Examination of Witnesses (Questions 880
WEDNESDAY 17 MAY 2000
880. Did that include opposed entry ground force
(Sir John Goulden) Yes. Everybody knew that that would
include the whole lot. That was one focus of the updating. Thereafter,
it was quite clear that a lot of work was going on at SHAPE as
well as in capitals. After the Washington summit the message started
to come out rather more clearly that no options were ruled out.
That was a clear signal. Thereafter, of course, we went into the
period in June when we knew that if we did not succeed quite soon,
we would have to take a decision within days in order to meet
the September timetable. That was at the back of our minds.
881. That relates to my second question, although
you used the word "days" which has virtually answered
it. By the beginning of June 1999 how long did NATO believe that
it would take to assemble the forces necessary for a ground attack,
for a ground force entry?
(Sir John Goulden) Before we talk about the mobilisation
time, there was an important change that had happened by June.
We had completely modified the plan for going in on the ground
after success in the air. I think the original estimate was 28,000,
but then we realised how big a humanitarian problem and infrastructure
problem there would be and we virtually doubled those figures
to something like 45,000. The mobilisation was going on faster
as a result of that. We knew that we would have a much bigger
force in Macedonia, even for a benign context. Everybody knew
this carried an ambiguous signal to Belgrade that we had the basis
for a bigger force if necessary.
(Vice-Admiral Haddacks) In the wake of the Washington
summit when all options, including forced entry, were being reviewed,
increasingly we began to see Mike Jackson's forces in Macedonia
as the initial footprint and the CORE of what may need to come
next. In terms of deployment timelines, my recollection is that
it would take somewhere between eight to 10 weeks to stand up
and deploy the force. It was that kind of timetable. It was certainly
not less than that.
882. Eight to 10 weeks would be needed to deploy
the 150,000 odd for a forced entry?
(Vice-Admiral Haddacks) That is my recollection. I
may need to give you some follow-up advice on that once I have
883. From the middle of June, eight to 10 weeks
is taking us close to the onset of autumn.
(Vice-Admiral Haddacks) It was certainly going to
(Sir John Goulden) In broad terms we were thinking
of September as the critical time, the latest moment at which
we would have to move. At that point a decision was needed within
days of the actual ending of the operation on the 11 June.
884. I want to take you back to where you began
with not just learning lessons, but also implementing them. I
was intrigued by the question of the reactions to the refugees
which came as a surprise. Surely, a lesson that we had learned
in the Balkans was that pushing people around was a pretty effective
weapon. It had been used in Croatia and in Bosnia. Why were we
taken by surprise?
(Sir John Goulden) We were surprised by one angle.
We were not surprised that there was a major campaign starting
in early March. Before the campaign started there was an ethnic
cleansing campaign of great intensity in the middle of March.
We were not surprised that they were razing villages to the ground
using the totally disproportionate methods that the Serb forces
use. We were not surprised that they were pushing people out into
the hills. There were large numbers of displaced persons. By the
time we started the campaign there were 250,000 displaced people.
The bulk of our information pointed to substantial numbers of
people being made homeless within Kosovo. However, we were not
expecting, and past history did not lead us to expect, that there
would be massive deportations in that organised and brutal way.
885. Arising out of what was said by Admiral
Haddacks is the point about having plans in a bundle from the
middle of 1998 for various options. Why did those plans not include
the plan for the bad weather campaign? Why were we taken by surprise
by the weather at that time of the year? Surely, that had been
built into any plan because historically the weather was always
bad at that time of year.
(Vice-Admiral Haddacks) The plan had taken account
of weather factors. What was very hard to predict was the speed
at which the various phases of the air campaign were going to
be completed. As you know, we began dealing with the FRY air defence
system which, up to a point, needed to be neutralised before we
could, with a reasonable degree of safety, conduct operations
over Kosovo. That took longer than we had hoped for, but it was
always part of the plan that we would not have clear blue skies
every day of the week. We knew that.
886. Do you accept the proposition that as far
as NATO was concerned, there was a huge question mark over NATO's
capability with regard to intelligence at NATO headquarters, that
there are serious questions to be asked and hopefully lessons
to be learned and implemented?
