DoD NEWS BRIEFING, MONDAY 12 APRIL, 1999- 2:05 p.m.
Also Participating; Major General Chuck Wald, J-5
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
Major General Wald is here with an operational update. We'll start with that, then take some questions. I have a few announcements that I'd like to make following that, so please don't leave.
Major General Wald: Good afternoon.
We'll start with the weather, as usual. As I mentioned, I think we were here last Saturday. The weather over the last couple of days has been not as good as we'd like, and it's predicted to be that way for the next couple of days. However, we still have been flying missions, quite a few missions, I might add, and employing the full gamut of weapons against targets throughout Kosovo as well as Serbia.
This is kind of a wrapup of the last two days. Basically, over the last two days we've hit 24 different target sets throughout both the former Republic of Yugoslavia as well as two Kosovo engagement zones have been attacked by dozens of aircraft over the last few days. In spite of the weather, as I said, they've been able to have breaks in the weather and we've employed all weapons as well.
We continue to focus on military forces in the field. As you can see, a number of targets in the Kosovo area over the last couple of days, focusing more on his field force, continue to focus on sustainment and fuel, lines of communication for sustainment, roads and bridges, command and control, air defense, and some industry for long term sustainment.
The refugee situation hasn't changed that much. Once again, top end estimate is about 1.56 million, .54 million totally displaced personnel. Some of those, obviously, still in Kosovo. Anywhere from 260,000 to 700,000, and in the surrounding region.
Contributions continue. There are now 33 different nations that are contributing humanitarian supplies -- food and other type of support. Nearly 3,000 short tons of food, almost 1,500 tons of shelter, quite a bit of medical and some vehicle support over the last few days. I think you've seen that Israel has set up a hospital in Macedonia to support the effort.
Ancona, the intermediate staging base, has almost 500,000 humanitarian daily rations waiting to move forward, and 550 tents. There have been nearly 40 C-130 flights into Tirane already that have carried nearly 300,000 humanitarian daily rations as well as you can see the tents and the clothing, etc. The, in Skopje, nearly 300,000 humanitarian daily rations -- that's about half of what's going in there. And the tents, etc., are still going in as well. What we understand, most of the people that are displaced around the periphery of Kosovo do have shelter and food at this time.
Over the next few days we expect another 230,000 humanitarian daily rations to go into Albania and another 150 tents and another 350,000 humanitarian daily rations into Skopje. That will be the initial load of food from the humanitarian daily rations over the past few days.
As far as Task Force Hawk goes, there have been upwards, if they close out the C-17s today which they're expecting 20 sorties, it will be 38 C-17 sorties as of this afternoon; and then over the next few days they expect to average 20 C-17 sorties into Tirane to close out Task Force Hawk.
Major General Wald: Right now they're still planning to close out within the next seven to ten days as was stated earlier, and that looks like it's on track. Of course once again, as we said earlier, they're balancing this with the humanitarian relief effort, but the...
Q: You mean everything in the task force?
Major General Wald: Right.
Q: Including the launchers?
Major General Wald: If in fact the weather holds and things don't change, because now the runway, as I mentioned two days ago, the runway at Tirane, they were able to flight check the navigation aid, it's open 24 hours a day now. They have lighting in place. They have an air traffic control augmentation team there and other support, and those are in place as well as some force protection required. They'll continue to move force protection in. Then over the next seven to ten days they're hoping to close out the task force, and the helicopters will self-deploy over the next week or so.
Q: So you expect it could be in by the end of this week, some of the initial helicopters?
Major General Wald: Some of the initial helicopters could very well be in by the end of this week. Once again, that depends on weather, and I won't announce the specifics on that.
Q: General, you moved up to 30 days, then you told us at one point you thought the Apaches would not be fully operational for 30 days. You're now saying two weeks are you?
Major General Wald: I never did say that. What I've been told all along is they're planned -- and once again, it depends on the weather and the situation in place -- would be to be in place within the next two weeks, and then will become operational at the CINC's -- that will be a CINC decision based on the operational need at the time. There is some working into the scenario when they get there, so I won't give you a specific date on that.
I want to go through just a real quick review of the assessment up to now on the battle damage assessment in general terms, but let you know that the SAM sustainability has been substantially degraded from the standpoint of replenishment SAMs. We have also degraded their capability to actually employ the SAMs from an integrated standpoint. They're firing SAMs -- they did last night, quite a few as a matter of fact -- both strategic SAMs as well as MAN-PADS, and a significant amount of AAA. But they are starting to take a significant hit on their sustainability.
The army and police have been reduced. Their coordinated air defense has been impacted I would say in a big way. Some of their TV reception, from a military standpoint, from their command and control standpoint, has been degraded. The losses are continuing. The reports back is they are reporting attacking fielded forces in Kosovo over the last couple of days.
