7 May 1999
Given by Mr Jamie Shea and Major General Walter Jertz
First of all, I would like to record that by any standards yesterday was a bad day for President Milosevic. He woke up in the morning to the news that overnight NATO forces had carried out a series of attacks first against his fielded forces in Kosovo where we destroyed over 30 pieces of equipment including 7 tanks and 12 artillery pieces; he also learned as he woke up that we had struck at ten strategic targets elsewhere in Kosovo, they included command posts, surface-to-air missile batteries, communication sites and airfields among others. I wonder if in the afternoon at about this time he was able to tune in to the international news coverage of this briefing where he would have heard General Jertz give his comprehensive account of the damage that NAT0 has inflicted on his forces over the past five weeks, that includes 20 per cent of the military equipment in Kosovo, over 300 individual items, it includes all major road and rail lines into Kosovo, all but two bridges over the Danube, 60 per cent of his MiG-29s destroyed and the rest, including other aircraft, grounded; 4 out of 7 of his major fuel storage sites in Kosovo, the two major oil refineries in Yugoslavia, nearly 40 now of his 52 radio-relay targets, 50 per cent of ammunition storage sites, 8 battalion-and-brigade field command posts in Kosovo and without speaking of course of the damage done to the strategic targets such as command posts, such as army headquarters, such as lines of communication and such as airfields and storage sites.
So the facts are now staring President Milosevic in the face. He knows that his military operations are slowing down while NATO's are speeding up. Yesterday, you heard the news that 176 more aircraft will shortly join operation Allied Force including a large number of tankers as well as strike aircraft and that we will be in an even better position with these extra assets to operate 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. It has never been so true that NATO never sleeps.
At the same time, yesterday there were further demonstrations of resolve and determination. You heard that in particular from Chancellor Schrder and President Clinton after their meeting in Bonn and you have heard that today also from President Chirac and Chancellor Schrder and when it comes to the support of our parliaments, you have seen just a few moments ago the Bundestag in Bonn vote 566-43 to send a thousand additional German servicemen and women to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and to Albania to assist in humanitarian relief operations proving once again that NATO takes care of the victims of Belgrade while we try to resolve durably this conflict.
And if President Milosevic did not tune in to our briefing yesterday, one thing that he could not and would not have ignored was the result of the G8 meeting of Foreign Ministers in the afternoon which demonstrated the unity and resolve of the international community. The G8 endorsed the five essential conditions of the Allies as the only valid basis for resolving the Kosovo crisis and it stressed the need for an effective international security force to give the refugees the confidence to return home and this is a significant step forward. Russia is now working constructively with us towards a political solution and therefore Milosevic's political isolation grows as fast as the military isolation of his forces in Kosovo.
I believe that if you are President Milosevic today you can appreciate the old expression "uneasy sleeps the head that wears the crown" particularly when you know that you are going to wake up the next day to essentially the same bad news as the day before. It is not a nightmare, it is reality. The reality is that NATO is going to continue this operation day after day, night after night until we secure acceptance of the five fundamental conditions of the - now I can say this - international community and not just the Allies: an immediate end to the violence; the withdrawal of all the Serb military, paramilitary and police forces; the deployment of an effective international security presence; the safe return of all refugees; and a political process towards the establishment of an interim political framework. The goal is clear, we are now going to draw up the modalities to bring that goal closer and closer it is coming every day.
Major General Jertz:
Even though I do know that I do have to cover every day a very serious topic, which is military effects on targets, I would like to assure you that I am not a British general, as stated in some media yesterday, and I am not sure if the Royal Air Force would love to have me because if they would have me they would have to pay me also!
As was reported to you in the morning update, our air operations were again somewhat impacted by the weather in certain target areas. I will give you more details on the air campaign in a moment.
Let me briefly start with another topic. As you are well aware, we are very much concerned with the humanitarian aspects of this current crisis. Having said that, NATO continues to provide substantial and critical support to the many organisations that are working very hard to minimise the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of unfortunate refugees who are victims of the brutal operations of the Serbian military special police and paramilitary units.
To continue the close co-ordination and co-operation between NATO and the relief agencies, Mrs. Ogata, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, will meet today with the Supreme Commander (Europe), General Clark, discussing of course related matters.
There has been discussion in the press that NATO military operations may have been reduced or scaled back over the past 24 hours for some reason. I can assure our air operations do continue as planned unless they are hampered by unfavourable weather conditions or unless Milosevic picks up the phone and tells us he wants us to stop and accepts the five points.
