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Background Briefing

Subject: Bosnia

Attributable To: Senior Military Officials

Monday, September 18, 1995

Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.

We are offering this afternoon a background briefing on some of the weapons that have been used in the latest round of NATO strikes. We have two senior military officials with us who will provide information to you. They can be identified, for reporting purposes, as Senior Military Officials

Senior Military Official A: What we'll try to do today is cover this issue of -- really -- combat assessment, rather than calling it bomb damage assessment. It's the combat assessments -- the result of what was achieved. We're probably not going to give you the preciseness in terms of specific numbers that you're looking for -- and I'll explain to you why that is -- but that's the purpose of the two of us being here today. To sort of go through this.

To sort of set the framework, I want to use a few slides, if I can. You all are well aware of the things that are on here, but this kind of puts it all into perspective as to what happened. Some of this I went through when I was in here with you about two weeks ago, so I won't go back through all the detail of this. But you can follow the time line across here. The critical thing, of course, from our perspective, was that the shelling of Sarajevo caused the trigger events which led to the airstrikes on the 30th. You're aware of the initial UNPROFOR -- really the Janvier -- letter with the requirements to stop the bombing. There was an amplifying letter from UNPROFOR. The moratorium here starting the 1st [of September]. A second letter from Janvier stating some conditions. An amplifying letter from the UNPROFOR commander -- of course, the failure of the Serbs to comply with that on the 4th. Bombing resume. Then the recent moratorium on the 14th, based on the Holbrooke effort. That, of course, has been extended now again, as of 1600 Eastern Daylight Time for another 72 hours. So that kind of puts the whole chain of events into perspective and where we are now in the process.

I'll get to the next series of things and what's happening in terms of the specifics of the agreement in a later slide.

When the bombing started, there were certain NATO/UN objectives which we were trying to -- or which NATO and the UN were trying to -- achieve. Those two I think are fairly straight forward. We were to assist in the relief of the siege of Sarajevo and other safe areas and relieve the wide-scale interference with UNPROFOR's mandates as laid down by the UN.

In the Janvier letter -- which I think you all have had access to -- there were some very specific things that amplified in more detail those two objectives, not the least of which was: no attacks on Sarajevo or any other safe area, begin the movement of heavy weapons outside the 20-kilometer exclusion zone to open the land routes into Sarajevo, and to open the Sarajevo airport. Those were kind of the basic elements that amplified on what we were talking about in these two major objectives.

Throughout the effort of the overall campaign from the air as tied in by the RRF, as I mentioned, especially early on before the first moratorium, this is what was the attempt to achieve: to isolate and attack these kinds of target sets. And we'll talk to these in some more detail here in a minute. But I can't overemphasize the importance of that. Right up front, I want to say that the commanders -- the theater and, in particular, the air commander for this operation, the NATO air commander -- personally reviewed all of the targets and the specific aim points for this operation in being sure that it complied with what he thought was the right type of objective in attaining the isolation and attack of these kinds of targets while at the same time ensuring there was no civilian loss of life, or minimize to the max extent practicable. Also, to minimize damage against facilities at this stage of the effort which the military commanders did not feel was necessary, specifically against military barracks. You have seen some pictures already -- I think we'll show you some more today -- where we may have had storage facilities in a military complex with barracks. The storage facilities are virtually gone; the barracks remain. That's not to say at a later date those would not have been targets, but for this particular phase and trying to achieve the objectives set forth, it was determined that a direct attack against people in a building was not what we needed to do for the stage of this particular effort by NATO aircraft.

We're going to go through three basic areas now: the suppression of enemy air defenses or SEAD effort. We'll then look at the effort against many of the other fixed targets -- the air interdiction effort. Then lastly, I'll talk just a couple of minutes about close air support, because not much has been said about close air support. And I'm not trying to put some new information forth, but it's, I think, worth talking about for a couple of minutes. Some very few words that have been said, but I'll try to amplify briefly on the CAS part of what's been accomplished so far in this overall effort.

Suppression-of-enemy-air-defenses -- kinds of targets generically are shown here. They're generally in the right location. The objective of the SEAD was obviously to do this right here. The end state was to do that. I think a lot has already been said about this, but the other defense official will now get up and talk to you about the specifics, as best he can, about what was achieved in this overall operational objective of the air effort.

Senior Military Official B: In looking at this presentation here... Once again the assessment is listed first, but it probably ought to come after the target descriptions. These targets should track with what Defense Official A has briefed you on. They were a primary focus. There were some targets that may not fit precisely these word descriptions, but generally fit into these categories of command and control; early warning; and radio relay, particularly as they apply to the integrated air defense system, which is what IAD stands for, in case you weren't familiar with that acronym; and then the air defense weapons related to some of these themselves.