The sustainability for petroleum, oil, lubricants and ammo has been reduced significantly. Military production has been moderately damaged in industry and infrastructure, but from what we understand, 100 percent of his ability to produce petroleum, oil, and lubricants has been destroyed. That's organic production. He still has quite a bit of reserve. Then the lines of communication for moving that stuff around has been hit as we talked about earlier -- roads, bridges, etc., have been attacked.
What I'd like to do now is show some gun camera film followed by a couple of images that will show some of the damage that's been inflicted over the last couple of weeks. These gun camera vary from five to six days ago to as early as two days ago.
The first one will be a laser-guided bomb off an F-16 against an army barracks in southwest Kosovo. What I'd like to point out here is that the aircraft is lasing a specific target here. You'll see that in about six seconds the target will be struck by laser-guided bombs. This is a night mission. Two thousand pound bombs. Then after he breaks off the attack, you can still see some of the damage up in the upper half.
The next one will be F-16s again, laser-guided bombs against the Sjenica airfield. On this one I'd like to point out that the aircraft is actually lasing for another aircraft that is going to drop bombs. This is a forward air control mission in Kosovo. There are two other aircraft in the mission with this one. The other aircraft's bombs will hit to the right of the screen, and then the one that this aircraft is lasing for will actually land on the target. So some other aircraft has dropped his bombs, and this aircraft is going to do the designation with his laser for that target. There's the other aircraft bombs, and then shortly thereafter the bombs that this aircraft has been lasing for.
Q: Did you say the type of plane?
Major General Wald: That was an F-16. That was a forward air control mission.
Q: Lasing and bombing?
Major General Wald: The 16 that was lasing did not drop the bombs.
Q: Right, but was it an F-16 that bombed it?
Major General Wald: I believe it was.
This is to show that the weather, even though it's been bad over the last few days, we can work around it. This is another forward air control mission. This aircraft here is actually just taking a picture of the target area. Another aircraft is going to drop CBU munitions, which are anti-armor, on the target. As you can see, this FAC is trying to see the target area. You see the bombs starting to explode. He'll expand on it in a minute. Then you'll see the CBUs start cooking off in the area here. Which, once again, very difficult from the position he's sitting in, and he gets it through the weather. But as you can see, there are some breaks in the weather that allow us to attack those targets. So even though the weather has been predicted to be bad, there's been opportunities with breaks in the weather for us to attack.
The last one I'll show you is a radar, early warning radar site in Serbia. F-15E with an electro-optical weapon. This is one of their primary early warning radar sites. There are two domes you'll see in the picture. He's attacking the top dome. Actually, that had been struck earlier but it was still operational. It was destroyed after this. I'll show you an image of that in just a moment.
Major General Wald: Yes.
It's a little difficult for you to see, but you can see there's still one dome standing on that area, and the target that was struck in the video is here, and you can see it's fully destroyed with quite a bit of debris sitting around the area. Degraded that particular site significantly.
Another blowup of that, and you can see that's the one dome standing, and then there's quite a bit of damage, which actually the dome itself is totally destroyed and the capability from that particular dome to provide early warning.
Q: And the other dome is still operational and will be a target?
Major General Wald: I won't talk about future targets. You know better than that.
The next one I'd like to point out is the difficulty in Kosovo of actually hitting the targets or finding their targets. This is a village in Volujak, Kosovo, and it shows where the arrows are. It's difficult for you to see that they actually are parking armored personnel carriers in amongst the buildings in the town itself, and this is a blowup of this particular area right here. Then along the route into that particular town there are a couple more armored vehicles. Then you can see in here, some of the vehicles are actually destroyed with the roofs gone. So they're actually parked in their vehicles in amongst the villages in some places,which is bad, because it's hard to find them and you have to really watch for collateral damage. But it's also good, because it means he's hunkered down and not moving around very much.
Q: When was that taken, that picture?
Major General Wald: I can't tell you exactly when that was taken right now. Over the last few days, I believe.
Also another town, Malisevo, Kosovo, and this is just the same type of thing in a different village. There's quite a bit of damage on these buildings here. They look from analysis that they've been destroyed. The roofs are all gone. But they are putting their vehicles in amongst revetments and next to the buildings so they're hard to see.
So once again, he's hiding his vehicles, which means he isn't on the move that much, and it's making it difficult for us, but also the equation is obviously difficult for him as well.
Major General Wald: I can't tell you if we've attacked those yet or not.
Q: Any troops in the barracks, General, that you hit?
Major General Wald: I don't know if there were any troops in the barracks or not, but if they were, they're military troops.
Q: The Serbs claim today that NATO either by missile or by plane took out a train. Is that true? Can you tell us what took it out and what the circumstances were?
Major General Wald: I can't tell you the circumstances. I can tell you that NATO has released the fact that a bridge was attacked, and there was an indication there may have been a train on that bridge. They're reviewing that right now. But I'll reiterate again, Ivan, that we do everything we can, as you know, to avoid any collateral damage, planned for the minimum collateral damage, and this is not risk-free. It's not risk-free to the Serbians, and it's certainly not risk-free to our forces as well.
