United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DoD News Briefing, Tuesday, April 13, 1999

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
April 13, 1999 2:30 PM EDT

Also participating in this briefing is Maj. Gen. Charles F. Wald, J-5.

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. It's a very frolicksome group here today.

I'd like to start with an announcement about one of your friends. Rear Admiral Thomas Wilson, who is the director of intelligence for the Joint Staff has been nominated for promotion to vice admiral, and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. So you may be seeing him in a different capacity.

With that, let me just make one other announcement, and then I'll turn it over to General Wald.

You all know today General Clark talked about the 300 additional U.S. planes that he's requested. This is currently being reviewed by the Joint Staff. The request he sent in, which I won't describe in great detail, was a flexible request that basically gives the Joint Staff some ability to look at various tradeoffs of types of planes, and so the Joint Staff will be doing that over the next couple of days, and we will have something for you as soon as possible on that.

Basically the planes fall into three categories -- ground attack, air suppression, and tankers. As I said, he recommended a number of ways that the Joint Staff could fulfill this request, and that's what they'll be doing.

Q: Can I ask you one thing, Ken, before you turn it over?

The President did say that you've asked for a supplemental, quickly, asked for a supplemental. Have you got any idea what this is going to be? Can you give us an idea what the supplemental's going to be and what the war's cost so far?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know what it's cost so far. The supplemental will presumably run through the end of this current fiscal year. The number is not firm yet, but I would guess that it will be in the range of $3 to $4 billion, but that could -- that's a range, and the green eye shade team is still working that out in connection with the Services. We hope to have that nailed down relatively soon.

Q: Would that include both refugee support and fighting the war? Or are you talking about fighting the war?

Mr. Bacon: No, that would include both refugee and fighting the war. It could be over $4 billion. The DoD side I would anticipate for actually fighting the war would be in the $3 to $4 billion range.

Q: Not including the refugees? I'm sorry. Then the $3 to $4 billion would be for fighting the war?

Mr. Bacon: This is a big range, right? Therefore, it could include the refugee and the war, or just the war. This is still being worked out. I'm trying to be very clear, that there is not a firm figure yet -- they're still working on it -- but my anticipation is it will be somewhere in that range.

Q: Are we talking about the remainder of fiscal '99?

Mr. Bacon: We're talking about the current fiscal year.

Q: So up until October, $3 or $4 billion extra.

Mr. Bacon: Right.

Q: Is it true that a part of this cost will be paid also by the European countries since it's an alliance operation?

Mr. Bacon: I'm just talking about the U.S. part. The Europeans will have to figure out the way to pay for their munitions and their operations. I'm talking about the American part.

Q: I mean out of the $8 billion they say so far, it's also...

Mr. Bacon: I can't talk for the European budget writers. Our part is going to be, I reckon, in the $3 to $4 billion range.

Q: Ken, two things on the 300 aircraft. One would assume even though the Joint Staff's massaging it, that General Clark would get the 300 he's requesting. And two, (inaudible) calling up the Reserves?

Mr. Bacon: As I said on Saturday, I do anticipate that there's likely to be a Reserve call-up. The details aren't ready to be announced at this stage, but there are two reasons for that. One, there may need to be a call-up that would include pilots to fly some of the tankers. Many of the tankers are flown by Reservists. Also some of the Army assets going into Macedonia and Albania likely would come from the Reserves. There are specialties such as civil affairs that only exist in the Reserves, so to the extent that civil affairs people are sent over there, they have to come from the Reserves.

Q: The first part of the question, though, will he get the 300 aircraft? Is that...

Mr. Bacon: I think it's pretty clear that he will get a very significant increase in aircraft, and the President alluded to a new phase of the air campaign today. But we'll wait for the details to be worked out.

Q: Do any of the ground attack aircraft include more helicopters? Anything like that?

Mr. Bacon: I don't have anything to say about additional helicopters. It's entirely possible that there will be additional helicopters over time, but I wouldn't think that would come immediately. Now we're concentrating on getting the first 24 helicopters in, and there could well be some later.

Q: Do they include F-117s in the request?

Mr. Bacon: Let's just wait until the request is completed, and then we'll get to the details.

Q: What do civil affairs people do?

Mr. Bacon: What do they do?

Q: Yeah.

Mr. Bacon: They provide expertise in working with local populations. In Bosnia, for instance, they play a crucial role in setting up these joint commissions that bring Army people and local people together to talk about governance issues, providing humanitarian aid. They're basically liaison with the local population and the local government, so they help the Army deal more effectively with the people on the ground.

Q: Are they called up, though, when you envision a longer term stay?

Mr. Bacon: They're called up to help Army units, primarily, deal with the local population. If you don't have Army units in a country you don't worry about it, but if you're going to put in several thousand soldiers as they are there, and they have very complex -- they'll have some dealings with the local population, civil affairs people are the guys who do that.

Q: What's the current estimate of the number of soldiers that would accompany, ground troops that would accompany Task Force Hawk?

Mr. Bacon: Right now, what I said earlier was several thousand, 2,500, and I think that's -- it could rise, but that's what we're looking at right now.

Q: Back to the Reserves for a second. What would be the likely range of a presidential call-up? As I understand there would be a ceiling where the President has a minimum number, but...

Mr. Bacon: Let's just wait until it comes out.

Q:...thousands or hundreds or...

Mr. Bacon: Let's just wait until it comes out.

Q: With the $3 to $4 billion rough order of magnitude, would that include pay for the soldiers and airmen already there? Or is that over and above. We're talking fuel and weapons...

Mr. Bacon: They're paid no matter where they are. They're paid whether they're at Fort Stewart or whether they're at Barksdale Air Force Base or Fairford, in England. So there will be some additional hazardous duty pay that would have to come out of this that they earned in this theater that they wouldn't earn back at Barksdale, but it would be additional fuel and additional munitions and other operating costs that come from the higher tempo.