While we are encouraged by some of the advances which we hope are taking place on the political side, our military operations continue unabated and according to the plans. As I said before, bad weather hampered our air operations and we did not strike all of the targets we had planned last night. Here once again, however, I would like to reiterate that we only strike those targets in bad weather conditions when we are sure that damage will be limited to military or militarily-related targets. Having said that, we still hit many targets very hard in Kosovo and the rest of Serbia.
Within Kosovo itself, we attacked tanks, trucks, artillery, command posts, armoured personnel carriers and riveted positions in the Podujevo area, in particular we hit the 211th Armoured Brigade very hard. Additionally, we hit mortars, rocket launchers and tank positions in western Kosovo, part of the 63rd and 125th motorised brigades driving these units back towards the north and east in order to find cover from our air strikes, thus keeping them busy in defensive military actions rather than persecuting innocent civilians.
We also struck additional tanks and artillery in central Kosovo as shown on the slide.
The first post-strike image I have to show you today is of the remains of some of the tanks we hit a couple of days ago near Kaminaclava in south eastern Kosovo.
The next slide shows you other targets we attacked last night within Serbia. We targeted the airfields as shown like Ponikva, Jenikan, including also a substantial strike at Nis. NATO aircraft also struck an ammunition-storage area and the radio-relay station at Kusovac.
The second post-strike photo is of the remains of the Batanikan early-warning radar. We continue to have good success in blinding Milosevic's command-and-control network thus denying his capability to lead his forces.
Serbian air-defence activity was about normal. We observed three surface-to-air missile launchers and of course, as always, anti-aircraft artillery. There were however no Serbian air-defence fighters noted and once again I have to say all our aircraft have returned safely.
Turning to our humanitarian efforts, in the last 24 hours 88 flights arrived in Albania and 18 flights arrived in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
This slide once again shows you the totals of eight delivered thus far. These great numbers show you the big effort very many countries feel obliged to make because they know that they do help the Kosovars to survive.
Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that concludes my part of the briefing.
Questions & Answers
In addition to the targets you mentioned in Nis, there were reports that a hospital was hit. Can you reply to those reports and what you know about those?
Major General Jertz:
I have seen press reports - I repeat I have seen press reports on that. They are a little bit contradictory, the three press reports I saw but I cannot comment more on that because I don't want to be speculative so we are checking, because we just got the reports a few hours ago, very deeply and as always searching to see if something has happened but for sure I can tell you that we did not target - repeat we did not target - civilian hospitals and we do not target any civilian targets whatsoever.
Could you explain or recommend for ?????? about international civil and security presence on Kosovo?
This question has come up in the last days. Very briefly, it has always been part of the approach of the international community to have a civilian presence in Kosovo after the fighting has stopped as well as a military presence. As you know, there was a civilian presence in the shape of the Kosovo Verification Mission of the OSCE. Perhaps something like that - obviously this has to be determined - will be deployed to look after human rights, to look after the aspects of law and order, to of course help a transitional authority, institution-building, democracy-building, that type of thing but everybody here in the Alliance agrees and the G8 agrees that a civilian presence is not sufficient, there also has to be, as a precondition for the refugees to go home, an international military force and as you know, the position of the Allies is that that international force has to be built around a solid, efficient core of NATO.
Let me, if I may, also say that that is not only the view of Allies. Many of our Partner countries here in Europe have contacted us in the last few days saying: "We would be interested in participating in such a force but only if there is a solid NATO core because we know that that is efficient, we know that we can entrust our troops, as in Bosnia, to that type of operation without undue risk!" and you saw what Mr. Rugova said yesterday and other Kosovar Albanian leaders that spoke from various political shades but they all said the same thing, that the refugees will only go back if that international military force is built around a solid NATO core.
Can the General give us any more information on the developing "eastern front" as you might call it of NATO, the overfly agreements for NATO warplanes to fly over Bulgaria and so on - we have seen already the first tankers arriving in Hungary. Could you try and sketch in a few more of the details of this new encirclement, if you like, of Yugoslavia?
Major General Jertz:
As you know, there are a lot of legal and military targets which have to be discussed before we finally come to a common plan. We are proceeding at a good pace and it will not take much longer. You know that both of the countries you mentioned did agree that we could use their air space and the plans are very much in good shape and it won't be much longer before we can give you some answers on that in the next few days.
