Select Committee on Defence Second Special Report



If the European Security and Defence Identity is to develop, the UK and its European Allies will have to give further thought to the balance between intelligence capabilities rooted in the American link and those which are nationally-owned or shared within Europe. Problems arising from differential access to intelligence within the Alliance undoubtedly hampered the effective execution of the air campaign. (Para 189).

59. Work is currently under way to develop new arrangements for European security and defence, including the intelligence aspects. In doing so, we remain committed to sustaining our crucially important intelligence links with the US. Intelligence relations with NATO were close throughout the crisis and as the Committee was informed, we were satisfied with the way in which NATO brought together the information provided to it. As indicated in Cm4724, however, we are working to ensure maximum transparency with our Allies.


The very political sensitivity of an operation such as that in Kosovo demands all the more that the respective jobs of the civilians and the military are clearly delineated. It is not the MOD's job to micro-manage the business of the Permanent Joint Headquarters. We trust the Department has taken heed of and acted upon its own initial analysis. The scope for better coordination between the Permanent Joint Headquarters and NATO headquarters to be spelled out in more detail. (Para 199).

60. The Government generally agrees with this comment, but notes that both MOD and PJHQ are integrated civilian-military organisations. PJHQ has continued to develop its links with NATO's operational and regional headquarters, by undertaking regular staff visits and through its network of deployed liaison officers. However, the primary responsibility for dealing with NATO HQ and SHAPE, including planning issues, remains with the MOD in Whitehall.

We were also surprised that greater focus was not placed upon the development and use of more structured NATO Combined Joint Task Forces, a concept introduced with many fanfares at the Brussels Summit in 1994. (Para 203).

61. The NATO Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concept was not sufficiently developed to a point where it had operational capability in 1999. The area of operations for JOINT GUARDIAN is adjacent to NATO's Southern Region and the Static Command Structure was able to handle the Command and Control requirements. Given the sensitivity of the operation, SACEUR chose to retain control of the Land Component (the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps - ARRC) at his level, rather than delegate to his Regional Commander (CINCSOUTH), as he had done with the Maritime Assets.

NATO anticipate achieving Interim Operating Capability for the CJTF Concept in 2002 and the Full Operating Capability in 2004.

If NATO is to meet the challenges of future crises particularly in response to asymmetric threats - it must improve its performance in a number of planning aspects. First, it must streamline its own crisis management planning system. Second, the Alliance must ensure that differences between the members are not created by NATO processes themselves: the way information is handled, the bureaucratic pace of dealing with events, or the failure to gather the relevant information at the appropriate time. Third, NATO must address in particular the relationship between political and military planning, and streamline the way in which its international (political) staff work with the international military staff in the implementation phase to minimise friction and misunderstanding. Fourth, NATO needs a greater ability to undertake its own coordination of intelligence information. Intelligence-sharing is fundamentally a matter of trust, not just in the people handling it but also in the communications and processes through which it goes. Unless NATO has a better and trusted coordination system of its own, so that it can analyse better what it is getting from member nations, its efforts to streamline the political/military relationship in the execution of policy will be badly flawed. (Paras 206 to 210).

62. As suggested above, NATO recognised the need to overhaul crisis management and the UK is working to ensure the maximum possible transparency with our Allies to ensure that personnel working together in a military operation have the same access to intelligence of importance to an operation.

The NATO Secretary General's annual report to the NATO Heads of Government highlights those areas where improvement is needed.

NATO has undertaken a number of Lessons Learned exercises and has recently produced a comprehensive implementation report following 12 months of work at SHAPE and NATO HQ. It is a serious, thorough document, which highlights what has been achieved thus far and what more needs to be done. For example, the NAC has recently approved new procedures for the timely development and approval of strategic objectives and military planning options. Measures have also been put in place to improve transparency between NATO, its Partner nations and other international organisations during a crisis. Other measures, such as improving NATO's public information strategy, are under consideration. The report notes, however, that there are some areas that remain a national responsibility. Ministers reviewed progress at their meeting on 5 and 6 December.