From what I understand, they're in the middle of a review of that. I won't speculate any further than that.
Q: Were there U.S. planes involved?
Q: Was it a missile or a plane, General? Can you tell us?
Major General Wald: Once again, it's in review, and I think I'd be premature in mentioning anything beyond that right now.
Q: Can you say whether it's believed it was a passenger or freight train?
Major General Wald: I can't say that for sure right now.
Q: The other day, for example, you showed us a picture of a bridge which was attacked, and you said at the time that there were civilians on, or there were personnel on the train. I don't know if they were civilians of military.
Major General Wald: Right.
Q: Is there a policy to waive off an attack if, for example, the bridge is occupied?
Major General Wald: I won't talk about what the policy is. You can probably imagine why. But I will say this. We've made it very clear that lines of communication in Serbia have been attacked. I've mentioned it up here plenty of times, that we're attacking bridges and railroads. I've also said that we will do everything humanly possible to avoid collateral damage without actually putting anybody else at any additional risk. I'll leave it at that.
Q: You also said that people standing on those bridges would not stop you from attacking the bridges.
Major General Wald: I never did say that. I said we would avoid collateral damage to the maximum extent we could.
Q: So there is not yet a policy that you can reveal to us with regard to people guarding their assets in Serbia, especially bridges?
Major General Wald: I wont' talk at all about a policy one way or the other, other than -- and I can tell you from personal experience, I've flown there, I've dropped bombs there before -- is that we do everything we possibly can to avoid unnecessary collateral damage. We take it very seriously, work very hard at doing that. We spend a lot of time planning for the missions. As a matter of fact, I personally have come off targets that I could not make sure, or could not verify for sure that there wasn't going to be collateral damage before, and I might add, these pilots are flying over there at a great risk, and air crew. They fired several SAMs last night. The AAA is heavy. So we're asking a lot from those pilots and air crew as well.
So the bottom line is, once again, is that we'll do everything we can to avoid collateral damage, but we plan to continue the mission.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the damage to aircraft? You said the AAA is heavy, and I know we had one F-117 go down. We're getting reports that these planes are actually taking quite a few hits.
Major General Wald: I haven't heard any reports of the aircraft taking hits whatsoever. None. Other than the report of the 117 we talked about before, and I'm not sure if that was a hit or what. But from what I'm hearing, we're not coming back with the pictures you would envision from World War II with holes all over airplanes. That's not the case at all. That's not to say that it isn't dangerous.
Q:...weather could have played a role in this train bombing, that perhaps the pilot couldn't see the train?
Major General Wald: I won't speculate on this case, but certainly it's conceivable. Anything's conceivable. Once again, they're in the middle of review. I'll guarantee you that they'll take the time to do it right and I think we'll depend on those in the field to make that determination when the time comes.
Q: Is it possible that pilots may not know absolute, up to the minute conditions about a target or on a target?
Major General Wald: I would say that's definitely possible. Anything's possible. We do everything we can, target study, last minute information, real time information when we have it, to assure that the target we're hitting is number one, the correct target; that the bombs we drop go on the target we want it to; and by the way, there's a significant amount of weaponeering going into each target to make sure the weapon that is attacking that target is the right weapon. I can tell you on these missions out there, particularly on the strategic targets and the ones in Serbia, each one of those targets is individually planned with the right type of weapon, with the right type of aircraft, at the right time, with all consideration for risk involved. So there's a significant amount of planning that goes into each one of these targets every time.
Q: Can you talk, with those kind of rules upon you, how much pressure this puts on your inventories of precision-guided weapons, GPS versus laser, and how you're managing the weapons inventory in this case?
Major General Wald: Let's start with the inventory itself. Right now we have an adequate number of weapons to, what we feel, execute the mission as we see we need.
I think General Shelton mentioned it yesterday, as a matter of fact, but in the Gulf War, we dropped about -- nine percent of the munitions that were expended in the Gulf War were precision. Right now almost 100 percent, the high 90s of the munitions being dropped are precision. That's because over the last ten years those are the type of weapons we've been purchasing.
So we have a lot of precision munitions. We have enough to execute the mission and I'll just leave it at that.
Q: Do you have enough, though, given -- inventory sufficient, given the weather situation that you're constantly dealing with? And are you having to rely more than ever before on GPS-aided munitions?
Major General Wald: You mean GPS-autonomous where you launch and leave? Actually, we are depending on that a lot more, but it's because we have those type of weapons.
If this were to have happened ten years ago, there would be nights or days where we probably wouldn't be able to drop any weapons. That's not the case today.
The case today is that weather is not a sanctuary for Milosevic. So we have enough weapons to execute through the weather, and we'll continue to do that, and they plan those weapons for those days. When you look at a campaign over a period of time, you have to expect there will be days where the weather is bad, or other environmental factors will cause you to use a certain type of weapon. They plan for that. So based on the weather, the forecast ahead of time, they'll start using the type of weapon they think they need to for that particular weather environment.