I can add to that: SACEUR was in Bulgaria just a couple of days ago for co-ordination and an expert team is going from NATO to discuss with Bulgaria in particular the modalities for example of operating a much more co-ordinated system so, as General Jertz says, all of that is ongoing.
Eric (Fox News):
There is a lot of talk in the press about what would be acceptable to Milosevic, whether ground troops would be lightly-armed or would have weapons or pistols, whether they would be NATO countries or non-NATO countries or not those involved with the actual action. Why is it acceptable for Milosevic to have a say in this, why would he dictate any terms?
Eric, I don't believe that President Milosevic is having a say in this. The G8 has spoken of an international security presence, making it clear that it has to be a credible international military force. The composition of that force, the mandate, those are issues which now the Political Directors of the G8 over the next few days are going to be working out but we all agree that this has to be a robust, capable force.
The circumstances which will surround the withdrawal of the Serb troops from Kosovo will be very difficult circumstances, there will be armed groups, there will be mines, there will be many refugees, there will be the need to set up a transitional authority very quickly. That is not the sort of operation or circumstance in which you are going to throw an unarmed or lightly-armed civilian force. Everybody agrees that it will require an adequately-armed, robust military force and I would not take what President Milosevic says today as necessarily his last word on this topic. There has been, as you know, a considerable evolution in what he is saying on this and we'll see, faced with the determination of the international community, how his views develop over the next few days.
Major General Jertz:
Let me add an historical lesson on that. Remember, in 1995 when we had the Bosnia operation, we had from 1992 to 1995 almost unarmed UN personnel in Bosnia and fighting, shooting, killing, raping and murdering just continued and only in 1995 the Rapid Reaction Force with heavy artillery - a heavily-armed force - came in and they did stop the fighting so the same is true for Kosovo.
Craig (New York Times):
Is the "visit and search" regime being discussed by the NAC today and what is the likely outcome of that?
OK Craig, I know that you have an enduring interest in this so I have tracked it closely! I have visited it as well today!
We are at the stage where SACEUR is now beginning the development of a detailed op plan with rules of engagement but this will be very fast because the concept of operations has now been addressed by the North Atlantic Council - that is the heavy work if you like - and it is now a question in the so-called "op plan" of putting the flesh on the bones. That will come back to the Council within a very short space of time.
I want to make it clear that all Allies are committed to a "visit and search" regime, we are all committed to having one and there will be one. The precise rules of engagement, the basis in international law, will have to be addressed by the North Atlantic Council in a couple of days. I would also add that we will be making a concerted effort once we have adopted this regime to appeal to all other countries that are flag countries, that have tankers or that are oil-producing countries or which have had any history of trading relations with Yugoslavia, to join this "visit and search" regime. We want to widen it to the extent that we can and in this respect let me give you something which I am not sure anybody has picked up yet: that yesterday there was a declaration by the Presidency of the European Union on behalf of the European Union - that is the German Presidency - which says:
"The member states of the European Union accept that ships flying their flags and suspected of carrying materials prohibited under United Nations Security Resolution 1160 or EU common positions and EC regulations to Yugoslavia, may be stopped and searched by vessels of other EU members or if EU members so decide, of other countries participating in the NATO operations and if necessary diverted so as to prevent these materials reaching Yugoslavia."
So already, even before NATO has begun the implementation of a "visit and search" regime, we have this extremely encouraging statement by the European Union that it intends to be part of this so we are off to a good start.
Jake Lynch (Sky News):
You will have seen that President Milosevic said in an interview apparently recorded a week ago but put out yesterday: "We can't accept anything that looks like an occupation!" I am going to go back to the provisions in the Rambouillet Accord about the unfettered free movement of a force throughout Yugoslavia and exemption from local criminal and civil law.
I know you said before that NATO doesn't see anything that should be objectionable about those but is this though an opportunity for NATO perhaps to make it look a bit less like an occupation force and thereby hasten acceptance in Belgrade by giving a promise that you would, say, use those provisions sparingly or sensitively or perhaps a mission for the civil force reporting separately to the UN to carry out some kind of monitoring role as with the UNSCOM inspectors in Iraq?