With regard to the integrated air defense system inside Bosnia, we believe we suppressed it adequately to minimize risk to our aviators and our aircraft, and to do the remainder of the job.

Senior Military Official A: You'll notice there are some targets in the west here -- you all are well aware of that. You say, "Wait a minute, I thought this was the general sector of operations in the east, why are we attacking targets in the west?" You'll recall that the guidance from the NAC as approved also through the senior leadership in the UN, was that we were to attack targets directly related to the safe area that was under attack, but we were also allowed to take out any of the air defense systems that we viewed as being threatening to the strike force. So it's the integration that has just been mentioned that occurs throughout the Bosnia Herzegovina area that caused the NATO forces to have to attack some of these targets in the west because of the inter-netting back to the air defense systems in the east and their providing of data. So that's how NATO came to strike those targets in the western side of Bosnia Herzegovina.

Senior Military Official B: This is kind of a washed out picture, but I think it's... Hopefully you can see that it's a tower. It was a little higher. The base of the tower has now been knocked away and the radar dish -- actually it's a microwave dish -- on one side has been damaged, and so has the top part of the dish.

This picture, by the way, was pictured in the haze and rainy conditions by a UAV. I thought that might be of some interest to you.

Q: (Inaudible)

Senior Military Official B: In this case I'd rather not specify which UAV. This, once again, is hard to see. The same conditions, a UAV. This is a control building for the radio relay site at Gorazde. You can see that it's significantly damaged. Once again, a bad picture, but hopefully you can get the idea.

I have a better picture here. This is the Prnjavor military radio relay site which was a key part of the air defense system. As you can see, significant damage to the building, to its communications antennas, and to the side of the building, and considerable debris thrown from the building.

This is the Lisina Mountain radio relay site which is in the west. It was a key site, north of Banja Luka and it was, in fact, the hub of the air defense system in the west for communications relating to air defense, and also a nearby site linked to it was part of the air defense system itself. This is pre-strike imagery.

This is the same site, the building in the foreground is now essentially destroyed, and the tower is also severely damaged. It's no longer an effective site.

I should mention at this time that the weapon used to strike this site, the weapon system, was a TLAM.

Q: Can we see the before and after one more time?

Senior Military Official B: Sure, a slightly different aspect once again. If you're trying to match up this imagery from image to another, that's hard to do because of the different aspect of the imagery system that was used to image this. This is, once again, UAV imagery. Here's the after.

Q: What were the munitions [that hit them]?

Senior Military Official B: TLAM. Tomahawk surface launched cruise missile.

I'll save the rest for...

Senior Military Official A: In terms of the air interdiction effort, this shows you the objectives of what we were trying to do. Clearly, as an end state, we were trying to get the Bosnian Serbs to cease military operations and comply with the mandates, to the extent that the air operations being carried out were able to do that.

You've heard from the Secretary of Defense in the last day or so in which he said it was never the intent of these air operations to fully achieve that desired end state, but they certainly did contribute to it, and that was the intent of it. This, of course, being worked in parallel with diplomatic efforts to achieve the same end. A combination of the two, then, getting us -- us being the UN and NATO -- to where we needed to be in relation to Serb military operations.

Senior Military Official B: Once again, our assessment of these type of sites... command and control, by the way, would be similar to what you've seen. The ammunition storage and supply, equipment and vehicle storage sites are much more substantial kinds of built-up physical facilities. That's particularly true of the equipment maintenance facilities. Large industrial kinds of physical buildings and facilities.

Lines of communication generally apply to bridges, roadways and perhaps railroads, and are a more difficult kind of target and the kind of infrastructure targets that take longer to attack and have an effect on.

Generally speaking, our assessments are as you see here. Lines of communication is actually wrong. It's not severely reduced, it's lightly reduced. Lines of communications. We made a mistake on the slide.

I'll show you some examples of this. This is a primary storage facility called the Hadzici storage facility: 26 May photo at the top; 7 September post-strike image at the bottom, showing what I hope you can see is some significant destruction of the physical facilities of the site.

Q: What would be where those three arrows are? Is that ammo storage?

Senior Military Official B: That would probably be some sort of general military storage -- equipment, food supplies, who knows what sort of storage would be there, but not the kind of storage that you'd expect from ammunition.

Q: Where was this located?

