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Serbia - Ground Troops Would Face Heavy Casualties

By Dejan Anastasijevic

IWPR Correspondent 4-15-99

In an effort to gain a perspective from the ground in Yugoslavia, reached out to journalists in the region. The following was filed by a correspondent for the Balkan Crisis Reports of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting ( The report cannot be independently confirmed because of the nature of the conflict in the region.

The London-based Institute was founded in 1991 and is an independent publishing and media group registered as a charity in the United Kingdom. It is supported by a range of private and governmental foundations and agencies.

BELGRADE " Three weeks into NATO's bombing campaign against Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic has refused either to crumble or to back down. Instead, he has turned the NATO attacks to his advantage to reassert his grip on power in Serbia, and to cleanse a large chunk of Kosovo, including all the major towns, of its ethnic Albanian population. It is time now, therefore, for NATO to turn to the contingency plans its strategists must have drawn up in the months before the offensive began.

Although not yet officially acknowledged, the deployment of NATO ground troops in Kosovo without Serbian agreement is clearly on the agenda. Statements by international statesmen and NATO officials suggest that the alliance believes that after several more weeks of bombing, Serbian forces in Kosovo will be weakened to a point where NATO troops would be able to enter without meeting much resistance.

It seems that the alliance may also be hoping that by that time, a reorganized and re-equipped Kosovo Liberation Army would be able to take part in the action, reducing the risk to NATO troops.

The plan therefore appears to be for NATO troops to enter, Serbian forces to withdraw, and for all refugees to be able to go home. Whether formally independent or not, Kosovo would in effect become a NATO protectorate, while what remains of Serbia, isolated and surrounded, would be too busy licking its wounds to pose a threat to any of its neighbors.

The above scenario is fine as long as the assumptions on which it is based are correct. But this is by no means clear. On the contrary, NATO officials are naturally inclined to overestimate the effects of the air offensive on Serbian ground forces in Kosovo. Meanwhile, Milosevic has had ample time to build and fortify defenses in preparation for an invasion force.

The results of NATO's bombing campaign are probably not nearly as great as those presented in Brussels. NATO representatives claim that they have "degraded and reduced" the fighting capabilities of the Serbian police and military, but they have failed to supply the evidence.

How many Serbian soldiers have been killed or incapacitated? How many artillery pieces destroyed? Could Yugoslav air defenses still be operative and waiting for NATO tactical aircraft to begin attacking at lower altitudes? So far, Brussels has failed to provide clear answers to any of these questions.

NATO could enter Kosovo via three routes. One goes over the mountains bordering Albania. However, while useful for infiltrating guerrilla and commando units, this route is unsuitable for heavy vehicles because of poor roads.

The other two routes are via Macedonia, one directly into Kosovo over the Kacanik gorge, and one through southern Serbia, making a loop and entering Kosovo from the north. If combined, these two routes would enable NATO to outflank Serbian forces in a classic pincer movement.

The trouble is that Milosevic has been preparing for such a scenario for several months. Ever since the beginning of the Rambouillet talks, he has been massing troops along these routes, laying mines, and building fortifications. Moreover, the additional time needed to assemble a NATO invasion force could be used to bring more reinforcements and build stronger fortifications. And further attacks against air defense systems would be required to make the skies above Kosovo safe for tactical warplanes and assault helicopters.

In addition, the expulsion of ethnic Albanians during the first two weeks of bombing was in part motivated by strategic concerns. By removing a potentially hostile population from northern and eastern Kosovo " exactly the routes NATO would have to use " Milosevic has constructed buffer zones in which his forces will not be bothered by guerrilla activities.

He has also secured the logistical support of local Serbs, who now see the police and the army as their only protection against the return of their former neighbors. By taking part in expulsions and looting, local Serbs have tied their fate to that of Milosevic's security forces.

The past three weeks have also boosted the morale of Yugoslav Army. Contrary to the picture which NATO has attempted to portray of increasing disloyalty and desertion among Milosevic's troops, the military now feels that their moment has finally arrived.

After years of neglect and humiliating defeats in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, the army feels that it is finally engaged in an honorable fight defending the homeland against foreign invasion, in contrast with earlier campaigns against the other peoples of the former Yugoslavia.

To NATO's credit, the alliance has been successful in destroying Serbian fuel supplies. While this reduces Milosevic's capabilities of bringing reinforcements, mobility is of lesser importance to those whose primary task is to stay where there are.

Add this all up, and it is clear that NATO's march into Kosovo would be anything but a stroll. This is not to say that Kosovo may evolve into a new Vietnam, just that NATO must expect a prolonged ground war and be prepared to take heavy casualties.

One of the more likely outcomes of such a confrontation would be partial NATO victory, with a front-line stabilizing somewhat north of Pristina. This would pave the way for the division of the province " something neither the West nor the Albanians would consider acceptable.

