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NATO's seeming victory by air power alone would be an unexpected first

NATO plane
For the first time in the history of warfare, air power alone has achieved an apparent victory -- in Yugoslavia  

June 6, 1999
Web posted at: 5:47 p.m. EDT (2147 GMT)

From Correspondent Carl Rochelle

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It took more than 31,000 sorties by NATO aircraft and hundreds of cruise missiles from U.S. and British warships, but, for the first time in the history of warfare, air power has achieved an apparent victory -- in Yugoslavia.

And that has defied the conventional wisdom.

"If we had all the sound bites from all the pundits and analysts and commentators over the use of air power -- myself included -- who predicted that air power by itself would not work, it would be a very long list," says retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Dan Benton. "But it has worked."

Since Germany's failed attempt to bomb Britain to its knees in World War II, military strategists have believed that air power without ground troops would ultimately fail.

And despite what has happened in Yugoslavia, some military officials are reluctant to give air power all the credit.

"This particular case speaks well of our professionalism, the capability and competence of our pilots, the air crews all involved in terms of that application of that air power to this objective," Defense Secretary William Cohen says. "But it was a combination of factors: a combination of diplomacy coupled with the ... political isolation of (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic."

Air strikes couldn't win the war in Vietnam, and, while they were a major component in the Persian Gulf War, success ultimately came on the ground. So what was different this time?

"Primarily, (it was) the intelligent use of targeting," Benton says. "In this exercise, it was focused on those targets that could bring the most impact on the Yugoslav leadership."

Since the start of the air campaign, NATO has destroyed most of Yugoslavia's bridges and oil refining capability. Also, the country's electrical power was shut down periodically, and the bombing caused hundreds of casualties among Serb troops.

Another difference this time was that NATO's goals were limited to ending ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. By not demanding total victory, the use of air power -- combined with allied unity, Russian cooperation and a recent increase in activity by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian rebels -- apparently convinced Milosevic to agree to NATO's terms.



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April 14, 1999
The road to hell
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The Pentagon's plan
April 6, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Yugoslavia:
  • Federal Republic of Yugoslavia official site
      • Kesovo and Metohija facts
  • Serbia Ministry of Information
  • Serbia Now! News

Kosovo:
  • Kosova Crisis Center
  • Kosova Liberation Peace Movement
  • Kosovo - from Albanian.com

Military:
  • NATO official site
  • BosniaLINK - U.S. Dept. of Defense
  • U.S. Navy images from Operation Allied Force
  • U.K. Ministry of Defence - Kosovo news
  • U.K. Royal Air Force - Kosovo news
  • Jane's Defence - Kosovo Crisis


Resettlement Agencies Helping Kosovars in U.S.:
  • Church World Service
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Iowa Department of Human Services
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Immigration and Refugee Services of America
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • United States Catholic Conference

Relief:
  • World Relief
  • Doctors without borders
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (Kosovo aid)
  • Doctors of the World
  • InterAction
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Kosovo Humanitarian Disaster Forces Hundreds of Thousands from their Homes
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Kosovo Relief
  • ReliefWeb: Home page
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • Mercy International
  • UNHCR


Media:
  • Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
  • Independent Yugoslav radio stations B92
  • Institute for War and Peace Reporting
  • United States Information Agency - Kosovo Crisis

Other:
  • Expanded list of related sites on Kosovo
  • 1997 view of Kosovo from space - Eurimage
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