Senior Military Official B: That's a good question. I'm glad you asked. I anticipated that question. [Laughter]

I'm going to show you all of the pictures that are on this map. You're welcome to come up and look at afterward to get your bearings and figure out what's what. But I hope you can see the facility that we're talking about here -- the Hadzici storage facility is just to the south and slightly east of Sarajevo.

Q: About how many miles from Sarajevo would you estimate?

Senior Military Official B: Make it ten miles, roughly.

I'm going to show you a couple of pictures of, once again, this is an ammunition... That a terrible picture. I wish it had come out better.

The picture on the slide is much better than this, and I think the copy that you're going to receive -- you will get, I believe, copies of all of this imagery -- is better. My apologies for the poor nature...

This is also a very poor picture. Once again, the picture on the map is better. It does show an ammunition storage bunker literally destroyed.

A couple more images here. I hope this one will be dramatic for you. This is the Vogosca ammunition plant which is a primary ammunition facility just to the north of Sarajevo. In fact the destruction shown on the bottom is significant, as I hope you can see.

Q: That is where they make ammunition?

Senior Military Official B: They make ammunition and load shells at this facility which are then delivered to the field for use.

Q: Is that Tomahawk as well?

Senior Military Official B: That was not. All of these strikes, in fact, with the exception of the single images I showed you of the Lisina radio relay site, were struck by airstrikes -- with precision-guided munitions by aircraft delivering them. The only TLAM target that I've shown you here today was the Lisina radio relay site.

If I could just continue on here to show you the rest of this imagery, and then we'll get on with the presentation. This is also at the Vogosca site, once again, a different portion of the site showing destroyed buildings.

This is a pretty good one. Unfortunately, I don't have a good before image to show you, but hopefully you can clearly see there's a hole in the bridge. The sunlight is passing through it indicating that there was a penetration of the bridge's structure and likely the superstructure of the bridge was damaged also.

Q: Are you sure that's not the 14th Street Bridge? The Woodrow Wilson? [Laughter]

Senior Military Official A: We'll leave these up. You can come up and get those for reference later if you want to -- in terms of specific location of all that imagery.

Let me talk close air support for just a minute.

Again, the objective is as shown. The targets were primarily artillery and mortar positions, some AAA ,and as it says, some bunkers. This was all done in the first increment of time from the start of the bombing -- the 30th of August -- until the first moratorium on the 1st. Thirteen targets -- CAS targets -- were attacked. You can see the results -- four, eight, and one in terms of destroyed, damaged and missed.

The reason there weren't more... Recall that close air support was being done in the immediate vicinity of Sarajevo, and the objective of the ground commander -- the UNPROFOR commander there -- was to ensure that the city did not come under attack. Initially there was some skirmishing going on. Recall that the RRF was also putting artillery in on sites that it could see in trying to suppress the artillery, to prevent it from attacking the city. Since the shelling had totally stopped, the UNPROFOR commander felt that rather than attack these targets, it's best that if they're not attacking the city -- to leave them untouched -- because if we, in fact, start attacking them, it may bring on a large scale attack on Sarajevo. And number two, he was trying to leave the opportunity open to the Serbs to start moving the weapons. He felt that if they were under direct attack by NATO and UN forces, that they would use it as an excuse for not moving them. So he said as long as they're not shelling the city after the initial skirmish, then we're not going to attack them to give them the opportunity to move. So that's why there aren't more close air support sorties that actually attacked targets early on.

Q: None of this was artillery? None of these targets were attacked by the Rapid Reaction Force?

Senior Military Official A: Yes, some of these are artillery. Recall that artillery was attacked by the RRF.

Q: That's what I mean. When you say four targets destroyed, is this all close air support, or a combination of it?

Senior Military Official A: This is just the close air support piece. I don't have the piece of what the RRF did in terms of attacking specific locations and how many they attacked. But recall, we heard numbers in the vicinity of 600 rounds fired, remember, in that first increment. There were obviously more than that fired. Although the RRF assault tapered off dramatically after the first couple of days as well, for exactly the same reason.

Let me turn to this a little bit because it talks to the issue of when the first bombing window was -- the initial moratorium. And you can read the slide. Second bombing window and the existing moratorium.

I want to point out to you the impact the weather has had here in terms of this operation. You'll recall that in the Gulf War, while weather was not a substantial factor, it was a real factor for that part of the world. You heard people talking about it, the missions being curtailed by weather here. We had a much more severe problem. Ground fog almost every morning, restricting early morning deliveries. In late afternoon the weather normally built up to the point where you couldn't do weapons deliveries with some exceptions, as you can see.

