operating; however, we aren't positive whether or not it is non-operational. But we believe that there is no refinement operations now going on in either of those refineries.
We are also continuing to work on both military and other POL storage and transshipment locations. You can see that we're doing this throughout the depth and breadth of Serbia, and we'll continue to do that even as we continue to go after forces in the field and other military targets.
We believe that in total the military and strategic reserve fuel storage capability has been reduced somewhere over 20 percent of capacity, and more significant damage than that because of the damage to areas where they conduct the pumping and transshipment and loading operations at the rail- and road-loading docks and things like that in these facilities.
So fuel shortages are being reported throughout the country, and in addition to the bridges here, which have come down and result in problems for supplies of fuel going into Kosovo, the same is true.
The Serbs' own oil production, crude, occurs up in Vojvodina and the bridges that were taken down at Novi Sad impact the ability to move that crude oil to the refineries that are farther to the south.
Additionally, the question about the Danube River, it is blocked up here at Novi Sad due to the two bridges that were struck up there in the last several days.
Next chart, please.
There's been a lot of discussion on TV today about collateral damage and damage supposed to have been done by NATO operations in the Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. I'm certainly not up here to convince you that we have done no collateral damage, but I do believe that the collateral damage which has been done by NATO is at an absolute minimum, and we take great care in both targeting and in terms of the application of fire power to ensure that collateral damage does not occur.
So, if anybody gets the idea that we in any way are responsible for most of the damage to civilian facilities that are not legitimate targets at Pristina, they have the wrong idea.
These are the targets that we have hit in Pristina. Most of them are in the outskirts. They are in rural or lightly inhabited areas. The Pristina army garrison here, another garrison here, southeast and southwest, the ammo storage. At the airport we have petroleum storage. The airport itself was attacked. Radar sites, etc.
The only two targets that have been attacked in the heavily urban area of Pristina were the main telephone exchange two nights ago. It is an important military target because important communications can go via commercial telephone land lines. And there may have been -- there probably was some collateral damage resulting from that strike.
The only other target that was in the urban area was the Pristina MUP regional headquarters. It was attacked near the stadium after midnight when the stadium and the arena were not inhabited. And it was destroyed, and in fact the collateral damage was limited primarily to, I think, some broken windows, except at the designated aim point.
So this is where we've been attacking targets in Pristina largely, not downtown Pristina.
The collateral damage is being done by the Serbs. You may have seen this chart before, but this is a map of Kosovo, and it shows since early March as we have examined all of our sources of intelligence what towns and villages have been damaged primarily by fires set by the Serb forces as they've gone through, as well as by shooting them up with artillery and tanks and those kinds of things.
So while we may have unintended consequences to a few of our strikes which can't be avoided in this kind of scenario, this is intentional damage being done to civilian populations and villages throughout Kosovo which is tragic, indeed. And just for your information, the triangles here is where we believe there are fairly large concentrations of internally displaced people who are on the move and are without the kind of humanitarian assistance that they can even get in Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and other places where they are currently living.
I have a few pictures to go through, then I'll turn it back over to General Wald.
As I indicated here, this is a small village in Kosovska Mitrovica and you can see a before and after the buildings are attacked, and these buildings are all burned out, not as a result of any damage we did, but as a result of the Serb police or military going through and torching this Albanian village or outpost.
This is just an example of one of the army garrisons I haven't shown you before. This is a small one in Prizren. Key vehicular storage areas which have been attacked. These two completely destroyed. This is certainly significant damage here in Prizren.
As far as forces in the field, I think this was shown at NATO headquarters this morning. I don't have all the information on this target, but it is essentially a MUP convoy which was engaged in attack by NATO aircraft and was abandoned. These are the vehicles which are not operational. The MUP uses some armored vehicles, some trucks, various kinds of vehicles to support their operations. It was in southwest Kosovo.
Next chart, please.
Here's the Raska highway bridge, one of the ones down on the northern approach, northeast approach into Kosovo. The span is not dropped. We tried to edge away from this building here which we believe is a restaurant, and we are going to try to drop the span, but where the damage has been done is on this left hand abutment here, which makes the bridge currently unusable.