One of the lessons of Kosovo - as it was in Bosnia and has been elsewhere - is that much further thought needs to be given to the consequences of military involvement in humanitarian support operations in terms of doctrine, the logistical implications and the manner in which best to coordinate the activities of all the agencies involved. (Para 218).

63. As the Committee acknowledges, this is an issue on which we realise that action is required. In certain areas it is already underway, through discussion within NATO and the UN and contacts with major humanitarian agencies and non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) designed to exchange information, share expertise and achieve better understanding of respective capabilities.

The MOD is continuing to consult DFID on the formulation of its policy on civil military co-operation. This applies particularly to military operations in complex emergencies, such as Kosovo, but is also applicable when MOD assets are requested in support of the UK's response to a natural disaster. Procedures between the MOD and DFID, to clarify and strengthen this working relationship in crisis response operations, have been drawn up and are being implemented. These arrangements are enhancing co-operation between the two departments both at planning and operational stages.

Other steps that are being taken include:

  • A Military/NGO Steering Group has been set up to establish methods for joint training, workshops and information exchange with a view to increasing understanding and trust between the military and NGOs. (Chaired by Oxford Brookes University with JDCC as military member);

  • The creation of links between the military and other organisations involved in complex emergencies such as the civil police (JDCC briefing on a UN Civpol training course on 24 Nov at Bramshill), business (JDCC links with Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum), and UNDP (Prince of Wales initiative for UNDP officers to attend some military training);

  • Emphasis on civil dimension and the military as just one actor in a multifunctional operation is now fully incorporated into UK doctrine. JDCC are working on the promotion of UK thinking for Peace Support Operations (PSOs) both to civilian organisations in the UK and to other Nations;

  • The recent review of the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) and Defence Crisis Management Organisation (DCMO) procedures as a result of Mozambique has led to a tightening up of interdepartmental co-ordination and planning.

We doubt whether the lessons of Kosovo suggests that this reduction in engineering capabilities in the Territorial Army was sensible or made significant savings. More broadly, it is clear that the Reserves possess particular skills and experience that are very relevant to humanitarian operations. They include civilian relations, reconstruction, media skills, linguists and psyops specialists. Kosovo serves to remind us of the increasing importance of these skills in the challenges which the Armed Forces face, and the increasing relevance of retaining access to these through a well-funded and well-trained reserve. (Paras 219 & 220).

64. The transfer of engineering capability from Territorial Army (TA) to Regular forces has actually enhanced our overall engineering capability. SDR recognised the high level of demand for engineering support, not just for large-scale operations but also on enduring operational commitments. The TA is a vital part of any large scale deployment and provides considerable support to routine operations; currently some 10% of soldiers deployed in the Balkans are members of the TA. Operations in the Balkans have demonstrated the need for full time Regular Engineer units for routine operations backed up by the deployment of specialist volunteers from the TA. In particular, the Engineering Logistic Staff Corps and the Civil Affairs Group have contributed specialist skills that can only be maintained in the civil sector.

We are very conscious of the specialist skills that the TA provides. Current work under the Strategy For The Army (SFTA) is seeking to enhance the availability and delivery of TA Specialists across the spectrum of operations including support to humanitarian operations.

The role of the Civil Affairs Group (whose regular staff are heavily augmented by the TA) in facilitating liaison between forces deployed and the civilian population and humanitarian community has been recognised as necessary particularly in the early stages of an operation. In establishing CIMIC centres, civil affairs officers promote mutual exchange of information, which impacts, positively on the security of all involved, assists in the assessment of humanitarian need and helps deconflict potential areas of misunderstanding.

One of the key failings in respect of the humanitarian crisis was the disorganisation of the UNHCR itself. (Para 221)

65. The Government notes the Committee's conclusion.

Military planners both at NATO and in the UK should consider ways of forestalling, or ameliorating, the manipulation of humanitarian crises. This should be part of their overall strategic planning for the handling of the situation. At the very least, and on the experience of many other crises around the world, they should anticipate the potential manipulation of human misery as a weapon of asymmetric warfare. (Para 224).