Some of the red you see on the bottom was just that -- the weather was bad for a day or so at a time as a front would move through, and no weapons were delivered. That was no bombing moratorium, other than the fact of one imposed by nature.

But this gives me an opportunity to talk just a couple of minutes about the issue of weapons delivery. If this isn't helpful, you can stop me, but I think it's good to try to put into perspective what goes on in terms of trying to get weapons on target.

You're obviously having to deal with weather, but there are a lot of other challenges that aircrews face as they try to get these weapons off.

Let's just take an example of trying to deliver a precision munition such as a laser-guided bomb or a Maverick which the weapons delivery parameters are somewhat similar for, and the aircrew would have the aircraft up about 15,000 feet and be in a slight descent, maybe no more than 10 to 15 degrees. But I'll try to put the distances into perspective for you of what goes on in terms of the aircrew looking out trying to deliver a weapon on a target, and I'll try to put it in perspective of some distances that you all can relate to here in the Washington area to give you a feel.

Let's say we had a tank at the base of the Capitol building. In order to deliver a precision munition against that tank, the aircrew would have to acquire the target from a distance away of about where Arlington Cemetery is. So that's about the distance, a 15,000 feetslant range. That kind of slant range -- distance from Arlington to the Capitol -- is about where they would have to see the target the size of a tank.

Granted, the equipment on board the aircraft -- you're not doing all this with a naked eye, although you had a general idea of target area from target study that you're looking out. You see the Capitol or you see the general area that you know from target study you're supposed to be in, but you have equipment on board that allows you to see up much closer onto the target through electrical optical systems that help you make sure you've got the right target. Nevertheless, about from Arlington Cemetery to the Capitol is where you've got to see it.

You need to start lasing the target for a laser-guided weapon about the time you come over the Lincoln Memorial, and release it about that point as you pass over the Lincoln Memorial. Then you need to start your recovery maneuver so that you don't go any closer than where the Washington Monument is to the Capitol. Those are some pretty good-sized distances we're talking about.

Doing this, you're doing it all at an airspeed of about 500 knots -- which to put that in perspective, at that airspeed you can travel from the Beltway to the Pentagon in a minute. There are those who wish to get here in the early morning hours that way. It would be nice to be able to do it in a minute, but that gives you a feel for the speed.

Another relationship of the speed would be if you're traveling along on the Beltway out there at 60 miles an hour, it's ten times as fast as you see things going by. So it's a substantially increased speed from what you'd see in a car, as you would expect; but you know how fast things pass you by when you're looking up close, and even off at a distance. It's ten times that fast.

So things are happening quickly, and this is if everything's perfect. You throw onto this that a person who's delivering the weapon can't be looking out at the target all the time. They've got to take into consideration what's going on around them. There are other aircraft they're having to watch out for, and, more importantly, having to look out for SAMs and AAA, because we get target fixation, as we call it. That's how people get shot down. They're not paying attention to what's happening, they're having to pay attention to the weapons delivery, but there's a lot of other things they're having to look at.

Smoke, weather, as you can see here, and just general atmospheric conditions can also cause problems.

There's been a lot of discussion about the accuracy of the kinds of weapons that have been delivered. These are precision weapons, but there are a lot of very complicated factors that go into getting one of these weapons on target. And while we're getting an awful lot better at it over the years as we gain more and more experience, the thought process that every weapon is an exact hit is obviously not the case. Not only are these conditions prevalent, but you also have the situation of weapons malfunctions which occasionally happen where the weapon just doesn't go off for some reason. You can also have a situation in which you have an aircraft malfunction. The weapon doesn't come off the aircraft.

So you put all these factors -- human factor and equipment problems... We do an awfully good job, I think, in getting weapons on targets.

Now, am I going to tell you how many we got on target today? No. But I'll tell you how many we delivered. The reason I can't tell you how many we got on target, we being NATO again, I keep saying we and it's not the U.S. here -- I'm speaking from the larger context -- is because all of the assessment has not been done. The specific questions you have about how many were delivered, how many hit the target, and how many missed by X number of feet is going to have to come from the theater based on their overall assessment. But I can tell you that over 600 precision weapons have been delivered in this effort. Over 600.

