DoD News Briefing, Saturday, April 17, 1999 - 1 p.m.
Also Participating; Major General Chuck F. Wald, J-5 and Captain Steve Pietropaoli
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
Before General Wald comes up to go through his briefing, I wanted to just make sure everyone was aware that earlier today two representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross visited the Yugoslav army officer who is in the hands of U.S. authorities. That meeting occurred privately, although our understanding is that the ICRC has put out a press release on this, and that the individual who was turned over to us yesterday was given an opportunity to write a letter to his family. That letter, of course, was conveyed by the ICRC.
This was all in accordance with the Geneva Convention and also in stark contrast, I might add, to the treatment that the three soldiers who were abducted by Yugoslav forces late last month have been afforded since their abduction. Those individuals have yet to meet with the ICRC, although the ICRC is continuing to attempt to meet with the them, nor to our knowledge have they been given an opportunity to communicate with their families.
The ICRC, of course, has the right to visit POWs at the times and places of their choosing over the coming days and weeks, and we, of course, will cooperate with them to the fullest extent.
Q: Have you identified the...
Captain Doubleday: You should contact the ICRC for that.
Q: You all are not going to...
Captain Doubleday: We will not be providing the identity of the individual, but the ICRC is the appropriate authority to do that.
Q: Mike, were there more than one? Was this the only person captured, or were there others?
Captain Doubleday: This is the only individual who was turned over to us, yes.
Q: Can you give us any detail about his capture? Why was he alone, where he was, what he was supposedly doing?
Captain Doubleday: I have no detail about his capture other than the fact that it was done by forces from the Kosovo Liberation Army that occurred on the night of the 13th and the 14th. He was subsequently turned over to Albanian authorities and then given to U.S. Army officials in Tirana.
Q: What are your contacts with the KLA, and did the United States coordinate in any way the turning over of this individual to U.S. officials?
Captain Doubleday: To U.S. officials?
Captain Doubleday: We received the individual from authorities in Albania, although there is contact from time to time with individuals who are associated with the KLA. I'm not aware that we dealt directly with them on this.
Q: Why is the United States -- is this man being held under NATO auspices? I mean NATO is fighting...
Captain Doubleday: Well, he was turned over to U.S. authorities. The Geneva Convention actually, when it was drawn up, was drawn up in such a way that it was envisioned that individual states would be involved in this rather than alliances, and in this particular case it just occurred that he was turned over to U.S. officials. What his ultimate disposition will be I can't, at this point, say.
Q: Why then not just leave him in the hands of the Albanians? Are they not signatories to the Geneva Convention?
Captain Doubleday: I cannot answer that question either. The Albanians felt they wanted to turn him over to U.S. authorities and that is why we now have him.
Q: You said he's the only individual turned over to us.
Captain Doubleday: Yes. I know of no other individuals who have been captured, but I don't speak for any other parties. He's the only individual in U.S. custody.
Q: What U.S. authorities is he in custody with?
Captain Doubleday: He's in custody of U.S. Army authorities in Tirana right now.
Q: Did we ask in any way for him, or was this an overture by the Albanians?
Captain Doubleday: I don't have any detail about the conversations that preceded his turnover to us.
Q: You have been defensive about being labeled the air force of the KLA. Is this exchange or enterprise or whatever you want to label it, does this concern you that it's going to further reduce the distance between the KLA and the United States?
Captain Doubleday: I don't see it that way at all. I see this as a situation where an individual is captured and has been turned over to us. We are a recognized country of the world. He is recognized now as a POW. He is being afforded rights under the Geneva Convention. I think this has worked out very appropriately.
Q: Is there any way to tell whether this capture was intentional or incidental, or...
Captain Doubleday: I don't understand your question.
Q: Was the KLA trying to capture him?
Captain Doubleday: I cannot answer that question. I don't have knowledge of the circumstances of his capture.
Q: Is there any possibility that -- both in Washington and at NATO officials have been noting with approval in recent days the KLA has not only survived but also seems to be growing once again, and has just opened up part of a corridor back into Kosovo. Is the United States reconsidering whether to arm or help in any way the KLA?
Captain Doubleday: I know of no plans to do that.
Q: Is there any possibility there might be a swap worked out for the three Americans? Is there any consideration...
Captain Doubleday: Certainly the Geneva Convention would authorize such a thing to occur, but I think at this point it's premature to think about that. Particularly in light of the fact that, as I pointed out earlier, Milosevic has yet to adhere to many of the rights and protections offered by the Geneva Convention to the American soldiers. They have not been given access to the ICRC. They have not been able to communicate with their families. We don't know what their medical condition is. The list of things that we don't know about the treatment of the U.S. soldiers is extensive, and so I would not be optimistic on that score.
Q: Do you have any update on their condition at all? Has there been any word in the last couple of weeks? What's the last time you heard anything? The video?
Captain Doubleday: We have never heard anything official through any entity on those three captured soldiers. The ICRC has never had access to them. There has never been any communication from the three, so we have no way of telling what their present situation is.
Q: Can you tell us what unit he was attached to?
Captain Doubleday: I believe that we do have that. I think I brought this with me, let me see if I can...
He was a member, and my pronunciation is not good enough to capture this correctly, but I will spell it. Of the Prva Ceta Battalion. He was in command of a unit of about 20 men, and I think we would consider him a platoon leader. As I mentioned before, he was originally captured by the KLA on the night of the 13th and 14th, and as I mentioned before, he was turned over to us yesterday, Friday, the 16th.
Q: Regular VJ...
Captain Doubleday: I believe so. He was operating in an area where there were about 300 VJ and about 100 of the special police stationed.
Q: He's not special police.
Captain Doubleday: He is not special police, right.
Q: Is there any indication that he surrendered or...
Captain Doubleday: I have no details about his capture at all.
Q: The special police, would they be considered POWs also if they were captured?
Captain Doubleday: We will take that question. I would have to consult with an attorney to be able to answer that.
Q: You said you didn't have any details about his capture. How about his physical condition?
Captain Doubleday: [His] physical condition, from the doctor who we asked to examine him, was that he was in good condition.
