|4/23/99- By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON -- Before marking NATO's birth 50
years ago, allied leaders dealt with the issue at hand --
NATO's anniversary summit opened April 23 with an early
morning working session focused on the Kosovo crisis,
followed by a North Atlantic Council meeting. After the
"NAC" meeting, the allied heads of state and
government issued a statement citing NATO's demands. It
said Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must:
o Ensure a verifiable stop to all military action and the
immediate ending of violence and repression in Kosovo.
o Withdraw from his military, police and paramilitary
forces from Kosovo.
o Agree to the stationing in Kosovo of an international
o Agree to the unconditional and safe return of all
refugees and displaced persons, and unhindered access to
them by humanitarian aid organizations.
o Provide credible assurance of his willingness to work
for the establishment of a political framework agreement
based on the accords from peace talks in Rambouillet,
All leaders at the meeting pointed out that NATO
"has an obligation to be successful," NATO
spokesman Jamie Shea said. "We cannot afford to lose
this one," he emphasized. "We have invested
simply too much time, too much effort, too many
resources, to settle for anything less than our five
If Milosevic is allowed to defy the international
community, Shea explained, "it would not only be a
terrible injustice to his victims, the Kosovar Albanians,
it would also be a very major setback to all of our
efforts to build a new European security order based on
democratic values. It will be not simply an affront to
NATO and what we stand for, but to the United Nations and
the entire international community."
To accomplish its objectives, NATO intends to continue
its air campaign, Shea said. NATO leaders are not
considering deploying ground forces, he stressed.
"The message of the meeting today is that there is
no need to change the strategy," he said. "That
strategy is working. There is no quicker or more feasible
option on the table at the present time."
Air strikes are on track, Shea said, citing successful
battle damage. They are successfully degrading
Milosevic's capabilities, he said. NATO forces have air
superiority at mid to high altitudes and have
significantly damaged Yugoslavia's air defenses.
NATO strikes have destroyed 70 percent of the military's
petroleum, oil and lubricant stocks and 25 percent of
Yugoslavia's fuel storage capabilities, he said. Air
strikes have cut supply and communication lines between
Yugoslavia and Milosevic's forces in Kosovo. NATO has
only moderately damaged Milosevic's command and control
network, but allied forces continue to strike it hard.
The night of April 22, Shea said, NATO destroyed an
artillery battalion, a column of troops, 23 vehicles, six
tanks and a field command post inside Kosovo. "We
are not just hitting fixed installations in Yugoslavia,
we are bringing the pressure to bear, increasingly, on
those forces inside Kosovo itself," he said.
NATO allies are now focusing on further augmenting the
force, Shea said. More than 690 allied aircraft and 20
ships are now involved in the air campaign. Another 300
planes are slated to join Allied Force in the next few
U.S. Apache helicopters now arriving in Albania are
expected to be operational shortly. "We also need
further reconnaissance intelligence support
aircraft," he said. "We want to take the fight
directly to Milosevic's forces."
NATO plans to strike at the central nervous system of
Milosevic's regime. In the last three nights, NATO forces
struck Milosevic's party headquarters in Belgrade and one
of his bunker systems in the suburbs. On the eve of the
summit, NATO took out Serb radio and television it
considers part of Milosevic's propaganda machine.
Shea said the alliance intends to isolate Milosevic and
separate him from outside sources of support. This
includes implementing economic sanctions and placing an
embargo on oil deliveries. "There must be no soft
underbelly where Milosevic can get through the back door
what we are denying him through the front door," he
NATO has directed its defense ministers to consider how
maritime operations can contribute to halting delivery of
Shea also reported NATO progress in aiding Kosovar
refugees. Along with deploying troops to what are being
referred to as the 'front-line' countries bordering
Kosovo, he said, NATO has delivered 11,000 tons of
humanitarian aid, 85,000 tons of shelter materials and
716 tons of medicine in the last few weeks.
The North Atlantic Council statement noted that the
alliance would not tolerate any threats by Belgrade to
neighboring states, including the democratically elected
government of Montenegro, a Yugoslav republic.
"It is our aim to make stability in Southeast Europe
a priority of our trans-Atlantic agenda," according
to the statement on Kosovo. NATO, it said, will help
forge a better future for the region -- "one based
upon democracy, justice, economic integration and