There have also been about 400, a little over 400 other types of munitions such as iron bombs and 2.75 rockets. Most of those are iron bombs. So the ratio, obviously, is 60 percent precision, 40 percent... I wouldn't say non-precision, because the systems that we use to deliver these iron bombs have very sophisticated delivery systems, and, in and of themselves are extremely accurate, even with iron bombs. We made sure we used the most advanced aircraft systems we have, such as F-16s, to be sure that we didn't have iron bombs wandering around the countryside in which we'd have collateral damage problems.

The targets in which we used the iron bombs against -- there was very, very low risk of collateral damage. That's why we selected these iron bombs against them. Those in which we had increased risk of collateral damage, we used the more precise type systems.

Q: ...type of target that you consider low risk of collateral damage?

Senior Military Official A: I can't because I wasn't there making the decisions, but I know that was the decision process. I'm not sure, I can give you a specific target example. But it could have raised any of the targets as long as it was in an area in which there was no chance of any other damage except to that target. That would be one of low collateral damage, and one in which they would have had a high likelihood of using the iron bombs against.

Obviously, even if it was out in an area in which there was low risk of collateral damage, but it was a high priority target, we probably used a precision weapon against it. I'm not saying all those that had low collateral damage risk we used iron bombs against.

Another factor, another number which might be of interest to you is the number of rounds of ammunition out of guns that was expended. Over 10,000 rounds of 30mm, 40mm, and 105mm were expended in this operation. Most of the 30mm, of course, comes out of the A-10, the 40 and 105 out of the AC-130. I'll talk to you on AC-130 operations here in just a minute.

Q: Can you give us some of the PGM that has been used so far?

Senior Military Official A: Yeah. The majority of the PGMs that have been dropped have been the laser-guided two thousand pound weapon. Some other drops have been of one thousand pound laser-guided weapons. There were a few Mavericks fired. So that's the... Those are the basic... If I just limited it to those three, I'd probably have 90 percent of the PGMs that were released.

Q: ...targeting the...

Senior Military Official A: Hang on just a minute. Let me get through this, and then I'll get to all of your questions on various pieces here or we'll get off in questions and answers and I won't get to finish my little piece here.

Let me talk just a second about AC-130s because I know there have been questions about that. Where have they flown? What have they been doing? There's tremendous value in the AC-130 and it's flown very heavily in this operation. Obviously, we fly the aircraft at night because it's a big airplane, could be easily seen. While it has some very, very good capabilities against surface-to-air missiles that are infrared seekers such as the MANPADS that you see fired, it has good capabilities against that. It does not have capabilities against the radar-guided missile. So we have to fly it in an area in which we are sure there are no radar-guided missiles.

But as a result of the fact that the radar-guided missiles were primarily, removed from the eastern side of Bosnia, that's where it flew - primarily around Sarajevo. But it did do some work against some of the IADS targets and some of the command and control targets. For those of you that have ever had a chance to go down and watch this operation down at Hurlburt [Field], it's an incredibly precise capability. Great night vision equipment on board, so it can be used, not only for delivery of the heavy guns that it has on board, but can also be used to look on the ground at night and see things happening. So you can almost say it has, I wouldn't call it a reconnaissance capability, but it has the ability to see things at night very clearly and can be used to report that if necessary, even though that basic system is designed, not for that purpose, but rather for the delivery of the munitions on board the AC-130.

One other thing that I might talk about for just a couple of minutes is the F-117 deployment. The Secretary talked to that over the weekend to the press. Not to try to paraphrase or restate what he has clearly stated, but what he has said, for those of you that have not heard, is that for the moment the F-117 deployment is not being considered. That's because the bombing pause is going on. As he also stated, the Italians...? And the reason we've pulled it back is the Italians have said they're not ready to approve it, that's a quote of the words that were used, "not ready to approve." So for the moment, because of the bombing pause, there is no sense of urgency to get the F-117s over there and the Secretary, therefore, from his perspective, has said that at the moment, we are not contemplating deploying the F-117.

If conditions require the deployment of that aircraft in the future, we would expect that NATO would come back and ask that it be deployed, and we would hope that if that happened, that the basing issue would be resolved. But for the moment, as has been clearly stated, the U.S., because of the bombing pause, does not contemplate the deployment of the F-117.

I think, with that, I will take questions.

Q: Can you tell us what percent of the Bosnian Serb combat capability was affected by this?

Senior Military Official B: No. I'm sorry, but we can't make a judgment on a percentile basis of how much of the combat capability was affected. We can merely make the assessments by category that we have made in fairly broad, general terms.

The battle damage assessment, as opposed to bomb damage assessment, the battle damage assessment process is still ongoing. At some time in the future we'll attempt to make these kind of more precise and more substantial calls.

Q: Can you give us a general idea?

