by Mr Jamie Shea, NATO Spokesman
and Major General Walter Jertz, SHAPE
Ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon. Before General Jertz gives you his daily operational update, I would like to react immediately to the very important announcement that has been made a few minutes ago in The Hague by Justice Louise Arbour. NATO takes note of the decision of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to indict President Milosevic and four other Yugoslav leaders on charges of war crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is an independent organisation. Decisions on indictments are for the International Criminal Tribunal to take and are based on legal grounds alone. NATO has always supported the work of the International Criminal Tribunal. At the Washington Summit just a few days ago, NATO'S Heads of State and Government reiterated the Alliance's pledge to co-operate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal's actions, and to help bring to justice those indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal, including at the highest levels. NATO nations will also continue to provide the International Criminal Tribunal with information to support its indictments. Indicted war criminals must be brought to trial because there can be no lasting peace in the region without justice.
As far as Operation Allied Force is concerned, one thing must be clear. Nothing has changed. President Milosevic must accept the five conditions of the Alliance for resolving the crisis in Kosovo. He must stop the killing. He must allow the refugees - all of them - to return to their homes. He must agree to the deployment of an international security force, he must withdraw all of his forces from Kosovo, and there must be a political process that leads to a permanent solution based on the principles at Rambouillet. Let me also stress that the Alliance will continue to support the current diplomatic efforts to convince the Yugoslav regime to accept our five conditions.
I will now ask General Jertz to give his daily operational update. General, please.
Thank you very much Jamie. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
Yesterday was very successful for our air campaign. Enabled by good weather, NATO planes flew 308 strike sorties, plus 74 air defence suppression sorties out of a total of 741 sorties.
Today, let me start with a short overview on ground operations in Kosovo. Serb forces concentrated their actions in the west of Kosovo. We did observe UCK launching a major offensive in the Mount Pastrik area, pinning down Serb forces in that area. The Albanian villages of Boggai, Suhan and Gromen, obviously by Serbs' interpretation to be staging areas for the UCK, received sustained shelling. We have strong evidence that in central Kosovo, ethnic cleansing operations are still being conducted.
In the next part of my briefing, I will elaborate on the conduct of a combat mission, to give you a better picture of the complexity of an air campaign. This process, what we call combined air operation, is how we bring together the diverse air assets of different nations for the most accurate air campaign in history. To illustrate the complexity of conducting such an operation, I want to walk you through a typical operation.
Based on the cumulative results of our battle damage assessment latest intelligence reports, weather forecasts and staff recommendations, the Commander decides upon a plan of action for a 24-hour period starting with the target list. After the target list is reviewed, specific targets are identified and analysed in depth. An air task order details the appropriate mix, or strike pitch as we call it of aircraft to attack chosen targets. It also details all the reporting aircraft necessary to enhance mission success. Altogether, there were 7 Dutch packages flown yesterday. One of those included more than 38 strike aircraft and was comprised of Tornadoes, Harriers, Etendards, Jaguars, F16s, and Mirage, the aircraft coming from Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and the United States. The aircraft were chosen for their suitability to perform the specific mission to which they were assigned.
As these aircraft had been bedded down at several different locations, of course it did require close co-ordination of their take-offs that they were able to assemble at the right time in the right place. But there is a lot more to an air mission than just getting strike aircraft in position to drop munitions on their military targets. A wide range of other aircraft is required, aircraft with highly specialised functions, including reconnaissance aircraft, refuellers, fighter escort, airborne command and control, suppression of enemy air defence aircraft, and of course electronic warfare support.
But let me return to the mission. Aircraft approach the rendezvous point for the refuelling over the Adriatic Sea and prepare to enter the area of operations where they conduct their attacks. They exit the area of operations and rendezvous again with tankers for another air refuelling. After refuelling of course they are capable of returning to the area of operations for follow-on missions, until the ordnance is exhausted. I told you that all aircraft remain in communication, of course. This permits them to confirm their original plan or if necessary make changes based on the most up to date information whilst they are already in the air. After the completion of their missions, they return to their bases or bed-down sites. The duration of such a mission is up to several hours depending on the staging airfield.