In the heated atmosphere which has been fueled by images of Kosovo refugees and memories of the Bosnian war, the price of deploying NATO ground troops is easily neglected in the name of ethics. Since that price will be paid in human lives, it may pay to look at the bill before signing the check.

-- Andy (, April 16, 1999


From the SIU:-

Critical Turning Point Appears to be at Hand

13 Apr 99  1800 GMT

NATO has pursued a two-track policy for the last week. On one hand, it has constantly declared that it is absolutely committed to carrying out its bombing campaign until Milosevic capitulates. It has publicly emphasized that the campaign is having the desired effect while also very publicly planning on massive increases in deployed air forces. At the same time, NATO has made it clear that it is prepared to compromise on what had been the main issue: the complete withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo and its occupation by NATO troops. NATO officials, along with member country diplomats, have made it clear that a full withdrawal of Serb forces would not be required and that the occupying force did not have to be a purely NATO force under NATO military command. However, the return of Albanians to Kosovo, their protection against Serb actions by an outside force, and autonomy for the province remained absolutely set terms.

The ball has been in Belgrades court since the weekend. Belgrade could have a cessation of the bombing by agreeing to these terms. To emphasize the cost of refusal, NATO is conducting devastating strikes against Serbias petrochemical industry. All of this set the stage for the Albright-Ivanov meeting in Oslo today. Ivanov was serving as Belgrades attorney, hoping to negotiate a better deal or at least a cessation of bombing while a deal was negotiated. He failed.

Behind the failure is a fundamental decision that appears to have been made by Belgrade. This decision consists of the following elements:

That the current demographic situation in Kosovo is superior to any other outcome.

That the bombing campaign, even if it intensifies, is endurable and is a price worth paying for Kosovo.

That an invasion of Kosovo, or of Serbia in general, is not a viable option for NATO.

That NATO is underestimating Serbias own ability to pose serious military problems for NATO.

It was to underscore this last point that Serb forces (military or paramilitary) conducted a raid in force into Albania. This has placed NATO forces on notice as to the vulnerability of the refugees and their own forces and has refocused attention on Macedonia, where NATO forces are massed. Serbia was clearly warning the Macedonians against permitting NATO to use their territory for an attack on Kosovo.

There is another explanation. Assume for the moment that a split has developed in Belgrade, as would be expected in such a circumstance.

There is a peace party, willing to accept NATOs revised terms, and a war party, advocating a harder line. Having heard Albrights hard line through Ivanov, the peace party began to waver. The hard-liners, particularly the paramilitaries in Kosovo, decided to stage an unauthorized raid into Albania in order to decrease the room for maneuver of the peace party.

This is, of course, pure speculation. The only support for it appears to be that Belgrade appeared genuinely surprised by the attack and that rather than taking full advantage of its psychological impact, didnt seem to know what to make of it for quite a few hours. It was as if the government didnt know what was going on.

Be that as it may, the Serbs have now created a situation in which they are, in effect, challenging NATOs air strikes with raids in force on the ground. They are thereby forcing NATOs troops in Albania into a defensive posture. NATO does not have sufficient forces in place for both a major attack into Kosovo and the defense of the refugees on the border. Thus, rather than allowing the luxury of a slowly increasing offensive into Kosovo, phased to coincide with a build-up of NATO forces, NATO will now have to consider a purely defensive posture until it builds up to a major offensive. And that will take time, which is precisely what the Serbs want.

In short, NATO has now shown Serbia what the future will look like if it doesnt sign an agreement and Serbia has shown NATO what the future will look like. As anyone who has negotiated a deal knows, things frequently look like they will fall apart at the last moment before a deal is struck as each does a gut check of the other. Of course, what frequently happens is that in the course of the gut check, the deal really does fall apart. NATO and the Serbs have both played strong cards in the past 48 hours. If someone is going to blink, now is the time.

What seems to have happened is that NATO did make concessions and that Milosevic told them it wasnt enough. Now NATO has to start thinking about follow-on strategies.

-- Andy (, April 16, 1999.


If the Y2k Problem did not exist, not a single word of what you've just posted in this thread would have to change.

That shows that it's not Y2k-related.

-- No Spam Please (, April 16, 1999.

No Spam,

You have entered a No Spam free zone (tm).

You have stepped on a mine.


You are an ex-No Spam.

-- Andy (, April 16, 1999.

ex-No Spam,

in your morphed-LOOP state, you made the following statements:-

"If the Y2k Problem did not exist, not a single word of what you've just posted in this thread would have to change.

That shows that it's not Y2k-related."

WRONG ex-No Spam.

The reason?

Why, because the USA and Clinton's backers/handlers are very careful planners and strategists. Everything has a reason - an agenda is being played out. The endless game, if you will. Y2K is a MAJOR factor in the planning process. Had Y2K not been an issue it is quite possible that this Yugoslav diversion would not be happening at all.