Q: What was his rank again?
Captain Doubleday: Lieutenant.
Q: Do you know the response of the Yugoslav government when the Swedish government tried to intervene on the behalf of the U.S.?
Captain Doubleday: As far as I know they -- we have heard nothing from the Yugoslav government in response to the initial request from the Swedish government.
Q: So that hasn't been considered a rejection?
Captain Doubleday: We've had probably two weeks of silence, and I'm not sure that I'm optimistic that we're going to hear any time soon.
Q: Have you heard anything from them about this fellow, from the...
Captain Doubleday: The appropriate communication would not be with us, it would be with the International Committee of the Red Cross. To my knowledge, they have not communicated anything back, but I'd refer you to their offices for further information.
Q: I know you don't have any information about his capture, but was there fighting going on in that area where he was captured at the time?
Captain Doubleday: There had been fighting going on. I can't tell you the circumstances immediately surrounding the time he was captured.
Q: Do we assume from what you're telling us that he was just a company grade officer, platoon leader, in an infantry company and probably not privy to any policy or anything close to what's going on in Belgrade?
Captain Doubleday: I think that's an understatement. (Laughter)
Q: Can you clarify that? I'm not quite sure whether...
Captain Doubleday: I mean this is a soldier who's out in the field. He's miles from Belgrade.
Q: So he is an infantry, or was...
Captain Doubleday: He is with an infantry company, that is correct.
Q: Do you know where, again -- I think it was asked, but do you know where this happened? How close to the border?
Captain Doubleday: I think our press release pointed out where it occurred. It was a town called Junik in Kosovo.
Q: Does the Army plan to turn this individual over to any other government, or does it intend to hold him until his situation is rectified as to where he's going to go?
Captain Doubleday: The ultimate disposition of the individual is yet to be determined, and once it is, I will be glad to let you know the answer to that question.
Q: What sort of facility is he being held in now?
Captain Doubleday: A U.S. military facility.
Q: Hospital, prison, office?
Captain Doubleday: I don't have any details of what kind of facility. It's a U.S. military facility of some sort there.
Q: Under guard, presumably?
Captain Doubleday: Under guard presumably, right.
If that's all on that one, let me turn over the podium to Captain Steve Pietropaoli who has one point of clarification before General Wald comes up and goes through his presentation.
Q: You'll come back?
Captain Doubleday: I will always come back if you want me to.
Captain Pietropaoli: If required. Thanks, Mike.
Just very quickly to clear up something. I've gotten several questions in the last 48 hours on the unfortunate incidents that NATO is still reviewing in Kosovo regarding convoys potentially of refugees that were struck. I've had a lot of reporters ask in the last few days about clarification on the voice of the F-16 pilot that was released on the audio tape earlier this week in NATO, whether or not that F-16 pilot was the one that perhaps hit a civilian vehicle in a convoy.
Many of you know this already because I've spoken to several of you individually, but it hasn't been said from any podium, I don't think, with great clarity. I'd just like to make it clear now, that the F-16 pilot on the audio tape is not thought to be responsible in any way for anything other than the attack he described on a military vehicle.
The separate review of NATO is ongoing with respect to another convoy. They have the facts on that. General Wald will be up here in a moment to give you an operational brief. As all of you know, he has extensive experience in Air Force aviation and U.S. aviation. He has a great deal of knowledge about what has been determined to date in that ongoing NATO review. But I have to make it clear also, that because it is a NATO matter and because the best facts, the best access to information from pilots, from field reports, from all the sources of information that NATO is looking at that exists at the operational command level, we need to leave that portion to NATO to continue their review and announce the results of that clarification.
So whatever the outcome of their review of this additional incident, other events with respect to a convoy in which a civilian vehicle may have been struck by a NATO pilot, I'm just going to ask you up front to -- General Wald will still answer all your questions from his personal experience about the training and the skill and professionalism and general procedures of our pilots, but on the issue of what he knows about the events in Kosovo relating to this, I'm just going to tell you up front that he will not be able to answer that and he ought not answer that, because it's a matter under NATO review.
Q: That means then that NATO hasn't finished its review and the conclusions have not been passed over here to the Pentagon, is that what you're saying?
Captain Pietropaoli: That's correct. [The] NATO review is ongoing. There is additional information that they are developing. General Clark, and the other operational commanders in the field are, of course, fully engaged on this review to the extent they can while they are fully engaged in their primary mission here, which is of course continuing to take down Milosevic's forces in Kosovo.
Q: I may misunderstand here. You're saying...
Captain Pietropaoli: The purpose was to add clarity. (Laughter)
Q: What he is responsible for, what he described is what?
Captain Pietropaoli: You have a transcript of the audio tape here in which he discussed his very careful, very precise -- if you go back and look at that transcript.
The confusion was they released that audio tape of this pilot's after-action report in connection with the statement that said a civilian vehicle may have been hit in a convoy. There are two separate events.
The F-16 pilot on the audiotape was describing his after-action report on an attack on a convoy separate from the one in which NATO is reviewing for possible civilian casualties.
Q: The one shown on Serbian TV?
Captain Pietropaoli: Well that, again, the connection between the video...
Captain Pietropaoli: Exactly. The extent they have sorted that out in NATO, I can't tell you. I don't have that level of detail right now. But that's what I'm saying needs to be sorted out on the scene where they have the best information in Brussels.
Q: So we may, or may not, be responsible for what's being seen on Serbian TV? Is that what you're saying?
Captain Pietropaoli: No. The incident that he described was north of Jakovica, not...
Q: Was not shown what's shown on...
Captain Pietropaoli: Right. Correct.
Q: To clear things up, he said he hit the first of three military vehicles. Right?
Captain Pietropaoli: Correct.
Q: He did hit the first of three military vehicles, not civilian vehicles.
Captain Pietropaoli: If you recall the report, he had observed those vehicles moving down the road from house to house, emerging from those houses with the houses in flames.
Q: So he did hit a military vehicle as he thought?
Captain Pietropaoli: A vehicle clearly involved in military operations setting villages and houses on fire.