(Sir John Goulden) There certainly are lessons to
be learned from the intelligence front. NATO, of course, does
not have its own intelligence-gathering capability and I do not
think anybody is seriously proposing that. During the campaign
we were able to ensure that the key people knew an enormous amount.
We were feeding the key decision-makers, including Javier Solana,
with an enormous amount of information, which he needed to possess.
I am sure that other governments were doing the same. In addition,
the permanent representatives sitting around the Council knew
a great deal that not everybody else knew because it was national
intelligence that was too sensitive to be shared widely or perhaps
too urgent to be shared widely. I believe we have a lesson to
learn in how to convert raw intelligence and all the information
from all sources into good collective judgment and assessment.
I think NATO needs to improve its ability to process, synthesise
and assess information. That would be the biggest single benefit
that I think we could get out of this on the intelligence front.
I do not see a need to set up a NATO intelligence capability;
I do not see much scope to distribute our own national and American
intelligence much more generously, partly because of time constraints
and partly because of the source constraints.
887. Was there some degree of controversy within
NATO itself about the lack of sharing of that intelligence?
(Sir John Goulden) No. There was more controversy
about the lack of information about what the Contact Group was
up to. The 14 allies who were not in the Contact Group felt pretty
under-briefed at times about what was happening there. That is
an area that we have to improve in future. It gave rise to understandable
irritation and anxiety. I do not think that people expect to be
given twice as much intelligence as they receive. The daily intelligence
that was circulated at NATO, plus SACEUR's letters, gave us a
very good insight. It was a case of them not receiving the icing
on the cake.
888. I want to return to a point raised by several
Members in relation to battle damage assessment. It is very important
because what you do on one day depends on what you have done the
previous day. Last week we had the media here and they gave a
convincing performance to say that they did not think that they
were deliberately lied to, which surprised me, as I thought I
had been. But if you had this crack intelligence of the world's
greatest super power, with its super intelligence network, and
you were getting these battle damage assessments and making decisions
on them, who, within NATO, was responsible for accepting that
information and then making judgments for the next raid?
(Sir John Goulden) First of all, the Council does
not receive battle damage assessments on a regular basis. Battle
damage assessment is a complicated process that produces results
afterwards, usually several days afterwards. We did not receive
the tank figures until after the conflict was over. We were judging
on the assumption that we were not going to destroy all the forces
in Kosovo and that an entry would, therefore, encounter resistance.
We thought it would probably encounter quite stiff resistance
initially because they were a strong force that people respected.
We were not assuming that all the tanks had been destroyed or
that X tanks had been destroyed. In our calculations about a ground
option we would have worked on the assumption that we needed to
over-estimate rather than under-estimate their capability.
889. In the end, the NATO Council, the members
of NATO, were making decisions about whether or not to continue
different types of raids. Your colleagues, who have been before
you, have told us that there was a veto on some sorties being
carried out. It went down the chain of command. It went up the
chain of command. People just said, "No, you are not going
to that target." That must have been based on the effects
of the raid on that target but also the damage caused elsewhere
in similar raids. No?
(Sir John Goulden) This is going to an area I was
not directly involved in. I do not think it was a major phenomenon.
It was right that nations had a say in what they were doing. It
was right that they should be able to delay a decision while they
checked carefully whether it was the right target. But I do not
think that nations, in those few cases where they did say, "We
do not think this is an appropriate target for us," were
saying that against the background of the number of tanks we had
destroyed or whatever. Their concern was basically about legality
890. Just a final question about the future
and the lessons learnt. Do you think that NATO should cease to
be so reliant on US intelligence for the future or not?
(Sir John Goulden) Quite a few allies do believe that.
It is a slightly difficult question for the United Kingdom to
answer because so much is shared and we have such good sources
of our own. A lot of allies, both from this and from previous
crises, have drawn the conclusions that it would be nice to have
other sources under their own control but implementing that, of
course, carries a very heavy financial price tag.
(Vice-Admiral Haddacks) If I may just add, there is
one lesson in terms of capabilities that we draw from this. That
is that the Alliance and the European allies, in particular, are
deficient in surveillance and reconnaissance capability. This
is something we need to take some steps to rectify. The question
marks over battle damage assessment were largely over the fielded
forces in Kosovo, not over static hard targets. So it is the deployable
surveillance reconnaissance assets we really need to do something
about in capability terms.