-- Andy (, April 16, 1999.

I invite all lurkers to read wee Andy's post for one entire day (I know they are tedious, but trust me...) Then ask yourselves, "does this guy sound rational"?

If someone espouses every anti-government conspiracy available, can I honestly trust him on Y2K? Ask yourself.

-- Y2K pro (, April 16, 1999.

Y2K Prairie Dog,

See you've popped your head up again for a pithy comment. Don't trust me - why should you? Trust yourself - do your own research.

-- Andy (, April 16, 1999.

Up to now (since forever) every assumption that outsiders have made about the Balkans has been wrong. There's no reason to think that we'll break that pattern in the foreseeable future.

-- Tom Carey (, April 16, 1999.

Y2K Pr-arie Dog....

What a fucking moron you are.

Andy is posting legitimate news articles from events TAKING PLACE.

The news he posts may not "sound rational" to you, but it's the REAL WORLD dumbshit. It 'aint rational. But you go ahead with your arrogant blinders firmly attached, and make-believe that the shit hitting the fan around the world is nothing more than delusions posted by myself and Andy.

Attacking him personally proves what a blind Socialistic Liberal Asswipe you are. It proves how devoid of logic and reason you are.

That's because your ideological position is defenseless, and you cannot debate facts, so you slam the messenger. Proves you're nothing but a festering-pus-boil between the cheeks.

And reality is going to lance and squeeze you to oblivion.

-- INVAR (, April 16, 1999.

Gee, INVAR, why don'nt you tell him what you really think.

-- Watcher (, April 16, 1999.


Can't. My keyboard would melt.

-- INVAR (, April 16, 1999.

INVAR - Was kinda hoping (against popular opinion, I s'pose), that someday the bagga sagga would be resurrected. For instance, the sequel tracking how JBD's baby brother, Y2K P[whatever], is drafted, returns to the homeland (a case of TP says JBD is Lithuanian), and learns first hand in the trenches why all this non-compliant ordnance is being dropped... (Afterall, we appear to be in a Y2K news lull, and JBD's adventures are no less off-topic than lots of other stuff lately.)

-- regular (butbetter@not.say), April 16, 1999.


Would love to oblige, but Mr. Yourdon decided that the Bagga Saga wrenched too many stomachs and sensibilites with the visceral mind- pictures created, and deemed them unfit for forum consumption.

I respect his decision. This is his forum and he rarely plays editor unless he thinks a thread is too offensive.

Sadly, the Bagga Saga fell into that category.

But it was a fun way to enjoy troll-relief wasn't it?

-- INVAR (, April 16, 1999.

It's really, really, odd how some people can be so mindlessly supportive of the established order that they will deny even the bad things that that order allows to be said about itself. They are very much like children, looking to an all-wise, all-good parent. And when threatened, children can be cruel...


-- Dano (bookem@blacksand.srf), April 16, 1999.

Obsequious ol' INVARiably stupid pulls his head out of his paranoid sanctimonious ass and once again injects more methane into the environment. You and Andy are two pees in a pod - afraid, afraid, afraid. Not rational fear of course, but rather the kind of idiotic fear of the guv'ment that one finds on white power or militia web sites. The guv'ment is bad. Big business is bad, The media are bad. Everyone is lying. Trust no one except freedom luvin' Americans like me!

Keep it up you gaseous Philistine, GIs like you are the reason the rest of the world coined the phrase: Y2Krackpot "On January 1, 1999 they will experience many more, and it will be much more difficult to sweep them under the rug. On April 1, 1999 we will all watch anxiously as the governments of Japan and Canada, as well as the state of New York, begin their 1999-2000 fiscal year; at that moment, the speculation about Y2K will end, and we will have tangible evidence of whether governmental computer systems work or not."-- Ed Yourdon

"So, of course I want to see y2k bring down the system, all over the world. I have hoped for this all of my adult life." -- Gary North

-- Y2K Pro (, April 16, 1999.

Fuck off Pro.

Socialistic-goosestepping Clintonistas like you are the ones responsible for the decay rotting our nation's soul.

You and your ideological ilk will be the first ones to scream bloody murder when things get tough, and I'm gonna laugh my ass off at your plight.

I apologize not for my ideology. I place no trust in government, the media or any man. Just God and myself, the way we once were as a nation - something YOU traitorous Socialists can't comprehend because you're gods in your own minds.

You're a pussy. A commie-pinko Clintonista with no balls. A yellow- bellied coward that hides behind empty faith in an empty ideology.

I just assume waste you as to save the precious air you're intaking for the fleas and gnats.

Don't tread on me asswipe. You don't want to go there.

-- INVAR (, April 16, 1999.