Q: One other clarification, if you can. The briefer at NATO when this incident was first being discussed, the Italian general, said that the pilot who apparently dropped the precision-guided bomb on the civilian vehicles, did so from an altitude of 15,000 feet. One, is that correct now? And two, if so, is NATO being over-conservative in its attacks on targets, staying at high altitude to be above AAA or MANPADS? Are they going to go low and try and take out some of these targets that you almost have to go low to take out?
Captain Pietropaoli: Let me preface it Ivan, by saying that we're not going to discuss the specific altitudes that our pilots are flying at or the tactics they are employing to most effectively do their mission.
As you know, we've described for some time now, there's no such thing as a risk-free environment. These pilots are putting themselves and their crews at enormous risk every day. They are flying at the altitudes they need to fly at to accomplish the mission. I won't be any more specific than that.
But this is a column of airspace in which there is no safe zone. They have surface-to-air missiles that can reach up to 100,000 feet, so anybody that thinks they've been flying along safely at some altitude over the skies of Yugoslavia for some weeks now, and have not been willing to go down and face danger just doesn't understand the reality those pilots are facing.
But I will say this about the report from NATO, without getting into any greater detail about what the actual altitudes were. These pilots know how to do their job. They fly at great risk at the altitude and using the tactics they need to use to get the job done, to get the job done with amazing precision to date, despite the unfortunate incidents of collateral damage, and at some considerable risk to them. I can't add any greater clarification about this incident. It's still under review.
Q: Just to follow, if I may, on this. If it was released at 15,000, that's three miles up. It's pretty hard to distinguish a truck from some other vehicle. Plus the fact...
Captain Pietropaoli: I think it's clear from the pilot's report that he clearly identified the target he was about to strike and discussed this with his wingman and had made several passes over the target. Without telling you what height he was doing that from, I think the kind of precision you see in that transcript tells you that he was doing it at a height at which he could accomplish that objective.
Q: And am I correct in saying if you're above 12,000 or 15,000 you are above, basically AAA and MANPADS? We know you're not above SA-6s.
Captain Pietropaoli: There are anti-aircraft artillery that can fly up to 40,000 feet. Now is that effective firing range for them? No, it is not. You can still be hit, but it's not the most effective field of fire. Obviously, I'm not going to get into a discussion about where these pilots are flying to do their job. You can ask General Wald who has significant experience flying in combat. I will only say that you need to dispense with this notion that these pilots have been now or ever have been in the three weeks of this campaign flying at some safe altitude over the skies of Yugoslavia. There's just no such thing.
Q: The Italian general at the NATO briefing, when asked about this F-16 tape I think yesterday said that although the pilot thought he was hitting a military vehicle, he probably hit a civilian tractor. Are you saying that is now inoperable?
Captain Pietropaoli: I am saying that the pilot in the audio tape, for the F-16 pilot who was released in the audio tape, hit a military vehicle, and General Mirani [if he] made that statement yesterday in connection with the audio tape, then that is not accurate as I understand the facts.
Q: Even though the investigation on the other convoy... Now are we talking about just one other convoy now that the investigation is focused on?
Captain Pietropaoli: To my knowledge that is indeed what NATO's review is looking at.
Q: Can you say preliminarily that it does look like some civilian vehicles were indeed hit by some NATO aircraft?
Captain Pietropaoli: I believe that is what NATO believes, as they said in their statement earlier this week. It appears to be that that may be the case.
Q: They retracted that statement. You go back and forth...
Captain Pietropaoli: I understand that, Brad, and I would...
Q: Can you say now that it looks indeed like...
Captain Pietropaoli: I cannot. And I cannot because of exactly the reason I said at the outset. The greatest wealth and access to the information, the kind of detailed information you need to sort out this very complex picture on the ground -- you're trying to deal with multiple pilot reports, multiple actions over Kosovo that day, and Serb-controlled video has been released to the news media and sort out what is responsible for what in real time or near real time in the midst of an ongoing military operation is very challenging.
Q: Presumably you...
Captain Pietropaoli: Brad, I would say that after previous conflicts it has been sometimes years before you sorted out these kinds of incidents in the battlefield. These kinds of incidents in the battlefield unfortunately will occur. It is part of the side consequences of conducting military operations against an adversary who puts himself in and around civilian populations and refugee columns and villages. And in previous conflicts, quite frankly, you wouldn't have even thought of having this kind of information in 24, 48, or 72 hours.
Q: NATO doesn't know at this point even...
Captain Pietropaoli: I do not know the extent to which NATO has determined even initial findings with respect to that incident. I don't know, Brad.
Q: You said General Wald has some knowledge...
Captain Pietropaoli: And that's precisely why I'm building a firewall here between General Wald and you all, because it is not appropriate as the U.S. briefer for the details on the operation, for him to begin to comment on a NATO investigation and review as it is ongoing.
The only thing worse than making you wait for the facts is giving you facts that turn out not to be facts. That's something we're just not prepared to do here, and it's not appropriate for us to do here.
Q: But Steve, you're talking on the record about this F-16 pilot, so you certainly know what's going on there, apparently.
Captain Pietropaoli: Correct.
Q: You're saying NATO ran that tape the day that Serbs charged that civilian convoy was hit. You're saying that tape was just run because it was just an F-16 pilot who hit the right target?
Captain Pietropaoli: Again, I haven't talked to the NATO authorities about why they chose to run that tape. I found the tape to be a very compelling account of the professionalism and precision with which our pilots go about their task in Kosovo. I don't know why they chose to run that particular tape. It was clearly a tape of an action in Kosovo that day, but it is not related to what they subsequently said and then apparently retracted about possible civilian damage. I can't determine what their purpose in using that tape was. I only wanted to clarify here for the record that that pilot is not thought to be by NATO, and is known not to be by us, involved in any attack on...
Q: That leads us to the obvious question, is there a tape of the pilot that did in fact hit a civilian vehicle? And if so...
Captain Pietropaoli: An excellent obvious question for the NATO authorities reviewing this matter. (Laughter)
Q: Have you spoken with the F-16 pilot...