Q: Can you talk a little bit more on the Apache issue? The New York Times had on the front page Saturday that it would take a month to have a full operational capability. On Saturday, you said within seven to ten days there would be initial operational capability. Can you flesh out what does "initial" mean in this case, and when will a full-up capability, should General Clark use it, be available?
Major General Wald: I'm not going to talk about future operations; you know that. I've said that plenty of times before. For one thing, I would use the CINC's estimate of when he'll be ready ahead of maybe the New York Times estimate. What the CINC has said, that he plans and wants that initial operational capability where he has a force in place that he could, if he desired, based on the operational need, start flying missions within a couple of weeks. Now those missions may be a local mission that starts getting them ready to do the full op. It may depend on weather. But I'm not going to tell you exactly when that's going to be, because I don't think Milosevic needs to know that. But I will tell you that the initial plan for those forces to be in place is for those forces to be in place over the next seven to ten days, and then the CINC will decide when he wants to go ahead and deploy those forces. That's as far as I'll go with that.
Major General Wald: The plan, as I said earlier, is for all those forces to be there over the next seven to ten days.
Now if weather or the situation because of humanitarian lift, or because of any other reason dictates that that can't happen, then that's exactly what will happen; it will be delayed. But for right now he'd like for them to be in place within a couple of weeks, and he'll decide when he's going to employ those.
Q: What are you seeing of the refugees in Kosovo? Are you seeing clusters of humanity high in the mountains? Are you seeing them on the roads? Are you seeing populations returning to villages? Do you have any feel for that at all?
Major General Wald: What I've seen -- as a matter of fact I showed a photo of it I think last week -- is that there are some places where they're actually fairly close to the village in groups, with some shelter, and I believe in other places they may be in the hills. I can't tell you whether or not they're in their villages or not. So I think it's a combination of all of those.
Q: What's holding up the plan to use Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit to set up a refugee camp in Macedonia?
Major General Wald: There's nothing holding any plans for that. I don't know of any plans necessarily. But I do know this -- you're talking about Skopje?
Q: No, north of Skopje, I believe. It was mentioned either by you or another briefer...
Major General Wald: What I understand is they have all the manpower for doing that mission there in place with the ARRC, Lieutenant General Jackson, the NATO Rapid Reaction Corps, has all the manpower they need in place. If they needed more because of the time constraint, they would have asked for it, but I understand they didn't need them right now at this time.
Q: Can I go back to the train just for a moment? If it's a cruise missile, obviously the missile can't tell if the train was on the bridge, we know that. But if it's a manned aircraft, put yourself back in the cockpit for a moment. If you were attacking a bridge and you saw a train on it, would you consider that a target of opportunity and proceed on?
Major General Wald: First of all, I think that's unfair for me to speculate on that. I'm not sure what the situation was, whether or not if they're -- first of all, where the train was at this time, if that in fact happened; what the weather was like; or any of that. But I would say I'm sure if in fact that pilot was attacking that bridge, that was the target he was going after, and once again, you can imagine, maybe bad weather, maybe getting shot at as I showed you the other day in one of the films. I'm sure he's concentrating on the target which may be a span of a bridge or something. So to think that maybe he in his peripheral vision could see that, I would only be speculating.
But it takes a lot, the environment, the threat at the time, and then whether or not his view in that particular period of time has the full bridge involved or not. But certainly he's going to do everything he can; if he does see that maybe he isn't ready to fire, he should stop. But once again, I'm speculating. I think we'll have to wait for the final review for that to come out.
Q: It's pretty hard under those conditions to determine whether or not the train would be a passenger train or a resupply train from the Serbia military, wouldn't it?
Major General Wald: Once again, what we're attacking is the bridges and railroad bridges and road bridges. Okay? That's as far as I'll go with that.
Q: General, can you discuss any signs you're seeing that the Serbs may be hunkering down to defend themselves against an attack, a ground attack?
Major General Wald: As some of the photos showed, I think they're kind of hunkering down a little bit next to some of the villages. Whether that's because they're concerned about being attacked from the air or whether they're running out of fuel, or whether that's their tactic, remains to be speculation, I think.
But I would say the fact that they're not moving around a lot demonstrates they are probably concerned about being attacked, and we've also heard reports that they are short of fuel in some areas. So I think it's a combination of all of those. But the fact that they can't move at will is an indication they're probably pretty concerned about being attacked from the air.
Q: What about near the Albanian border? There have been reports that in that region also they were redeploying their forces in a way where it would be suitable for them to defend. Is that what you're seeing?
Major General Wald: I won't talk about intel reports. That's somebody else's job. But I think -- I've probably read the same reports you did -- that they're dispersed throughout the whole of Kosovo. Many of them were in the southwestern portion based on, I think, the reports Admiral Wilson mentioned the other day. But they are dispersed throughout Kosovo as we speak.
Q: Does the presence of refugees just across the border in Kosovo interfere with possible operations against Serbian artillery units and those sorts of assets there?