Q: Can you elaborate on the idea that we're entering into a new phase of the air war, and can you characterize it at all? What would the new phase look like?

Mr. Bacon: It will just be a more intense version of the current phase. General Clark said that he wanted to -- we already are now flying during daylight and night time hours. He would like to fly more intensively during both day and night hours, in other words, more sorties, and strike a wider range of targets, be able to basically apply more pressure, particularly against the VJ and the MUP. A lot of what he's asking for will be targeted against units operating in Kosovo, and that, of course, is the position we've been working towards already. About 50 percent of the targets to date over the nearly three weeks of the operation have been VJ and UP targets in Kosovo, and he would like to put even more pressure on that. So that's the primary reason for the increased number of planes.

With that, I'll turn it over to General Wald.

Q: Ken, will you come back and answer some more questions at the end?

Mr. Bacon: I would be glad to.

Major General Wald: Good afternoon.

I'll start off with the weather again. As I mentioned yesterday, the weather over the last few days has been bad; however, it hasn't hindered operations all that much. We've continued at a fairly high pace. The forecast for the next few days is supposed to be excellent. I understand it's clearing now, and that's good news for the air portion of this.

Over the last 24 hours, 34 different target areas were struck. Once again, many of those target areas have several aim points, and I don't show a Kosovo engagement zone today, because all of Kosovo is now an engagement zone.

The targets, once again, were military forces. Mr. Bacon alluded to that a minute ago. A lot of fuel, roads and bridges continue, command and control, and some air defense. Last night they did fire several SAMs, both strategic [and] MANPAD, and a tremendous amount of AAA from what I understand

Q: Can you say like a dozen or...

Major General Wald: Less than a dozen. More than half a dozen. (Laughter)

Q: About eight?

Major General Wald: About eight. (Laughter)

Once again, that's confirmed, so there may have been more. I think you know what I mean, George.

I just mention here that the refugee number did go down just a little bit. Once again, the estimate is exactly that. It's an estimate, UNHCR. There has been a little bit of movement. Some of those families are moving in, in Albania with families. As I mentioned before, the majority are still under temporary shelter and then, of course, displaced inside Kosovo itself.

Up to 36 different nations, 37 counting the United States, providing this type of equipment and shelter. Nearly 3,100 short tons of food, then you can go right down the list, so it's moving in as we speak.

There's still about 177,000 humanitarian daily rations to be sent into Albania [and] several hundred tents. Macedonia is catching up pretty good with just some sleeping mats and blankets to go in there.

Just a real quick rehash of the U.S. portion of the humanitarian effort -- so far over 2,500 short tons of cargo, more than 760,000 humanitarian daily rations. We're going to start contracting sealift to come out of Italy into the port at Durres, Albania, and that will, of course, increase the bulk. It's a lot more efficient. That should start on the 16th.

The USS INCHON has helicopters as well as other U.S. helicopters are continuing operations out of Tirane. Yesterday 24 missions delivered over 66,000 HDRs into Kukes, and then there has been an initial request potentially for 2.5 million MREs from both the Red Cross and the United Nations humanitarian relief.

Q: Why did you go to MREs rather than the humanitarian rations?

Major General Wald: To tell you the truth, when we ship the ones that are there, the HDRs that are coming now, that's the last of them, so we'll move to MREs.

I thought you'd like to see a little example of the magnitude of how much movement there is. If you take from Tracy, California, to Travis where there's commercial lift flying non-stop into Ancona, Italy, it takes four large semi-trucks to fill one 747. That 747 flies 12 hours into Ancona. At that point it's offloaded into the intermediate staging base, and that takes eight C-130s to take that one 747 worth over to Tirane. Then from Tirane into Kukes it takes 24 helicopters to take that one 747. So late yesterday, as I said, we had 24 helicopters move into Kukes. That's about one 747's worth, and that's about 80,000 humanitarian daily rations or so, so that gives you a magnitude of what's going on.

Tirane itself, before I get into the next slide, is 24-hour ops. Looking for about 20 C-17s a day to close Task Force Hawk, as I said earlier. Then the continuation of not only the U.S. and INCHON helicopters, but other countries are providing helo lift out of Tirane.

And Tirane itself, if you saw some of the film on TV, is pretty much bare base off the prepared tarmac, so they're having to prepare where the helicopters will operate out of, and much of that is manual labor, so it takes a little time, but they're moving along.

On this chart what I'd like to show you is just a general idea of what we're getting to take down Milosevic's sustainability of the army, primarily in Kosovo, but also internal to the FRY.

The two oil refineries here I show are both non-operable right now, and those are the only organic petroleum production capability that Serbia has. They're both non-functional.

There have been 11 fuel storage areas destroyed in various areas, which has taken down most of his strategic reserve. Five areas of industry that are producing military-type equipment have been destroyed, and also the sustainability for his surface-to-air missile force.

Over 11 bridges have been destroyed in various spots -- these are main bridges -- and four main ammunition storage areas, one down in the Pristina area. You've seen several slides of that or pictures of that.

So we continue to take his sustainability away from him. I would suspect he really doesn't know how bad off he has it at this time.

Additionally, command and control, and senior command and control communications, just to show you a general idea, that cuts across the full of the FRY as well as Kosovo -- these are senior command and control nodes, the triangles. The lightning bolts are communication sites. You see as they spread out from the central command and control out toward the other north and south regions they have a lot of radio relays because of the mountainous terrain for transmissions, for them to relay that. There are a lot of radio and relay com sites that are for both early warning and for command and control. These have all been destroyed thus far. So it's starting to take a bite out of his capability to command and control.

Just a couple of images. This is the Batajnika aviation repair base in Serbia. What I want to point out here -- this would be considered one target, again. There are several aim points in this target, several large buildings. You can see that they have been systematically destroying their ability to sustain aviation and to actually repair and maintain aviation. Several of these areas have been hit. You can see some are left, but this base right now, from a standpoint of operability, is pretty much down.