Captain Pietropaoli: I have not. That's why I can stand up here.
Q: Has someone from your area talked to him? I imagine he must be a little annoyed at the confusion.
Captain Pietropaoli: I think we're asking this pilot and others every day to get back in their planes and go fly in a very dangerous environment in Yugoslavia. To the extent that there has been some confusion including a lot of reporting, I think, as I said, much of this has been cleared up, at least with this press corps who I've spoken with over the last couple of days, but there remains I think an overall impression abroad out there in the U.S., and elsewhere, that somehow this pilot, because of the coincidence of his tape being released on the same day as this report was made at NATO, that he was involved in -- for his piece of mind and those of his squadron mates and those of the other U.S. and NATO pilots and aircrews doing this, you don't want to leave this kind of a misperception hanging out there if you can clear it up.
So in that small regard, without getting into the other details of NATO's ongoing review, that was the purpose of my being up here.
Q: So we know absolutely nothing, we don't even know if it was an F-16 pilots who...
Captain Pietropaoli: We know a great deal about that, but it is knowledge we have developed as part of our effort to assist NATO in this review, and that we have back here, but it is not appropriate for us to talk about in front of NATO completing that review.
Q: Are you confident, Steve, that NATO will come forward and give us the full facts?
Captain Pietropaoli: It is the greatest military alliance in the history of the world. I am confident that we'll get to the bottom of this.
Q: That the most voracity can be expected from them?
Captain Pietropaoli: Seriously, Bill, there has been a great deal of confusion, part of which I think is an earnest attempt on the part of NATO spokesmen, military spokesmen here and overseas, to try to respond to your obvious interest, the public's obvious interest in the details and the facts of this case. But truly it is an enterprise for which I think we cannot accomplish. We cannot sort out battlefield -- when we can, for example, on the railway bridge that was struck, we sorted it out very quickly. We were able to discreetly determine what happened, and we were very forthcoming about those results and our regret for consequences unintended.
But when we cannot, which is going to be often the case in a complex environment in the battlefield in Kosovo, some people I think in all sincerity and earnestness, tried to get information out sooner than that information was verified or available, and the result has been 72 hours of confusion rather than 72 hours of clarity. I just have to say we have to wait, and that's why I don't want to contribute to that any further. I'm trying to clear up one remaining element of this that I think is terribly important to those pilots, without creating more confusion about what NATO is doing with respect to the rest of the...
Q: The pilot is still flying missions then, right?
Captain Pietropaoli: Correct.
Q: I don't want to get into tactics, obviously, but I do want to get into policy. And there has been criticism and maybe I have to take it up with NATO, but criticism that NATO has been prosecuting this air campaign in a very conservative, if not ultra-conservative manner. General Wald said yesterday from the podium that the U.S. makes its own rules of engagement for U.S. aircrews, and that's fine. But if NATO is in an umbrella situation saying you will stay high, you will not come down low, it smacks a little bit of the way the ARVN prosecuted the war in Vietnam back in the '60s by not being willing to take on the enemy frontally -- by coming out in sweeps rather than going straight in.
I'm not trying to cast disparages here, but I would like to know if there is a policy decision to stay high rather than come low.
Captain Pietropaoli: No.
If I haven't confused them too much, General Wald.
Major General Wald: Let me start off by making a clarification, Ivan. The U.S. does not make ROE for NATO. NATO makes the ROE for all the aircrew pilots and we follow that along. But of course we're part of the development of that.
Q: Before you start, General, could we just ask you one thing. A lot of people are waiting to hear -- have the Apaches started arriving yet? And if not, when do you expect them to start arriving?
Major General Wald: The Apaches are now en-route to Brindisi. The field at Tirana, as I mentioned Charlie yesterday, I think, took a heavy dose of rain. They've got the aluminum matting in place, they're putting that down today. The latest I've heard is that they expect tomorrow or Monday for the Apaches to fly over. The force protection will all be in place at that time, so they should start arriving there. Of course some unforeseen rain or something else could affect it on the ground. Once they get that matting down they'll start arriving.
Q: When will they be operating?
Major General Wald: I'm not going to tell you exactly when they're going to operate. I'll tell you they'll be in place probably tomorrow or early next week, and the decision of when they'll operate will be an operational commander's decision, and we don't want Milosevic to know when that's going to be so I'll depend on the commander to make that decision.
Q: Will they be capable of operating once they're down on the ground within 24 hours, or...
Major General Wald: They're capable right now to operate. Obviously, when they arrive it will be an operational decision on the commander's part, and we don't want to forecast that or relay it ahead of time.
Q: Twenty-four Apaches, General?
Major General Wald: Yes.
Speaking of the weather, we haven't been too good over the last 24 hours. As a matter of fact, pretty poor this morning. It was starting to clear a little bit. Some of the missions last night were canceled due to weather, but they did get some of those missions off I'll talk about a little later, and they are flying missions in the Kosovo engagement zone today and finding some breaks in the weather. It looks like it will clear over the next day or so.
As I mentioned, several missions [were] canceled last night for weather. The missions here in the FRY area itself look like there aren't very many, except I will tell you that B-2s flew last night and each one of those have 16 precision-guided munitions, and they can hit therefore 32 targets. In one case on an airfield they took out one of the airfields with 16 of the bombs and did a good job. I'll try to get imagery of that later when I can get releasable imagery.
Then in the Kosovo engagement zone, quite a few sorties in there, in and around the weather with some good results on both Pristina airfield as well as some tanks. I understand reports of up to seven or eight tanks were destroyed last night and then some other vehicles I'll talk about in a moment, but we continue to execute these particular target arrays, military fielded forces, command and control, air defense, and some industry.
In the Kosovo engagement zone primarily in the areas I show here, what the aircraft -- this is just some of the aircraft, but the Super E-10 off the aircraft carrier Foche, A-10 attack aircraft as well as F-16s, destroyed at least one Mi8-HIP helicopter, several APCs, and as I mentioned, seven or eight tanks last night.