Q: Is that the same bridge we saw in one of the cockpit videos?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I don't think this is one of the ones that we saw today.
Q: Which bridge is that?
Rear Admiral Wilson: That's a highway bridge there.
Finally, this is the Belgrade petroleum storage area at a power plant in Belgrade. It's the largest storage facility in Belgrade. It was struck several night ago by TLAM missiles. We went after the storage tanks and a pumping facility, and you can see this one is destroyed, and these are all destroyed in here. We believe that this facility is also -- not only was the storage capability reduced, but also the pumping capability damaged, and we know that as a result of this there were power outages in parts of Belgrade.
Q: Can we ask a question before the General comes back? An intelligence question.
Rear Admiral Wilson: This is a rules of engagement thing. I don't know how to talk to it. (Laughter)
Captain Doubleday: This is kind of a work in progress, but I think that in order to make this more orderly and enable Admiral Wilson to go back to work in his office spaces, why don't we do questions and answers on the first parts of the briefing, both the Admiral and the General, and then we'll leave enough time for General Wald to go through a little bit on the humanitarian side of things just before the half hour.
Q: General, could we just ask you, has a package been put together by the SACEUR yet? Have you all received any kind of firm request? I know you're planning on sending extra aircraft. Have you received a concrete request from him yet, and can you fill us in on what you might be sending?
Major General Wald: I can answer that. First of all, we're not planning on sending extra aircraft. There is discussion of the possibility of the SACEUR, General Clark, asking for that. We haven't received that yet. But I'd like to remind everybody again that the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman have said that when those requests come in and they're needed, they will support it. So we haven't seen that official request yet.
Q: First of all, do I understand Admiral Wilson to say we are now engaged in large daylight raids using manned aircraft? Particularly against field forces. And secondly, the unilateral ceasefire that Milosevic announced, do we have indications that his troops have in fact engaged in this ceasefire? Are they at all returning to the staging areas and to their barracks?
Major General Wald: I'll answer the first part, and maybe Tom can answer the second.
The first part, yes, we are flying day and night missions, and some of the day packages are what we would consider large package, somewhat like I depicted on the slide earlier.
Q: Manned aircraft, right?
Major General Wald: Manned aircraft.
Rear Admiral Wilson: We do have indications that they have reduced the tempo of their operations subsequent to this announced unilateral ceasefire. However, we do know that combat operations are still ongoing. Some of it still being initiated by the KLA. So while the Serbs did announce a ceasefire and did pull back somewhat, there is still combat operations ongoing.
Q: Do you have evidence of human shields being used anywhere? And if you do or don't, what do you think of that issue in terms of targeting?
Rear Admiral Wilson: We have anecdotal rumors and reports of human shields which we have not been able to verify save for protestors that run out on a bridge and things like that. They don't appear to be captive there, things like that.
What I think of it -- it's a miserable tactic for anybody to use in a wartime scenario.
Q: Does it have any impact on your doing your job?
Major General Wald: I was going to comment on that. As a matter of fact, we've always planned in Kosovo or Serbia for the potential of civilians to be in target areas, and that is the idea behind planning for no collateral damage or minimizing it.
In Kosovo I think there's been kind of a misperception because of the fact that many of the Kosovar Albanians have been turned into refugees outside the country on the borders that there don't exist Kosovar Albanians anymore in Kosovo. There's over half a million of the Kosovar Albanians that still are there, that aren't IDPs.
So as we do our mission planning, that is always put into the calculus of everything we do.
Q: You've shown us a lot of pictures of bridges being destroyed and we've also seen the pictures from Serbian television of, as you said, protestors, civilians on these bridges. Does that effectively protect those bridges, or are they still fair game even if they have civilians on them?
Rear Admiral Wilson: That does not protect them if they have volunteers on the bridges.
Q: Have you sufficiently damaged the air defense network to permit daylight, lower level convoy attacks? Ground attacks?
Major General Wald: I'd say from witnessing from the film and the fact we're flying, there's never anything that's risk-free, particularly in this area. But we are flying in that area, and we're flying at the altitudes that we can be effective at.
Q: Was that an SA-3, by the way, that you showed us?