There are some aircraft you can see on the tarmac, and I suspect that's exactly where they're going to be sitting until they can either do a repair on the repair capability or fix them some other way, but they're basically stuck right there in that spot.

Once again, the ammo area in Pristina. We're taking down -- this is one of the larger ones. I just show you that -- it's a fairly large area, several kilometers across into hilly terrain. This target here I show you, there's about eight different target areas that have been struck on that one. We talked about the new weapon systems we have. A B-2 could take this out and another one the same size with one load of bombs. So that's pretty good, the way it's working there.

The airfield in Montenegro, we're not hitting targets in Montenegro except for self-defense. This was hit early on in the campaign, and what was taken out are some of the Montenegran aircraft that were actually threatening NATO forces. That's purely a self-defense target.

Vehicle storage in Serbia -- I'd just like to say that you can see the areas where they did maintenance on their vehicles, military vehicles. They have been systematically destroyed, and they have no vehicle maintenance capability at this depot in Serbia any more at Nis.

Lastly, I'd just show you a picture from yesterday. This is the Malisevo area in Kosovo. You can see several buildings that have been, it looks like, destroyed or burned. Their roofs are all gone. And this one here is burning. So they're still burning the villages in Kosovo.

Next I'd like to show you some gun camera film. I have about six clips. These are all from yesterday, last night and yesterday.

As General Clark mentioned earlier today, they're flying about somewhere in the range of 450 to 500 sorties a day. the first one is an early warning radar site in Dakovica, which is in Kosovo.

Some F-16, once again the target is right into the cursor, and you'll see that this early warning radar is one of the primary radars they have for detecting aircraft arriving or departing from Kosovo and the FRY. That was destroyed, and that was one of those web com links I showed you on the map earlier today.

Another target was struck north of there by another F-16.

Next is a fuel truck in Kosovo. As I said earlier, we are taking down his sustainment and fuel, both strategic storage and tactical. This is actually a fuel truck in Kosovo yesterday. It was destroyed, once again, by an F-16. He's still trying to get fuel in. It's very hard for him. They have a paucity of fuel available.

Novi Sad army barracks, once again this is a surface-to-air missile defense facility, repair facility. This is an F-15 with an optically guided missile. It gets clearer as you get in, but this is a standoff weapon. As you can see, he gets closer into the building, and that building was, I would say, for all practical purposes destroyed.

Pristina radio relay, once again. I mentioned the com sites. Another F-15E with an optically guided bomb. You'll see as it gets closer, General Clark showed one similar to this today. This was a different building. Good accuracy. Once again, although that's not a BDA picture, I think you can make your own conclusion of whether that building's still in good shape.

Pristina army barracks, we continue to take down his fielded forces. F-16, and I'll show you, the weather is coming and going. Right after he drops the bomb, you can see that the clouds cover the target. So they're working in and around the weather. It's very difficult.

The last one is a MiG-21 aircraft at Ponikve airfield. That's in central FRY. You see the MiG-21 right under the curvatures. This was yesterday. Full of fuel, so you can see it's destroyed.

So the full variety of targets are being struck as we speak.

Yesterday virtually all types of weapons were employed -- cruise missiles, B-2s, F-117s, B-52s, NATO fighters and carrier air, as well as other U.S. aircraft were all employed yesterday.

Q: You didn't mention B-1s.

Major General Wald: And B-1s.

Q: General, you showed us, I guess it was yesterday, something of refugees. You showed us the bombed out villages. Basically my question is, there's now reports that the people, the internally displaced who have gone to the mountains are starving. I'm interested to know if you can tell if Milosevic is allowing refugees to come out to where they can get food, come out of the country, or if they're being bottled up by the Serbs? Or what's the status? And what about air drops to the people in the mountains?

Major General Wald: On air drops, first of all, I think there are all types of options being looked at, but I can say from personal experience and from having to plan this type of mission before, air drops are very, very, dangerous and there is no indication at all that Milosevic would allow us to fly air drops into that area.

On the side of is he starving out the Kosovar Albanian population? I would think he probably still is. He hasn't shown an inclination whatsoever to help them, so it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he's doing that. So obviously there's a big problem there, and it's Milosevic's problem to take care of.

Q: What about the other options? You said there are other options besides air drops. What are they?

Major General Wald: They're thinking of a full gamut of options. I'm not doing the planning right now, and I wouldn't want to give an estimate of what that is.

Q: Does that include a corridor?

Major General Wald: I'm not going to talk about military options.

Q: How many thousands are in the hills?

Major General Wald: I don't know the number. The number they're estimating in Kosovo is between 250,000 and 750,000, so it's a wide range, and whether they're in the hills or not, we've seen photos of some near villages and hills, but the actual disposition of those refugees is not totally known at this time.

Q: Are you going to take some measures to prevent the (inaudible) of those who (inaudible) out of Kosovo?

Major General Wald: We've never taken any measures to keep, to prevent refugees from leaving Kosovo. If Milosevic is taking measures to prevent that, I think that's happened already.

Q: Is he taking measures to prevent...

Major General Wald: From what I understand, there isn't a large flow of refugees outside of Kosovo at this time. I know they've opened the border in some spots, in various places, in both Macedonia and Albania at various times, but from what I understand, most of the refugees are either in Kosovo right now displaced or of course on the border camps.

Q: You mentioned the weather is getting better. Ken mentioned that the bulk of the new aircraft will be for ground attack. That adds up to more low-level bombing. Given that situation, would you say that the air environment is now permissive, half his anti-aircraft defenses are destroyed, one-quarter destroyed? Or is it very dangerous still, and needless to say you're going to do it anyhow? What's the state of the bad guy's air defenses?

Major General Wald: I'd say it's very dangerous still, and we're going to continue to fly.

Q: Are they half destroyed? There was a percentage given recently.

Major General Wald: I haven't given any percentage. I'm not sure if NATO has.