On the humanitarian side there's been some movement into these areas, anywhere from 4,000 to 7,000 people in Bosnia, plus Montenegro, Albania, as well as the FYROM. The total numbers stay the same, and Milosevic continues to ethnic cleanse the area. There are reports of more refugees actually departing into those regions as we talked about earlier.
Contributions for food and aid -- 54 countries, same as yesterday. I will note it's probably hard for you to see; the asterisked countries actually have taken refugees in at this time, over nearly 4,500 short tons of food and shelter. That continues to move on.
Q: How many countries have taken in refugees altogether?
Major General Wald: I think it's about ten, if I'm not mistaken. I'll count them up for you.
Q: The contribution over the last 24 hours, we continue to put food into Tirana as well as Skopje.
The numbers there basically are cumulative numbers -- 420,000 HDRs into Skopje and 370,000 -- this is the U.S. contribution now. There's obviously a lot more food that's been put in than that. That's just our contribution.
Lastly, I'll show you a few images before the cockpit video. This is a picture of a road near Dakovica which is near the Albanian border on the western end of Kosovo. This road depicts a large group of refugees, thousands in this case, moving toward a border post here, and what the Serbs are doing in this case is taking their vehicles before they depart the border area and putting them in a compound here. There's a military area here. So there's thousands of refugees moving along this road, and they will take their vehicles. As we've heard before, they're taking all their papers and basically taking any identity they have away from them.
This is a town that's called Lapusnik in western Kosovo -- southern, southwestern. This town right here. The town has been evacuated and the displaced persons are up into these valleys here into the mountains. You can see the blowup of this particular area here. There are thousands of refugees here. It looks like they do have some shelter. We're not sure of their condition, but they have all evacuated this town into the hills. We suspect probably there's some shelter or food or water possibly. Not food, but water in these areas. That's probably why they're congregating there. But they have evacuated the town.
A little imagery. We talked about the command and control, the communications, and the central communication from Belgrade, and then the fact that it's very mountainous in Kosovo itself and into the FRY itself. They have to have relays. This is a relay, a couple of radio relay early warning sites on top of a very mountainous area. You can see the terrain is very difficult to find them, but these two sites, and it's hard for you to see here, have been totally destroyed, and that site's taken down.
The last one, I showed you a video of this. This AGM-130 off an F-15 had destroyed one of these radar domes the other day. It's actually a cover. This is the one that was destroyed as well as a bunker here, that's command and control. The other day when I showed you, these buildings were still functional. They have subsequently been attacked and destroyed and that site is now rendered non-effective.
Q: Before you roll the gun camera footage, let me ask something. When a plane, attack plane is making a clockwise turn, the bombs have been coming from the right. In other words the release point is somewhere back here, the bombs are released, rotate to the right. The gun camera is on the target at all times. Is that correct?
Major General Wald: Yes.
Q: He keeps the camera on the target to get the record of the bomb.
Major General Wald: That's correct. Well, there's two things he's doing. One is when he releases it, I won't tell you exactly how that works for good reason, but I will tell you that in the case of a laser-guided bomb with his system to illuminate the target, he maintains target illumination with that system prior to release, obviously, acquiring the target, fine tuning it on the way in, and then after release of the bomb maintains illumination of that target with his system with a laser on the target, illuminating that target until impact. Then as he's departing from the area, that system will usually remain on that target for a period of time. Therefore, which is probably an important point, is that we get battle damage assessment real time, therefore, almost, which is something we didn't have in the past, which is very beneficial for us. The aircrew then can report back what their perception of the results of that attack were in a more near real-time fashion which gets us once again inside the cycle and helps us not have to wait for three or four days to confirm how many times that a target's been destroyed.
Now in some cases, depending on the type of target and the importance of the target or the type of weapon used, we may still want to get imagery later of that target to verify, but in the case of some targets you can tell right away if it was a small house of some sort that wasn't reinforced and you hit it with a 2,000 pound bomb and you have the bomb going through the roof, you can probably judge that's destroyed. So I guess that's the best I can do for you on that, Bill.
Q: So sitting in an F-16 cockpit is a very busy guy then, right?
Major General Wald: They're very, very busy in a single seat fighter. They're busy in all of them, but yes, there's a lot to do. But the systems, with the training they have, they do very well. But I think your point is a good one, Ivan, and I'll just kind of build on it, is the fact that not only is he busy from the standpoint of flying his systems, navigating, making sure he's in the proper airspace because, and I won't go through the details on how that works, but it's deconflicted. There's actually a computer program that we work to deconflict the airspace.
There was a question a few days ago on how can you get all those aircraft in that space at the same time. First of all, it is a fairly good sized airspace for just one aircraft or more. But the fact of the matter is, it takes a significant amount of deconfliction. You have to watch where you're navigating. You have to watch where the threat maybe is from. You're flying with somebody else. You're trying to acquire the target. And by the way, you're being shot at at the same time.
So yeah, it's a lot of work. It's at night. Even though the systems give us good visibility at night, it's dark in the cockpit, it's dark around you, so we're asking a lot, so it's very busy.
What I'll do now is show you some cockpit video, if you'd hold your questions until the end.
I'll have to read these, we didn't put the titles on.
The first one is the Kursumilja Highway bridge being struck by an F-14 last night. Interestingly enough, there was a large explosion afterwards, but that bridge was rendered non-usable after that strike.
The second one is the, I'll have a series of three, four actual attacks on Podgorica airfield. The first one is a laser-guided bomb from an F-14. These are on command buildings, the airfield itself. These are F-14s off the USS ROOSEVELT.
The second one is an F-14 again on a tunnel where they've been storing equipment and we think aircraft. We're positive aircraft [are] in this tunnel. They hit the mouth of the tunnel last night, and we think there's upwards to dozens of Galeb and possibly MiG-21 aircraft in that tunnel. The reports are they actually hit the mouth of the tunnel and there were large explosions afterwards, and the other end of the tunnel blew out, and they actually blew some of the stuff out of the air vents. So we think they probably took down several aircraft in that attack.
The next one's another picture. This is actually the tunnel that I talked about just a moment ago. You can see the secondaries. Large secondary explosions coming out of that tunnel. We're very pleased with that attack.
