- LONDON - Despite thousands of sorties with sophisticated precision weapons,
NATO's 78-day bombing campaign damaged just 13 of the 300 Serb battle tanks
in Kosovo, the Times of London reported Thursday.
- Defense Correspondent Michael Evans,
reporting from Kosovo, said NATO troops fanning out across the Serb province
have so far come across only three crippled tanks.
- Asked to comment, Britain's top military
commander, Gen. Sir Charles Guthrie, acknowledged NATO did not know exactly
how many Serb tanks its bombers hit.
- ``Mathematics isn't everything. I have
never been fixed on figures. It isn't necessarily a case of killing or
knocking out tanks,'' Guthrie said as he left Parliament after testifying
before a select committee.
- Regardless of how many tanks were hit,
he added, the bombing campaign was the main cause for the Serb withdrawal
from Kosovo after more than 11 weeks of airstrikes.
- Toward the end of the campaign, NATO
claimed that some 40 percent of the Yugoslav army's main battle tanks had
been damaged or destroyed and up to 60 percent of Serb artillery and mortar
- Evans, quoting unidentified sources in
NATO's Kosovo Force of peacekeepers, or KFOR, said the Yugoslav army was
adept at camouflage techniques.
- The report said that dummy tanks were
sometimes placed next to dummy bridges, with strips of black plastic sheeting
across fields as fake roads to delude NATO bombers into thinking they had
a prime target.
- Evans noted there is evidence around
the Serb republic that NATO was successful in hitting army barracks, state
police buildings and oil terminals.
- But he said that when the Serbs finally
withdrew from Kosovo, NATO counted at least 250 tanks, as well as 450 armored
personnel carriers and 600 artillery and mortar pieces.
- DoD Stands On Serb Damage Toll - But New Figures
- WASHINGTON (UPI) - The Pentagon is standing behind what
may turn out to be overly optimistic estimates of the damage NATO inflicted
on Yugoslav ground forces over the course of the 79-day air war.
- Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon acknowledged today that
an unknown number of the targets hit by NATO pilots were dummies and said
the Yugoslav army was well schooled in camouflage, which he called "standard
- Bacon estimates that the Yugoslav forces rolled into
Kosovo with about 1,500 pieces of equipment, including tanks, armored personnel
carriers, mortar and artillery pieces, and left with about 800, NATO having
- However, throughout the campaign the military resisted
quantifying how much damage had been done, and Bacon has kept to this tradition.
"The only conclusion that matters is we struck enough targets to win,"
Bacon said today.
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Henry Shelton
told reporters June 10 that NATO destroyed about 120 tanks, 220 armored
personnel carriers and 450 artillery and mortars. The destruction of Yugoslav
forces shot up in late May when Serb troops were drawn out of hiding into
a battle with Kosovo Liberation Army rebels near Mount Pastric in southwest
- However, media reports out of Pristina today say NATO
peacekeepers so far have discovered the burned-out hulls of only three
tanks. Peacekeepers have been in place since June 11.
- Furthermore, NATO reportedly has counted the exodus of
retreating forces and come up with a very different tally: 450 armored
personnel carriers, 600 mortar and artillery pieces and 220 tanks made
it out of the country. A number of fixed-wing aircraft also left the country
unscathed, including 11 MiG-21s that were shielded from NATO bombs in a
bunker at the Pristina airfield.
- Bacon said he was unaware of such numbers. "I haven't
seen those figures at all. I don't know where they came from," he
- Hostilities comfortably over, Defense Secretary William
Cohen today authorized the return of 221 aircraft back to their home bases
in the United States, and another 60 from the Kosovo theater to their European
bases. In addition 34 A-10s, some of which belong to the Air Force Reserve
in Massachusetts, Michigan and Idaho, will be moved back to the United
States and to other European bases.
- The 31st Air Wing, which remains at Aviano Air Base in
Italy, will continue combat air patrol flights and other regularly scheduled
missions, Bacon said.
- Cohen on June 17 convened a group to conduct an after-action
review of the entire American operation. It will be chaired by Deputy Defense
Secretary John Hamre and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen.
- That review will include an assessment of the targeting
procedures that led to the mistaken bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade
- 7. Bacon acknowledged today that a CIA officer warned
the military that the building being targeted was not the Yugoslav supply
and procurement headquarters as NATO believed, although the officer apparently
didn't know that it was an embassy, Bacon said. The review will try to
determine why that warning, expressed by the CIA intelligence officer to
a mid-level military officer, didn't make it up the chain of command.