PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE KOSOVO STRIKE ASSESSMENT NATO HQ,
16 SEPTEMBER 1999.
Briefers: General Wesley K. Clark, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe Brigadier
General John Corley, Chief, Kosovo Mission Effectiveness
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Our purpose here this afternoon is to
present our findings on the results of the air campaign against Serb
military and police forces in Kosovo and in southern Serbia. This is part of our
obligation to get the facts out. We've done some extensive work in
the three months since the campaign has ended, and we're going to describe that
work for you today. We have drawn some conclusions - conclusions that
we're confident in - and we're going to present those conclusions to you today.
And we're going to do everything we can to help the public understand precisely
what was done there.
Much of the work that we've been doing has been dealing with very sensitive and
classified materials. We've collected these materials and we're in the
process of declassifying everything that we possibly can to make the materials
available in great detail to the press. You can see the volume of material we're
working with here on the stage.
We're going to be joined here in this presentation by a number of airmen and
analysts who did the work both during the war and in the assessment after the
war. I'm going to be joined by Brigadier General John Corley who was the chief
of our assessment team. In addition, we have Colonel Ed Boyle with us, who did
the actual planning of the strikes and coordination of the strikes in the
Combined Air Operations Centre in Aviano, Italy; Colonel Brian McDonald who led
the on-the-ground assessment team in Kosovo; and a number of pilots from our
NATO air forces who flew in the air war, who flew over Kosovo, who can describe
what they saw with their own eyes, who can tell you the strength of the enemy's
air defences, what the targets looked like when they were attacked, what weapons
they used, and how confident they are in the results that we're presenting
today. After the formal presentation, we invite your questions on this matter.
From the outset of this campaign, we said we would be attacking on two air lines
of operation. There would be a strategic attack line operating against Serb air
defences, command and control, VJ and MUP forces, their sustaining
infrastructure, supply routes and resources. At the same time, we were going to
be attacking on a tactical line of operation against the Serb forces deployed in
Kosovo and in southern Serbia. We put the priority on the attacks against the
Serb forces. This was imperative. These were the people who were doing the
ethnic cleansing, and it was in keeping with the intent of the NATO OPLAN. But
we knew we had to go on both lines of operation to be successful. All of us
recognised at the time we went after these Serb forces that this was going to be
We were doing it during a period of bad weather. The Serbs had had plenty of
warning - months and months - to prepare. They knew they would face NATO air. We
knew we'd have to operate with great caution due to the civil population on the
ground. We knew there would be numerous urban and built-up areas where Serb
forces could hide amongst the population. And we knew that without a ground
force to do the actual targeting, we would have to develop new techniques and
methodologies. And we were determined to do this even though we knew this
mission was going to be extremely difficult.
It's also been an extremely controversial part of the campaign. From the very
beginning, we said we didn't believe in battle damage bean-counting as a way of
measuring the effects of air power, although many continuously sought to go back
to the old body count, bean-counting approach. Meanwhile, some accused of us of
flying too high, of not wanting to risk our pilots while others chose to believe
that we would strike only decoys or perhaps would hit nothing at all. The short
answer of what we struck is clear. How much did we strike, and how much did we
destroy? We destroyed and struck enough. The conflict ended on NATO's terms.
Serb forces are out; NATO forces are in; the refugees are home; a cease-fire is
in place. So in that sense we succeeded in this conflict.
At the next level, we knew that we'd forced the Serb military and police heavy
equipment into hiding; that these forces were unable to conduct their planned,
unrestricted operations against the Albanian populace in Kosovo or against the
KLA; and that the Serb generals' pre-war boast that the conflict would be over
in five to seven days proved to be just that. It was an empty boast, because the
KLA was not destroyed in five to seven days; it was alive and very much on the
offensive at the end of the war. We know that Serb soldiers mutinied and
deserted under the stress of NATO air. And so it's no wonder that the Serbs are
trying so hard to conceal the damages that NATO did.
General Pavkovic has given us this assessment of NATO air power. He says it was
insignificant. But I would just point out to you that this is the same General
Pavkovic who claimed to have shot down 47 NATO airplanes and four helicopters. I
hope we all understand that that's not correct. And I believe we're going to
show you that this top statement is also incorrect. Unfortunately, many members
of the media chose to look at the evidence on the ground that they saw as they
were driving along the side of the road, and apparently listen to General
Pavkovic, because it turned out there were a lot of people who basically
supported the Serb claim. Die Welt: The high-flying NATO jets hardly disturbed
the Serbian militias. Or La Repubblica: As we drew closer to Pec, we found
increasing confirmation that NATO air strikes had in fact done very little
damage to Milosevic's war machine. Or the Sunday Telegraph: The 11-week NATO
bombing campaign did almost no damage to Serb fielded forces in Kosovo. Or Le
Point: Serb losses are not as apocalyptic as NATO is claiming. Or the New York
Times: Most of the tanks destroyed by NATO were already up on blocks and
gathered for repairs or junking.