OK. Jake, first of all, this force is designed to protect the Kosovar Albanians, they do not consider it obviously as an occupation force and they are the direct addressees of that force. Secondly, an occupation force is something which applies to a whole country, we are only considering a force in Kosovo which is ultimately a very small part of Yugoslavia. Thirdly, the Rambouillet Accord has not been implemented because it was never signed by the Yugoslav Government although it remains the basis of what we hope to be an eventual political settlement based on autonomy; and my fourth point is that if we are able to achieve a UN Security Council resolution mandating an international security presence - which is the aim now of the G8 and the international community - then in the wake of yesterday's meeting this will have the full force of international law.
Two questions, one to Jamie. Could you give us any information you have got on the Yugoslav Navy embargo of the Port of Bar which does seem to be firm now? And to the General, you talked about the attacks in western Kosovo against the 63rd Parachute Battalion and one other. Can you give us a little more information on that, you said you had driven them away, have you stopped them fighting and can you give any idea as to how much success, or lack of it, they are having because I understand they are trying to shut the corridor for the KLA supplies and refugees and things moving into that area?
Mark, yes we have indications, as you know, from Montenegrin officials that the Yugoslav Navy, under the auspices of conducting as they put it wartime maritime operations off Bar and Kota are preventing docking. That of course is not going to endear Belgrade in the hearts and minds of the Montenegrin people, quite the reverse. And the Montenegrin authorities are doing their utmost to resist this imposition of an effective sanction, and naturally the NATO countries support them in their effort to do that. I see nothing in the Yugoslav constitution which authorises those type of steps to be made against a constituent Republic of Yugoslavia. But my main point is that this is obviously not something which is going to in any way get Milosevic support within Montenegro itself, and so far thankfully President Djukanovic has been successful in standing up for his people against Belgrade, but of course it is something that we are very concerned about.
On the 63rd, first of all let me tell you that of course our intelligence is good enough to indicate where the strong targets are, the enemy targets are, and one of those was the 63rd battalion I was talking about, and that was one of the reasons why we attacked them and it is military life, it is a military priority to attack targets which do look very strong. But I cannot elaborate of course on the weapons we have been using but I tell you we did have a very big force on it and we really have indications, even though the battle damage assessment is still on-going, that they did withdraw and by saying that I want to point out again that if they are hiding, if they are running away they cannot do any harm on civilians.
About the refugees, can you tell us something about the situation on the Macedonian border? We heard that they had opened the borders and then they were closing the borders, and what are the restrictions laid on this influx by the Macedonian government?
I understand that yesterday only 9 refugees were able to enter the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the border being closed. Just short of about 2,000 were able to depart the country as part of an emergency and temporary evacuation to other countries. Clearly the situation is difficult given the large number of refugees. Figures range anywhere between about 195,000 - 230,000 that have entered that country in the last few days. Obviously announcements by certain governments, like the UK yesterday, of a willingness to set up an air bridge to bring 1,000 refugees a week out on a temporary basis, the efforts of the United States, the efforts of an enormous number of countries now, of Italy to double the figure, indications from Germany of a willingness to take in more of these refugees, all of this will help to take the pressure off the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and as you know a large number of countries are now participating in this effort.
I can tell you that tomorrow, Saturday, due to a co-ordination between General Jackson and General Reith, in other words the Commander of the Arc in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the Commander of the AFOR in Albania, 6,000 refugees from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are going to be transported by NATO to Albania where the AFOR has constructed 6 refugee camps in the area of Koce to help take off some of the pressure. That will help as well.
But I would say that I believe in international law all countries have a duty to open their doors to refugees. I realise however that that is obviously not always easy to do in practice, given the social and economic burdens, but we very much hope that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would keep the door open and we have to help that country. I understand that financial aid has been forthcoming in recent days from the international institutions, that will help as well. Let me also say that Ambassador Eiffe, NATO's representative at the political level to Skopje, will be here on Monday to brief the North Atlantic Council on the situation.
I would like to come back to the visit and search problem. Does the concept for is being prepared now, involve the possibility to stop ships which do not wish to be stopped?
Yes, the thing is that it will be effective in that respect. The full details can only be divulged when they have been agreed by the North Atlantic Council, but our intention is to have an effective comprehensive visit and search regime.
Peter O'Donnell, UPI:
Jamie, in the light of the Bonn agreement yesterday, are you hopeful at all of any closing of the ranks between you and Russia at the level of NATO as well, are you putting out feelers in this direction? And if Russia-NATO relations do resume to their previous level, is this anything that would make an operational difference to you?