A portion of his air defenses have been destroyed. He's actually fired many of them, but as you know, he had a large array of air defenses. His command and control has been degraded significantly. But he still has a robust air defense system, and we're not treating it as anything but as good as you can expect with that type of system.

So when our pilots go in, and air crews, they're going to treat it just like it was on day one, very dangerous.

Q: You said that air drops in this kind of environment would be a risky mission. Without detailing what other options are under consideration, are there any other options that involve less risk?

Major General Wald: I can't tell you of any other military options that include any degree of risk whatsoever. I can only tell you that I know air drops have been discussed, and I know air drops are very dangerous. Not only that, but dropping food into Kosovo right now would be very difficult to ensure who's hands that food got into. I suspect if the Serbian VJ army or their police got a hold of it, they would use it for their own needs. And by the way, these people don't necessarily have freedom to roam or have any control over their lives necessarily that we know, and there's nothing to say that they would even get to keep any of the food. So there's a lot of problems with the idea.

Once again, I won't talk about future operations or plans, and you can probably understand why, but I know that they're looking at a full range of operations and capabilities that could take care of it.

Q: President Clinton said a short time ago that he realized that there were a lot of problems, but they were working on it and hoped to come up with a solution. I'm just wondering if you can give us any...

Mr. Bacon: NATO has been asked to look at the problem of the IDPs, the internally displaced people in Kosovo. There are, as the General said, up to about 750,000 people there. NATO has been asked to look at a range of options to help them. They just got the task, it will probably take them several days to complete it. And until they complete it, I think it's premature to talk about what the options might be. Obviously, they will look at air drops. I think you've heard today three people -- General Clark, President Clinton and General Wald -- all say that air drops have a lot of problems with them. So they will look at those, but they will also look at other options, and they will be consulting with the NGOs as they try to figure out some way to help these people.

The best way to help these people would be for Milosevic to let them out so they can be treated by the NGOs who are treating the refugees in Macedonia and Albania, and help them get food that way. But short of that, NATO will be looking at this, and I think we'll let NATO speak next on what they think the options are for helping them.

Q: Would these options include possible consideration, the use of NATO ground troops to open up some sort of corridor in order to get relief to the internally displaced persons? Is that one of the options?

Mr. Bacon: That is a very popular option in the press. It is fraught with at least as many problems as air drops are. But I think NATO will look at a range of options beyond the two that we've talked about here in the last couple of minutes, and as they look at those options and come up with a plan, they'll announce what the plan is. But right now, they know there's a problem; they're aware of the need to resolve the problem quickly, and they're looking at ways to do that.

Q: Ken, can we get a clarification on a figure? General Clark in his briefing said there were 260,000 people internally displaced, and now your figure is over 700,000.

Mr. Bacon: I said up to 700,000 people. General Wald said between 250,000 and 750,000. I think we'll leave it at that. We don't have...

Q:...spread in there, right?

Mr. Bacon: That's exactly right. Sometimes numbers aren't precise.

Q: General, can I ask you a question about the report of the incursion by the Serb forces into Albania? Can you confirm that? And does this represent any kind of a widening of the war?

Major General Wald: All I can say is I've heard those reports also, and I haven't heard of an incursion per se. I've heard of artillery fire, possibly. This has gone on before. And as you know, the borders there are ill defined, very much so. So it doesn't appear to be an increase in the operation, but it isn't anything necessarily new at this time either from the standpoint of operations along that border.

Q: You said earlier that, speaking about Milosevic, he doesn't know how bad off he is. I wonder if you'd elaborate on what you meant by that.

Major General Wald: I suspect that he's probably having a little bit of trouble trying to figure out exactly how his forces are holding up in the field. His command and control has broken down a little bit as we showed earlier. His command and control has been degraded and reduced. I would suspect he's having a little bit of trouble trying to figure out exactly where he stands right now. I doubt very seriously if he knows exactly how much we've reduced his capability.

Now that's not to say that he is totally in the dark, but I seriously doubt that he understands exactly where he stands from a military standpoint right now.

Q: To follow up on that, can you talk a little bit more about the air defense situation? Can you -- I just don't understand the terminology, perhaps.

Can you explain how much safer it is for our pilots to fly over Serbia today than it was at the beginning? Do they have less early warning of the attacks? Can they not hit the high flying targets anymore? What capability have they lost?

Major General Wald: I won't tell you what capability from the standpoint of altitude they've lost, but I will tell you that they've lost some of their SAMs; either they fired them or we destroyed them, and their command and control has been degraded.

However, he had a very robust command and control with redundancy with numerous SAMs and a multiplicity of missiles. So I guess it's all relative. If you happen to fly in the area where there's a SAM that particular day, it's real dangerous; but in fact it is degraded, but it's still a threat.

Now if I were to fly out there today, I would consider it just as dangerous as if it was day one right now.

Q: There are some reports that Serb troops are trying to create a life line to other Serb troops around the Suva Reka area. Can you say anything about that?

Major General Wald: I haven't heard anything about that whatsoever.

Q: When you're trying to deal with an air space that is as small as this one over Serbia and over Kosovo, and Kosovo is only 60 miles wide, and you're talking about bringing a thousand aircraft, as many as a thousand with all these plus-ups. Talk about the congestion. Right now, as I understand it, you can't get as many aircraft into that target area as you might want to just because the airspace is so small and so crowded already. If you add many more aircraft, how do you manage that?

Major General Wald: First of all, the airplanes that are there right now, the numbers, what we'll talk about, and there's plenty of adequate airspace for us to operate. And I can tell you this, from the planning perspective, that it's very intricate. I won't get into details, but how those aircraft come and go, and the orchestration between all the support aircraft, AWACS, JSTARS, ABCCC, and the fighters, and the suppression of enemy air defense aircraft, is something that takes a lot of time, a lot of planning and a lot of people to do right. But I can tell you right now that the airspace there is adequate for the mission were flying, and I suspect even if the aircraft were plussed up, we'd have plenty of airspace to operate in. There's not a lack of airspace or targets right now.