After the flight pilots do have to go through an extensive debriefing cycle which can also last several hours. And once again, after a period of rest, of course air crews begin preparation for the next cycle of operations.
Let me now turn to yesterday's air operations, and keep in mind that some of these aircraft and targets were attacked by the strike packages which I have just described. In Kosovo we continued our attack on the forces and equipment which can be directly used in Milosevic's war against the Kosovar people. Targets struck included at least 5 tanks, 6 armoured personnel carriers, and other military vehicles, 10 artillery pieces, anti-aircraft artillery pieces, and military revetments.
We also hit a mix of targets designed to interrupt Milosevic's ability to command and control his forces in Kosovo and to further reduce Milosevic's ability to resupply those forces. Command control and communications targets attacked by NATO aircraft included a command post in a tunnel at Livadica, headquarters buildings and several frequency modulated relay and television stations as depicted on the slide. An amplitude modulated broadcast station at Ruma and a radio communications station at Stalad Pazof, plus supply related targets, including highway bridges over the Brevoniza River at Ratzkan, were also attacked. Petroleum storage sites at Kraljevo, Sjenica and Batajnica and some more supply depots as depicted on the slides and the general supply facility was also attacked.
NATO continued to keep Milosevic's airfields unusable by hitting airfields at Ponikve, Nis, Obrva, Pristina and Batanjica. A pre- and post-strike image of an important ordnance facility is shown here.
All NATO aircraft returned safely.
You may recall that I reported 12 surface-to-air missiles had been fired against NATO aircraft on Tuesday. But anti-aircraft fire was this time very aggressive. Yesterday, the increasing trend continued with Serb air defence forces becoming increasingly hostile. Perhaps desperation is really setting in, as they make a last determined stand to shoot down NATO aircraft. Paradoxically, the good weather that is helping our pilots to see their targets more easily, is of course, in turn, helping them to detect our aircraft and guide their missiles visually. Yesterday over 30 missiles were fired against NATO aircraft and anti-aircraft fire was very active. One of our pilots had to evade two missiles, fired in a salvo against him, and one, he told us yesterday night, passed so close to the aircraft that he heard and felt the turbulence as it passed and exploded near his aircraft.
In another attack, 6 missiles were fired at a package of aircraft attacking a single target. Our air crews avoided the missiles, which fell back to the earth. And, please, therefore bear in mind all the self-defence artillery and missiles that are shot into the air have to come back again. These projectiles may and will cause their own collateral damage to civilian life and property.
It is due to the professionalism of our pilots and air crews that such an important air defence system has so far failed to be more effective against NATO aircraft, even though we decreased them from the beginning on. We will continue to use the full complement of our defensive and offensive assets to maximise the effectiveness of our air campaign.
Ladies and gentlemen, Jamie, thank you very much.
General, thanks very much. Let's have the lights back and let's go to
Patricia Kelly, CNN:
Jamie, a couple of things on the indictment. First of all you said that
you want President Milosevic to accept the 5 points, agree to everything
that NATO is demanding. Does that not indicate that you are not taking
the indictment seriously and are prepared to continue negotiating with
Secondly, where does this leave the diplomatic process? Do you think
this indictment will speed it up or slow it down? And thirdly, how does
NATO intend to detain these indicted war criminals, this new batch, when
you haven't been able to detain fairly key figures such as Radovan
Karadzic? And if NATO pilots are being rescued when they are downed
over Kosovo, can't you use the same people to go in and pick out people
like Radovan Karadzic when you know exactly where he lives and what he
OK. Thank you for that battery of questions Patricia. On the first one
is NATO countries are those which pushed for this Tribunal to be
established under a UN Security Council Resolution. We are the
countries that overwhelmingly support this Tribunal, finance this
Tribunal. The United States supplies the President, Canada supplies the
Chief Prosecutor and NATO countries provide many of the other judges and
officials of the Tribunal. We therefore are committed to facilitating
its work although, as I stress, the Tribunal is an independent body, it
makes its own decisions first and foremost. NATO has co-operated with
the Tribunal, we are in the forefront of countries supplying it with
intelligence and materials to substantiate its indictments, we will
continue to do that and it is the arrival of a NATO led peacekeeping
force, a peacekeeping force with a NATO core, in Kosovo which will
provide the secure environment so far denied to the Tribunal to allow it
to gather the further evidence that Justice Arbour referred to in her
press conference just a few moments ago.