The reason that we want to get this information out to you is because we think
the public has a right to know, and the informed media have a right to know.
We're going to do our very best to give you all of the information that's
available on this campaign right now. What we established is a NATO strike
assessment, led by Brigadier General Corley with participation from all of our
NATO nations and all of the NATO headquarters that were involved in this
campaign. As I said, we've got confidence in these results, and I think you're
going to see that the results are not so far off what we believed them to be at
the end of the war. With that by way of introduction, I want to now introduce
Brigadier General John Corley and ask him to present the detailed methodology
and the detailed findings of this study. Then we'll take your questions and
refer either to our own experience, the results of the assessments, or the
pilots who are here as the eye-witnesses and the actors in this campaign.
Good afternoon. As General Clark mentioned, in any strike assessment or in any
military conflict, we traditionally want to conduct a bomb damage assessment on
the effectiveness of the munitions that were employed during that conflict. In
our Kosovo strike assessment, we really focused on two primary areas - ground
mobile targets as well as fixed targets. The briefing that we have for you today
will examine specifically the ground mobile targets. We want to make sure that
this evaluation has recorded as well as evaluated the areas that are listed on
the slide. And overall, our mission is to make sure that we have validated the
successful strikes where a weapon did in fact impact the target.
For the purposes of today's brief, we'll focus on four categories of mobile
targets. Those categories are: self-propelled artillery and tanks; armoured
personnel carriers or APCs; mortars and artillery; and finally the military
vehicles that are shown here. In our high fidelity and methodology and study
assessment, the team evaluated nearly 2,000 pilot reports of mobile targets in
Kosovo alone. Of these, more than half of the targets were validated by the team
as successful strikes. I'll now take you through a detailed discussion on how
the team reached those conclusions. We were extremely rigorous in our evaluation
of each of the claimed strikes. We did not simply accept mission reports as a
single source to validate a successful strike. Two or more of the listed sources
had to be present for validation. And frankly, more than 85 percent of the time
three or more sources were present.
Let me spend just a little time with you talking about each one of these overall
elements. We began with our linchpin, which was the aircrew mission report. We
then also rolled in the on-site findings, physically walking on the ground in
Kosovo and visiting every one of those sites where we had a mission report. We
further interviewed the forward air controllers, some of whom are with us in the
audience today. We also did extensive examination of the cockpit video taken
from the NATO aircraft themselves. We looked at pre- and post-strike images that
included national sources as well as U2, and some of the unmanned aerial
vehicles such as the Predator and other NATO unmanned vehicles. Along with that
we used tactical reconnaissance after the strikes. We further used examples
of human intelligence in this, as well as other national capabilities, and
finally went to witnesses themselves - for example the KFOR folks when they got
on the ground early on.
As we expanded our methodology, we deployed a team of NATO individuals into the
country itself. In excess of 35 personnel deployed during the first week of
July. The team was comprised of aviators, weapons technical experts,
intelligence personnel. The on-site team travelled to over 429 different
locations, identified in those mission reports that I talked about earlier, as
well as obtaining witness debriefs. In all categories, the equipment found in
Kosovo was totally destroyed, non-salvageable equipment. We're going to see
multiple on-site pictures of actual digitized photos where you'll be able to
graphically see the level of
destruction was catastrophic.
During the evaluation, the team also found decoys left by the Serbs at various
sites. The majority of these decoys were artillery, or in and around artillery
sites. Interestingly, they did not surprise the aircrews who had consistently
reported the decoy use during their strike missions. The airborne forward air
controllers, or AFACs as they're commonly referred to, would often attack and
destroy these decoy sites to preclude the Serbs from using them as potential
As I said, the team also interviewed KFOR forces. In the video that you see in
the lower right-hand corner, it's a heavy equipment transport. The first two
armoured personnel carriers appear to be unharmed. But the third vehicle, from
our witness reports, shows evidence of a tarp covering the vehicle, oftentimes
hiding in their doctrine some type of damage. The vehicle that's appearing now
shows definite signs of scarring in and around the engine compartment, the hatch
blown off. And this vehicle, as it's proceeding north back into Serbia, was
definitely attacked and destroyed by one of our aircraft. The bottom line: It is
basic army doctrine to clean up the battlefield after your engagement.
