16 Sept. 1999
Press Conference on the Kosovo Strike Assessment
by General Wesley K. Clark, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and
Brigadier General John Corley, Chief, Kosovo Mission Effectiveness Assessment
GEN CLARK: 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 extraordinarily
challenging. 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
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.
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
BG CORLEY: 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
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 ambush traps.
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
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
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
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 validated.
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
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.
GEN CLARK: Thank you, General Corley. We'll be happy to take your
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 believe you.
GEN CLARK: 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 about that?
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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 conflict?
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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
. 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
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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.
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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 significant.
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
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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?
GEN CLARK: 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
GEN CLARK: 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 campaign?
GEN CLARK: 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
GEN CLARK: 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
GEN CLARK: 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.