WHY DID MILOSEVIC CONCEDE?
272 The end, when it came, was quite swift. Following
diplomatic moves in which the Russian envoy Mr Chernomyrdin and
the EU envoy, President Ahtissari of Finland were involved, Milosevic
indicated compliance with UN resolutions and a Military Technical
Agreement was signed whereby Yugoslav-Serbian forces would be
withdrawn from the province. On 11 June, the bombing campaign
was suspended. The Permanent Secretary at the MoD listed the factors
he thought had caused Milosevic to give in
One of them was the fact
that the Alliance held absolutely firm, despite every attempt
by Milosevic to divide and his expectation that he would be able
to do that. The second one was that all options were on the table
and whatever he could do, he could not, as it were, defeat the
KLA while NATO was keeping his own forces pinned down. It was
not that we were fighting for the KLA, it was just that the Serbs
could not move. The third reason, which I did not think of at
the time but I must say with the benefit of subsequent events
was quite important, was the indictment by the War Crimes Tribunal.
That appears to have had quite an effect on the Serbs, not necessarily
on Milosevic but on the leadership around him. These were as well
as the Russian element.
That list again reveals the extent to which the KLA's
ground campaign assisted NATO's strategy. DSACEUR's view was that
There was, I think, in his
mind no prospect of this stopping. This organisationNATO
was holding together, was going to go on until it got its
way. I think that had begun to dawn on him. Secondly, the damage
being inflicted upon him and his state was increasing and becoming
more painful and more evident. Thirdly, there was a sufficiency
of communications now by May opened up, so there was someone talking
to him, and in that conversation, as I understand it, the Russians
had made it plain they were not on his side. I think those [were]
three factors. Then there was the fourth factor that there was
an escalatory step which was that NATO would go and take Kosovo.
While we know it was proving difficult to formulate this step,
as an Alliance, there was enough evidence that we were there on
the ground and that we were bombing in such a way.
The Chief of Joint Operations, while acknowledging
that only Milosevic would ever know for certain, surmised that
... by attacking strategic
targets in Serbia that had an increasing impact on Milosevic,
but I think there were probably political aspects that had a greater
impact on his final decision to accede to NATO demands.
General Naumann thought the threat of a ground attack
Had he had this final assurance
that we could never come in, in a ground campaign, he may have
felt encouragement to sit the air campaign out knowing that some
nations would sooner or later under the influence of the media
say, "Okay. Stop it".
The Chief of Defence Intelligence was convinced that
the indictment for war crimes had had an impact on Milosevic,
"Clearly the way he reacted showed it had done that".
He believed that "five thingscohesion of the Alliance,
the role of the Russians, the threat or potential of a threat
of ground forces, the use of air power and the indictmentwere
all significant contributory factors." "It was a mixture
of all these things."
273 The MoD's own Lessons from the Crisis
sums it up as follows
What forced Milosevic to
concede? We will probably never know exactly, but it is clear
that the effective application of military pressure was fundamental
to the achievement of our objectives. The following factors are
likely to have been those most influential:
the continuing solidarity of the
Alliance, and Milosevic's inability to divide the Allies, despite
the determination of the international community,
including the states of the region and, crucially, Russia, to
force him to accept a negotiated solution;
the continued increase in tempo of the air operations,
and the damage and disruption they had caused, and were likely
to continue to cause if operations continued, to the command and
control and operations of his security forces;
his indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal
for the former Yugoslavia, and the indictment of four other key
members of his regime, which would have added to the pressure
on him and those around him;
and the build-up of ground forces in the region, the
confirmation at the NATO [Washington] Summit that all options
remained under review, and the suggestions from the UK and other
Allies that an opposed ground entry operation could not be ruled
274 Our colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee
came to very similar conclusions, but also noted Tim Judah's suggestion
that an additional reason was fear of a KLA breakthrough on the
border with Albania, where in the last stages of the air campaign,
the KLA received strong air support from NATO, and Albanian army
artillery. They also commented that
In some ways the deal which
concluded NATO's bombing campaign was better than that offered
to Milosevic and Rambouillet and also better than that demanded
by NATO during the campaign itself. Unlike the Military Annex
at Rambouillet, there was no requirement in the military technical
agreement (MTA) to permit the transit of NATO troops through the
territory of Serbia (although it does specify that NATO troops
have the right to travel five kilometres into Serbia). It is also
the case that Milosevic [had] not had to "provide credible
assurances of his willingness to work for the establishment of
a political framework agreement based on the Rambouillet Accords"
as was demanded by NATO. However ... the Military Annex was not
decisive in Milosevic's refusal to sign Rambouillet and it is
unlikely to have been decisive in his decision to concede to NATO.