I would hope and also expect that once this crisis is over NATO-Russia relations will rapidly go back to their former level of intensity where we had several meetings a month, contacts virtually every day, because I think there is an objective interest of both Russia and NATO in having a solid relationship that goes well beyond Kosovo and covers subjects that are going to be very much on the security agenda in the 21st century - terrorism, proliferation, chemical weapons, tactical nuclear weapons, the environment - these are issues where we have started co-operative programmes.
Also I believe that NATO and Russia will be able to work together in conjunction with an international security force in Kosovo, like we have been able to do in Bosnia, and that too will have immediate effect. So although we have had our differences, I think that those differences are now closing with every passing day. I note the constructive statements that have been coming out of Moscow vis a vis NATO's political objectives in the last few days and therefore I believe, this is my own personal view, the worst is behind us now and that we are turning a corner.
I would like to come back to the international force. Would this force in its civilian and security components be under the same directions, OSCE or United Nations? And second, General Jertz referred to UNPROFOR and IFOR, SFOR, so could he be a little bit more specific and tell us whether NATO would deem it necessary that this force, the military part of it, would be in its composition, and its equipment and its rules of engagement be like SFOR and could not be acceptable like UNPROFOR?
As I have made clear, the exact composition and the exact mandate of the international security force have to be worked out, that is the task that now derives from the G8 meeting yesterday, that is what Political Directors will be meeting on in coming days, to start drawing up the specific modalities, but there are certain things which are clear already. The first thing is that that force will have to be based on a NATO core, there will have to be effective NATO command and control, that is clear. It will have to be robust, it will have to be armed in such a way that it can be respected by everybody. It will also obviously be a multi-national force to which other countries in addition to Allies will be invited to participate and we will try to make that participation as broad as we can within the parameters of military effectiveness as well. So those things are clear and no Ally is going to back away from those principles, but the precise modalities are things that we are still going to have to work through, but that work will be done quickly now.
Only to repeat what Jamie already said, the force have to be robust, the force have to be international and they have to have precise rules of engagement, they have to know what they have to do, what they are allowed to do. And yes we might be very close to IFOR/SFOR and no, we cannot be expecting UNPROFOR forces the way they were at the beginning.
The fact that Russia seems to agree, and they did yesterday, on what is going on with the security force it means that Russian troops will probably be part of the force, so this makes it difficult to be a NATO-led force. And the future of President Milosevic, nothing has been decided, the man is still there, can we assume that he is going to stay there afterwards and probably the International Court of Justice doesn't make much difference because President Tudjman is still there and he has got also a very bad record?
With Russia we obviously will be looking to find a pragmatic arrangement, as we have managed successfully to do with IFOR. IFOR, or SFOR as it has now become, is an example of how you can have an effective NATO force, NATO-led with effective command and control, and yet still have not only Russian participation but give Russia a meaningful role also in the command structure with its own deputy directly under the SACEUR, and its own consultation mechanism with NATO which we have had under the Permanent Joint Council/SFOR, as we call it, in which we meet regularly with Russia to discuss the operational issues. All of this has worked, and I say this with total frankness, virtually without a problem since the beginning, for four years, and so that we have a model of NATO-Russia cooperation, we are not inventing the wheel here, we are not starting from base camp, we have got these elements on which to build even if we may adapt them here and there, and these again are modalities which we are going to work out. But there is no incompatibility whatever between an effective NATO command and control, a NATO core and a strong role for Russia. That is the first point.
As to the second point on Milosevic, well as I have said on many occasions, it is for the Yugoslav people to decide if they wish Milosevic to be their leader, that is not for NATO to decide, and we will see what happens, and as far as the Tribunal is concerned, obviously they will have to decide in due course if he is to be indicted or not, that is not a NATO decision.
Jamie, could you tell us a little bit more about the Russian inspection of troops in Macedonia, was this something that has been scheduled for some time? This morning you called it routine, it was not out of the ordinary, there are some diplomatic sources who are saying that the Russians are suspicious of what they have gotten into and they want to check out to see what is happening with the Allied troops?
This comes under the Vienna document of 1994 which was negotiated by the OSCE, it is a document on confidence and security building measures in Europe, part of which provide for routine inspections and particularly where force is deployed outside national territory exceed I believe the level is 11,000. So this is something which Russia is perfectly entitled to do. The government of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where the inspection is to take place at 4.00 this afternoon, has given its green light and I can assure you that NATO will be co-operating fully, fully, with this inspection which is a routine one and which will last for I understand 48 hours. We have nothing to hide. Everything we are doing on the territory of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is totally transparent and we are quite happy, in fact we are more than happy to show the Russians the excellent work that NATO soldiers are doing in order to help the people.