During the on-site evaluation, the team further discovered that equipment had
been towed out of bomb-damaged revetments to the main road and transported away.
The ground earth scarring is clearly evident in multiple examples on this
picture, which has the obvious examples of heavy objects that had been forcibly
moved to the paved road for transportation north. Therefore that equipment could
be used for spare parts or subsequently potentially reconstituted.
During interviews with airborne forward air controllers, we found the Serbs had
concentrated the effort to cover the damage inflicted. In the video on the left,
what you're going to see is an armoured personnel carrier. One has already been
hit in the topmost portion of it, and the
second armoured personnel carrier is about to be targeted and destroyed.
We found extensive evidence of the Serbs quickly removing damaged equipment
from the battlefield. Over the 78-day campaign, the aircrews who will be
able to talk with you later became very familiar with Kosovo, often flying
in the same area. The country became divided into sectors and the same
crews would return to those sectors day after day. They repeatedly told us
that equipment struck the previous day was no longer visible at that same
location. In some instances, the pilots flew both in the morning and again
in the afternoon of the same day, and the battlefield had changed between
the first and second missions.
During the conflict as well, NATO made extensive use of intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities deployed in support of the
operations. This was probably the most robust capability seen in any
conflict to date. In addition, NATO fighters have an extremely modern
cockpit recording system. During this study both of those capabilities
were analysed extensively by the team to provide us corroborating evidence
of the successful strikes. The first of these capabilities we'll talk and
walk you through in numerous video recordings from NATO pilots.
This again is an armoured personnel carrier. It's being attacked by a
GBU12 laser-guided bomb. This is a tank inside of a village. You'll see
the weapon impact, high order, and we can measure the IR events from that
exploding weapon. Here's a tank again. It is adjacent to a tree line.
And again, the weapon impacting in high order. And we'll be looking for
additional cockpit video. In this particular instance, you'll once again
see another cockpit applying a laser designator onto the target for a
second aircraft that delivers the munition. These provide, in addition to
pre- and post-strike images and pilot mission reports, clear validation and
substantiation of successful strikes. Another armoured personnel carrier
in a revetment alongside of a road.
As I said earlier, the team also compiled and catalogued tactical theatre
overhead and unmanned aerial imagery and video from the campaign. This was
then used to support each day's assessed successful strikes. In many cases
we had pre-strike. We had post-strike imagery from multiple sources.
Shown on the upper left is a Predator aircraft. This Predator video will
actually show infrared images of two tanks that are moving down a road.
tank is about to be struck by a precision-guided munition. It'll be
documented on this Predator video. You can see the explosion of the
weapon, and in fact the hot pieces of metal that will come out of that
destroyed tank. We also catalogued and used various HUMINT as well as
other IR events using our technical capabilities to measure the validity of
the successful strikes.
Now that you begin to get a flavour of the extensive research, and the
quality of the information and analysis behind it, that was undertaken by
the team, I'd like to begin to walk you through the information we used on
every specific mission. Here is an example of a matrix that we have
completed. Today we'll be talking about mission number 1611N. This is a
flight of two F14 Tomcats, call sign of Sword 11 and 12. I want to walk
you through each of the categories from left to right on this slide, to
give you a sense and to describe how this matrix was filled out. Mission
1611N. As we walk step by step through this, you're taking a look now at
examples of pre-strike imagery of Serbian tanks that were deployed in and
around the village of Junik. This is the type of information that was used
routinely by NATO aircrew members to plan their daily strike missions. In
addition to that pre-strike imagery we also had HUMINT on day 38. HUMINT
reports were that Serbian forces had deployed a battle group in and around
Junik. If you recall that original image that was out there, you can again
see that same predominant tree line. And because of our extensive
reconnaissance capability, we were able to obtain post-strike imagery of a
destroyed tank on the outskirts of that same town of Junik. When the
on-site team went to the location mentioned in the pilot's report, this is
exactly what they found - a catastrophic kill on a self-propelled artillery
Now let's fill in that matrix, beginning with left to right. The F14s did
not have cockpit video due to an equipment failure. However, pre- and
post-strike imagery was available. HUMINT reporting substantiated the
location data, and forward-deployed teams found a destroyed self-propelled
artillery piece. Result: one successful strike for mission number 1611.
In this instance it was successful, as reported by the team, and was a
catastrophic kill. However, if the team had not found a tank or
self-propelled artillery piece at this location, we would have used other
sources to validate or not be able to confirm the strike.