891. On the question of assessments, my question
is rather broader. Admiral, it was you who said that some assessments,
we could improve on that. Did you mean battle damage assessment
or strategic assessment? How would you define different levels
of assessment available within NATO and where are the improvements?
(Vice-Admiral Haddacks) You are talking in terms of
doctrine in that context? I spoke about a number of areas where
we needed to tidy up our doctrinal base. Information operations
was one. Civil military co-operation, which is pretty much entirely
a new game for NATO, is another. The overall approach of peace
support operations is a third.
892. But not strategic assessment? You think
there is adequate share?
(Vice-Admiral Haddacks) With the exception of the
intelligence input to it, which John has touched on, I absolutely
agree with him. This is the key area that I think the Assistant
Director of Intelligence in NATO has identified, this need for
strategic assessment capability. With the exception of that, intelligence
is in reasonably good shape. In terms of assessment methodology,
NATO needed to embrace a political military estimate approach
as the very first step in the crisis management.
893. You mentioned media. We had a couple of
sessions last week with a lot of BBC types who were not entirely
opportunist in their assessments. What surprised me was that the
conflict looked on the cards for months and months and months.
We had been through the experience of Bosnia. You, Ambassador,
would have known about the media handling in the Falklands. How
come it took so long before NATO got its act together? No criticism
of Shea. It is a bit like Georgie Best and Bobby Charlton in Manchester
United in the 60s, where it was a one-man or two-man team and
the rest were there to make up the numbers. How come it took so
long to get your act together? What was the catalyst for improvements
in the second half of the campaign?
(Sir John Goulden) The main reason is that we misread
from Bosnia. You recall we had two bombing campaigns in Bosnia
in the summer of 1995. They aroused a lot of press interest, partly
because hostages were taken. During that crisis the Secretary
General and his very small information media team managed. We
did not realise that a longer campaign of a more intense nature,
with an absolutely voracious press interest, could not be handled
on that basis. We should have realised but we did not. By early
April it was obvious that, although Xavier Solana, Jamie Shea
and their team were doing a fantastic and heroic job, it was not
enough. We were not getting quick enough responses to incidents.
We did not have good enough media liaison with SHAPE, so we were
not getting a coherent response there. We did not have enough
analysis of how the media was going country by country and what
stories were going wrong and needed to be answered. We did not
have enough projection into the region, particularly radio and
TV. We also did not realise how much the dice was loaded against
us in this particular conflict. Unlike Bosnia, we did not have
anyone on the ground. We did not know what was happening. We could
not deliver the stories and the photographs in the way Milosevic
could. Even early April, we were then ten days into the campaign,
we were realising that this was not going right. We made some
adjustment and reinforcement then. But it was not until the middle
of April, when Alastair Campbell came to NATO and had detailed
conversations with Solana, that we produced basically a totally
new plan. The Media Operations Centre that was set up was an immensely
impressive second phase. We had extremely high calibre people.
They stole a lot of our best people from delegations for a start.
We resented that at the time, but it was a good effort because
we needed talent there. We had 25 people or so from many countries
doing this process of rapid response, media analysis, proactive
article writing, projection into the theatre, and improving the
liaison with SHAPE. Those were the five things that really were
missing at the beginning. Next time round that Media Operations
Centre will be up before the crisis gets critical. That is the
vital lesson learnt on that front.
894. Perhaps Jamie Shea should reciprocate and
help Mr Campbell with the Government's rather obvious difficulties
over the last four weeks. That would be a delightful irony. Perhaps
you can pass it on.
(Sir John Goulden) Chairman, you have gone right off
895. From where were you deriving your advice
on Milosevic's psychology? Was this national intelligence or from
America or internally?
(Sir John Goulden) One important source was that we
had in NATO three or four people who knew him very, very well.
General Clarke had spent hours in his company over the four or
five years previous. Xavier Solana knew him very well. Klaus Naumann
knew him pretty well. So they were able to give us their own interpretation
of what was likely to be going on in his mind. We had, of course,
quite a few Balkan experts who were giving me, and through me
other NATO colleagues and Solana, an insight; and we were getting
intelligence. So it was a picture from several different sources.
