Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 620 - 639)



Mr Gapes

  620. And Macedonia, of course.
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) I go back to what I said, from Thessaloniki you have a very good dual carriageway road and a railway line which heads north directly to Pristina. It goes through FYROM.

  621. Did you give any consideration to the role of Hungary?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) I think I now detect where you might be coming from. I thought we were still in the planning phase, prior to deployment.

  622. We are.
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) Then no. Hungary is an extremely long way from Kosovo, with Serbia in between.

  623. I know that, but it is important to get things on the record.
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) You might want to ask me the question when we come to May last year.

  624. Other people will deal with that later. For how long did you anticipate that you would be deploying your force, and how did you propose to supply it and sustain it?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) I think I have covered the question of duration.

  625. You had no timescale?
  (Major General Reith) Perhaps I can answer this, because I have not answered one on duration. We went at five days' notice, and we were very much on hot planning, because nobody in the earlier stages had been looking at the humanitarian operation. So we went through the estimate process in 24 hours, having gathered my staff, because we were all on leave, having just come back from a three-week exercise in north-east Italy. We did not use any operational analysis or war-gaming. I think General Mike has covered that. But on these peace support operations, really much of it comes down to military judgment and experience. Both of us have operated in Northern Ireland over many years, and we have both operated in Bosnia as well, so we did have a degree of experience. When I deployed, I did not know how long I was going to deploy for. I was just given the very clear task of helping resolve the refugee crisis, and when it was resolved, I would be coming back.

  626. You were deploying and planning for peace support. That is the word you used. But is peace support peace keeping or is it peace enforcement?
  (Major General Reith) Peace support involves the full spectrum, running from humanitarian at the bottom end of the scale to an intervention operation at the top. It is the full spread.
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) Chapter 6 and Chapter 7.

  627. The essence of my questions—and we have been going right the way round this—is how far were you putting forward proposals which could actually be leading to a peace enforcement as opposed to a peace keeping model? Given that, did you feel that you had the political support and the equipment and forces to make that operation successful if you had to move to the harder end of the spectrum?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) There was no question during our summer planning in 1998 and subsequently that this force would be anything other than a peace enforcement force, in exactly the same light as IFOR/SFOR in Bosnia. The various drafts of the military annex which we were working with—which came up again, of course, at Rambouillet but they were modelled on the military annex of Dayton—were using exactly the same conceptual approach in terms of the use of force against non-compliance.

  628. Did you feel that your political leadership, political masters, appreciated that?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) Without doubt. That was the whole basis on which the planning was being conducted. Let me be careful. When you say political masters, of course, I am within the NATO context here.

  629. Of course. We are talking about a NATO operation. How well were your conclusions received by your superiors when you drew them up? Did they agree with them or did they disagree with them, and if they disagreed, in what respect did they disagree?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) No. The plan was agreed, because that is the plan we pretty much used when we actually went in. It was modified here and there, but yes.

  630. There were no political concerns that this was moving into areas which might cause political difficulties?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) No.

  631. There were no concerns that the force would not be robust enough to do the job that might be required?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) No. As the situation changed, we of course revised the original work, and no doubt we will get into this once we get into the period post deployment. Therefore the KFOR that was finally approved by the North Atlantic Council was substantially bigger, twice the size of the KFOR planned in 1998, but of course, much had changed in the interim.

  632. You talked about the original planning in August 1998.
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) Yes. It was finished by then certainly.

  633. But the decisions taken later were when in 1999? Are we talking about March?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) The situation changed all the time once military action began. If we can keep this chronological, Chairman, it might be helpful to us all.

  Chairman: We will now move into the pre-deployment phase.

Mr Hood

  634. What was it like to be in your headquarters in autumn 1998? We have the impression it was "greatcoats on, greatcoats off" as you repeatedly prepared to deploy but did not. Was it like that, and how aware were you of what was going on?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) If I can answer the second part first, we were acutely aware and tracking everything the whole time. I think I have already said that I was well served in every area of intelligence information. Was it "greatcoats on, greatcoats off"? Yes, but that is soldiering. We have all been there before.

  635. Where were you getting your information from and from whom?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) From a myriad of sources. Obviously, the alliance itself, downwards from SHAPE; from Allied Forces Southern Europe in Naples; there was a lot of national stuff coming in, both British and indeed other nations. There was a plethora of information. We never felt we were working in the dark.

  636. If you had had to deploy then, how well prepared do you feel you would have been?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) In autumn 1998 we were ready. We had done the planning, and we had exercised. We expected at one stage to be going in October. It looked as though it was going that way. Maybe it was wishful thinking on our part. I do not know. But we were ready.

  637. Were you concerned that many of the nations who had previously earmarked forces for the ARRC would not do so?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) No, I do not think so. We have to be careful here that we do not compare apples and oranges. The earmarking of forces to the ARRC on a permanent basis is, of course, an Article 5 collective defence mechanism. When it comes to non-Article 5 operations, national survival is not at stake, and therefore for any government concerned it is a matter of political choice whether they become involved, and if so, in what way and with how much. One was never certain until the force generation conference had taken place precisely what one would get, but it was pretty clear from informal contacts that certainly the leading NATO nations, as they did, were looking for a sizeable piece each, and since we had devised the five brigade structure, it rather fell neatly into place, with France, Germany, Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom being the potential providers of the framework nations of those five brigade structures.

  638. What was your own headquarters like? Were they fully manned, trained and equipped?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) Yes, absolutely.

  639. Were there any deficiencies or shortages existing and what were you doing to overcome them?
  (General Sir Mike Jackson) No, I do not think there were. The proof of the pudding is always when you have to do it, and when we did deploy in March 1999 it went smoothly. The one area where there was difficulty was over satellite communications, ground stations. They are in short supply, and that led to a bit of sorting out because we do not own them on a permanent basis. They are quite a scarce resource, and it was a question of prising them out of other users.

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