Q: I'd like to follow-up on something that Ken said. He said that 50 percent of the targets so far have been VJ and MUP targets in Kosovo. We've seen a lot of buildings that have been hit. Can you give us any more details on, for instance, the number of tanks or troops or special police or artillery, things like that that have been...

Major General Wald: ...of that. I suspect as they go through the battle damage assessment in the films and start doing an assessment of that, they'll get a better feel for it. But right now I don't have a count, other than they are continuing. I've heard reports that today they've attacked more tanks and trucks and other areas and had some success at that. So over time, that number will start accumulating. But the real number that counts is what Milosevic thinks he needs to maintain to sustain this.

Q: Would you assess that even though you've added the numbers, there's been some degradation, and they're doing things differently than they have been in the past in Kosovo?

Major General Wald: We have reduced it, the number I can't tell you off the top of my head, but if you start looking at the cumulative effect of destroying his sustainability, his lines of communication, his command and control, his SAMs -- surface-to-air missiles -- and then his vehicles and fielded force, that's going to start adding up, and it has evidently started to hurt him. As I mentioned I think previously, we know there's a shortage of fuel. I showed you one film today where I think that fuel truck, wherever it was going, was probably pretty important to them. That's gone. That all starts adding up. Eventually, his fielded force is going to have a very difficult time maneuvering, doing anything much other than hunkering down, and that will be just fine with me.

Q: You're going to be sending several hundred additional planes over. That means additional mechanics, cooks, all kinds of personnel. Can you give us a number in terms of thousands of people? And also how, if the Air Force, and I guess the Navy maybe, were having difficulty doing NORTHERN WATCH and SOUTHERN WATCH and Bosnia, how this is going to fit into their OPTEMPO as well.

Major General Wald: First of all, as Mr. Bacon said, this is all in the planning stages. I don't think anything's been decided. So I don't even know the numbers. I couldn't even give you a guess. And we are able right now to continue operations around the world.

As I mentioned I think a few days ago, the CINCs are all in contact with the Chairman and are voicing any concerns they may have. From what I understand, we're able to do worldwide missions as we speak, and it hasn't been impacted yet.

Q: To follow up on that. Are you going to need more air bases for the additional airplanes?

Major General Wald: Once again, you can only speculate. I don't even know what the total number is. I think NATO, as General Clark mentioned earlier, would be a part of any plus-up if there was one. I don't know the total number. I don't even know if there is room left at the bases that are there, so I think we'll just let the planning process unfold and get details later as they occur.

Q: What about the possibility of moving a second aircraft carrier into the area?

Major General Wald: First of all, I wouldn't speak a bit about that because of future operations. You know that. But I haven't heard of any discussion about that at all.

Q: Can you tell us what, if any, ground personnel might be in? Would there be the British SAS or intelligence coming from the KLA or even perhaps our own special forces who might be actually helping this increased phase as far as targeting, and with laser-guided weapons and so forth?

Major General Wald: First of all, I know nothing about it, and if I did, I guarantee I wouldn't talk about it.

Q: General Wald, you said that all of Kosovo is now an engagement zone. How is that different from before? What does that signify? That the Serb forces have spread, are now no longer clustered in that southwest area or what?

Major General Wald: No, I think what it means is there has been some effectiveness against, and maybe they have moved around, I'm not sure. But the fact of the matter is, because we've already increased some of the aircraft previously, as we said, some of the tankers, the weather is improving and we're flying around the clock more. And the ability for us to service basically all of Kosovo now -- we have that ability with the forces that are there, so we're just taking the fight to the whole area there.

It used to be just boxes, as you remember, before, that were specific boxes. And with the amount of forward air control capability we have, tankers and attack aircraft, with the carrier there as well, we're able to pretty much service the whole area.

Q: From a planning consideration, is fuel an issue at all in terms of buying more commercial or bringing military jet fuel from the United States or other parts of Europe?

Major General Wald: This is for the NATO forces?

Q: For the NATO forces. As you plan for this additional increment of aircraft.

Major General Wald: As you know, NATO had for 50 years planned for the possibility of a major war in Europe and has a very, very robust logistics capability with pipelines. So from what I understand, there's not a lack of fuel at all in any of the places they're flying out of. And even in some of the areas where the larger aircraft -- the tankers -- they're designed to accommodate a large wartime scenario, and this is nothing like what it would have been the OPSTEMPO in World War whatever it would have been after World War II or Cold War scenarios. So from what I understand, we're in good shape logistically.

Q: Although you say the unrest on the Albanian border isn't anything particularly new, you are now putting U.S. troops up in that region. What threat does that kind of activity pose to U.S. troops, and what are you going to do to protect them up there?

Major General Wald: As we talked about before, in Task Force Hawk it's not just helicopters that are going. There's a force protection package that goes with that Task Force Hawk. The commander on the ground will make the determination what he thinks he'll need. When it comes to force protection, he'll get whatever he needs, I suspect. But there are the fighting vehicles and infantry folks that are going in with Task Force Hawk that will provide that support as well as other means of support for Task Force Hawk.

Q: You haven't announced any air defense capability up there or any short range...

Major General Wald: Task Force Hawk has organic air defense capability with it, and I won't talk about specific operational details, but there's also air cover along with that.

Q: General, it's reported today that the integrated air defense system is still operating after three weeks of bombing. Is that the case? And if so, why has it been so difficult to put that out of business?

Major General Wald: Like I said, I think it's been mentioned before by several people, it's very robust; there are various ways you can work around their system. The system they had when they started is a more sophisticated system, and I'll tell you right now that the reports that I heard when I flew in Bosnia and from what I've heard since is that the Yugoslavians had the best air defense system in the Warsaw Pact, and they're good. They had a very robust, redundant system. That system is methodically being degraded and reduced as we speak. They have work-arounds, but it's much more difficult for them. That's not to say it still isn't dangerous.