Major General Wald: It appeared to be an SA-3, but I couldn't verify it.
Rear Admiral Wilson: ...which indicates that perhaps, I don't know for sure in this exact case, but I've talked before about suppression and jamming and trying to interfere with engagement sequences, so we can reduce the effectiveness of their systems. Fortunately, those did not track.
Q: Can you go back to the chart where you have the displaced persons with the little triangles? Are those being guarded, and they cannot move? Or do you see large groups of tanks or troops around them? Any sort of...
Rear Admiral Wilson: I think it's a mixed bag. I think generally most concentrations of displaced people are not being guarded; they're not being surrounded, but are still pockets of people that are afraid to leave and go back into their villages. It's exactly what we saw, now on a larger scale, but exactly what we saw last summer when we had so many internally displaced people out on their own.
When that was occurring last summer and we had international relief organizations in there, we did have humanitarian assistance that would get to these people. Right now that structure doesn't exist.
Q: Is there any -- just a followup. First of all, does "large" mean hundreds or thousands? And can you say there are a couple of concentrated areas -- did those use to be the KLA strongholds? Is that why there are so many towns and villages up in the northeast that are destroyed? Are there any kind of general patterns that you can discern?
Rear Admiral Wilson: Those are general KLA strongholds in the northeast, but the villages are just -- you can see by the ethnic Albanian population distribution here, the brown, are 80 to 100 percent ethnic Albanians. The other ones are different populations. So there's a definite track with a percentage of population in these areas.
Q:...happened to apparently the tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians on the Kosovo border that apparently just disappeared the other night? Have they gone back into Kosovo at gunpoint? Are they part of these pockets that you're identifying? Where do you think they are? How many do you think they are? And again, going back, are they affecting how you're targeting?
Rear Admiral Wilson: Let me take the last part first.
We always try to reduce to as near to zero as possible targeting that would impact innocent people. So I don't know that that group of people which came off the border are necessarily impacting our target selection and execution.
I don't know really where they went. Most of the people who came down to Macedonia came from the Pristina area and the eastern part as opposed to the southwest where they came into the Albanian side. I think some of those have gone farther into Macedonia, some have moved to Albania, and some have gone back perhaps to their home ares, perhaps to where other pockets of displaced people are -- and the numbers, I think it might be around 15,000, but I don't know for sure where they've gone.
Q: To follow up on that, what is your assessment of what's behind this? What's Milosevic's strategy for closing the borders now? Your professional assessment.
Rear Admiral Wilson: I think he is trying a number of tactics to end the bombing. There is a real sense of falseness to these tactics. These people are at best maybe going back to burned out homes. They would not in any sense, I believe, feel safe. It may be that they, they had no good options, and with the downturn of fighting felt like a better option was to go back.
I think that his ceasefire offer was disingenuous, but this was a tactic to try to relieve the pressure on him.
Q: When you say they have no good options, you're talking about the people?
Rear Admiral Wilson: The ones he turned back from the border weren't faced with a choice of good options, in my opinion.
Q: Can you just explain that a little bit? How does sealing the borders relieve the pressure when he has been ethnically cleansing these people...
Rear Admiral Wilson: Relieve the pressure that we're -- in other words if he seals the border or says the flow of refugees has stopped, makes this announcement that they're welcome to come back, that in some way, somehow that causes people like NATO to believe that he in fact has changed his policy. Then try to relieve the pressure of the bombing campaign and the world opinion against him.
Q: In a ground campaign people can usually find it fairly easy to understand how you measure success. It's in terms of ground taken and held.
In an air campaign like this one, how do you measure success? How do you know when you've done it right?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I think, maybe I should let the commanders answer it. When we have degraded this military to the point where they have trouble doing these atrocious acts or decide that they're not going to do it and comply with what is needed to happen to end this scenario, which is a political and policy decision.
Major General Wald: Let me add one comment on that, too. I think Admiral Wilson is correct.
Remember what the objective is. The stated military objective is for us to degrade his capability to perform repressive acts on the Albanians. I think Admiral Wilson's briefing earlier clearly showed that we are definitely degrading his capability.
