Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 860 - 879)



  860. When we visited you, you gave us an indication of the bombing figures, the successful hits. Last week, there was a leaked report, apparently from the US Air Force, with figures that diverge considerably from the ones that we thought were acceptable or provable at the time. Can you comment on that?
  (Sir John Goulden) I think SACEUR's report, which was made public, including the methodology on which it was based, is the best that we are likely to get at NATO, but we all recognise, as he did, that we shall never be certain about that. There is a fairly wide margin of uncertainty around that figure of 93 tanks, for example.

Mr Brazier

  861. You put it bluntly.
  (Sir John Goulden) We accept that there is a margin of uncertainty. I do not think that any other figures will stand up better. The key bottom line is that we bottled up the equipment that was in Kosovo. It was not used very much from the moment that we achieved air superiority, regular bombing and good weather. More importantly, we squeezed and cut off their life blood. We prevented petroleum getting through and that sort of thing—energy, communications, bridge connections—and we cut their life supply. We bottled up their forces and we hit very hard the 400 or so fixed targets that we set out to hit. The bottom line is that that was enough.


  862. You are not going to comment on the US Air Force report?
  (Sir John Goulden) No. I suspect that that pre-dates SACEUR's report rather than post-dates it. At NATO we take the SACEUR report as the best that we are likely to get.

  863. The US Air Force carried out most of the bombing so they would have a good idea.
  (Sir John Goulden) But they used a narrow methodology. SACEUR explained that his broader methodology was using information from all sources. It depends entirely on the criteria used. How many confirmations are needed to confirm a hit? You do not need to find a mangled tank to know that you hit it. Many other criteria are valid.

Mr Hepburn

  864. Admiral Haddacks, did you feel that the political objectives were adequately translated into the military objectives by the start of the campaign?
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) Yes, I think so. The key military objectives perhaps can be divided into two or three. First of all, in Kosovo itself there was the objective to disrupt and, where possible, to stop repression. That was translated well into the air campaign and the target sets in the appropriate phases of the air campaign. The other main objective, that of coercing Milosevic, was equally translated into necessary target sets in the air campaign. So in those terms, I think it was. Perhaps with hindsight, one military objective that we did not pick up on militarily was the humanitarian one which we have touched on already. We were unsighted on that, but the minute that it became a significant issue, as we know, NATO moved very fast to put in place the necessary plan. The answer to your question, essentially, is yes.

  865. Who was in charge during the operation, SACEUR and SHAPE, or CINCSOUTH and AFSOUTH?
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) The chain of command was very clear in the plan. SACEUR was in overall command as the strategic commander. CINCSOUTH was the theatre commander. The air commander at Air South was responsible to Admiral Ellis in Naples. Mike Jackson was responsible to Admiral Ellis in Naples and Admiral Ellis was accountable to SACEUR. That was how it worked. From a NATO HQ perspective the interlocutor was General Clarke.

  866. What about the planning?
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) In broad terms the planning was remitted by the Council to General Clarke and he then subcontracted down through his command chain. The planning is essentially a bottom-up process. The detailed air plan was put together at Air South and then it came up the command chain back to SHAPE and from SHAPE into NATO headquarters.

  867. How did the relationship work between ARRC HQ and SHAPE/CINCSOUTH?
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) I think in respect of NATO headquarters it worked very effectively, as it should. NATO headquarters do not have much of a perspective of how it worked below the SHAPE level. As far as I was concerned, it worked as it was supposed to—very well.


  868. It could not have been as good as that.
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) Of course it was.

  869. You must tell us, Admiral. This is the perfect organisational chart. If it worked perfectly, it will have been the first time in the history of organisations that it did.
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) The chart maps out exactly how it is to work. Modern technology makes it a much flatter kind of organisation than it looks in the hierarchical diagram because daily, as we know, SACEUR had a video-tele conference with his commanders. So metaphorically round the table are those three layers of command. They have a dialogue, decisions are reached and direction is given. It is much more synthesised perhaps than the stark diagram would indicate.

  870. If you have any additional thoughts on that perhaps you could drop us a note.
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) Yes.

Mr Gapes

  871. Sir John, things move quite quickly. Were NATO's planning and decision-making structures able to keep pace with events?
  (Sir John Goulden) Yes, they were, mainly because of what I described as the delegation to Solana. Having agreed a plan we did not then constantly update it in the Council. We gave it to the military and Solana helped with the interpretation of the plan. He was completely up to date with the military. When they needed fine-tuning or a political issue needed clarification, they would come to us and get it done on the day because the Council functioned daily. We kept up to speed because of the briefing arrangement that I have described which was daily or twice daily. The consultation was very intense. That helps to explain the speed with which we were able to go from launching the campaign to going to phase two, to going to the final targeting decision on 29 March. By 29 March we had authorised all the powers that the military needed for the campaign, within six days of starting.

  872. Is there anything on which you would improve or change?
  (Sir John Goulden) A lot, yes. That is the whole purpose of profiting from the experience and drawing the lessons. A lot of NATO's internal procedures need to be improved. Some of NATO's military planning arrangements need to be improved. The media structure certainly needs to be improved. I think that is all in place. Our ability to reach out to partners needs to be improved. We were not able to warn the partners in advance and lobby them in advance to get what we needed from them in order to maximise our impact on Milosevic. There is a whole area of what may be called NATO's foreign policy that has to be improved. The key matter that has to be improved is capabilities; not so much frontline troops and frontline aircraft, but the things that make them into effective military formations. The whole capabilities initiative in the European Union and in NATO is absolutely central to this exercise of learning lessons.