The Foreign Affairs Committee also noted that NATO
agreed that Kosovo should remain a part of Yugoslavia, albeit
in a less substantive way than under Rambouillet. The MTA does,
however, allow a limited return of Yugoslav forces to certain
parts of Kosovo, although any return of Yugoslav troops is to
be at a time appointed by the NATO commander. Overall, the Foreign
Affairs Committee concluded
... it cannot be considered
that Milosevic got a 'good deal' as a result of NATO's campaignrather
he was forced to accept NATO's demands because his situation was
bad and getting worse in the face of an Alliance, not divided
as he had expected, but united.
Nonetheless, the extent of the NATO concessions noted
by the Foreign Affairs Committee may indicate the Alliance's anxiety
to avoid a ground campaign.
275 If nothing else, what these different analyses
suggest is that there was no one factor which finally secured
NATO's aims. Nor will the impact of the various different factors
ever be scientifically demonstrated. Our task is to assess the
impact of NATO's military action on the outcome.
276 We must also ask what part luck played in securing
the desired resolution. Air Marshal Sir John Day believed
We were not planning on luck,
we had a comprehensive plan to ensure victory.
General Sir Rupert Smith countered the suggestion
that luck played a part
Where was the luck? ... I
do not see where the luck played?
The Secretary of State was clear
It was not at all lucky,
it was not fortunate, it was the result of a sustained and determined
campaign by the Allies, by our armed forces and the armed forces
of other countries, which eventually produced the result. As I
said earlier, we do not know precisely what it was that eventually
persuaded Milosevic to back down, but he did back down, and I
think he backed down because of the sheer professionalism of our
armed forces and the armed forces of other countries involved
in what was a difficult enterprise and one that they carried through
very, very successfully.
277 There is no doubt that, in the end, NATO achieved
most of the goals which the international community had set out
in the Rambouillet Accords. The Alliance's resolve was tested
far more than anyone anticipatedhad Milosevic held out
longer NATO would have prevailed in the end, but at greater cost
than anyone was prepared to contemplate at the point when he did
concede, not only in terms of material resources but also in terms
of the political cohesion of the Alliance. Given the state of
readiness of NATO in June 1999, it is perhaps fortunate that Milosevic
gave in when he did. The key role played by Russia in these
final stages should not be underestimated.
278 The battle was not won by airpower alone.
The Alliance had more trouble neutralising Serbia's air defences
than it should have done. Less damage was done to Serbia's forces
than should have been. Without the activities of the KLA, strikes
against fielded forces would have been less effective still. The
strategic bombing of targets in Serbia, we believe, had more effect
in coercing Milosevic, but the targets sometimes appeared to show
a lack of pattern and purpose, and NATO forces were distracted
from this work by the requirement to continue attacks on forces
279 The threat of a ground invasion was real and
credible, but came too late. Milosevic had more to fear in
the summer of 1999 from KLA insurgents than from NATO ground forces.
It was they who provided the synergistic combination of ground
and air attacks which began to tell on Serbia's armed forces.
280 Alliance unity was, undoubtedly, a key factor
in persuading Milosevic of the hopelessness of his situation,
especially when confronted by the reality that Russia was not
coming to his aid. But, paradoxically, this takes us back
to where we began. The war should never have needed to have been
fought. It was, we believe, the impression of the lack of unity
and resolve in the Alliance at the outset which led Milosevic
to think he might get away with calling NATO's bluff.