The next one is an F-18 at the airfield itself again. You'll see the difference in the cockpit video, a little harder to see. But he is attacking, you can see the black splotches on the right hand side, actual targets on the ramp of that runway itself with good success. That's a Navy Hornet off the ROOSEVELT -- F-18.
The next video is of a U.S. F-16 with laser-guided bombs. This is actually a laser-guided bomb on a radar site in Kosovo. You can see he's tracking the target in the middle of the field with his system I talked about. This is at night again, so it looks like day. Actually has a direct hit. There was another wingman with him [who] had a target below that. They were both successful and destroyed that target.
I'm searching, as we talked about yesterday, for some misses. We're looking. This is a miss. It's on an AGM-130 off an F-15. I can't tell you if it's an intentional miss or he pulled off for reasons of possibly being attacked. I don't know. But this is against an SA-6 site in Kosovo. As you'll see, he pulls it off at the last minute.
Now I don't know why he pulled it off, whether it's because he couldn't identify the target or he could possibly have been being fired at at the same time and was maneuvering against that.
Remarkably -- that's all the film I have for today, but remarkably the bombs have been very, very good. We have trained crews that have good systems that work hard at it. We've had some misses, as I've talked about before. We've shown some BDA where we've had some collateral damage at Pristina I mentioned before. There have been other areas where the bombs haven't hit directly on the target. We've flown over 2,000 attack sorties. I'll look through and see if I can find some of those misses for you. I'm working at it. I'm not telling you we haven't missed, but they've done a very good job under very, very tough conditions.
Q: General, what's the progress on the request for approximately 300 aircraft? Is that working its way through? Do you expect approval on that early next week? Or do you have any idea whether the SECDEF is getting ready to sign off on that?
Major General Wald: I do not know if he's ready to sign off or where that is in the process. I will say this, that what SACEUR has requested is a capability, and he does not specify what type of aircraft. That will come back here and then the Joint Staff as well as the CINCs will work out where those aircraft, with that capability the CINC wants, should come from. They have to find out where they're going to go, and then start moving them forward with the air bridge. They're doing that pretty rapidly. But that is being worked now. Like I say, the CINC himself doesn't have time to work down the specifics of where they should go necessarily. He's looking for a capability. We've got a great staff back here helping him do that, and I think it should come through.
Q: General, could you discuss the protection package that you said is in place for the Apache helicopters?
Major General Wald: Right now they have at least five infantry fighting vehicles as well as a security force. They're getting ready to move in a light infantry -- I think a battalion minus. That will do force protection for them as well. That should all be in place with the other complementary parts they would need before the helicopters arrive.
Q: Is that sufficient when they bring on the additional 24 that General Clark has requested?
Major General Wald: Right now the additional 24 has not been approved, and I'm not sure the SACEUR still wants those other 24. Right now they're still working with 24, and when those other, the first 24 get in place, if he thinks he'll need the other ones, he'll call for those. But from what I understand right now, that's been on hold until he gets the first set in there and gets them operating.
Q: General, can you give us a little guidance, going back to Charlie's question. Are you close? Is the Joint Staff, say over this weekend, close to having all the pieces in place, knowing what they want to make the presentation for the SECDEF? And if the reserves are called up, and it looks as though they will be, how much time will they be given before they report? Any idea?
Major General Wald: I don't know the timeframe -- how long. I would suspect in some cases and in the case of the tankers, let's say, that would be fairly rapid, obviously, because they'd start moving those forward. But I think the actual plan to start moving those aircraft forward is fairly close. Once again, they have to work out the details of where they'll be and get the tanker bridge going, etc., but it's pretty close.
Q: The 300 request with the staff work, since he's looking for a capability, it might not be 300. It might be fewer, right?
Major General Wald: It could be, yeah. It's a mix/match of the capability. It could be -- I'll give you an example. Let's take an F-16 that drops a laser-guided bomb. You could replace that F-16 with an F-15E that drops a laser-guided bomb; it could be an F-18D that drops one; it could be an F-14; it could be a NATO aircraft. So he'll go back to NATO as well and ask for them.
If he asks, for example, for 24 more laser-guided bomb dropping aircraft, it isn't automatically going to be F-16s. It could be anything that drops a laser-guided bomb. So they'll work through that and make sure that it's the proper mix and that we cover the rest of the areas of the world, which we're doing. Once that's done, they'll move aboard, but right now it's moving I think at a pace that the CINC is happy with, from what I understand. I haven't heard any complaints that it isn't moving fast enough. Number two is, he continues to execute with what he's got right now in place.
Q: General, you've talked in the past about how the humanitarian operations in Tirana were affecting the arrival of the Apaches. With the new influx of refugees expected in Albania and Macedonia, how is that situation now affecting military operations? Is it making it complicated to juggle the flights coming in and out?
Major General Wald: It is complicated, but they've got it down to a system right now where they're not interfering with each other. The difficulty right now in Tirana is not the fact that there are several humanitarian helicopter flights, and C-130s and C-17s that land there every day. It's the fact that they need to get the aluminum matting out where this rain had caused all the mud and they're doing that as we speak today. So they're working between the two of them, and it's balancing out very well. The SHINING HOPE joint commander, General Hinton, is working with the Army in that area to make sure they deconflict with one another. From what I understand, it's not a problem.
Q: My second question sort of follows. When you first started briefing about the humanitarian effort, you said that they were going to have Army engineers in to improve the road between Tirana and Kukes. I take it those are the folks who are putting down the aluminum mat.
Major General Wald: It could be. I'm not sure if they're there or not, and I'm not sure they're going to continue with that road or not. They've had a reasonable, not a reasonable -- they've had several other helicopters that are participating. Of course the USS INCHON is our contribution for the helicopter flights out of Tirana. They're flying into the area as well as UNHCR, the ICRC, the International Committee for the Red Cross has helicopters, and there are a couple of other countries that are contributing, so it appears they have enough helicopter support at this time, and I don't think they're going to try to improve that road. It probably wouldn't be productive at this time.