66. This was an important lesson from the Kosovo crisis.


An effective information operations campaign by NATO would have required an integrated political-military effort. At all levels from grand strategy, through doctrine, training and resourcing to intelligence support information operations were not adequately incorporated into national or Alliance Planning. Information operations strategy and doctrine were immature at the time of the Kosovo campaign. While the UK was further ahead than the Alliance in developing these capabilities, neither the UK nor the Alliance as a whole had the knowledge or skills to incorporate them into their planning and operations in a systematic and coordinated manner. It is about time that NATO did develop a doctrine and strategy for information operations, supported with the necessary financial and human resources. The failure to have done so before now is negligent. (Paras 228, 229, 230 & 232).

67. The Government welcomes the Committee's recognition that the UK was further advanced than most Allies in developing an information operations strategy, but agrees that it was not able to exploit the full potential of information operations during the Kosovo crisis. However, as a result of the Kosovo lessons learned process, MOD has now put in place new structures to ensure that its approach to information operations is fully incorporated into planning and operations. With this in mind, a new Directorate of Targeting and Information Operations (DTIO), headed by a One Star military officer, has been established with the role of integrating information operations and targeting. Additional resources are being provided with the aim of improving the intelligence support to information operations.

A comprehensive policy paper is nearing completion and this will be closely followed by doctrine produced by the JDCC. Key capability shortfalls have been identified and are being addressed through the normal equipment planning cycle.

The UK is an active participant in NATO's Information Operations Working Group and is encouraging NATO to implement its policy on information operations and to put in place the necessary directing and co-ordinating mechanisms.

The MOD must continue its work with other government departments to ensure that defence and other national, as well as Alliance, infrastructures are secure against future attacks that may display a better understanding of their vulnerabilities. (Para 234)

68. The MOD continues to be actively involved with other Government Departments both in strengthening defences against attack and in assisting response to attack. The MOD is also involved with key Alliance partners in developing a better understanding of the issues associated with critical infrastructure protection and establishing areas for cooperation.

MOD did not have an adequate system for identifying, training and incorporating media operations specialists to meet the needs of a crisis. (Para 240).

69. The MOD has acknowledged that the single biggest media lesson arising from the Kosovo campaign is that the requirement to provide rapid and accurate information will continue to grow, and that we need to be prepared for this. Following the campaign we have put in place arrangements to ensure that a pool of identified, trained, media operations personnel is available to reinforce our media effort in a crisis. We have also taken steps to heighten general awareness within the MOD of the importance of working with the media.

More could have been done to give accurate information about the actual number of killings in Kosovo, and to provide some corrective to the more lurid claims. (Para 245).

70. Nothing more could have been done. The UK and NATO always reported what we believed to be accurate. There was never any attempt to mislead.

NATO's early failures in the media war cannot all be ascribed to a failure of imagination in Brussels. As a key player in the media campaign, the MOD must bear some of the blame for the complete lack of preparation. (Para 255).

71. The Government agrees that the NATO public information effort was underprepared. The UK played a key role during the campaign in helping NATO bring its media operation rapidly up to the required standard. We note with considerable satisfaction that a great deal of work has been done at NATO to build on the Media Operations Centre concept developed during the crisis, with assistance from the UK.


The evidence of the UK's contribution to the air campaign suggests that its air forces here were significantly stretched. And while it is plausible that the UK might have contributed 50,000 troops to a ground attack force, this would have almost exhausted its resources, and such a force could not have been replaced or reinforced. Engaging in Kosovo risked bringing the UK to the very limits of, and quite possibly exceeding, the concurrency criteria set out in the Strategic Defence Review. This serves to remind us that the Territorial Army is more than a public relations exercise - without it, making a significant UK contribution to an invasion force could not have even been contemplated. (Para 308).

72. As made clear in paragraph 28 above, the UK was prepared to provide additional air assets if requested by NATO, and the majority of forces deployed were in any case not utilised to full capacity due to the nature of the operation. The Government is confident that a force of 50,000 could have been provided for a possible opposed ground entry force, but confirms the assumption that such a force could not have been replaced fully. On the assumption that such an operation had concluded successfully, however, the force would not need to have been replaced on the same scale in any case, and other partners could have been expected to find the required forces for at least the initial stage of the subsequent operation. The Strategic Defence Review planning assumptions provide guidance, among other things, on scales of effort, concurrency and endurance but, as explained during the review, in particular circumstances we may be able to do more (or choose to do less) than assumptions provide for. These assumptions were tested and vindicated during the Kosovo crisis. The Government acknowledges the role which would have been played by the Reserves (including the Territorial Army) in the operation foreseen, and considers this good evidence of the valuable contribution made by the Reserves to our Armed Forces, and their integral role in expanding regular forces in times of crisis.

