Why Did Slobo Cave? (IV)

July 6, 1999

Comment: #297

Discussion Thread:  #s276, 277, 293, 294, & 295


Richard J. Newman, "A Kosovo Numbers Game: So where are all the tanks NATO killed? U.S. News & World Report, July 12, 1999, Pg. 36.

During the Serbo-NATO War, Defense Department officials claimed the increasingly heavy damage its bombers were inflicting on the Serb forces in Kosovo was winning the war, even as those forces continued to terrorize, murder, and expel thousands of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. On June 10, for example, the Pentagon summed it its efforts, claiming that NATO bombers had destroyed 122 tanks, 222 APCs, and 454 artillery pieces and mortars.

In the referenced article, Richard Newman says sources in NATO now suggest the jets may have destroyed fewer than 20 Serbian tanks, a similar number of artillery pieces, and fewer than 10 armored personnel carriers.

While his report is consistent with earlier reports [see thread], Newman moves the ball forward by saying NATO sources are confirming this information and are also beginning to WONDER why Slobo caved.

It is unlikely that the Pentagon will make a determined effort to answer their question, because the Pentagon's budget wars are about to begin and billions of dollars are riding on the outcome.

The lessons the Pentagon WANTS us to learn will shape the budget battlefield. A retired Army Lt Col, with three tours in Vietnam, put it this way in a recent email: 

"The coming QDR [Quadrennial Defense Review] is going to be a real bloodletter. We are going to hear how the USAF won the war in Yugoslavia without the help of a single Army ground pounder. Most of the Airman using the Douhet argument will not believe it, but they WILL use it in order to build a strong position from which they can retreat a little and still get what they want from the Congress. As usual, the Army and Navy will end up as the bill payers. The Marines will again not be touched, protected by their fairy godfathers. And if this continues, the Army and Navy both will soon be asking if they can be part of the Marine Corps.

Somebody needs to stand up and stop this counterproductive self-flagellation and rethink how we can achieve a better bang for our buck. That person ought to be a presidential candidate with hair on his chest. I frankly don't care who does it, but it would probably save both lives and money if it were done."

A bit impassioned perhaps, but is his conclusion wrong?

Chuck Spinney

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