Q: General, can you assess why the Yugoslavs are now either pushing or allowing such a huge number of refugees to leave? Is that causing a complication for your pilots?
Major General Wald: I think it's causing a complication for everybody, obviously, but the only thing I can judge is that he feels, Milosevic, pressured to get this done sooner than he would have otherwise, so I think he feels some desperation possibly at this point to finish what he thought he was going to do without anybody noticing quite as dramatically in the past. But it's hard for me to kind of predict what he's doing. All I know is that it does complicate matters somewhat. But once again I need to remind everybody that the air campaign and the military mission is focused not only on fielded forces, but it's focused on his POL, his petroleum, oil, lubrication -- both production and sustainability. His lines of communication, his integrated air defense, his command and control, his fielded forces, all of those. Those are being executed across the board. So it isn't just that you hit an individual tank or an individual truck or anything in the field to take him down. It's across the board. That is being done in a comprehensive way at a pace that the CINC is pleased with, and it will take his stainability down over time and will, over time, reduce his military capability to the point where at some point he's going to have to make a decision of what, enough is enough.
Q: A couple of questions. One, has the reserve package gone to the White House yet, or is it still in the works?
Major General Wald: I'll leave that up to Captain Doubleday.
Captain Doubleday: I'll come up afterwards.
Q: I also wanted to ask you about the amount of funding that the White House has requested. Do you want to leave that to Mike, too?
Major General Wald: I'll leave that for him, too.
Q: You talked a little bit about 2,000 strike sorties flown so far to date. Can you tell us approximately how many targets have been attacked today?
Major General Wald: Targets and DMPI's I think, I can't give you specifically, but as you look to the diamonds on my chart, remember each one of those may have a separate spot of several points. So I would think it's in the hundreds.
Q:...targets and aim points...
Major General Wald: It's in the hundreds.
Q: But are we talking about 200, 300 targets? What are we up to at this point?
Major General Wald: The number of targets is in the range of 200 to 250; and the DMPI points, the design mean point of impact of those could go, as you know.
Major General Wald: And by the way, let me clarify this target issue, too. When we go out and hit or strike, attack, something in the Kosovo engagement zone, those are not on the target list per se. So when we go out there, they are in a generic sense, because they're fielded forces, but if you go out and find a tank, that doesn't count as a target.
Q: The list of targets you started with, and there are other targets of opportunity that you're going after as well.
Major General Wald: Right.
Q: About the humanitarian, and Mark's question. There's a great increase in the number of refugees whether pushed out of the country or allowed to flee the country. You showed us one shot where the villagers have evacuated the village, went up the valley, and are camping. I would just ask, is there any new...
Major General Wald: Let me make one correction. I don't think they're camping. I think they're surviving.
Q: It's a survival camp-out.
Can you tell me any more from what you know that the refugees have said as to viability? There was a report last night, I believe it was ABC, that reported that there were refugees coming in who were fairly able to sustain the ride, the wagon ride to the border with Albania, I believe.
Can you tell us any more details about those internally displaced people? And can you say anything more about the Greek effort, some Greeks have permission to go take supplies into Kosovo.
Major General Wald: On the Greek issue, I'll leave that to NATO or Captain Doubleday, but on the first part, there is a -- every refugee has a different story. Of course they all started out just like we are, in different stages of health and welfare before they started. But the fact of the matter is, some are coming out in better condition than others. Some, as you've seen on television, appear to be dehydrated. Then we hear of reports in other areas where they're coming out in reasonable condition. So it varies. I'm not sure exactly why that is. If it was because of where they were in the first place and what status, what situation they were in in the first place when they started, or if they just happened to have a longer trip to get out, or if they were treated more poorly than others.
When you look at this whole thing, it's almost ironic -- the fact that Milosevic has done this with a group of 1.5 million people at least, causing an international atrocity that's in recent years never even been close to being matched. He is, in my estimation, a war criminal.
We'll continue to prosecute his army. We'll continue to do the mission -- the air mission. We're taking it down across the board at the pace the CINC thinks is necessary and his timeline, and Milosevic is going to have to make a decision of when enough is enough.
Q: General, the British announced this morning that the Serb air defense system is no longer integrated in their judgement. What does that mean for NATO operationally, and are the pilots noticing any less resistance from air defenses on the ground?
Major General Wald: I heard that report, and I'm not sure that's from a military expert or just an opinion. But as I mentioned two days ago, I believe, the integrated air defense when we started was very robust and fairly sophisticated. It is not quite as robust anymore, and it's not as sophisticated anymore, but it still is integrated, and they have work-arounds. They patch things. They can patch things over time. They have various different sources they use for communications. They're maybe not quite as secure in those, but they are working around those. So they still have a very, I wouldn't call it necessarily robust, but a very dangerous, capable, integrated air defense system and once again, as I mentioned earlier, one SAM to one pilot is dangerous enough.
Q: General, reporters who were on a 24-hour (inaudible) from what they could see the Serbs were firmly and confidently in control of Kosovo. Does that in any way change your assessment of the effectiveness of the air campaign so far?
Major General Wald: Personal opinion. If you believe that the Serbs let reporters go in there and see the things that we would hopefully let you see in our nation, obviously I think you'd probably suspect that maybe it was a little bit staged. So I would question whether or not what they're seeing out there is actually the true picture.
Q: At the risk of getting in trouble I'm going to ask you to return for a moment to the convoy situation. You've flown over much of this area...
Major General Wald: You're taking a big risk to get in trouble. (Laughter)
Q: I'm boldly going forward.
You've actually flown over much of this territory yourself. Can you describe a little bit from a pilot's perspective of how this, some of this confusion might arise and how it gets sorted out?
Major General Wald: Just generically, yes, I can. I won't say what altitude, you're at various altitudes. They're at an altitude, though, they can see things on the ground, and with binoculars in the A-10 they can make out things on the ground.
Now to put it into perspective, if you go back to the pilot's transcript of what he said. He had been flying over a convoy of vehicles. In this case he said three hostile vehicles, moving down a road, systematically getting out of these vehicles, people that looked like they were in paramilitary clothing, going into houses, burning them, going to the next house, burning them, with refugees somewhere in advance of them moving out.