As we move forward from our day mission, let's begin to aggregate all of
the results that our analysis team found. This is a building-block
methodology and we're going to begin with the tank category itself. In
category number one, our claimed strikes. After all the missions had been
dissected in the manner that we've just presented to you, they were listed
and summarised by category. For example, we showed 181 tank or
self-propelled artillery pieces reportable for this mission. This was our
starting point for the analysis. Next, in category A, our tank category,
we discovered on-site findings on 26 catastrophic kills physically located,
physically documented by the Kosovo team. In category B, we again
validated through multiple sources those indicated on this slide - 67
additional successful strikes by NATO aircraft. That combination of
catastrophic kills physically located on the ground, plus the successful
strikes from multiple sources, gives us our A and B combination of 93 total
and provides us with a sense of our successful strikes and how they were
Again with our building-block assessment, in category C we wanted to make
sure that we did not do a double counting for multiple hits. The team did
uncover 19 multiple strikes against single targets in this category. They
stated that approximately 65 percent of the catastrophic kills had multiple
hits - possibly meaning that this particular vehicle could have been hit by
a Maverick missile, by a 30mm gun, and also by some type of
precision-guided munition. We wanted to make sure those numbers were not
included in the 93. Again, this methodology was exceptionally
conservative. In this study the tie did not go to the runner.
In addition to the reported mission reports, there were nine strikes on
decoys. They were also not included in the claimed successful strikes.
Finally in the category of unconfirmed strikes. There was not enough
evidence behind these 60 mission reports to definitively claim that we had
a successful strike.
Therefore, we have validated the following numbers in these categories. As
far as the tank category: 93 successful strikes, 19 multiple hits, and 9
decoys. In APCs: 153 validated successful strikes, 26 instances of
multiple hits, and 5 decoys. In the category of military vehicles: 339
successful strikes, 37 multiple strikes, and 5 decoys. And finally in the
artillery and mortars category: 389 successful strikes, 46 multiple
strikes, and 6 decoys. The final numbers then correlate to the 181 mission
reports in the tank category, 317 in the APC category, 600 in the military
vehicles, and 857 in the artillery and mortars. As we stated earlier,
there were nearly 2,000 - 1,955 claimed mission reports, as we compare and
contrast that against the numbers that we had previously given.
In closing, we want to remember that the NATO air campaign not only
destroyed Serb fielded forces but disabled the electrical power grid, sent
its transportation infrastructure into disarray, and crippled its
capability to produce and to store POL. The bottom line is that today in
Kosovo it's beginning to return to normal. The short answer to how much
did we kill, how much did we strike successfully - it was enough. The
conflict ended on NATO's terms. General Clark.
Thank you, General Corley. We'll be happy to take your questions now.
Mark Laity, BBC: General, can you give us your feeling about the number of
claims there have been that you deliberately lied about the totals? What's
your response to that? There will be people who say why should they
That's why we have laid all this out as we have. I'll ask General Corley
to show you what's in these books. Every single mission is documented.
There were over 3,000 missions flown over Kosovo. In almost 2,000 of them
the pilots dropped weapons, they believed, on something, and we've assessed
those claims and looked at it. I can assure you there was no deliberate
distortion of reality here. But as in any case when you go back after the
fact and try to reconstruct it, you're going to find some cases where the
evidence isn't as strong as you'd like and you can't confirm the kill. In
others, it's surprising that you find the kill there even though it wasn't
claimed. We've found some of both in this mission. This is really the end
of the story. We've got every piece of evidence available, except for what
we might have obtained by going in and actually dealing with the Serb
forces. This is about all that we can do to substantiate this, and these
are the facts as we know them.
Q: There has been very heavy criticism, though, of NATO, saying that they
had deliberately distorted the figures. What have you personally felt
It's incorrect, invalid criticism. There wasn't any deliberate distortion
at all. In this book, we've got every mission that was flown from day one.
These are the reports from every mission - all of the intelligence that
we've got, we've got the tapes from the cockpits where strikes were made.
And that's the case throughout this campaign. There was no deliberate
distortion here whatsoever - none.
Bill Drodziak, Washington Post: General, I wonder if you would address
yourself to the questions of what NATO has learned from this experience,
and what can it do better the next time? Can you comment on the particular
incident in which General Jackson refused to go along with one of your
orders to send in troops to stop the Russians? I know this red card is
part of the NATO rules, but do you feel that this could be a problem that
needs to be rectified in the future?