Q: Is this a more capable air defense system? And by what magnitude than for instance Iraq's air defense system at the beginning of the Persian Gulf war?

Major General Wald: My personal assessment? It was more sophisticated, they were better trained, and once again, we kind of talked about the terrain over there. It's a compact country, so I'm not saying Iraqi air defense isn't good -- they are -- but the Yugoslavians are very, very good at what they do.

Q: General, aside from protecting the Apaches, will the MLRS and the counter-battery radar that you're putting into Albania, will those help you respond quickly and effectively to SAM firings?

Major General Wald: To SAMs? No, we're talking, the SAMs themselves aren't over in that area anyway, and this -- no.

Q: They wouldn't be within range of...

Major General Wald: No.

Q: General, anything to report that you are using Hungarian military bases as a transfer point for your forces or equipment from Germany all the way to Italy?

Major General Wald: As you know, during Bosnia we used some Hungarian airspace, and I think they're using airspace, but I'll let NATO speak to any future operations that may come up.

Q: This morning there were several CINCs testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and they expressed some concerns about strategic airlift and whether or not we have enough if another contingency springs up. Is that, are those assets being severely taxed?

Major General Wald: I think they are -- they're always taxed -- but the irony, I think, about strategic airlift is it always flies. It's always mobile. It's always expeditionary, quite frankly, and what you do is you adjust some of the more routine things that would be done to take care of situations like we're in today. I'm not an airlift expert, but I know they manage it very well, and they can move the aircraft around in a way that fascinates me from the standpoint of getting the job done.

So I think if you asked an airman, we never have enough lift, or a logistician. But in fact, from what I understand, we still are in good shape, and if we had to move the forces from one place to another, we have airlift for that.

Q: General, there are reports that the KLA has rebounded to some degree and that they're holding territory in the north. Do you have anything more to say about what they're doing, the size of their recruits, how they're faring?

Major General Wald: I don't know how their recruits are doing. I understand they are recruiting. This is the Albanian military, Kosovo Albanians. But from what I understand they are fighting back a little bit more than they were before. As I said before, the morale seems to be reasonable and they're taking the fight back a little bit more. So that's, I think, a good news story.

Q: How do you know that? What...

Major General Wald: Hearing reports from various sources, some I won't discuss and some from within Kosovo, people that have come out. But I can't discuss all that right now, and I won't talk about all the sources.

Q: Where is the fighting going on? Is it largely the north or is it closer to...

Major General Wald: From what I understand, it's all over the country, really, but somewhat more in the western part. Once again those are sporadic reports and the voracity of those reports of course may be questionable in some cases, but we do understand there is some fighting back.

Q: Could you bring us up to date on the combined joint task force? The women who (inaudible) today, her husband has been called up and he's going to Albania as part of the joint task force.

Major General Wald: That's General Hinton, and he's operating...

Q: How many people, when will they get there...

Major General Wald: Well they're all in place, actually. What we're talking about here is the actual humanitarian aid that's going into Tirane. So the CJTF task force that is SHINING HOPE, which is the humanitarian side of the lift I was talking about, that's ongoing and doing very well.

Q: How many people?

Major General Wald: I think there are in the neighborhood of over 1,000 in various spots. There's some at Ramstein Air Force Base; there's some in Italy, some actually in Tirane.

Q: Wasn't there a [inaudible] when this CONOPS was first floated that there were going to be 8,000 to 9,000?

Major General Wald: I think what you're referring to is a NATO mission called ALLIED HARBOR, and that's a NATO mission. I'll let them speak to that.

Q: How cut off is Kosovo right now in terms of resupply to the Serb forces there? Have you interdicted most, all of the LOCs?

Major General Wald: We've shown you before, I think, some of the major lines of communication, roads and bridges, have been taken down, which makes it more difficult for routine, large shipments. But there are several roads, and they're probably still getting some in, I would believe. But the ability to sustain in a big way, I think, has been reduced significantly.

Q: Would the military goals be to interdict that completely? Or is there some reason to leave...

Major General Wald: I'll let General Clark speak to that. I can only say -- I would think that would be a good goal, but I can't talk about the goals and specificity in that case. I'll let General Clark speak to that.

Q: On the incursion that may or may not have occurred this morning into Albania by Serb forces, what is the United States, what is NATO prepared to do about that sort of incursion? In other words, how would you respond?

Major General Wald: First of all, that's not a NATO mission that I know, and I won't talk -- once again, the same answer for you. I won't talk about how General Clark plans to do his mission, but the mission right now is to reduce the Serbian army and police force [ability] to perform repressive acts on the Kosovo Albanians. We need to keep our eye on the bubble on that. That's the military mission. From what I can see, it's going very well.

Q: Sir, you talked about being able to work around the weather, although difficult. Are there any new tactics or technology being employed now you can talk about different from two years ago when DELIBERATE FORCE was executed, that allows you to operate somewhat around the weather?

Major General Wald: The only thing I will say is that more of the aircraft actually have infrared precision-guided munitions and pods. Many more of the NATO forces even than in Bosnia.

As you know in Bosnia, the U.S. military dropped mainly precision munitions, even in Bosnia, but many of the allied aircraft didn't have that. Now they do today, so I don't want to get into too many specifics in that, but there are some other things that are helping.

Q: Can I ask you as an aviator to speak out as to whether or not we're entering a tradeoff phase? In other words, as you fly aircraft lower, he's going to have to turn on his fire control radar if he wants to do something about these low flyers. That will enable you to fire strike missiles that will go down the beams of the radars. So although we may lose some aircraft, we'll also degrade his air defenses much more quickly if we choose to fly low in quantity.

So are we not in an air sense entering kind of a tradeoff phase?