They continued to do that. He built this picture over a period of time. He had other aircraft with him. He, at that time, made a determination it was a hostile vehicle and destroyed it. From my perspective, I can see exactly how that would happen.
Now you've got to consider this pilot flew over that area for 25 minutes and one thing that's been forgotten here, he's been being fired at the whole time by AAA and probably by MANPADS. So the situation is very difficult. Fortunately, he had reasonable weather and he could do the mission, but from my perspective, it's a very, very difficult mission to perform. You're under a lot of pressure from the standpoint of doing it right. Not only that, but also the fact that you could be shot at any particular time.
So I'm not sure if that helps you, but I can understand the difficulty of the mission from my perspective.
Q: If you can follow up on Mark's question about the Serbs being firmly in control. If they're not in control, who is?
Major General Wald: I think it's somewhat chaotic. I think they're in control enough to -- the fact that there are IDPs, displaced persons in there that can't either get back into their homes or can't depart Kosovo. But the fact of the matter is, it's a fluid situation on the ground. I think the Serbs are still, obviously ethnic cleansing. The UCK is fighting back. So it's a very difficult situation on the ground. So I would say compared to what they were a couple of weeks ago, they're not as much in control, and I believe they're starting to hurt from the sustainment capability a little bit. But it's very difficult for me to give an assessment that I can't get on the ground to tell you about.
One more question.
Q: Can you talk about Iraq? The Iraqi News Agency is reporting that four people were killed and a number of persons wounded today when U.S. planes fired upon Iraqi planes in the no-fly zone. Do you have any reaction to that report?
Major General Wald: I have heard nothing about us firing on other planes in the no-fly zone. I do know that we, the U.S., attacked a AAA site and a SAM radar, surface-to-air missile radar in the no-fly zone today with some success. That's the most I know about it, but I have no knowledge about an airplane being attacked.
Thank you very much.
Press: Thank you, sir.
Captain Doubleday: Before we close out let me just tell you that the situation with the reserve callup has not moved to any conclusion. That package is still in the building here. The Secretary has not forwarded it to the President and I would not expect that he would until sometime next week.
With regard to the emergency supplemental, my understanding is that that package will go to the Appropriations Committees early next week. Based on the information I have, it will be designed to accomplish primarily sustained operations that we are involved in for the duration of the year. That doesn't necessarily mean it will last for a year, but it will provide funding at a level which will enable the operations to continue throughout the year. It will also provide for readiness, in that the services will not have to dip into their funds that normally go to the maintenance of the readiness of forces for the operations that are going on now.
The amount for the Department is in the neighborhood of $5.5 billion; the overall size of -- the working size of the emergency supplemental is about $6 billion.
Q: Can you break that down?
Captain Doubleday: I can't break it down other than what I've given you. So far the components of this are not only the operational aspects but also the munitions funding, the humanitarian package which is on the order of $600 to $700 million, and I believe there is also some funding in there for Operation DESERT FOX.
Q: One more quick question, by year do you mean fiscal year or?
Captain Doubleday: For the fiscal year. That's how we operate our budget, throughout the fiscal year. Now again, I want to just stress that the purpose of the funding is not to necessarily continue the operations but to ensure that the operations can continue if that's what is required by events in the theater.
Q: One final one. There are reports that the Republicans may ask for a vastly inflated figure over that just in order to get money into new defense programs. Would the Department welcome that if that money is not funded?
You've said in the past that you would not welcome such money if it has to be taken out of other programs. Will the Department welcome such a move if the money is not, the additional money was not funded?
Captain Doubleday: Charlie, I cannot offer you any comment on that right now. I just don't have enough information to know what is involved.
Q: Is the $6 billion enough?
Captain Doubleday: Six billion is enough to do what we see now needs to be done in this operation on both the operational side, on the munitions side, on the humanitarian side, and to maintain our readiness at the very top where it should be by the time this thing is over.
Q: Two questions. Is GITMO still in the equation for humanitarians? Or is that pretty well ruled out?
The second question may be more difficult to answer and perhaps General Wald will want to answer it tomorrow. We have one aircraft, an F-117 that's down. No one has yet released why it's down. But aside from that aircraft, all aircraft are always returning to base safely, according to NATO. After all these missions. Is it that our tactics are superior, or is it just that the Serbs' gunnery is lousy? What would you say is the reason we haven't lost any?
Captain Doubleday: To answer those questions in order.
We are ready to receive refugees at the naval station at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba within a matter of a couple of days. The people at the Southern Command have been hard at work with forces there in Guantanamo Bay making sure that the facilities are available for refugees on the order of 500 to 700 in an initial wave, and then perhaps even more later on.
However, after consulting with Mrs. Ogatta, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, her determination was it would be best, to the extent possible, to have the refugees remain in the area. That is the direction we are proceeding in at the present time.
Q: So it's ready, but probably it will not be used, right?
Captain Doubleday: Let me just leave it at that. It is ready. We are certainly in a position to help there, but we also are helping in the theater, not only with tents but also with people who are erecting the tents.
With regard to the other question you asked which is why have we thus far, with the exception of the 117, been as successful as we have. I think the answer to that is that we have conducted this operation in a way that not only accomplishes the mission, but it also does so in a way that protects the forces. But this is not to say that the tactics that we used are limited to individual aircraft. I think you are probably aware that we do a lot to suppress enemy aircraft fire. We do that not only with our support aircraft, but also with the tactics that individual pilots utilize. And although we stress on every occasion that this is not risk-free, we have thus far conducted it without any damage to any aircraft that I'm aware of.
Q: One followup please, if you don't mind. Twenty-two days for DESERT STORM, we're getting close. Isn't it extraordinary, 2,000 attack sorties and not a single loss except for the 117?
Captain Doubleday: This is, I think, an extraordinary testament to the professionalism of the pilots, of the commanders who are putting together these operations on a daily basis. But I want to stress that we have from the outset said that this is a very risky environment, and we certainly are going to conduct it in a way that is very sensitive to that.
Press: Thank you.