281 This paradox is at the heart of the lessons
to be learned from Kosovo. Although Alliance unity was only one
factor amongst those which eventually enabled NATO to prevail,
it was a necessary condition for the others to have effect. Unity
was, in the end, the Alliance's greatest strength. At the same
time it was NATO's weakest point. The perceived need to defend
NATO's credibility was, in itself, a major factor in driving the
process whereby the Alliance found itself painted into a corner
by March 1999 from which its only way out was to pursue a military
campaign against Serbia. Yet the maintenance of its unity was
the factor which most significantly restricted the military options
open to the Alliance to pursue an efficient and successful coercive
strategy against Milosevic. General Naumann put it well
... we did not have the consensus
in the Alliance when we started to threaten the use of force ...
that is my lesson learned for crisis management. I am saying this
openly and frankly, since I am certain the next crisis will come.
DEPLOYMENT OF KFOR
282 In the end, NATO gained the control of Kosovo
that it sought, and the peace implementation force entered as
the Serbian forces withdrew. Many aspects associated with KFOR's
entry into Kosovo in June 1999 went better than expected. We include
in this and commend the parts played by General Jackson and General
Reith in their separate negotiations with the Yugoslav/Serbian
security forces and the KLA.
However, it is a matter for concern that, after months of waiting
for air strikes to force Milosevic into an agreement, when the
time came, NATO was still scrambling to gather the requisite number
of troops together for its peace implementation force. Sir John
Goulden explained that
We had completely modified
the plan for going in after success. I think the original estimate
was 28,000, but then we realised how big a humanitarian problem
and infrastructure problem there would be and virtually doubled
those figures to something like 48,000."
The impression of haste is reinforced by General
Jackson's description of events in a speech to the Royal United
We started the operation
on the 12 June, D-Day as it was inevitably named ... on D-Day
KFOR was nine battalions ... of those nine battalions on D-Day
four were British. Of those four, two had arrived in-theatre over
the last four days as a deliberate decision by the Government
to reinforce the probability, and that's all it was at that stage,
of a successful outcome to talks. On 14 June we went up to eleven
battalions, a second French and an additional British battalion.
Therefore, on D-Day+2, out of eleven battalions in the KFOR, five
were British, three of which had arrived in the last few days.
A very remarkable story.
As General Jackson told us in evidence
We had got to 15,000 on entry
but ...We were aiming, at that stage, for what became KFOR plus,
not 25,000 but getting on for 50,000 ... I think we got up to
50,000 by late July, a month after entry, something of that order.
283 UK forces were the first in place and ready to
move into Kosovo. Some countries waited until the UN Security
Council Resolution before deploying, and others even waited until
that point before beginning pre-deployment training and so took
4-5 months to get into theatre (but such lacklustre performance
does not of course appear in any 'lessons' papers). The requirement
was for 50,000 troops, but by 31 August only 40,000 were in place.
The Albanian refugees had 'deployed' back into Kosovo more efficiently
than NATO. Whilst applauding the actions of the UK in leading
the way, we do not subscribe to the MoD's view that from March
1999 onwards NATO forces remained ready to deploy quickly into
Kosovo in a potential peacekeeping operation.
On the contrary, we consider that NATO was pressed to assemble
the forces required for entry into Kosovo in June 1999, and that
NATO should have had a much more capable and better prepared peace
implementation force in place much earlier.
613 Q 10 Back
179, Q 181 Back
4724, para 8.11 Back
in Kosovo: Some Preliminary Lessons", RUSI, 29 June 1999. Back
4724, para 8.11 Back
4724, para 3.25 Back
Affairs Committee, op cit, para 120 Back
649 ibid Back
a description of the part played by General Reith, see QQ 706
to 716. Back
The Inside Story", RUSI Journal, February 2000. Back
659 and 660. Back
4724, para 8.8 Back