U.S. balances refugee needs, war goals
May 28, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon says it is confident NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia will succeed in allowing ethnic Albanian refugees to return home, but is making plans for them to stay in camps through next winter, if necessary.
Defense Secretary William Cohen also said Friday there is no consensus in NATO for turning the conflict into a ground war, and he insisted the air campaign is succeeding.
"I am increasingly confident, given the amount of damage we are doing day by day," Cohen said.
He also asserted there are "signals" of declining morale and increasing discontent within the ranks of the Serb army in Kosovo, and he noted sporadic reports of anti-war demonstrations in some Serb towns.
"We're just going to intensify this until such time as we're satisfied that this can be brought to a successful conclusion," Cohen said.
He emphasized that the Clinton administration has no intention of introducing ground troops into Kosovo until there is a peace settlement with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
Cohen also predicted that Milosevic eventually will be brought to justice to face the war crimes charges announced this week by an international tribunal. "One day he will," the defense secretary said.
The Pentagon estimates there are up to 1.5 million Kosovo refugees and "IDPs" -- Internally Displaced Persons -- who fled or were forced from their homes but have not made it out of the country.
The number of Kosovars entering Albania has "increased significantly" in the past month, Lt. Gen. Mike McDuffie, director of logistics for the Joints Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing on refugees and humanitarian assistance.
Albania has taken in hundreds of thousands of Kosovo refugees, most of whom remain in camps around Kukes, a town near the Yugoslav border.
According to the Pentagon, U.S. aid brought to the region by air and plane, is about 20 percent of the total international effort.
In addition, about 3,500 Kosovo refugees have been transported to the United States from camps in Macedonia.
They're first brought to Fort Dix, New Jersey, before being resettled in communities around the United States. The United States has agreed to accept up to 20,000 refugees.
Gen. Henry Shelton, the Joint Chiefs chairman, said Thursday that refugee camps outside Yugoslavia are being prepared for the NATO campaign to continue into cold weather.
"Winterization of the camps will enable (bombing) to go right on into the winter if that is required," he said.
Shelton said the air attacks are proceeding as military planners expected and that achieving goals would take time.
U.S. to Yugoslavs: 'Turn over' indicted Milosevic
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