Why did Slobo Cave? (III) -- How fake guns and painting the roads fooled NATO: Yugoslav Army and Air Force Left Kosovo Almost Intact.

June 29, 1999

Comment: #295

Discussion Thread:  #s 276, 277, 293, 294


Robert Fisk in Belgrade, "How fake guns and painting the roads fooled NATO: Yugoslav Army and Air Force Left Kosovo Almost Intact," The Independent, [Date unk, but very recent]

12 hr OODA Loops for SEAD missions

Bob Fisk, using Serbian as well as NATO sources, writes in the Reference that the Serbian army left Kosovo almost intact. In one of the most detailed reports to date, Fisk describes some of the BDA, Serbian deception countermeasures, and tactics that made this possible. His report is based on first hand observations made during 400 mile trek around some of the most heavily bombed areas of Kosovo. Fisk says the Serbian claims that they lost 7 tanks, 3 transporters, and 13 artillery pieces/anti-tank guns could not be disputed based on his first hand observations -- he saw only 4 damaged trucks, 2 abandoned lorries, and a destroyed jeep. Bear in mind, Slobo caved in suddenly and unexpectedly, so the Army did not have enough time to hide the damage to or the destruction of large numbers of heavy weapons before it redeployed to Serbia.

Of particular interest is a tactic the Serbs used to protect their air defenses, which apparently relied on timing ground movements to NATO's PREDICTABLE time cycles. Rigid, predictable decision cycles are not new—in fact, wags in the Air Force had a name for such mechanistic strike cycles during Vietnam—they called it the Dr. Pepper Schedule.

Fisk also introduces another hypothesis describing why Slobo folded his hand so suddenly and unexpectedly in early June.

He says a Serbian source suggested that Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Russian intermediary in the peace negotiations [see Comment #s 276 & 277] -- who also happens to be the head of Russia's multi-million dollar Gasprom project -- threatened to cut off all gas to Yugoslavia if Belgrade did not accept the NATO-EU-Russian "peace" terms.

We still do not know why Slobo caved, but the increasing number of reports describing only slight damage to the Serbian army suggests the roots of the reason probably lie in diplomacy and/or domestic Serbian politics, unless we are willing to accept the dubious proposition that the infrastructure bombing and 1200 civilian casualties crushed Slobo's will to resist. Perhaps the Russians put the squeeze on Slobo by simply threatening to pull the plug.

The Fisk hypothesis is attractive. It is simpler than the G-8 Trojan horse, but the Russian government does not speak with one voice, as the deployment of the Russian column to the Pristina airport demonstrated. Moreover, Russia may feel it needs to patch up its rift with the G-7 powers, if it is to receive debt relief, so perhaps the pro-western Chernomyrdin was working in concert with a larger diplomatic effort. If so, that puts his editorial threats in the Washington Post [see Comment #276] in a somewhat different light.

My current guess is that the Trojan Horse and the Chernomyrdin hypotheses are both fleeting reflections of a larger story that is slowly coming into focus.

Let us hope the real story emerges before the Pentagon starts spending money based on the lessons it WANTS to learn.

Chuck Spinney

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