Senior Military Official B: I'd be glad to tell you. The combat capabilities of the Bosnian Serb army, of the Bosnian military capability, have been adversely affected significantly. That's the best I can do. I have no business giving you a percentile. It's just improper to do so at this time.

Q: Can you give us your assessment of what's going on now in western Bosnia and what the military capability is there as opposed to the Muslim Croat forces?

Senior Military Official B: That's a little outside the scope of what we are here to do today, but I'll give you a broad general statement.

Of course, as you know from other reporting in the west, the Croatians and the Muslim and the Bosnian Croat Federation forces are pressing the Serbs in the general vicinity of the western part of Bosnia. They're doing so because of their own goals, their own, I guess you'd call it objectives, that they wish to achieve. It's a disconnected issue from our bombing campaign.

Q: There seems to be, at least the reports I heard this morning from the UN, that there's no real fighting going on. You're seeing the Bosnian Serb forces pulling back. What's your assessment of what they're doing? Do they have the capability to defend Banja Luka?

Senior Military Official B: First, I can't make an assessment of what they're doing at the classification level we're talking at today which is public media, open press. So I can't give you that kind of information.

As regards whether they can defend Banja Luka or can mount a defense of Banja Luka, the answer is yes, they can.

Q: Will they?

Q: On the damage, are you still trying to determine whether there were, in fact, any civilian casualties, or have you learned anything new in the last couple of days?

Senior Military Official A: I think it's fair to say that, based on how quickly we saw photography of the damage near a hospital, a Serb hospital that resulted from NATO/UN operations, that had there been other locations in which there had been significant collateral damage -- either to targets that they thought shouldn't have been hit, or especially to civilian targets -- we'd have seen pictures of it.

I've also heard that Karazdic himself has said, and I hope I've got this reasonably close, that there hasn't been any significant civilian casualties as a result of the bombing.

Senior Military Official B: That's correct.

Q: Are you still assessing that, or...

Senior Military Official A: Obviously we are, as we get into this a little more and as the NATO forces get into the details of the BDA, as they try to look at all the bits and pieces of it and go back and restudy, especially during the bombing pause, to determine exactly what the level of damage is and what else needs to be done. But I think... And again, this goes back to some of the earlier comments I made. I've been doing this business for 30 years, flying airplanes. I have flown many of the airplanes that are over there operating in this particular effort. I am absolutely impressed with the quality of airmanship that I have seen displayed by all the NATO countries. This is a very difficult business in these conditions. They've had very tight collateral damage constraints put on them. The discipline displayed by the aircrews that have flown this is amazing to me.

I am surprised we haven't had more collateral damage, but it's a great tribute to the training of all the NATO countries; it's a great tribute to the discipline that it takes to be able to look down and say yes, that is the target I've been told to hit, and to get through all the things we've talked about to get that weapon on target. This is not easy business. They've done a great job. I've never seen it better.

Senior Military Official B: I'll just add to that. I've been an intelligence officer for 25 years. I've never seen better battle damage assessment results. That's not to say that there may not be collateral damage or some exceptional damage, in fact, discovered at some later time. But from what I can see right now, this is an excellent, precision battle strike against an opponent, and I've never seen it better.

Q: Can you give us some kind of general comparative between the accuracy of the precision-guided munitions used here and in the Persian Gulf War? Many officials, including John White, have said it's more accurate than the Persian Gulf War. Is it a lot more accurate? What... Some way of quantifying.

Senior Military Official A: I know that's what you're after, but I would be remiss in saying something. I'm not positive of my facts. I don't want to do that to you. It would be easy for me to say, of course it's better. My instincts are, from what I've seen, that it is better than it was in the Gulf, and it should be. We've trained harder, a lot more nations have them now, and we ought to be better at it. But the specifics have to come from the theater on, of the 600-plus precision weapons that have been released, how many actually hit the target, how many didn't. You've seen those numbers from the Persian Gulf war. It was about 50 percent as I recall, in that ball park in terms of hits. Is it going to be better than that? I would suspect so, but it would be a total guess on my part so I must leave it to the theater. When they get the BDA done, that needs to come from NATO.

Q: ...saying 95 percent for the precision-guided munitions. Is he accurate?

Senior Military Official A: I have to say he has said that. He must have some data which he is basing that on. I will wait for the theater to confirm or deny his statement.

Q: Since only 13 cruise missiles were launched, do you have a feel for how effective they were besides a general description?

Senior Military Official B: They were very effective against the targets that they were sent. They succeeded in destroying the targets, essentially.