As for the impact on diplomacy, that is not a question for NATO, that is
a question to put to the International Envoys who may visit Belgrade in
the future. It is for them, not for us, to decide who are the competent
authorities to accept and implement the 5 conditions. The 5 conditions,
as I have always pointed out, are non-negotiable. We are dealing here
with acceptance, not with a negotiation.
As for NATO's co-operation with the Tribunal in the detention of
indicted war criminals, we have detained 14 so far and indeed the
majority of the indicted war criminals in Bosnia have been before the
Court or their trials are now pending. So I don't think our record is
anything to be ashamed of.
Secondly, the statute of the Tribunal is without limitation which means
that the indictments do not run out on General Mladic or on Mr. Karadzic
and therefore I would not hypothesise that because they haven't been
before the Tribunal thus far, they won't be appearing there in the near
future. Indeed I can assure you that Mr. Karadzic has had an absolutely
miserable life since being indicted by the Tribunal. He has lost all of
his power, all of his influence, he is a hunted man even before he is in
The Hague and one day he surely will be in The Hague. And I think that
is an object lesson to all of those who have been indicted so far or who
will be indicted in the future by the Tribunal.
And finally, on your last question, Patricia, let me point out that
under the Statutes of the Tribunal the states on whose territories
indicted war criminals are located have, under International Law, an
obligation to hand those over to the Tribunal.
Since he is an indicted war criminal and presumably then members of the
United Nations would no longer respect his legal authority, does this
mean that NATO forces would no longer require the consent of Milosevic
and the 4 others named, in any kind of a settlement that would be
required in order to send troops into Kosovo?
Bill, I am not going to speculate on those kind of circumstances.
Those, as I say, are for International Envoys, the questions to
address. Our position is crystal clear, we continue to insist that the
authorities in Belgrade accept NATO's 5 conditions and as I have said we
are going to keep up our military action until those 5 conditions are
met. So this is something that we have noted coming from the Tribunal
today but as far as we are concerned, it does not change the intensity
or the momentum of Operation Allied Force.
Mark Laity, BBC:
Judge Arbour said that because of the severity of the charges and she
felt that any agreement made by President Milosevic was essentially
worthless, that he couldn't be trusted to keep an agreement, what's the
comment of NATO on this seeing as that they are still looking to have
some kind of diplomatic settlement which will involve President
Milosevic's consent even if it is a consent of the 5 conditions and are
you still happy or willing to accept his authority as a Head of State to
back any agreement about NATO forces entering Kosovo?
Mark, as I said, it is for International Envoys to determine the
competent authorities in Belgrade to agree to and to implement the 5
conditions. It is NATO's job to continue its military action to put the
pressure on Belgrade to agree to those 5 conditions and we are not going
to be deviated from that goal which we consider to be essential.
Could I just add one follow up, you mentioned that you have been
providing evidence to Justice Arbour, is it fair to assume that a large
proportion of the evidence that she has used to indict President
Milosevic has been supplied by NATO?
NATO countries, yes.