Major General Wald: I think as I mentioned earlier, we'll attack the FRY army and military police where they exist, and we will consider any collateral damage to be significant. We'll put that into the factor. But from what I understand, we know where the refugees outside of Kosovo are, which is a good thing, and I don't think they're in close contact with the VJ or the Serb army and police. So I would be speculating on how they're going to attack those forces in the future. Once again, that's the field commander's decision. But I haven't seen that to be a problem.
Q: There are reports that there are Albanian natives and U.S. citizens who are leaving the United States to go fight with the KLA. Some of them are U.S. Reserve members. First of all, is there any concern about -- there are hundreds of them going over there. Will they get any help from the U.S. military? Has there been any contact in the U.S. military or NATO forces and these new units? These people that are going over.
Major General Wald: First of all, I can honestly tell you, I know nothing about that. So on the policy side I'd just defer to Captain Doubleday on that. But from the standpoint of any reports I've heard of that, I have not heard a word about it.
Q: Has there been any decision to send U.S. troops into Albania as part of that 8,000-member NATO force? And what is the status of that force?
Major General Wald: From what I understand it's going through the NATO planning process as we speak. And during the NATO planning process, there's 19 NATO nations -- they would go out and ask for donor nations, if you will, that would contribute.
I think that's going through the process as we speak. I haven't heard of any offer by the U.S.; as a matter of fact, it would be inappropriate for me to mention any of that right now if there was such an offer. I don't know that. But for right now I haven't heard of the force composition of that or the makeup, and that will be announced at the appropriate time by NATO.
Q: So you don't have any sense of when that force will be deployed?
Major General Wald: No, I do not.
Q: Various Administration officials yesterday asserted that in fact the United States and NATO has a plan if ground troops are needed in some sort of non-permissive environment, and that that plan remains on the shelf and can be quickly updated. Can you give us an idea of how detailed this planning is, or is it something that's very preliminary and would require a lot of work?
Major General Wald: I guess what I'd say is this. General Clark was on TV yesterday. I heard him as well as you did. His focus is on the air campaign. The decision was made that we will go down the route of an air campaign. It's well planned. General Clark feels it's working. That's the majority of his focus right now. I would be speculating on anything beyond that.
Q: Didn't you say the other day that you weren't aware of any planning?
Major General Wald: I'm personally not aware of any planning that's ongoing right now.
Q: There's a report that the Joint Chiefs have in fact recommended to the President that the political objectives he has set cannot be met simply with an air campaign, and that a ground component is needed. Can you confirm that report?
Major General Wald: No, I can't confirm it. I don't know anything about it. If I did know, I wouldn't tell you that, but I will say this. That on a positive side, there's a lot of speculation about a lot of different alternatives. The air campaign is working. General Clark feels comfortable with it. He's executing that campaign at his pace, not at Milosevic's pace. He's committed to it. And as I said, it's working. So anything beyond that would be speculation.
Q: On March 24th, Mr. Cohen stood up there and he said we're determined to discourage and deter him from continuing waging his assault against the Kosovar people, and that was the clear mission of the air campaign.
At this point can you say that that actually has been accomplished by air?
Major General Wald: No, I don't think we've totally deterred him from performing any of the acts that we think are so atrocious. The fact of the matter is, there are 700,000 predicted displaced personnel in Kosovo. Last week we heard of several cases of atrocities occurring, unverified at this point. But I also think the fact that he is now hunkering down a little bit -- the fact that there are indications that he's starting to hurt from the standpoint of having not enough fuel, possibly ammunition -- there are some indications that morale of the Serb army and the police has decreased somewhat. So to answer your question is it working? Yes. How much? I can't tell you that right now.
Q: He set down a barometer of trying to deter attacks on the Kosovar people, and you're acknowledging that hasn't happened fully in terms of deterrence.
Major General Wald: If it happened fully, the campaign would be over. And by the way, this is a two-sided street. Milosevic needs to decide himself, too. So the campaign is working; General Clark is committed. I think as the weather gets better, it will be working even better. We're flying a lot of sorties in the Kosovo area right now, and there's a degradation of his -- I should say actually it's being reduced -- of his military capability.
Q: Did the planners really think this would go three weeks and into a fourth week?
Major General Wald: I don't think anybody had an end date prediction exactly, but I will say this much. I don't think it's a big surprise that it's gone on as long as it has. I don't think it's a giant surprise that it's unfolded the way it has. As I said earlier, we don't give operational briefings to people that would help the adversary, but from what I understand, General Clark is satisfied with the way it's unfolded so far, and it's going along with the way he planned it.
Q: You spoke earlier of two engagement areas now in Kosovo, is that correct? A, can you describe what's going on in the first one, the southwest that we knew about, and in particular, this new one.
Major General Wald: What happens is, those engagement areas could be almost anyplace, really. It has to do with operational tactics and plans that I won't get into, but those areas could be anyplace in Kosovo. So it just happens to be those are the ones they were operating in. By the way, those are very generic. They're not real specific. They're in general areas.