Q: All of them?

Senior Military Official B: All of the targets that were struck by TLAMs, to the best of my knowledge... I think the best thing to say is the TLAM strikes were very effective, succeeded in destroying their targets, and leave it at that. There could be some additional information that will develop as we go further down the battle damage assessment process, but it's premature to talk about it now.

Senior Military Official A: Also, I think you'll find that NATO was very careful in choosing targets appropriate to that weapon system. That's why they went against what they went against, and they should have been effective against them because it was the right kind of target.

Q: Can you address the perception by some cynics in the media -- not including me. I'm simply a skeptic. (Laughter) But some cynics say that you're overstating the success of the campaign. And all the pictures we've seen are all the successes, the videos released are of direct hits, and you're not showing us any of the information that would show that it's not 100 percent effective.

Senior Military Official A: I think it's an awfully good point, and I in no way want to give you the impression that everything went exactly where people wanted it to, because we don't know that for sure. But we've all been in this business a long time, and we know that we probably didn't hit every single target with every single weapon that was released. It's virtually impossible. So no one is trying to convey that thought to you, that there has been absolutely no weapon that didn't hit exactly where we aimed it at, or where NATO aimed it at.

The specifics on the numbers is what's missing right now. I tried to get them for you for this session, but they just aren't available. I called over and chatted with the theater. They just don't have them. I assured them that I would not speculate, because of that, on the level of accuracy.

The reason that you're seeing tapes, for example, showing hits, is that misses would be uninteresting to you. Why would you want to look at a tape of a laser-guided weapon that missed its target?

Q: (Inaudible)

Q: Hitting a hospital would be...

Senior Military Official A: If it hit a hospital, you'd have heard about it anyway.

But I guess the other reason that you don't see them showing targets that have been missed from a military perspective now, would be that if it was missed, it means we've got to go back. We don't want to pre-identify the target. There is another very logical reason as to why they sometimes don't show you footage of targets that have been missed.

Q: The other part of that question is, you can talk about the accuracy, which is a mathematical calculation, but the other part of this is the effectiveness. Are you overstating the effectiveness of the campaign? How confident are you that what appears to be a breakthrough over in Bosnia is a result of this NATO action and not the result of other factors such as the Muslim-Croat offensive.

Senior Military Official A: Absolutely. I understand exactly what your question is. Unfortunately, as an operator I am not in a position to make that judgment. That's why we talked early on about how the bombing has been part of a series of things that have tried to lead to the overall objectives that the NATO and UN leadership are trying to achieve here. There will always be discussions about what part diplomacy paid, what part the action between other forces that were not UN and NATO played, and what part the UN and NATO played. I'm not sure we'll ever sort out which one really had the most effect in terms of a percentage. It's just not something you can articulate in those terms.

It's clear that there were three separate dynamic events occurring. One was the offensive in the west; one was the diplomatic effort going on; and the last was the bombing campaign. It's some combination between those three that achieved the objective.

Now I do want to make one statement, though, and I think this is an issue that has come up before which I think is only fair to make. That is, people are trying to relate the bombing effort directly to the Croatian offensive in the west. I will tell you as a member from where I sit, I never saw that connection, nor was there ever any intent to do that.

Was there a synergism that happened coincidentally? It's highly probable that that existed, but from where I sat, and granted, I am sitting here as a U.S. official, there was never any intentional coordination or effort between those two efforts -- in fact the opposite. We were trying to be very careful not to link those two. NATO had specific objectives they were trying to achieve separate and distinct from what was happening in the west on the ground, and the efforts that NATO was trying to achieve were in relation to protection of its aircrews and to ensure the safety of Sarajevo and the safe areas. That was the extent of what was going on with a NATO operation. If it had effects on other parts of this, then it was purely coincidental and not intentional.

Senior Military Official B: Can I chime in for one moment on the last question? If any part of your question was about the effectiveness of the weapons themselves with regard to the targets, I think the imagery that you will get and you've seen today, and the imagery that's been made available in the theater -- particularly the gun camera film showing the effects of the weapons -- is substantial.

This kind of campaign against these kind of facilities is very effective. There's no doubt of that. We have the Serbs' own words to prove that to some extent.

I hasten to add, if you're looking for collateral damage, if you're looking for some problems with the bombing campaign with regard to target effectiveness, or if you're looking for some kind of a collateral effect, political or military that someone took advantage from, you're going to have to get it somewhere else, because we didn't generate any of those negatives. We generated positives in each case. A good solid bombing campaign, good effect, and we had no intent to collude to with anyone else -- to include the Croatians -- concerning attendant military campaigns elsewhere.