Major General Wald: If you assume if we're going to fly lower -- first of all, I won't tell you what altitude we're flying at, and the assumption that we're flying lower is, I would leave that to the commander in the field. But I think the real difference is that we're operating around the clock now, we're going to have more aircraft doing that type mission, and they can operate very well outside the threat range based on good planning. So I haven't heard any indication that we're going to [go] down flying lower.

Q:...whether there's a concern that some of the targeting during this mission has been compromised either by poor operational security or leaks or even espionage? If you can't address that, maybe Ken can take the question.

Major General Wald: I'll pass that on to Ken.

Mr. Bacon: The Yugoslavs are working very hard to listen to our communications and to use what they hear to their advantage. This is a fairly standard aspect of warfare. They're well trained at this, and they're doing it.

I'm not aware of any so-called spies in the operation, but I am very much aware, as are all the pilots and all the operators, that the enemy is trying its level best to hear what we're saying and to glean information from it. We, on the other hand, are obviously working very hard to make that more difficult. General Clark addressed that today. I think you can assume that this is one of the sub-texts of battle that goes on all the time everywhere.

Q: Has there been any deliberate leaking of information or telegraphing of the targets in order to minimize civilian casualties? I'm thinking here of the attacks on the Interior Ministry, which were, that was reported as a possible target in the press a day or so before the strikes actually took place out of Belgrade, which -- is there any deliberate policy to make some targets known so that civilian casualties can be held down?

Mr. Bacon: First of all, you're absolutely right that some targets, unfortunately, have been published ahead of time. But we have -- there are targets and there are targets. There are always reports circulating of targets that we're about to hit.

We have stated publicly many times that our goal is to hold civilian casualties to a minimum. Our goal also is to make our strikes as effective as possible, and we're not in the business of giving people advance warning of our targets.

Q: One more question for General Wald. It goes back again to any effect that you might see on VJ or the MUP. You said in response to that question that yes, you did see an effect, but you weren't very specific. Can you, are you seeing anything that would indicate that the air war has yet taken a toll on the troops in Kosovo that have been committing a lot of the ethnic cleansing...

Major General Wald: Once again I'd have to give you an intel assessment, and I'm not an intel guy. But I can say from an operator's perspective, that if they're not moving around as much, they're hunkering down next to buildings. I think General Clark showed some of that; I've shown some in the past. And there are indications that the KLA, the UCK, is fighting back a little bit. Those all could be indicators that maybe the fielded forces in Kosovo aren't doing quite as well.

Q: Have you seen any, the level of troops drop off? Any pulling back from Kosovo, pulling out of Kosovo?

Major General Wald: I have not heard or seen any of that.

Q: You said earlier that so far you succeed with your mission vis-a-vis- to Kosovo. Then how do you explain the fact that already half of the population left, and by (inaudible) you are expecting the other half to leave too?

Major General Wald: Remember what the mission was. The mission for us is to reduce the Kosovo army and police to perform repressive acts on the Kosovo Albanians. That is the mission. We're going to reduce that, and over time I think they'll find that they don't have that capability anymore. So this is not an instantaneous fix, this is a long-term campaign. General Clark has a good plan. He'll stick to it, and if you look at the tradeoff between what we're executing and what is happening to him, I would say that he probably is being reduced and will continue with that.

Q: To go back to the Apaches for a second, can you, I know you don't like to get into percentages, but give us a perspective as to how much of that full package, Task Force HAWK, is already there. Is it 10 percent, is it 20 percent...

Major General Wald: About 20 percent or so. As I said earlier, there's 20 C-17 equivalents that will be flying into Tirane over the next few days. The helicopters are going to self-deploy over the next few days, and they're expected to be in Tirane by the end of the week. The force protection is in place. So I think the same time line we talked about before still exists, and they're making big progress on that.

Q:...forward deployed before we...

Major General Wald: What I understand is they'll actually forward deploy with stops en-route, in possibly Italy, and then forward deploy from the Italian coast on over into Tirane.

Q: Once they're in Tirane, would they move then to a forward base closer to Kosovo?

Major General Wald: From what I understand, they'll be fairly close to the base in Tirane. Obviously, the ramp at Tirane is not large enough for all of them, so they're preparing some ramp area in the close proximity of Tirane. I won't tell you exactly where that is, but it's very close.

Q: What are we talking about in terms of numbers? Do we have any kind of a ball park idea?

Major General Wald: Numbers over...

Q: Of helos that will actually deploy to Tirane.

Major General Wald: Right. As a matter of fact, we mentioned before there are 24 Apaches, and the total package is around 50 helicopters.

Q: But how many will be arriving by the weekend?

Major General Wald: All of them.

Q: There is also a new deployment of planes. Is there any consideration of using the former American bases in Spain? Was this approached today in the meeting with the Spanish prime minister [sic, president] and Secretary Cohen?

Major General Wald: As you probably know, we're using those bases in Spain. Moron has a large base. It's a strategic lift base and one for tankers. The Spanish have been involved in, not only in Kosovo, but in Bosnia since 1995, so they're part of the NATO effort. We have aircraft flying in and out of there. So yes, we are.

Q: Seeing how you have the 24 Apaches going and there's somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 within the resources of the Army, is there any indication as to whether there will be more Apaches actually going...

Major General Wald: I believe Mr. Bacon mentioned that a little bit earlier. There's no -- I don't know of any request necessarily right now, but anything's possible.

Thank you very much.

Q: Ken, do you have any current information or updated information on the status of the POWs?

Mr. Bacon: No, we have no new information on the status.

Q: Have any international relief organizations been in touch with them?

Mr. Bacon: Unfortunately, not as far as I'm aware.

Q: Several days ago you talked about a case with a single source of women being raped in camps. This morning the British said they now had multiple sources corroborating that story. Is there more information now on what happened in that instance?

Mr. Bacon: I do not have it. You, of course, saw the story on the front page of the Washington Post today about rapes in Kosovo. I'm supposed to get briefed tomorrow on new information, and I hope I'll have more to tell you then. I'm aware of what the British said, but I don't have any independent information myself.