Jake Lynch, Sky News:
Jamie, you say that the impact on diplomacy is not a matter for NATO but
Judge Arbour said that when she had been to various capitals she had
stressed the urgency of helping with gathering evidence on the chain of
command side and that she had indeed received relevant documents, as she
put it. Now that can only mean that she has been given intelligence
intercepts about the degree of complicity by President Milosevic, a
category of evidence which NATO countries have elected not to supply in
the past. Indeed the President of the Tribunal is one among many who
have complained long and loud about it. There has clearly been a change
of policy and that was adopted by NATO as a whole as you said at the
Washington Summit. When that policy was changed, what was the calculus
about the impact it would likely have on the diplomatic process in this
Jake, we haven't changed our policy. We have always co-operated fully
with the Tribunal. The Tribunal asks countries to co-operate in 5 ways
- by identifying and helping in tracing individuals, by putting together
evidence and information which can lead to indictments, by passing on
necessary documents, by helping in the detention of indicted war
criminals and by helping in the transfer of those indicted war criminals
to The Hague. On this, and 14 indicted war criminals in Bosnia, testify
to what I say NATO has a very good record and we will be trying
obviously to improve upon that record in the future. NATO countries
will co-operate fully.
Are you saying that there are not in existence intelligence intercept
about the degree of complicity of President in Milosevic in Bosnia which
have not been supplied to the Court.
Jake, clearly if the Justice Arbour in the full independence of her role
has taken the decision today, not only against President Milosevic but
against 4 other Yugoslav leaders, it is clear that she feels that she
has sufficient information, sufficient indications, for that indictment
to be formalised and made public. It's not for me to comment on the
nature of that material. In her press conference, Justice Arbour, for
good legal reasons, would not be drawn on that and I am not going to be
drawn on that either.
Antonio Esteves Martins, RTP:
Thank you Jamie. This is not good news for the peace process that we
are on now and I wonder if you have an explanation for the hurry of
getting this indictment now because the same Tribunal has waited 5 years
and so far the 3 Generals that were busy in the ethnic cleansing in
Krijena, including also the President of Croatia, President Tudjman,
they haven't still got their indictments. So why in this process when
everybody is so busy putting people together at the table, waiting for
Milosevic to say yes to the 5 conditions or to accept the United Nations
Resolution to make this thing go so quickly because obviously this is
only going to stop or delay the peace process and obviously we should
not forget that so many people are still inside Kosovo and if there is
a resolution or if there is an acceptance of the 5 points, those people
could be saved?
Antonio, Justice Arbour pointed out in her press conference that under
Article 8 of the Tribunal Statute she has a duty and an obligation to
bring indictments once the necessary materials have been collected.
That is her independent role, we respect that. As Justice Arbour said,
there is never a bad time for justice. It's never too early, nor too
late for International Law to be observed and to be upheld. That is the
position of the Allies as well.
Thirdly, if you are implying, which I don't believe you are, but if you
are implying that there is an incompatibility between a political
solution and justice, I profoundly disagree.
Jamie, you have been saying that Milosevic really has no choice but to
accept the 5 conditions and that he is boxed in. But doesn't this
really give him no incentive to accept the 5 conditions?
All I can say Andrew is that last night 700 aircraft were involved in an
operation to be persuasive.
Is NATO ready to ask for a condition number 6 now, I mean co-operate
with The Hague.
No we are totally content with 5 Carlos and we have been co-operating
with the Tribunal for the last 5 years extremely actively. We therefore
don't need to invent that co-operation, it exists and the visits here
recently by Justice Arbour testify to that.
Doug Hamilton, Reuters:
For General Jertz, can you tell us more about this upsurge of Yugoslav
surface to air missile activity to 33 which is a figure I don't think
we've seen before, and can you tell us some specifics about the plane
that felt one go by and can you tell us why you think this is
As I have already said, this trend to shoot more missiles against NATO
aircraft obviously has what I said a kind of desperation but what we
still see of course is that they are shooting unguided missiles, they
are shooting as many as they can just to, in my opinion, our opinion, to
make sure that they have for sure hit an aircraft just by chance. And
that may be the cause and one could think that maybe he thinks the war,
the conflict is over pretty soon and he tries to get rid of the last
missiles he has and he tries to claim one more victory which we are sure
will not happen. Most of the radars have been destroyed so far, that is
one of the reasons why the missiles have to be unguided, and they are
unguided, and as I already indicated, the weather has been better now
and it is one of the reasons why his missiles can be used visually,
using visual optical tracking devices rather than radar devices, and
that is for sure another reason why obviously the increasing of air
defence is taking place so far.