I think the answer to the question lies with Milosevic. When he's ready to stop doing what he's doing, that will be when the objective is met. We're going to continue to degrade his capability until the time comes when he's ready to stop.
Q: And you can't look inside his head and see how close he is to making such a decision.
Major General Wald: I can't. Maybe Admiral Wilson can. (Laughter)
Q: How close are you getting to degrading? Are you at 20 percent, 50, 90 percent?
Major General Wald: I think Admiral Wilson pretty much gave a few good examples of the degradation of some of his assets, and you could see some vivid examples from the film and from the numbers that Admiral Wilson showed you today.
Q: If I could go back into some points regarding communication. Point number one, oil coming from the north of Serbia comes by pipeline. Has that pipeline been severed?
Point two, is it possible to get refined products, refined fuel by river? And have those unloading distribution facilities been degraded?
Finally, my point would be getting from Serbia into Kosovo, is it possible to close those roads and railroads completely?
Rear Admiral Wilson: First, oil, whether it's crude or refined, can come by pipeline, barge, or tanker truck. I think that I'm not going to comment on potential future targets, but they're all targetable, and as you know, some have been targeted. I saw in the press that Croatians may have turned off a pipeline which goes into Belgrade which brings crude in. If he wants to take his crude from Vojvodina down, he either has to go by pipeline, tanker truck or the Danube.
It is possible to continue to choke down lines of communications. If you stop every trickle, probably not. We've all seen examples where that's not likely.
But we are seriously disrupting his ability on the main lines of communication to resupply his forces in Kosovo.
Q: Admiral Wilson, a question about one of the pictures you had up which showed a power plant next to an oil pumping and storage facility. You said the power was knocked out there. Have there been any other similar attacks on, that have impacted the power supply generally, first.
Second, for General Wald, what's the thinking about how that impacts the civilian population? Even if you look at fuel?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I don't have any significant indications of largescale power outages.
Major General Wald: On the second part, I'm not sure how it affects their population. I think you can only speculate how it would affect us. But once again, that's putting ourselves in our own situation, not theirs.
Q: What's the considerations about availability of fuel for basic human needs for the rest of the population?
Major General Wald: Once again, we're not focusing on the population, the Serb civilian population. We're focusing on the military, and that's Milosevic's military. Any of those things that help him sustain his capability to engage in repressive acts against the Kosovo Albanians that has to do with military targeting is fair game. We've gone through those before. It's regrettable if it's affecting their civilian population, but I think that's in the hands of Milosevic, and that's his decision to make.
Q:...AAA as you are in the various videos, are your aircraft coming back to Aviano with a lot of bullet holes in their wings? Are there shredded aircraft sitting on the tarmac down there? You've flown over this area before. You know what it's like. What's the report of the airplanes...
Major General Wald: There's very very little, if any, report of any battle damage. Of course we have the 117 that was downed, but short of that we haven't had any reports. But that's not to say that the AAA isn't heavy and the threat is high. But once again, we're using the proper tactics and understand the threat, and we're working around it as best we can.
Q:...you don't want to discuss, but there was a report that some of the KLA are using satellite phones to act as forward air controllers and spotters for targets. Any substance to that?
Major General Wald: I'll defer to Admiral Wilson on that.
Rear Admiral Wilson: I would not discuss something like that.
Q: Can you say what you would warn Milosevic for this 16th night of bombing, and also the fact that the Cypriot official remains in Belgrade. That still, however does not mean you will not go after Belgrade, I presume.
Major General Wald: Could you repeat the first part?
Q: What would you say, warn Milosevic about this 16th night of straight bombing? And will Belgrade be on the target list even though the Cypriot official is there?
Major General Wald: You're asking me to give my personal opinion? Because I'm not the CINC. I think it would be he that would talk to it. But I think from a personal perspective I would tell Milosevic that if you don't understand we're committed by now, you probably ought to start reading tea leaves.
Q: And Belgrade, even though the Cypriot official remains there.
Major General Wald: I don't know anything about the Cypriot official in Belgrade.
Rear Admiral Wilson: We don't comment on future targeting, one way or the other.
Q: But I...
Rear Admiral Wilson: We're not going to comment on future targeting.