Q: Costs. You used $3 to $4 billion, you said I guess it could be -- you're not coming off the top of your head with that. Can you give us a sense of where this emerging range comes from? Is it possibly an extrapolation...

Mr. Bacon: Tony, if I'd wanted to be more precise before, I would have been more precise.

Q: Is it something the Controller has worked out just on the back of an envelope?

Mr. Bacon: No, of course not. They've been dealing with the Services; they're making projections about where this is going to go. But, obviously, it's a changing target, because as we get more requests for aircraft, they have to be worked in. Also the humanitarian side is changing as well.

What I don't know and can't talk about -- I can talk about the military side. I can't talk about the humanitarian side because I'm not aware of the figures. Some of that is split between Defense and State and maybe other agencies as well; USAID would be the primary one.

Q: Does the range include, though, a potential of an extra 300 airplanes, or is that on top of?

Mr. Bacon: The range is being constantly updated to allow for new requests.

Q:...evidence of those who are coming out that the internally displaced in Kosovo are on, let's say that they're in urgent need of food and water? Are they starving? Are they not able -- and here's the other question I didn't get from the General -- are they not able to get out? Are they being held and the borders being closed to them? Or do you know?

Mr. Bacon: I don't have a lot to add to what General Clark said about that earlier, and I'm sure you watched his press conference. We have evidence that they are not being allowed out on a regular basis. The policy of Milosevic has changed. I don't know what his calculation of fear and brutality is here, but he has left them out, in fact driven them out in vast numbers for the first two weeks, then he's held them back, then he lets trickles go through. So I don't know what his strategy is, if any, at this stage. We are getting reports from refugees coming out that there are food shortages, primarily. But we obviously don't have people in there on the ground to monitor this ourselves.

Q: Is there any evidence that the Serbs are feeding the Kosovars?

Mr. Bacon: I've received none. In fact I've heard reports on National Public Radio this morning and read reports in the newspaper that in fact the Serbs are taking all the food for themselves and not giving any to the Kosovar Albanians, which would make sense, would fit their pattern.

Q:...people that are in bad shape in the mountains.

Mr. Bacon: Yes. And which is precisely why it's difficult to get a firm fix on the number of internally displaced people in Kosovo, because they're dispersed and many have gone to the mountains to try to escape the depredations of the Serb forces.

Q: Ken, NATO seems to be working at some level with the KLA. Is the KLA, does the United States view the KLA as an ally? At least an ally of convenience for the moment?

Mr. Bacon: What's your evidence that NATO is working with the KLA?

Q: I'm drawing inferences from shared information, things like this.

Mr. Bacon: The KLA makes a lot of information available, much of it through the press. I don't think the KLA's information is secret or hard to get a hold of. There are reporters all along the border, and they're talking to the KLA regularly. So the fact that we have information about the KLA doesn't signify anything else.

The view of the U.S. and NATO is very clear here. We want peace in Kosovo. The KLA signed an agreement, a peace agreement. Under that agreement they said they would do certain things. That agreement called for disarmament. The goal of NATO is to achieve a peaceful resolution to the problems in Kosovo and to allow the Kosovar Albanians in Albania and Macedonia to return home and rebuild their lives. That has been our goal from the beginning, and it remains our goal.

Q: Does that make the KLA an ally? What does that make them?

Mr. Bacon: That makes the KLA -- I think we -- the KLA has agreed to the peace agreement; they want peace in Kosovo. That's what this battle is about, is to drive the Serbs out so the Albanians can come back in under the protection of an international force to allow them to get back in and to establish their lives and reestablish a secure situation for them in Kosovo.

Q: How do you respond to the (inaudible) that they consider KLA as another Contra in the area?

Mr. Bacon: Sorry?

Q: They consider KLA as another Contra in the area, like in Nicaragua.

Mr. Bacon: Oh, Contra. That the Yugoslavs do?

Q: They do. There are reports, a lot.

Mr. Bacon: Well, the fact of the matter is the KLA has signed an internationally supported peace agreement calling for the end of hostilities and the return of stability in Kosovo, and that's what we're trying to do.

Q: Any communication between the Department of Defense and Mr. Holbrooke who is (inaudible) with the crisis in question. And (inaudible)...

Mr. Bacon: Not as -- people here talk to Mr. Holbrooke from time to time on conference calls and run into him at meetings, but I'm not aware of any communications beyond that.

Q: We had a story about the threat of lasers against pilots and air crew. Have there been any reported incidences of pilots or air crew reporting any eye injuries that might have been from lasers?

Mr. Bacon: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q: Would you take the question and check?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware of any, and I think I would know, but we'll re-ask the question.

Q: Ken, at some point if this new dispatch of aircraft goes through, there will cross, I guess, a point at which this will start to be close to a major regional contingency. Is that point approaching, and what would be the implications of it if that threshold is crossed?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that there would be any particular threshold if that's crossed, and in fact I don't know what the definition is of a major regional contingency.

Q: You're supposed to be ready for two.

Mr. Bacon: Well, we are. (Laughter)

Q: What is the United States, what is NATO prepared to do to protect Albania should the incursions like what may or may not have occurred this morning, if that gets to be...

Mr. Bacon: First of all, all those incursions, General Wald was right, they have occurred from time to time. I think that to a certain extent the ones that occurred today may be seen as a sign of the Yugoslav forces' desperation. They have failed in their goal to cut down the KLA and to stop it from posing a threat to the Yugoslav forces in Kosovo. As General Wald said, the KLA is continuing to resist in Kosovo. It's continuing to be -- it continues to engage the Yugoslav forces. And they obviously have increased in size; they've been recruiting a lot from displaced people within Albania. But clearly, NATO takes seriously the sovereignty of Albania. We've said that publicly. And we will do what is appropriate to protect that.

Press: Thank you.

Additional Links

Stay Connected