For all practical purposes, all Kosovo is a target.
Q: In the degradation of the army and the police that you mentioned, you'd given us a 50 percent figure the other day on the POL. Can you give us a figure on the army and the police?
Major General Wald: I cannot do that right now. By the way, that 50 percent figure I gave you the other day was a quote from NATO. So it's...
Q: And you have no quotes from NATO today?
Major General Wald: I don't have any quotes on the army and police. I can tell you it's less than 100 percent. I'll guarantee you that.
Q: What evidence is there of any cracks in the morale of the Yugoslav military?
Major General Wald: I can't get into specific evidence from the standpoint of sources, but our evidence is that there are some morale breaks in some areas, and that's about as far as I'll go right now.
Q: The disobedience of troops...
Major General Wald: There are some indications; there are some cracks, but I won't go any further at this time.
Q: The front page of the Washington Post today, the lead story says that there are indications that Milosevic is changing his attitude. I believe Mr. Solana came out with this. Said in the next few days there may be a ceasefire or some kind of break in this action.
Has the military any knowledge? Could you confirm, deny, or say anything at all about this (inaudible); the State Department shop is shut today.
Major General Wald: First of all, I don't speak for State, and I don't talk policy.
I will say that the military mission continues. There's no indication whatsoever that we're going to let up. As a matter of fact, dependent on the weather I would think that may increase. So from a military perspective, there's no speculation whatsoever of this mission decreasing in either ops, tempo or intensity.
Q: Back up to the engagement area. The map that you've shown in the last week or so shows there's a sweep from the northeast to the southwest going right down to the border. Now your last engagement area is back a little bit. Does that suggest that the focus of their operations is now moving from the border area back into the interior of the country.
Major General Wald: Once again, I won't talk to you about where the operation is going tomorrow, or today as we speak, for obvious reasons.
Q: Air operations.
Major General Wald: From what I understand, they're hunkered down. I haven't heard of any movement, of the moving back toward the northeast at this time. But the missions themselves will move around, depending on how the operational commander in the field thinks he needs to execute that mission. It may move to various places in Kosovo as well as in the Republic of Yugoslavia.
Q: What are they doing now? Who are they still attacking?
Major General Wald: Who are they still attacking?
Q: Yeah, the Yugoslavs.
Major General Wald: There still are some, I think from what I've heard, the UCK as well as the Serb army and military still have been in contact with each other periodically. There still are skirmishes. The UCK continues to fight back, so there is a battle still going on in Kosovo, and so they haven't stopped totally. When they decide they need to leave and the time is right for them, that will be good for us. But until that time comes, we'll continue to attack.
Q: Are they still burning villages and...
Major General Wald: From what I understand, they are still burning some of the villages?
Q: Anything new on the rapes and on the atrocities that you all...
Major General Wald: Nothing new there, Charlie.
Q: The NATO Ministers this morning said they're urgently considering getting aid inside of Kosovo, I guess the airdropped food, medicine, whatever. But they said they turned it over to the military army to look at it. What are the options besides airdrops that there are for this region if they really want to get this to the folks hiding in the mountains?
Major General Wald: First of all, I will not talk about future operations because of the danger that we'd put our crews to.
Q: Academically, what the options are? I can't imagine anything other than aircraft.
Major General Wald: I'm not going to talk about it academically. I'll talk about military things.
Q:...the war planes announced Saturday. Can you give us a sense of when those war planes will be headed to the region?
Major General Wald: I think they're going to start moving over the next couple of days. There's a bed-down issue that has to be worked out which they're working that through right now to make sure they move all the aircraft to the spots they want them to be in.
But the alliance has done a great job of support not only from aircraft committed, but also in the case of Italy, they have a lot of aircraft in Italy that are supporting this mission from the alliance. And they have had since 1992.
So you have to work it out with where the bases that can take those aircraft fit, make sure they're all in the same spot from the commonality of equipment, work that through. But they'll be moving shortly.
Q:...stationed throughout the European theater?
Major General Wald: Yes, they will.
Q: Are you opening new air bases in some of NATO's new states? With the new members?
Major General Wald: I'll have NATO talk to that when the time comes.
Q: General, today Mr. Charles Guthrie talked about British operations and he said for the first time in the campaign the Royal Air Force was able to drop ordnance through the clouds -- cluster bombs and 1,000 pound bombs. He hinted that intelligence has gotten better both from the ground, satellite, and photo reconnaissance, that a lot of this kind of targeting through the clouds.
Can you talk a little bit about whether that's applied also to the U.S.?
Major General Wald: The same type of tactics -- let me put it this way.
In Europe, and in NATO in this case, for years they've had a program called the tactical leadership program. And that is where crews from different nations come together for a month at a time and practice tactics and fly together. That program has, as I said, been in effect for nearly 20 years now.
So the tactics we use in NATO are all the same, whether it be a U.K. aircraft, whether it be a Spanish aircraft, whether it it be a Belgian aircraft or a U.S. We use the same tactics.
