The Air Campaign against Yugoslavia

From May 1999


Click for materials on the 7 May 1999 bombing of the PRC Embassy in Belgrade.

Click for reportage on spies in NATO providing the Serbs with the details of allied bombing raids.

Materials presented in chronological order.

Newman, Richard J. "Scoping Serbian Targets from an Air Force Surveillance Jet." U.S. News & World Report, 3 May 1999, 38.

Two of the Air Force's four E-8C JSTARS (joint surveillance and target attack radar system) airplanes are now flying in the Kosovo theater of operations. Serbian tactics of intermixing military and civilian vehicles and the rugged terrain have reduced the effectiveness of the JSTARS' cloud-penetrating radar.

Branigin, William. "U.S. Classified Data Placed Milosevic in Chain of Command." Washington Post, 28 May 1999, A30.

According to U.S. officials on 27 May 1999, U.S. intelligence information was turned over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague prior to the indicting of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his top aides for crimes against the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo. The information was "collected by the Interagency Balkan Task Force, an intelligence unit housed at the CIA" that includes DIA, NSA, and INR representatives. "Among the material is overhead imagery from satellites or U.S. reconnaissance planes and other unspecified information from 'national technical means,' a rubric that includes electronic intercepts by intelligence-gathering equipment carried aboard satellites or planes such as the RC-135 'Rivet Joint' surveillance aircraft."

Vistica, Gregory L. "Cyberwar and Sabotage." Newsweek, 31 May 1999, 38.

According to "senior intelligence officials," President Clinton has issued a "finding" authorizing the CIA to begin a two-part covert action "to get at [Yugoslav President] Milosevic." The CIA will not only train Kosovar rebels in sabotage, but will also "conduct a cyberwar..., using government hackers to tap into foreign banks and ... 'diddle with Milosevic's bank accounts'.... [S]ome intelligence officials ... worry that the finding was put together too hastily, and that the potential consequences haven't been fully thought out." Serious questions have been raised about both aspects of the plan.

Clark comment: Reading about a top-secret "finding" in the open media does not give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Is this cyberwar bit a trial balloon? Or a real leak? If it is a leak, is it from the Congress or the Executive Branch? Or is it merely a propaganda scare-tactic in the war of nerves against the Serb leader? If I had to vote, I would lean to the latter. It is almost inconceivable to me that the United States would risk such a potentially destabilizing move against the international banking system.

Verton, Daniel. "JSTARS Flies High over Yugoslavia." Federal Computer Week, 31 May 1999. []

A squadron of Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft has been deployed from the Air Force's 60th Air Expeditionary Wing, stationed at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany, to the Balkans "to help pilots flying in support of NATO's Operation Allied Force locate, track and attack Serb army units. Using ... sophisticated radar sensors and data communications systems, JSTARS function as mobile surveillance, reconnaissance and control centers, detecting enemy tanks, trucks and other targets on the ground and directing fighter/attack aircraft to them."

Becker, Elizabeth. "They're Unmanned, They Fly Low, and They Get the Picture." New York Times, 3 Jun. 1999. []

"[L]ight unmanned aerial vehicles known as drones are crisscrossing the skies over Kosovo, acting as electronic scouts, finding and filming elusive targets, especially Serbian troops hidden in bunkers or woods, and sending those images immediately to fighter jets overhead.... The United States Army Hunter surveillance plane flies from the Skopje [Macedonia] airfield. The more sophisticated unmanned Air Force Predator is based in Bosnia, at Tuzla, according to NATO and Pentagon officials."

Risen, James. "Covert Plan Said to Take Aim at Milosevic's Hold on Power." New York Times, 18 Jun. 1999. []

According to U.S. officials, President Clinton has signed a "presidential finding" for a CIA covert action program "to try to destabilize the Yugoslav Government of Slobodan Milosevic." Clark comment: Richard Carpenter found the following quote hilarious: "Few details of the new covert action plan ... are known." I agree that we should all protest keeping a covert action plan secret like that. See also, Bill Gertz, "Clinton Plans CIA Operation that Would Unseat Milosevic," Washington Times National Weekly Edition, 5-11 Jul. 1999, 15.

Drake, Jessica. "NRO Worries that Techniques in Yugoslavia May Have Been Exposed." Aerospace Daily, 9 Jul. 1999.

NRO Director Keith Hall said on 8 July 1999 that the NRO "debuted several important capabilities during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia, but is concerned that some of its techniques may have been exposed to potential adversaries."

Berkowitz, Bruce D. "Operation Backfire: Covert Action Against Milosevic Is Neither Secret Nor Smart." Washington Post, 18 Jul. 1999, B1.

"Almost any operation that can be carried out as a covert operation -- propaganda, support of insurgents, political action -- also can be carried out overtly. Covertness usually makes operations harder, not easier, and much more risky. It makes sense only when deniability is essential for the success of an operation.... In the case of Serbia, ... it is hard to understand why an effort to overthrow Milosevic needs to be covert."

BBC. "Swede's Secret Channel to Milosevic." 9 Mar. 2000. []

According to a BBC documentary, "Moral Combat: NATO at War," Swedish-born "Peter Castenfelt, chairman of the London-based financial firm Archipelago Enterprises," met secretly in Belgrade during the war with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. "His meetings are believed to have cleared the way for Mr Milosevic's acceptance of the peace plan on 4 June [1999]. Briefed by Russian officials during a visit to the Kremlin in late May, Mr Castenfelt played what sources say was a critical role in convincing Mr Milosevic that Moscow would not come to his aid." See also Richard Norton-Taylor, "Mystery Swede with Kremlin Links Who Helped End War," The Guardian, 9 Mar. 2000, also quoting the BBC documentary.


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