  873. I guess that there will be questions about that later this morning. I want to focus on the command and control aspects. In future, if there is a crisis of a similar kind, when would we know that the stage has been reached at which things should start moving in NATO?
  (Sir John Goulden) There are several triggers. Paul may be able to talk about the military ones. Politically, I think we should consult from the beginning, even if it is just a political crisis. We should start military planning as soon as there are signs that the political strategy is not delivering and there is an element of a security problem in the crisis that is evolving. We should make threats as soon as they are useful to advance the political strategy, but not before. As to when we should mobilise, I think we should mobilise as soon as we can. We have learned lessons from this crisis about early mobilisation, but we did not do badly.
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) We have learned lessons on the whole operational planning process which in this crisis worked okay, but were not necessarily completely coherent and joined up. In the wake of the crisis we have taken a very hard look at the whole operational planning structure and methodology and we have decided that there are better ways of doing it. In fact, NATO has now drawn on UK best practice to set in place the thought process that starts with a political military estimate, moves on from that to a planning directive, and then draws out of that various military options. We practised that process in this year's crisis exercise 2000 for the first time. There was a much more joined-up kind of thought process. In the same revision of this piece of doctrine, we have also put in place methodologies whereby politically the Council can authorise under NATO auspices the deployment of enabling forces in advance of any "act-ords" and so on for the main force. That is an important lesson.

  874. Was it a good idea to change the chairman of the NATO Military Committee a few weeks into the campaign?
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) Perhaps in a perfect world we would not want to do that. I do not believe that it had any effect on the campaign itself. There was a fairly seamless transition. The in-coming chairman had been Chief of Defence Italy and had been tracking the crisis very closely. He was in and around Brussels for a whole month before he actually slipped into the chair, so he was fully up to speed and ready. If you are implying that it was a problem, I do not believe that it was a problem at all.

  Chairman: We can ask General Naumann about that when he comes.

Mr Gapes

  875. Do you think that there are any significant doctrinal incompatibilities between allies and partners? Do there need to be any changes to bring the two together?
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) There are all kinds of doctrinal issues that arise out of the whole campaign. They are not so much doctrinal contradictions, but doctrinal gaps in the whole NATO doctrine library. NATO has frankly been behind the power curve in keeping its doctrine close up with its policy and there is a vast raft of work now in train at the moment in Brussels to rectify that doctrinal deficiency. Going back to the thrust of your question of doctrinal differences between allies and partners, I am not sure whether it can be classified as doctrine, but of course the majority of NATO nations have been accustomed to the thought of conducting warfare at the most demanding levels. Many of the partners have a military tradition that is much closer to peace support operations at the lower end of the spectrum than the higher end of the spectrum, so there were not incompatibilities, but there was a lack of experience and understanding in some of those areas. Those nations whose forces are essentially conscript-based, tend to have a different doctrinal approach to the deployment of forces overseas for other than collective defence needs. Most nations in that position found ways, through their parliaments, to overcome those kinds of issues. There is a doctrinal difference in the mindset between conscript-based armies and professional armies and the ease of deploying them. Those are being addressed by the nations concerned.

  876. Do you accept that there is quite a lot of work to be done in those areas?
  (Vice-Admiral Haddacks) There is a lot of work to be done in the overall area of doctrine and in a number of specific areas. We have touched on operational planning. Civil and military co-operation is another area. The whole peace support operations doctrine in a wider sense needs to be worked on further. Doctrine on information operations needs to be developed further. There is a broad agenda of work that is under way, and the UK is playing a major role in a number of key areas. The methodology is that they have established a doctrine working group in NATO, at which nations are represented. There are various areas that they have identified where they require doctrinal work, lead nations have been nominated and the UK is a lead nation in a number of those areas, including peace support operations as a single overarching subject.

Mr Brazier

  877. I have some questions on ground forces, but first I have a supplementary to an earlier question. On battle damage assessment relating to the Yugoslav forces in the field as opposed to the infrastructure side, looking at the breakdown of Wesley Clarke's assessment, which I understand has now been made public, they claim that less than 15% of all strikes were on dummies and only around 10% of strikes have been claimed by more than one pilot. The second is out of line with every previous war since air power was invented and the first is certainly grossly more optimistic than we now reckon about the Gulf. Why do you think that General Clarke's assessment should suddenly show that we can be so much more optimistic in both those areas compared with any previous assessment of any previous war, or indeed previous assessments of Kosovo?
  (Sir John Goulden) I do not have the expertise to answer that question. I do not think anybody else in the NATO Council has. All I can say is that General Clarke's methodology, approach and results are the best that we are likely to get in NATO. Everybody would recognise that it will not be a definitive answer and cannot be definitive.

  878. Do you know of any independent analytical organisation that does not think that he is grossly over-optimistic?
  (Sir John Goulden) I do not know of another body that is in a position to comment, except on historical evidence. Of course, each campaign is different. There is only one body that is in the position to bring together all sorts of information from the highest classification to the lowest, and then put it together and try to form a conscientious judgment. The figure that he put forward was a significant reduction from the figures that had been mentioned immediately at the end of the campaign. I think it was a conscientious effort to get it about right. I do not think we shall improve upon it. It shows that it was easier for us to hit fixed targets of a strategic nature to persuade Milosevic, than it was to hit targets that were moving on the ground in Kosovo. We knew that from the beginning. The bottom line is that we bottled them up and that was enough.

  879. I hear what you say. Was active planning for an opposed ground forces entry under way by the middle of April 1999?
  (Sir John Goulden) Planning in a general sense started in June 1998. Solana said that in public, I think on 11 June. After the defence ministers meeting he announced that we were doing planning, including for deployment into Kosovo. In the summer of that year, 1998, we received initial planning and military advice about what would be required for a forced entry and what would be required for a semi-forced entry. The next crucial date was 21 or 22 April, just before the Washington summit, when Solana said, with the Council's agreement, that he had directed the military to update all their plans, and that included ground force plans.

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