Q: Do you perceive the KLA as a (inaudible), and may we have your assessment of the KLA?
Major General Wald: I'm sorry?
Q: Do you consider KLA as an ally to your forces? And may we have your assessment on KLA (inaudible)?
Major General Wald: The KLA is not an alliance of our forces, no. That is not the point. The point is we're going against Milosevic's army, and that's our objective. It's a NATO effort, and that's what we're working with.
Q: And your assessment of the KLA?
Major General Wald: I have no assessment whatsoever of the KLA. I'd defer to Admiral Wilson on that.
Q: General Wald, there's been a great perception over the last three weeks that air power could stop the killing on the ground and that bad weather has prevented NATO from doing that. As someone who dropped bombs on ammo bunkers four years ago as commander of the 31st, realistically, even if the weather was good for the first 15 days of this thing, what could air power have realistically accomplished by way of stopping the killing on the ground?
Major General Wald: I'm not sure how much it could stop the killing. That's kind of a tough question to answer from the standpoint of percentages. But once again you go back to -- I think it's clear, and the senior leadership in the military and our civilian leadership made it clear, that our objective was to degrade the capability to perform repressive acts, not to go through a percentage of how much killing would stop.
The point is that at some point Milosevic's army will be incapable of doing that, and he will probably have to start protecting himself, so it's a very hard question to answer, but it's not going to go down in percentages.
Captain Doubleday: We probably have time for two more for Admiral Wilson, then we need to move on to the humanitarian...
Q: You were talking about the damage done to Pristina. As you know, the Serb brought TV crews down. Was any of that damage caused by NATO air attacks?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I can't rule out that some of the damage in the last two nights, two nights ago where we attacked the telephone exchange, that some of that damage was not done by that air attack. It's possible, and perhaps even likely that it did.
But the rest of the damage being shown in Pristina was done by the Serbs.
Q: General Wald, could I come back to the question...
Q: You were asked before about the triangles, what they represent, how many people. You never answered that question.
Rear Admiral Wilson: I don't know for sure. The largest concentrations of refugees -- it's the areas where there are significant pockets. We think there's somewhere over 500,000 internally displaced people in Kosovo, so a fairly significant percentage of that 500,000 are in the areas of those blue triangles.
Q:...people turned back? You went through an analysis of some going to Macedonia and Albania, then you said 15,000. Are you saying 15,000 you think went back into...
Rear Admiral Wilson: As many as 15,000. I think that may be about the number that had been at the border that may have gone back toward Pristina or somewhere else.
Q: Have you seen any pattern in the use of surface-to-air missiles being shot ballistically as opposed to radar-guided? If so, is that an indication that you damaged the radars in C-2, or is it more that they're afraid of HARM targeting systems?
Rear Admiral Wilson: All of the above, I think. We continue to work on the, even though I didn't emphasize it today, we continue to work on the air defense system, early warning missile systems, and it continues to be more degraded. Some of these are, fortunately, the impact of that success.
Q:...that kind of ballistic launch as opposed to a guided launch, which would obviously be far more grave to pilots?
Rear Admiral Wilson: If it's a ballistic launch, it's not as effective. If it's a radar-guided launch, then of course our HARMs can be more effective.
Q: But you are seeing that as a pattern, that they're being launched more and more ballistically?
Rear Admiral Wilson: I really would just leave it where I'm at.
Press: Thank you.
Q: Ken [sic], I wonder if you might tell us first, since time's real short, when you expect the people to start coming into GITMO?
Major General Wald: Right now they're ready to receive people into Guantanamo if that decision is made, but I'd like to just explain something here.
First of all, as I said earlier, SOUTHCOM was in charge of preparing Guantanamo if that decision were to be made to move refugees there. But right now the good news is the refugees outside of Kosovo are -- the majority have cover, shelter, and health care and are being taken care of with food, and indications are many of those individuals, those refugees, would just as soon stay a little bit closer to Kosovo and their home, maybe in Europe.
The other complicating factor is their families, and we want to make sure if they do go to a refuge area that they go as families, so the immediate crisis of them having food and some shelter, the majority of that seems to be taken care of, and then we'll start being more deliberate in where they move, and the decision for them to go to Guantanamo has not been made yet.