First of all, let me say that all of the lessons learned from this
campaign have to be approached from the standpoint that NATO essentially
achieved what it set out to do. This was a successful campaign. It
worked. Even though it was, in the words of some of the critics, an
unconventional, asymmetric campaign, it did achieve NATO's results. The
lessons learned process is ongoing. It hasn't been completed. The
Ministers of Defence will be discussing this in the context of the defence
capabilities initiative at Toronto next week. So it's not possible at this
point to go into great detail. The Pentagon, as you know, is still working
through its lessons learned programme. As for the specific issue with the
affair around Pristina airport, I think I'm going to use my prerogative and
say at this time what's important is to get the facts out on the battle
damage assessment against Serbian military and police forces on the ground
in Kosovo. That's what we're going to be focusing on now, so I'd like to
just restrict the questioning to that topic.
Craig Whitney, Washington Post: General Clark, could you give us an
indication of about what percentage of the APCs, tanks, military vehicles,
artillery and mortars there were in Kosovo at the beginning of the
conflict, that these figures you have given us represent? And how they
compare to the percentages you thought you had destroyed at the end of the
They're actually pretty close to the figures we had at the end of the
conflict. We were saying 110 tanks, 210 armoured fighting vehicles or APCs,
and about 449 artillery and mortars. We never have an exact picture of
what an opposing force might actually have. We were dealing with both the
Serb military and the Serb police. And as we discussed, many of these
units were reinforced piecemeal, at night, and some damaged equipment was
no doubt replaced during the course of the conflict. But we're looking at
figures of around 350 tanks, 430-450 armoured personnel carriers, and about
750 artillery, mortar, anti-aircraft artillery and that category. So lots
and lots of equipment was there. We have looked at what was taken out. A
lot of it was taken out, just as we anticipated, because we never thought
that we'd destroyed the whole of it. We never thought we'd destroyed even
half of what was there. What we had been successful in doing was keeping
it in hiding, under wraps, ineffective. The reporter from I think it was
La Repubblica, who said the tanks were sticking
their noses out like mushrooms from these buildings was exactly right.
That's where by and large most of the Serb forces had to stay during the
war in order to survive. And one of the purposes of conducting this air
campaign over Kosovo was to achieve precisely that impact. That's why we
said from the beginning that the battle damage bean-counting wasn't the key
measure of effectiveness for the use of air power. What was important was
what the overall effect was on the Serb effort to overrun the Albanian
populace, root out the KLA, and otherwise commit the kind of murder and
mayhem that was going on. What we found was that the Serb use of heavy
equipment was quite constrained as a result of the air power.
Bettina Westring: General, can you give us an estimate of how many
Yugoslav troops were killed?
I can give no estimate of that whatsoever. We have no way of knowing.
Doug Hamilton, Reuters: General, you say that the battle damage
bean-counting is really irrelevant and the result, as everyone knows, is
clear. But there do seem to be a lot of studies going on. I read of one
by Admiral Ellis, and I read of one that's coming from Mr. Hamre and
General Joseph Ralston. Will the results of this study be included in the
Pentagon study by Ralston and Hamre? Or will they check your figures or
come up with their own figures?
I'm sure that these results will be part of that Pentagon study. But the
Pentagon study is much broader than this study. This study is addressing a
very limited question, namely how many pieces of equipment were
successfully struck by NATO aircraft in Kosovo and southern Serbia. Every
headquarters, and probably individual who participated in this campaign, is
going to think long and hard about what he learned from it. That's right
and appropriate, and it will take weeks, months, and in some cases years,
for all of these lessons to be really studied, brought forward, and then
incorporated into a new doctrine, new equipment, new procedures and so forth.
Patricia Kelly, CNN: General, as far as the pilots are concerned, was
there any one day or period of days during the campaign where they were
finding it either easier to find targets, or more difficult, as the
campaign progressed? Could we have some sort of idea of exactly how the
pilots were finding their job?
Let's turn to the pilots, and let me ask the airborne forward air
controller who flew the A10 over there if he'll come forward.
Pilot: I was an A10 pilot. I flew the first day that we went, and flew
25 missions, 19 as mission commander. So I saw the evolution. It really
was an evolutionary period. The Serbs reacted to everything we did. When
we initially went into country we found the military
vehicles on the roads, we attacked them with precision-guided missions,
bombs, bullets, and within three days we drove them off the roads. They
were smart.. We had to change our tactics. The first week or so we were
very effective, and then we found that they were driven
into hiding. Then we had to develop techniques for finding them in the
mountains, in revetments. We found them there, again began to engage them.