Beyond that, I won't go into specific tactics or what we're using it, but I can tell you this, that we all use the same tactics, we're all coordinated together in this coalition effort.
Q: Is Predator and JSTARS helping build this kind of picture that allows dropping through the clouds?
Major General Wald: Yes, they are.
One more question.
Q: Going back to the Reservists, Mr. Bacon mentioned it's a possibility in the future that the Reserve may have to be called up. Is it looking more likely to pilots of tankers that we might have to have...
Major General Wald: I'll let Captain Doubleday speak to that. Right now I think we're okay, but I think that's being addressed, and I'll pass that on to him.
Thank you very much.
Press: Thank you, General.
Captain Doubleday: To continue answering that question, as General Wald indicated, we have at this point not called up any additional reservists up to this point. The Reserve units that are involved are involved on a voluntary basis. That may change. When it does, we'll let you know. But just for the record, we have nine Air National Guard air refueling wing supporting Operational Allied Force; and if you'd like, I can go through those.
Q: Can you just give us the total number of reservists?
Captain Doubleday: I don't think I've got a number with me, but in addition to those nine, as I mentioned the other day, we've got the 193rd Special Operations Wing from Pennsylvania providing the EC-130 support, and then we've got Air Force Reserve aircraft, and air crews are providing some KC-135 support. If you'd like after the brief you can drop by DDI, and they can give you a full run-down on who's involved.
Q: These are individual crews rather than units?
Captain Doubleday: As I understand it, they are crews from these units. But we have the list by unit.
Q: Since you decided not to knock out the television system, are those EC-130s in any way jamming or overriding Serb television or radio broadcasts?
Captain Doubleday: Charlie, I can't give you a specific rundown on what their day-to-day operations are. I think it's fairly evident that there are -- the television reception in that part of the world is spotty at this point. It's spotty because some of the transmission sites are down and some of our capabilities at reducing their ability to transmit are a part of the equation.
Q: Are you broadcasting from these EC-130s into...
Captain Doubleday: Oh, are we broadcasting? I don't -- we do have the capability to broadcast. I don't know how much is done at this point.
Q: Would you take the question?
Captain Doubleday: Yeah, I'll take that one, because we may actually be able to talk quite a bit about that.
Q: Do you have an overall update over the number of U.S. personnel now involved in Operation Allied Force on the humanitarian side too?
Captain Doubleday: Let me just see...
As I flip through here, I'm not sure that I do have a number that pops right out at me. Why don't we get that for you?
I was just told the page. I don't think that gets it for us.
Q: Can you tell us what's on page 27? (Laughter)
Q: Can you tell us what's on page 26?
Captain Doubleday: That doesn't work.
Q: With Cohen and Shelton testifying before Congress later this week on this whole operation, could you just tell us what the Pentagon sense is of congressional support, and what message they're going to be taking to Congress? Is it to get more support for the mission as it exists? Is it to hold off any congressional moves toward ground troops, to get some sort of resolution? What do Cohen and Shelton hope to accomplish before Congress this week?
Captain Doubleday: I think as the Secretary indicated earlier today, he views any kind of debate done in the Congress to be beneficial. This is a very important issue. There has been a process that's gone on since long before the operation got underway where the Secretary, the Chairman, and other officials of the government including the Secretary of State and the National Security Adviser, briefed interested individuals from the Hill, both on the Senate and the House side.
As you know, the Secretary traveled with a bipartisan/bicameral group when he traveled over there to Aviano and to NATO headquarters. Certainly he is well aware that there are opinions which have been voiced by those who accompanied him on the trip, but I think that the message that is coming through clear on this operation from both our NATO partners and certainly from the Secretary and the Chairman is that the operation must continue. And it deserves the full support of the Congress and the American people.
Q: Do you feel any pressure from Congress to make a decision about ground troops?
Captain Doubleday: At this point the Secretary has made it very clear that the air campaign is progressing. We need to let the air campaign progress. He is not in favor of putting ground forces into Kosovo under the present circumstances. He's made it very clear, as has the President, that a permissive environment would be required to introduce ground forces into Kosovo.
Q: Could you elaborate at all on the President's announcement this morning about various tax breaks for the troops over there? How many, for example, how many people this would apply to?
Captain Doubleday: There is a fact sheet which has been produced by the White House, which we've got a copy of we'd be glad to provide you. The President today said he had asked the Secretary to review this for, over the next 72 hours so that we would have a better picture of who would be involved in this. As soon as we get more details, I'll be glad to provide them to you.
I should point out that the troops who are going to be involved in this, the military personnel who are involved in this, are those who are participating in the operation involving Kosovo, including the airspace over Kosovo. There are some details that need to be worked out at this point as to whether and how extensive that footprint will reach.
Q: I know you said they're going to work out the details, but is there an expectation it will be made retroactive to the start of the operation?
Captain Doubleday: It looked to me from the announcement that there would be an element of retroactivity to the thing.