Q: But while that wasn't your intent, do you think, nonetheless, that was the effect?

Senior Military Official B: As Defense Official A stated...

Q: You said the objective was not to do that.

Senior Military Official B: He said that it's entirely possible that some synergistic effect may have occurred. Of course, you can see that yourself. Beyond that, however, we can't really control what most of those other groups are doing.

Q: What's your estimate on... You said that the Federation forces are pressing Banja Luka. What's your estimate as to whether...

Senior Military Official B: I never said they were pressing Banja Luka. I said they were pressing in the west.

Q: What's your assessment as to whether Milosevic would offer his good forces to help his brethren Serbs if they pressed too hard in the west, especially around Banja Luka.

Senior Military Official B: Once again, this exceeds the level of this presentation, and I don't think it's something that I ought to speculate on in my role here.

Q: You have an assessment though, don't you?

Senior Military Official B: Sure, I do, and it's classified. Sorry. [Laughter]

Q: On the chart you had there about the air interdiction assessment, you said a C2 and ammunition storage were severely reduced, supply equipment moderately reduced, lines of communication lightly reduced. Can you define those three terms -- severely, moderately, and lightly? Also, how about the IADS? How would you define that? Was that severely, moderately, or lightly reduced?

Senior Military Official B: The integrated air defense system operated by the Bosnian Serbs was severely damaged, literally destroyed with regard to its effectiveness. I have to define this for you a little bit. The integrated air defense system, in quotes, was destroyed; but air defense weapons, some of them, are not destroyed. They remain. So you shouldn't expect to believe there will be no further firings of air defense weapons. But the command and control system, the targeting system, the early warning system that enabled these weapons to be most effective, has essentially been destroyed with regard to Bosnia.

With regard to the ammunition storage, the targets that were targeted by weapons and struck were either destroyed or severely damaged and beyond that, I can't characterize it because it would be classified and it would be too much detail.

With regard to the storage facilities, the same thing is true. Although we classify it as moderate damage, because there were some storage facilities which were not, what I'd call, completely destroyed.

With regard to the lines of communications, once again as I characterized to you, these are bridges, roadways, and railroads, essentially. Those were lightly damaged. They, in fact, were lightly targeted, and that's the point. In the overall effort, the ones that were targeted, which were a few of the many available targets, were all struck and significant damage was done to them. But there were so many possibilities of this category, and many of them, in fact the majority of them, were not struck, by the way, for a variety of reasons.

I want to add what Defense Official A has told you already, and that is that among the constraints here were extreme considerations of collateral damage and consideration of the infrastructure that might be inappropriately struck by military means at this time.

Q: How many railways did you actually target?

Senior Military Official A: Let me go to the last slide here, then we'll see if we can stand maybe one more question.

You all are aware of when the pause started. These are Eastern Daylight Times across the top there, and you can come up and take a look at it. I think we're giving you a copy of this anyway. But it shows the elements of the agreement. What's in green is what's been accomplished so far. This is where we are now, at 1600 today. This is the next piece that's supposed to come up. And where we are now, since we extended the pause from 1600 yesterday done by the UNPROFOR commander, General Janvier, and Admiral Smith, we're now out to the 144 hour point, extended an additional 72 hours to get all the heavy weapons out. That occurs at 1600 Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday.

So things are moving in the right direction, obviously. Significant weapons moved here. You've seen the number 156 associated with the right categories of weapons, moving as of this time. We see no evidence that the remainder of the weapons will not move by the 144 hour point, and we fully expect that the Bosnian Serbs will comply with what they have signed up to comply with.

Q: What's percentage of the precision weapons were delivered by the U.S., and what percentage of the iron bombs?

Senior Military Official A: I don't have the numbers for you. I'm sorry. I just don't have them.

Q: (Inaudible)

Senior Military Official A: I know I can tell you generally in terms of numbers of fighters, about 50 percent of the fighters in DENY FLIGHT are U.S. and 50 percent are not. Now what does that mean in terms of weapons delivery? It's all specialized kinds of airplanes doing their various part, but some people think that, of the fighters that are over there supporting DENY FLIGHT from NATO, that 95 percent of them are U.S. Not true. Fifty percent of them are U.S., 50 percent are from the remainder of the NATO allies.

With that, we're going to have to stop or we'll be here all afternoon. Thanks very much.

- END -

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Page last modified: 27-07-2011 23:52:12 ZULU