Before long they left the revetments and started going into the tree
lines. For the tree lines we used other assets along with that to find
them. So there peaks and valleys, along with the poor weather, where our
actual tactics evolved over the period. At the very end, with Mount Pec,
we saw some of the Serbs coming out to engage and we were able to find them
out in the open and engage them. So there were peaks and there were
valleys. The Serbs were very smart on the ground.
Q: I'd just like to come back to the battle damage assessment and the
claims of false propaganda during the 78-day campaign. One of the things
that confuses me was that you were able to say that there was evidence of
low morale amongst the troops, and yet you still can't tell us the number
of Yugoslav troops killed. How can you marry that kind of thing up?
It's just a function of what we're able to learn about the battlefield
through various sources of intelligence. That's the simple answer. There
are some things we know, there are some things we don't know, and we may
never know the answers to these.
Q: Many more missions were flown into Serbia than into Kosovo. Are you
able to extend the findings of this study to the results of the missions
flown in Serbia?
We have a very good study done of the results of the missions in Serbia.
But most of those missions were against fixed targets. They couldn't be
moved, put into the tree lines, or camouflaged very effectively. So we
know precisely what we struck and have a pretty good idea of what damage we
did. This was a much more challenging effort when we were going against
targets that could be moved after they'd been struck, and the battlefield
could be cleaned up and hidden. So we've already done the first part of
that assessment. This part was directed at the battlefield in Kosovo,
where we could fly over or in some cases land, walk around and look for
these targets. There were some Serb forces that were struck in southern
Serbia where we were unable to fly over at low level in helicopters and get
on the ground, obviously, and so for the assessment of those forces we've
had to use the other means of information that General Corley explained.
Hartwig Nathe, FOCUS: The NATO Council interfered almost on a daily basis
in the military operation. Do you feel this is a useful procedure?
As I said, everyone has learned lessons from this. At this point I want
to keep the discussion on the battle damage assessment of the strikes on
ground forces. In that respect, I can tell you that we had nothing but
full and wholehearted support from all the elements of NATO as we went
against these Serb forces on the ground. Everyone recognised that this had
to be a priority - in fact the priority effort of the campaign.
Q: The critics are saying that one of the lessons learned from this
campaign is that it went on so long because you were not ready in the
beginning to threaten with a ground invasion. How do you comment on this?
And how can you explain the role of the KLA during the air campaign?
You're asking broader questions than we'd like to discuss. But in essence
what we've said is that there were many, many factors that ultimately
resulted in President Milosevic's decision to accept NATO's conditions.
He'd exhausted all his options. But what was decisive was the effort of
the air campaign. NATO's resolve did not falter. The air campaign
continued. It became more and more intense and inflicted more and more
damage on those assets, both strategic and tactical, that he valued the
most. In conducting the air campaign against the forces in the field in
Kosovo, we used every conceivable bit of information we could find. But we
never had direct information from, cooperation or coordination with the
KLA. We just kept our eyes and ears open, and what information was made
available, what targets appeared, those we struck.
Q: General, this campaign started against a man, not against a country or
a nation. It was to prevent the ethnic cleansing from going ahead. The
man is still in power; the people in Yugoslavia suffered and will probably
suffer during the winter, as there will be no reconstruction program going
on. And the ethnic cleansing, if it did not succeed on one side, is
probably going to succeed on the other side, because very few Serbs will be
left in Kosovo, as you very well know. After all this, can you still
consider that everything went that well in the area? Also, we are seeing
ethnic cleansing going on in another part of the world . which is under
Portuguese administration. Portugal being a member of NATO, we have not
seen the same kind of solidarity and response from the Alliance that we saw
in Kosovo. I know you are not a politician. But in our talks before, you
felt so much about this way of dealing with people. I'd like your personal
view on this.
I think it's a hazard in any meeting of the press that you're going to be
asked questions that go well beyond the subject of the press conference.