Q: Second question. There was a provision mentioned in the fact sheet of supporting personnel, personnel supporting the operation. Would that mean folk at Aviano, for example, or...
Captain Doubleday: That's the part that I think at this point is unclear and will become clearer as we go through this review to really determine who's going to be covered.
Q: The Secretary got a report, a progress report on Friday on (inaudible)...
Captain Doubleday: Before we do this, are we finished with Kosovo?
Q: No. I had a question I asked General Wald about these Kosovar volunteers, the ones who are going from Yonkers, New York, and possibly other areas. Can you give us...
Captain Doubleday: Say that one more time.
Q: These are the Albanian Americans...
Captain Doubleday: Okay.
Q:...who are going over.
Captain Doubleday: There's been a lot of news reporting on these people who are interested in providing support. I should make clear that this is in no way connected with the United States Government. This is not an issue that is supported financially or in any other way by the United States Government. It appeared from everything that was said, that it was a strictly voluntary sort of thing.
Q: Is it a good idea? Does the Pentagon think it's a good idea?
Captain Doubleday: I think that people who want to do that certainly are free -- this is a free country -- to get involved in whatever they may want to get involved in, but there are enormous risks associated with it. I think people should be aware of that.
Q: What's the Pentagon policy, if any of these volunteers also are in the Reserves? Does the Pentagon have any prohibition against taking part in that kind of activity?
Captain Doubleday: I think you're aware that Reserve duties and responsibilities come first, and that individuals who want to go off on this kind of operation put that Reserve career at risk.
Q: Does the DoD believe or...
Captain Doubleday: Is this your question on diplomatic overtures?
Q: Yes. What Solana said is that bombing is moving Milosevic to a position where he might...
Captain Doubleday: I think you need to ask either Secretary General Solana's people or the diplomatic people and not the military people about diplomatic overtures.
Q: No, but what it says is the bombing is having a positive affect and Solana believes this will end up in negotiations in a short time, is what he's saying. Does the military believe that the bombing is having that kind of affect?
Captain Doubleday: The military believes the bombing is having an affect. We have not quantified the affect other than to give very broad assessments of how well it's gone. We continue the campaign and will continue the campaign until we've reached the military objectives.
Q: Mike, the Secretary got a progress report on Friday on the takeover bid by GD shipbuilding, the takeover bid. You all are saying there's been no final decision yet. Was that a negative report? Is the Department inclined at this time to say no?
Captain Doubleday: Charlie, I am certainly not going to give you any indication at this point of what direction the Department is going to go. We have an obligation under the law to make public our recommendation once we have reached a conclusion on that. At this point we've not reached a final decision, and therefore I'm not going to be able to give you any idea of how this may go.
Captain Doubleday: I expect that the decision will come soon, but I can't put a number of days on it. It should come soon, though.
Q: The Wall Street Journal said that on Friday Cohen had a decision to oppose this. Did the Friday briefing get into any substance, or was it kind of a quick update?
Captain Doubleday: The way I understand it was that it was an update, a rather brief update for the Secretary on how the review has been going, and until there's a final decision I can't really characterize his thinking or the Department's thinking on this.
Q: Is it fair to say he asked for additional questions to be answered and for followup, substantive briefings before a decision is made?
Captain Doubleday: I can't get into any further detail as to how this is progressing at this point.
Q: But you say this was an update, meaning he wasn't presented with a final decision or recommendation.
Captain Doubleday: Right. At this point there's been no final decision that's been made on this course.
Captain Doubleday: There has been no final decision made on this.
Q: If U.S. citizens bear arms for another nation, don't they risk losing their citizenship?
Captain Doubleday: I'd have to take that question. I frankly don't know. We have had occasions where retired military personnel have indeed taken on the task of working for other nations, and some very complicated cases involving retirement benefits. But those are very rare, and to get you a good answer, I think we need to take that one.
Before everybody leaves, let me make a couple of announcements.
This one, for your planning: Secretary Cohen is going to host an Honor Cordon to welcome Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. on the steps of the Pentagon's River Entrance. This is an Honor Cordon only, and there's not going to be a media availability afterwards. You can get additional details on that with DDI.
There's also an announcement I'd like to make following up on one made last week by Ken. Secretary Cohen today announced that the President has nominated Lieutenant General Ronald T. Kadish of the U.S. Air Force for reappointment to the grade of lieutenant general with assignment as Director, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization here in the Pentagon. General Kadish is currently assigned as Commander, Electronic Systems Center in Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.
Secretary Cohen also announced today that the President has nominated Major General Leslie F. Keene of the U.S. Air Force for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general with assignment as Commander, Electronic Systems Center in Hanscom. [She] is currently assigned as the Director, Joint Strike Fighter Program, in Arlington.
Q: To get back to General Dynamics just one more time, did the Secretary say that he wanted additional facts? Can you..
Captain Doubleday: Let me just make it real clear. I'm not going to give you a readout of the meeting that was held on Friday other than to say it was a brief update for the Secretary.
Press: Thank you.