Battle Damage Assessment
127 There is a general consensus that all was
not well with NATO and UK BDA. As far as UK is concerned this
has been recognised. The MoD's Lessons from the Crisis reports
In the light of our experience
during the air campaign, the UK national Battle Damage Assessment/targeting
process has been fully reviewed and a series of recommendations
for follow-up action highlighted. These include:
the need to ensure the most appropriate
mix of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets is
available to provide Battle Damage Assessment;
sufficient background information should be compiled
to enable the accurate assessment of the impact of operations
and of an adversary's remaining capability;
and the limitations of the human eye and weapons systems
video should be recognised and, where possible, supporting intelligence
The Chief of Joint Operations explained to us
... the need to improve our
surveillance and target acquisition capabilities and [to] identify
those targets, particularly those in the field, which are very
difficult to identify. This would give us an increased ... capability
to see what we have achieved.
The MoD has also confirmed that it will include all
the recommendations on the BDA process in future standing operating
the US, further study is underway within the Department of Defense
to integrate the findings of all available data and to develop
insights 'on a variety of important topics'. These topics include
understanding attack effectiveness, what systems proved most accurate
and timely in helping the assessment of attack effectiveness,
and how should the inevitable uncertainty over this information
be handled. Work
to improve battle damage assessment capability is overdue.
128 The MoD's short answer to the question 'How much
damage was done?' was 'Enough'.
Although there is no doubt that the air operations had a substantial
effect, a number of questions remain unanswered. General Wesley
Clark analysed the campaign constraints with some precision in
an address to the Brookings Institute on 8 June 2000
In order to run the campaign
and look at the trade-offs involved, we set up something new,
which we called measures of merit. These weren't exactly objectives.
They were the trade-offs that were designed to give us the right
balance of effort and risk and so forth ... The first requirement
was to avoid losses, principally losses of aircraft. The reason
was, this had to be an air campaign of indefinite duration. We
knew at the outset that you can't start an air campaign if you
go into it losing four, five, six aircraft a day, with the ...
headlines screaming that "NATO loses 12th aircraft,"
"NATO loses 30th aircraft," "because then the clock's
ticking. And in order for this campaign to work, we knew the air
campaign had to continue indefinitely. The key to that was to
minimize, avoid if possible, the losses of aircraft ... Early
on, we also knew that we were going to have a risk to our forces
in Bosnia and in Macedonia, and so we put a lot of emphasis on
that. We knew we could strike fixed targets, but could we impact
Serb forces in Kosovo? I put that in there as a second measure
of merit, and I worked it every day during the operation. We had
to minimize collateral damage, and we had to maintain Alliance
cohesion ... the reason this was useful at the strategic level
is because trade-offs were involved. If you want to go and take
greater risks with your aircraft, you may suffer losses; you may
be able to do more against the Serb forces in Kosovo, or you may
be able to further reduce collateral damage. If you are not going
after the Serb forces in Kosovo, perhaps that has an impact on
Alliance cohesion. If you don't bring the full Alliance on board,
with the strategy and the targetting, in some way that meets their
needs, then you lose alliance cohesion ...We knew we had to succeed
in all four measures of merit to make the air campaign work, and
that's what we did.
These political realities will continue to be a feature
of future NATO operations. But questions remain. Could a more
intense operation earlier have produced a result earlier? Could
concentration on different target sets have produced earlier results?
Could a different choice of weapons have produced earlier results?
Would less intense operations have delayed Milosevic's concession?
These questions cannot all be answered with certaintythat
does not mean that some attempt should not be made to do so. We
do not have access to the information needed to try to answer
them. But for the MoD to say that "enough"
damage was done is not good enough. The MoD, and the Alliance
more generally, cannot simply rely on the response that because
Milosevic conceded, the campaign was a success. They need to demonstrate
that they have seriously addressed these questions before they
are faced with another situation in which recourse to military
force for coercive diplomacy is chosen.
129 There are also some practical lessons to be tackled
which arise out of the experience of the air campaign. NATO
needs to have an improved and standardised target approval methodology
in future. The level of national scrutiny should be limited to
only the most sensitive targets. NATO must ensure that combat
assessment teams are staffed by those who would not have restrictions
on their access to information because of its classification.
Sufficient analysis needs to have been carried out before hostilities
begin to enable targets to be matched with specific mission objectives.
249 Cm 4724, para 7.16 Back
p 69 Back
925-930. On 28 November 1999, Mr John Sweeney, writing in The
Observer, alleged that the targetting of the Chinese Embassy
was deliberate (by the USA). We wrote to him inviting him to
substantiate his claims on 20 July 2000, but have received no
Rights Watch, op cit, p 7 Back
255 ibid Back
4724, para 3.1 Back
1, 2 and 47 Back
727, Q 731, Q 974 Back
7, 318 Back
262 www.brook.edu/comm/transcripts/20000608/keynote.htm Back
p 266, para 99 Back
p 245, para 26 Back
p 266, para 99 Back
4724 para 7.21 Back
para 7.22 Back
p 81 Back
para 7.15 Back
273 www.brook.edu/comm/transcripts/20000608/keynote.htm Back