You've asked some very important questions, some very interesting
questions. But they go well beyond the scope of this press conference or
the scope of NATO responsibilities. I would simply point out to you that
the air campaign was successful. We have a number of instances here where
these attacks on fielded forces were successful. And I think that since
we've come in there on the ground we've been very successful. Mike Jackson
and KFOR have done brilliant work in there. I was down there on Monday and
I'm very, very proud of what they are doing. When I was down there I
discovered interestingly enough that a complete survey has been taken of
how many Serbs remain in Kosovo. It's not 30,000. The figure that KFOR
has come up with is 97,000. And I think that one has to recognise that
whenever one is dealing with the Balkans, there's always a certain amount
of incorrect information put out. There's a lot of mythology now about
this reverse ethnic cleansing. What I know about it is that there are a
number of Serbs who are there, that more are coming back in, that the
incidents of violence are down, and that the KLA leadership has spoken out
and taken action to try to restrain the very understandable passions of the
Albanian majority after what they've suffered. We have to be sure we get a
balanced assessment of what's going on on the ground in Kosovo. That
balanced assessment begins with an understanding of what happened in the
air campaign, and particularly the work of these great airmen as they fought a very, very
unconventional air war to attack what are, as they've described, some very
smart Serb forces.
Mark Laity: One of the controversies during the war was the height that
pilots attacked at. Perhaps one of the pilots could describe what they
could see and what kind of constraints it placed upon finding and
accurately hitting targets. And can I also ask you, another controversy
was what made Milosevic change his mind. Sticking to the theme of the press
conference, what was more important in your view? The hitting of strategic
targets, bridges, economic infrastructure, or the tactical air campaign in
Kosovo - tanks and so on?
Wing Commander: I'm from the Royal Air Force and I was flying Harrier GR7
aircraft. I estimate that the squadron I was on dropped approximately 800
weapons on Serbian forces in Kosovo. All those bombs had to be dropped
adhering to strict rules of engagement. In other words, to identify each
target as a military target. Those targets are small and mobile, and the
best way to do that is with your eyes. We were high. We carried
binoculars. We also had inside the cockpit sensors that would give us
magnification of those targets. So all those 800 bombs were dropped onto
positively identified military targets. Also on many occasions, our pilots
brought back those bombs when they couldn't identify the target. On our
squadron we said that there is no stigma attached when you brought your
bombs home. I think that's a great credit to all the pilots out there for
their professionalism and their restraint.
Pilot: My job was to ensure that the strikers were hitting valid targets.
On 25 missions I spent approximately two hours a day looking through my
binoculars, looking through other sensors at the ground. I can tell you
that as the war progressed, I actually increased my altitudes that I used
because it was tactically smarter to stay above anti-aircraft fire,
heat-seeking missiles. It was smarter to stay above those threats, spend
more time looking for valid targets, then once I found them be able to
engage them. So I can tell you going lower did nothing for killing
targets. Staying higher was a way to avoid the threat, spend more time
finding better targets, and then strike them.
Reuters: General Clark, towards the end of the bombing campaign there was
a rather dramatic incident in the Mount Pastrik region when a B52
reportedly caught large formations in the open on the slopes and attacked
them. Does your study tell what the results of that bombing were?
We're not going to have from a B52 the kind of cockpit video that you'd
get from dropping a precision-guided weapon. Let me ask the members of the
team who flew over the area if they can describe the scene and what they saw.
Pilot: I was on the ground in Kosovo after the conflict to assess it.
Because of the land mine hazard we were unable to get into a lot of the
areas of Mount Pastrik. But flying by in a helicopter on several
occasions, the destruction was pretty complete. Quite a few vehicles were
destroyed in a particular area. But it had already started to be cleaned
up. It was remarkable how fast the people went back to work recovering the
country. But it was truly awesome to see that level of damage in that
particular very confined, very narrow area. So yes, it was pretty
Q: After all this information and these reports, what do you regret about
your military campaign? And if this military campaign has been as
successful as you present it, why do you not continue as the Supreme Allied
First of all, this campaign was successful. All of NATO's objectives were
achieved. The campaign as a whole was successful, and to go back to Mark's
question, both the strategic and the tactical efforts were successful in
this campaign. As we look and try to evaluate what was most important,
we'll probably never get a definitive answer. This was not strictly
speaking a war. We never went to war with Serbia, and we never went to war
with the Serb people. We said from the beginning that we were striving not
to make war against the Serb people. What we wanted to do was show
President Milosevic that unless he complied with the will of the
international community, he was progressively going to lose all of the
assets he valued - be they military forces or the sustaining infrastructure
of those forces. So I think that was a decisive, necessary part of this
campaign. But it was also necessary to show that he was isolated
diplomatically, he wasn't getting support from anyone, he wasn't going to
recover, there was no hope for salvation on the horizon. And I think he
had ample evidence to conclude that, had he not conceded when he did, the
next step would have been the long awaited and much talked about NATO
ground effort. That evidence was available to President Milosevic. In
January when General Klaus Naumann and I went down to see him, President
Milosevic said that, to him, Kosovo was more important than his head. Now
he's given up Kosovo and he's struggling to save his head. As for my own
tour of duty, it was a three-year tour of duty, it's been a very important
tour of duty, and I'm very pleased with the support that I've had. I have
another seven months to go and I'm focusing on completing this tour of duty.