I thought I'd just give a quick update on the humanitarian.
Before I do, the questions on Task Force Hawk. That's been approved. As you know, that's the Apache deployment from Europe into Albania. The total airlift to support the 24 Apache helicopters and support that goes along with that is about 150 C-17 sorties. We have five of those C-17 sorties flying into Albania today with infantry fighting vehicles and cargo trucks. There will be four Bradley infantry fighting vehicles on the ground today there, and they will start setting up perimeter defense and start setting up force protection.
The helicopters, the Apaches will self-deploy from Europe to Albania. Additionally, there are 12 aircraft with 22 crews that are dedicated for airlift for this deployment into Albania in Europe, and 45 C-17 sorties worth of cargo have been prepared at Ramstein Air Force Base and are being readied to be shipped into Albania.
The concept as it is today looks like they'll be operating at Tirane Rinus Airport in Tirane on a bare base area around the airfield there, and Major General Burns, the Deputy V Corps Commander, is in place doing the site survey, prepping the Task Force Hawk deployment as we speak.
Major General Wald: Right now the initial concept is for them to operate right from there.
Q: Do you have any idea when the first (inaudible) will arrive?
Major General Wald: We're still hoping to have a small, initial capability, operational capability within seven to ten days, and then they'll start building up from there for full operation.
Q: Seven to ten days from now or...
Major General Wald: Right from now they should -- we're hoping. Once again that depends. The balance here is between the humanitarian aid and the situation on the ground, but the hope, once again, is still for them to be operating in a small way within seven to ten days.
Q: On the MLRS that were linked to that in terms of the request.
Major General Wald: That's part of the package.
I'd like to say, just a point here, and Admiral Wilson's covered it in detail, but once again there are about 1.1 to 1.3 million displaced personnel in the Kosovo area. There are still 500,000 to 750,000 displaced personnel in Kosovo. Then on the periphery in Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia, there are another total, and other countries, of nearly 600,000 and that leaves nearly half a million that aren't displaced in Kosovo. So we go back to the idea of are we taking care of targeting? Of course we are.
For Sustained Hope. I won't go through this in too much detail, but the ferry service for the humanitarian relief from the port Bari in Italy and Durres, Montenegro, has been established. The line of communication between Tirane and Kukes has been established as well. That will be primarily helicopter lift because of the condition of the road between Tirane and Kukes, as I mentioned yesterday.
They're working now, by the weekend should have 24-hour operations at Tirane airfield. They're setting up temporary lighting and a temporary approach control. The intermediate staging base in Ancona is fully operational. Two 747s from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance with 83,000 of the humanitarian daily rations of the 300,000 have arrived yesterday, and we've now received a new request for over a million military MREs because the humanitarian daily rations after this shipment of over a million goes -- that will be the end of that and we'll start sending MREs possibly.
I won't go over in detail on this slide, but I'd like to just mention that part of the difficulty, because of the size of the base at Tirane, right now, and MOG stands for "maximum on ground" of large aircraft. The maximum on ground at Tirane right now is one C-17 and two C-130s, and they're right now working to increase that number up to two C-17s at one time, and hoping they can do that. But what it does show you, that the flow from the intermediate staging base in Ancona into Tirane, of course, will depend on how much the Tirane air base can handle, both for traffic and for the amount of supplies that could be stocked in one spot. Then of course the on-flow from Tirane up to Kukes. So not an easy proposition, but it's been working.
Just a real quick update. The Ancona intermediate staging base has received 65,000 humanitarian daily rations today; and Tirane, 96,000; and in Skopje, 83,000 and several GP large tents. So it's moving along.
Cumulatively, Ancona once again has a fairly good storage area there. They have nearly 250,000 HDRs; Tirane has received over 185,000; and the tents are arriving today, as well as Skopje, you can see there, with the numbers a depicted.
I'll take any questions you have.
Q: General, any thought of bringing engineers in there to improve that road between Tirane and...
Major General Wald: As a matter of fact there is. I think, I'm not sure of the number, but they are bringing engineers in. I think the final decision has been made, and they will be improving that road.