We are extremely doubtful however, in the absence of a decision by early June to assemble a force for a ground invasion, whether NATO could have mounted and concluded such an operation successfully, and returned the refugees to their homes, before the onset of winter. We suspect that keeping the air campaign going prior to mounting a forced entry operation could have created considerable logistical and practical difficulties. There would also, of course, have been significant presentational difficulties for NATO which might have severely tested both the cohesion of the Alliance and its credibility. The threat of ground invasion was real and credible, but came too late. (Paras 270, 271 & 279).

73. UK and NATO planning assumed that a decision to put preparations in hand in June for an opposed entry ground force operation would have enabled such an operation to be mounted in September. If (as was predicted) the campaign was relatively short, this gave time for refugees to return to Kosovo before the onset of winter, although considerable preparation would have been required by humanitarian agencies in order to support the likely need for heavy support within a limited timescale. We are confident that the air campaign could have been sustained prior to, and during, the ground campaign. Preparations were being made to ensure this. The potential threat to NATO cohesion was real. The Government welcomes the Committee's view that the threat of a ground invasion was real and credible, and firmly believes that the increasing prospect of a ground operation, including signals by the United States in early June that it was willing to consider options beyond the air campaign in order to achieve Alliance objectives, played an important role in persuading Milosevic to concede.

The battle was not won by airpower alone. (Para 278).

74. Agreed, as there were many other factors in play, consistent with the international community's broad-based approach. It is certain, however, that air power had a substantial effect.

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 the Key role played by Russia in these final stages should not be underestimated. (Paras 277 & 280).

75. Agreed.

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 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. (Para 281).

76. The maintenance of Alliance unity was a key factor in the success of the Alliance in achieving its objectives. This sometimes required compromise, but continued unity of purpose and effort was essential, and a significant achievement. Milosevic's inability to divide the Allies is likely to have been a contributory factor in his decision to concede. As discussed in paragraph 11 above, the Alliance was not inspired to act in order to defend its credibility: the decision to act in March 1999 was directed towards halting the violent attacks being committed by the Yugoslav/Serbian security forces, and disrupting their ability to conduct future attacks against the population of Kosovo, thereby averting a humanitarian catastrophe.


Parliament needs to be informed of the extent to which the costs of the Kosovo conflict and its post-conflict commitment are being refunded to the MOD by other government departments and by the Treasury, or whether substantial costs are ultimately being borne by defence budget. We will be continuing our annual monitoring of the MOD's Estimates and annual reporting documents to ensure that the Defence budget is fully reimbursed for the costs of operations in Kosovo, as well as other critical operations. We will also be examining how the proposed joint MOD/Foreign Office/DfiD 'Conflict Prevention' budget announced in the 2000 Spending review, will allow a proper planning and provision for the resources needed to defuse or (if need be) to tackle future crises." (Paras 289 & 290).

77. MOD has identified and forecast the additional expenditure incurred through operations in Kosovo. The additional costs identified and claimed by MOD in 1999-2000 for the Kosovo crisis were met in full through access to the Treasury Reserve. MOD expects a similar procedure to operate in 2000-2001. A claim for 2000-01 will be included in the Spring Supplementary Estimates. MOD welcomes the Committee's interest in the functioning of the 'Conflict Prevention' budget and looks forward to its operation next year.

During the Kosovo crisis the UK military provided emergency humanitarian assistance, at the request of DFID. The costs incurred were approximately £3.5M, the main elements being food, medical supplies, refugee camp construction and aid flights. All this money has now been recovered from DFID. After the crisis the military embarked on a series of reconstruction projects with contracts being placed directly with KFOR by DFID. The payment for these tasks has been proceeding on a rolling basis. Recovery of costs from NATO has been successfully completed.

Ministry of Defence
8 January 2001

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