Now one of the things which I hope the Russians will see when they arrive at 4.00 this afternoon and begin the inspection are the 46,000 chickens prepared by the Royal Engineers of the UK currently in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. I would like to point out, just to give you an idea of the good humanitarian work that these forces are doing, that since 5 April they have prepared 48,000 kilograms of ghoulash, and again I think the Russians hopefully would enjoy having some of that, they have baked 19,500 scones, hard boiled 16,000 eggs, in all they have cooked 129,000 meals, distributed 442,000 chocolate bars and 145,000 kilograms of fruit. I have the statistics on baby food and nappies as well, but I will probably spare you that, but as I say we are very proud, extremely proud, of what our NATO forces there have been doing over the last month and we are very happy to get that news out to the world with a Russian visit in the next 48 hours. It is scheduled to start at 4.00 pm today.
When was it asked for?
It was asked for I think 10 days or so ago, but there are very fixed procedures under the Vienna Document 94 for notifying these, for the time for acceptance and so on and the like. So we are happy for this to go ahead, it is a routine visit. We are very committed to transparency and openness in military affairs, and of course to the principle of reciprocity as well in terms of being able to inspect the Armed Forces of other countries participating in this regime as well.
Los Angeles Times:
I may have missed this, General, and I apologise if I did. You said there was a substantial strike on Nis and then went on to say that the hospital was not a target there. Could you tell us what was targeted in Nis?
Well you know that we are not talking too much about targeting, but in this case I can go a little more in detail on that. We did target the airfield of Nis because we know there are substantial aircraft and other military assets over there and we did target a radio relay station in Nis, but we for sure did not target civilian houses. But still as I said, I had to report in the press report, we are doing investigations and we will be very honest if anything has gone wrong, we will address it to you.
On Nis again, given that the Yugoslav authorities are right now conducting foreign journalists to the scene, I expect we can expect to hear and see more of this, they are talking about a hospital and a market place which sounds like downtown areas. Was there any target that was remotely speaking a downtown area in Nis? And Jamie, about the NAC meeting today, the General has raised IFOR and comparisons with IFOR, I think IFOR went in in December 1995 with about 60,000 men, is that the sort of numbers we are now looking at for KFOR?
Once again on the targets, I cannot comment more than I have said so far. Let's be fair, I promised you honesty when I started my job on Monday and honesty and credibility does mean that I do have to go back to and have to find out what has happened. So far, other than the press release, we have no indication about any casualties.
Dag, on your question, as I have made clear in previous briefings, the Secretary General just before the Washington summit, asked the NATO military authorities to assess and up-date where necessary the planning, which is what you would expect us to do, any military plan has to be constantly assessed and up-dated because circumstances on the ground change and they have of course changed and unfortunately for the worse in Kosovo.
At the same time, we have a substantial enabling force pre-deployed in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia which for months now under General Jackson has been training for its mission to be fully ready for rapid deployment when the time comes, and that force by the way as you know has been added to by German and British troops in the last couple of days, other enhancements from the Netherlands and elsewhere are en route too. So we are not in a bad position, let me make that clear, we have been anticipating this for several months, hence that pre-deployment.
At the moment the military are continuing to assess the situation, they will be receiving political guidance on how to do so from the North Atlantic Council and we will obviously in the light of the emerging diplomatic activities keep our planning and our preparations fully ready. Now let me make one thing clear. When the time comes and the Serb forces leave, NATO will be ready, we know our responsibility, we are preparing to assume that responsibility, and that is by the way one of the key reasons for a NATO core. Who else could be ready in such an organised way, on time, for this time urgent very demanding mission? Only this organisation would be in a position to take that job on, which requires a great deal of organisation and planning, believe me.
But as far as numbers are concerned, I don't know where you got the number 60,000 from, but I did see an article in an American newspaper.
Yes, it is true, IFOR had 60,000, you are right, at the beginning. But as far as the numbers are concerned, no, we have not taken any decision yet on the final dimensions and the final numbers, we have to wait first until we have a clear understanding of the tasks, the task that such a force would have to do, we have a general sense, but the specific tasks and the so-called troop to task analysis in terms of driving force requirements, and that work is on-going at the moment.