Q: Army engineers?
Major General Wald: That's what I understand.
Q: Can you say anything about what the weather picture for the future is? What's upstream and coming into the area? How that will affect your operations?
Major General Wald: We understand the weather, and of course you can take this right off the WeatherNet, but the weather over the next few days looks like it may be getting a little bit worse, so we'll have to wait and see. But one thing I will mention from operational experience in the area, that the weather predicted isn't always the weather that you get. Sometimes there are areas you still can work in, but it does look like it's going to be a little worse over the next few days.
Q: General, you showed at the beginning some slides of the Maverick weapons. It's obviously a Vietnam era weapon. What's your assessment so far of its performance? I know it's got a TV seeker in one version, the older version. Some of the newer versions have infrared seekers. Are the pilots using both? I guess with the TV seeker they have to be closer to the ground, the infrared they can be higher up.
Major General Wald: I won't talk about the specifics of what you have to do tactically with it, but I will say that the weapons -- although that particular weapon has been around a long time -- they are upgraded, as you mentioned. The A-10 aircraft is particularly a good weapon for them to employ because of the speed the A-10 flies at.
Q: How are they performing?
Major General Wald: They're performing, from what I understand, fairly well, and from what the film looks like, pretty darn good. So...
Q: General Wald, I know we're not just operating from Aviano. Could you tell us where else American flights are coming from?
Major General Wald: Right now I'm not going to talk about specific bed-down locations, but I will tell you it's obvious they're flying from not only Italy, but Europe as well and some other areas.
Q: Germany and Britain?
Major General Wald: Right.
Q: How about the newest NATO allies? Is anybody flying out of Hungary? The Czech Republic?
Major General Wald: We'll not talk about that at this time.
Q: General, there's been a lot of talk about avoiding collateral damage. Is the alliance using any special technologies to rehearse their missions to prevent attacks? I'm thinking of Power Scenes 3-D video. You used it, Holbrooke used it to draft the Dayton Accord. Can you talk a little bit about how that technology is being used to allow you to hit the span of a bridge...
Major General Wald: I'll give you a quick answer there. There's a lot of data available that, yes, they are using that at Aviano, as well as at the CAOC, the Combined Air Operations Center at Vicenza. That technology is available to our allies at Aviano. Basically it's digitized terrain, down to very, very accurate terrain of Kosovo and Serbia that the pilots can practice on prior to the mission. It looks exactly like the terrain you'd be flying over day or night. It's very, very important, as we've probably talked about before, that it gives the pilots, the air crew a chance to practice that mission prior to the mission several several times, and once again is a critical tool as far as avoiding collateral damage.
Q: Is it fair to say that all the major target hits, those pilots rehearsed the mission ahead of time?
Major General Wald: Not everybody has that system, but I will tell you that the U.S. folks have it at the bases we're at, and I can't tell you what the other allied units are using at some of their bases. But on the very critical targets, there's a lot of rehearsal, a lot of planning and practice.
Q: When you showed the video before of an A-10 approaching a convoy then had to turn back because of the fire. Then you said someone...
Major General Wald: Right.
Q: Can you explain that a little more, what happened there? A lot of your pictures seemed to show how hard it is, not how successful it is.
Major General Wald: That was the only one that didn't hit something, so -- but it is very hard, and I think it's probably a good point. This is not easy. And with all the technology we have, with all the aids we have, it's still very, very difficult and it's very risky. It's not just risky for those on the ground, obviously; it's risky for the air crews.
But the reason I showed you that particular video was two reasons. One, there are convoys that we're finding. Of course he can relay that to other aircraft, and I assume he did. And number two is, if we're not sure or have been fired upon, we may break off the attack.
Now there are other reasons we may not drop. We may not drop for reasons that we cannot positively identify the target, which happens - if it does happen the pilots are disciplined enough not to do that or for reasons they can't find the target for weather.
Q:...turned back because at that point, because of the...
Major General Wald: The assumption I made on that was a combination of things. One, there was a little weather that came through. Number two, it's not an easy weapon to employ. And number three, I assumed he was probably getting fired at.
Press: Thank you.