Our main source was Clarke, Solana and Naumann.
896. My specific question is that on 12 April
1999, when General Guthrie, Chief of Defence Staff, was asked
about plans for a ground campaign, he specifically ruled it out.
I, for one, remain baffled that we did rule out a ground campaign,
when it might have had a significant impact on Milosevich's attitude
to what he might expect. When challenged on this, General Guthrie
said, "Presumably, one had to carry one's NATO allies with
one." Can you comment on that.
(Sir John Goulden) First of all, I do not think that
Milosevich was as comforted by those statements as you are assuming
now. He knew that Solana had commissioned planning on 11 June
1998 and that this planning had been developed. It was being updated
later on in April 1999. He probably knew that several NATO allies,
including some of the main allies, were doing their own national
plan. I am sure he found ways of knowing that or it was brought
to his attention. What people were saying in Aprilit was
not just General Guthrie but plenty of other peoplewas,
"It is not necessary at this stage. It probably is not politically
feasible at this stage." And although they did not say so,
it would not have been cost effective at this stage to be mobilising
troops. It was not feasible to talk up that option in early April
but by late April it was being talked about. When the Prime Minister
said in the House after Washington that "Milosevic has no
veto over what we will do" that was a very significant statement.
What it meant was that we do not need his agreement to go into
Kosovo. We kept on saying "no options are ruled out".
When President Clinton repeated that in early June, that also
had a very symbolic impact as far as Belgrade was concerned.
897. I can understand the option not being talked
up. What I do not understand is why it was talked down.
(Sir John Goulden) As you know, people in a public
position were not allowed by Parliament and the press to say,
"That is not a subject I will talk about." They had
to answer the question, "Is it feasible today or not?"
They were cornered. In that situation it was honest to say, "It
is not politically feasible," particularly since some other
allies, in order to be comfortable with their public opinion at
that stage, were saying "You can forget about the ground
option at the moment." That was going too far. What our Ministers
and leaders were saying was, "It is not feasible at this
moment." "As of now", I think was one of the phrases
that was used. "As of today".
898. May I follow that up quickly. If it was
not politically feasible in April, do you think it was, amongst
your 19 allies, politically feasible in June?
(Sir John Goulden) It changed in April in that everybody
agreed that Solana should commission an important update of the
planning. Everybody was aware in May/June that we were moving
into "no options were ruled out" and that the Brits,
in particular, were talking up the ground option quite a lot.
899. I understand about the Brits. I understand
our position. I am asking about the 19.
(Sir John Goulden) But that is important background
in describing how other people's perceptions were developing.
I cannot say that we would have got 19 votes on 12 June. We would
have had to work the Alliance very hard, but I think we would
have got quite a few votes very soon after 12 June, and gradually
we would have worked up enough consensus to get a decision. Decision
making in this crisis was very dynamic. People took decisions
at a certain time that they were not willing to take earlier.
Solana said that the most difficult thing in being Secretary General
was making sure that a decision does not come to the council prematurely
but only when it is ready. He was a master at that. With his help
and a lot of hard work in capitals, as well as in NATO, we would
have been able, in the end, to get a decision to deploy ground
troops if that became the only way of being sure of succeeding
in 1999 and getting the refugees back in 1999.
900. So that would have included the United
States being in support of it?
(Sir John Goulden) They had already said at presidential
level that no option was ruled out.
901. But you will be as aware as I am, that
within Congress there was enormous resistance to the idea.
(Sir John Goulden) We come down to personal judgments.
My personal judgment is that they would have been prominently
902. My final question to Admiral Haddacks.
You to referred the fact that neutralising the air defences took
longer than hoped for. How much longer than hoped for?
(Vice-Admiral Haddacks) I do not think we had ever
laid out a timetable for it. We had envisaged being able to neutralise
those air defences within a matter of days rather than weeks.
In the final event, of course, it turned out to be weeks. Some
of it never finally did get neutralised, but we did get down to
an acceptable level of risks to operate over Kosovo.
Chairman: Thank you both very much. It
was very helpful.