Q: During the campaign, we were presented with a picture of Serb armed
forces who were pinned down, having great difficulty operating. Yet today
we have a picture of Serb armed forces who had a great deal of freedom to
clean the battlefield, move tanks, heavy artillery almost at will without
apparently making themselves targets to further attacks. How do you
reconcile those two elements?
There were periods when vehicles moved on roads. They moved intermixed
with civilian convoys. And after a certain point, when we had the convoy
incident, as I recall we got to be very, very cautious about striking
objects moving on the roads.
COL BOYLE: At the CAOC during the conflict, because we were so concerned
with collateral damage, General Short put out the guidance that if military
vehicles were intermingled with civilian vehicles, they were not to be
attacked due to the collateral damage. At the same time, the Serbs had
cover of weather. Only about 50 percent of the strike days during the
conflict were good-weather days. So we would have aircraft up maybe in the
morning and by the afternoon the weather would come in and we would be
unable to see the ground. Therefore another ROE position would happen that
unless you could clearly identify the target, you were not to drop. So the
Serbs did have periods during this entire campaign when they could freely
move around the battlefield, move equipment, and reposition it. It was not
a perfect world out there where we could see the battlefield 24 hours a day
and be able to prevent them from moving equipment.
Q: Did you make any calculations of how much this cost? Did you do any
cost-effect counting - perhaps it could have been cheaper?
We haven't looked at the cost. Other people will no doubt be looking at
the cost. Every nation is going to have to pay for the ordnance expended
and the wear and tear on the airframes and so forth. During the course of
the campaign it wasn't possible for us, in dealing with this kind of an
emergency, to be penny-wise and possibly pound-foolish. We did what we
thought was necessary to accomplish the mission.
Q: Do you have any idea to what degree VJ and MUP are weakened today?
We know that the leadership of the VJ and MUP has been decorated and
rewarded for their role in this campaign. General Ojdanic has been
promoted to four stars. Battle streamers have been awarded to many of the
Serb units that participated. On the other hand, we've looked very closely
at the Serb units as they've come out and not surprisingly we've found that
they're missing a good deal of their equipment. They are doing training.
Their integrated air defence system is operating. We've even had reports
that one or two MiGs are flying today. So they're making an important
effort to reconstitute this force. But I think from President Milosevic's
standpoint the most important question he has to answer is, Is that force
politically reliable? And we have to wait and see on that.
Q: General, in your planning for this campaign, did you ever imagine in
the slightest way the vicious reaction of the Serb forces against the
ethnic Albanians - in some cases, as reported, massacres of virtually
entire villages? And how, if in any way, did you react to it in your
The vicious action of the Serb forces started well before the campaign
began. We knew from the chatter on the ground in Kosovo amongst Serb
forces in December, January, and February, that it was going to be in their
words "a hot spring." They were planning to take actions like this
regardless of what NATO did. As we looked at what the actions might be in
response to the air campaign, we considered that they might have a variety
of actions, and certainly we anticipated that they would react not only
against the KLA but against the Albanian populace. That's why we put as
much effort as we could, and did as much as we could, to strike the Serb
forces who were engaged in these activities in Kosovo.
Q: The KLA had to give up all their weapons this week in Kosovo. Are you
confident that all those weapons will be given up? Secondly, do you think
that General Ceku and Thaqi actually have control over the KLA now?
We have a high degree of confidence that the KLA leadership has been
complying, and does intend to comply in full, with its demilitarisation
agreement. As in any case in this
part of the world, there are always people who are going to bury weapons
and do other things to try to provide an insurance policy. This area,
Kosovo, has been through crisis after crisis in the 20th century, and
especially for the last ten years people have learned some very bitter
lessons about how to deal with their neighbours. So it's going to take a
while before there's
an atmosphere of confidence in which people really respect and understand
the international community means what it says. We're going to be there.
We're going to keep the peace. We're going to do the job for all the
people of Kosovo. They'll see that, and they'll learn, and I'm confident
in the mission.
Q: Do you think they'll be able to persuade them to do that? You've had
instances of KFOR soldiers actually being threatened by senior KLA members.
As I said, there are always going to be some people who don't get the
message from the international community. But by and large we think we'll
be quite successful in the demilitarisation, and we'll handle those cases
where we aren't.