"I just assume waste you as to save the precious air you're intaking for the fleas and gnats."????

More empty threats from the functionally illiterate INVARiably Stupid. Why is it that you seem incapable of not using profanity?

Your lengthy diatribe about my politics (of which you know not) is amusing in its simplicity. I assume in your little world, everyone who does not pass muster with your fascist filter is referred to as a "A commie-pinko Clintonista".

Empty little men like you will always fill the margins of society, threatening others with the tiny fist of rhetoric, afraid for the world to see what pathetic pasty skinned cretins they are. Threaten away fart-catcher, I suspect in your little world, it is the only satisfaction you ever get.

-- Y2K Pro (, April 16, 1999.

Keep it up guys ! csy2k is losing its edge, we need this.

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), April 16, 1999.

I know plenty of your politics Pro, based on what your write.

You're a commie-pinko-Clintonista. Your faith in the "System" and government speaks for itself. You are an elitist. You are a hack.

This is an ideological war you and I are engaged in. Yours is based on belief in the State and socialism- based on what you write. Mine is based on self-reliance, individualism and the things which make this country great. Things you deem as "simple", "small" and trivial were the foundations that built this nation you take for granted.

You know NOTHING of history, or geopolitics. "Empty little men" like me made this nation you take for granted. We fought for it, died for it, and hewn it out of rock and prarie.

You don't even know what a fascist is (based on your usage above), so give your feeble mind a rest. You can only emote, not think.

Don't tread on me. You don't want to go there.

-- INVAR (, April 16, 1999.


8.)Who are the most despised and respected persons on this forum?

Despised: currently maybe Y2K Pro

8. Y2K Pro

Despised: Y2K Pro.

I despise the Y2K Pro

The biggest asshole is a tie between Y2K Prozac and Mutha Natcha.

Despised: Y2K Prole.

Despised, Y2K Pro.

Y2kPro and Norm are the most despised

people like Y2Kpro and Norm


-- Wiseguy (, April 16, 1999.

Y2K Pro: I would love to hear about your 'professional' y2k experiences. Please do post them. You are entitled to your opinions about any and all postings. But, just in case you didn't realize, you are showing your ignorance of world politics like a dirty pair of undies. You probably have something relevant to contribute to this forum. I personally invite you to do so. I would like to learn more from your experiences/knowledge. I will, however, be avoiding your un-informed opinions about current global politics and the Kosovo situation.

-- Global Thinker (, April 16, 1999.

Ground troops?

Give us a break. . .

July 13, 1878, End of Turkish Rule in Bosnia / Treaty of Berlin Austria occupies Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo occupied August 19, 1878. Moslems wage guerrilla resistance until October. Vienna is forced to mobilize an army of 200,000 men for duty in Bosnia.

1912-1913, 1st & 2nd Balkan Wars Ottoman Empire loses more than 80% of its Balkan territories and 70% of its European population. Retains Thrace. Total military deaths: 143,000. President Taft refuses to intervene.

June 28, 1914, World War I Bosnian terrorist assassinates Austrian Archduke, igniting WWI. On September 6, Serbs invade Austrian-held Bosnia. Serbs mobilize 707,343 troops during war; 45,000 killed in action, 80,000 non-battle deaths, 131,148 wounded in action. Serbia suffers 650,000 civilian dead.

1941-1945 A three-way war is waged between Germans/Ustashe, Partisans and Chetniks. Yugoslavia mobilizes 3,741,000 (305,000 killed in action & 425,000 wounded in action) during WWII. Civilian dead: 1,355,000. Germans sustain 15% casualties.

As the editors of VFW Magazine put it, "(our)Soldiers are about to become entangled in a web of ancient animosities. Bosnia (and the Balkans in general) has had a fearsome reputation as a battleground since time immemorial. During the Middle Ages, it was so uninviting of a land that it was regarded by some as a country 'overgrown with thorns and nettle and a breed of vipers'. GIs will find themselves amidst several species of vipers, all with fangs plenty full of venom."

This has been going on for TWENTY TWO CENTURIES ! OVER TWO MILLENNIA !

The Balkans are a "Black Hole of War" that sucks in human souls like its physical namesake sucks in light.

Ground troops?

Give us a break. . .

-- Hardliner (, April 16, 1999.

Hardliner, The following comes from Time Life Books, World WarII, Partisans And Guerrillas:

[begin quote] Until now the American attitude had been characterized by President Roosevelt's cynically pragmatic remark about Mihailovich and Tito: "We should build a wall around those two fellows and let them fight it out. Then we could do business with the winner." [end quote]

It is my view that if the human race is dogs then people in the Balkan Peninsula are Pit Bulls. We really don't need in this fight, but I'm afraid that none the fools in Washington have Roosevelt's insights in this matter.

-- No No (, April 16, 1999.

Andy...illigitami non carborundum!

This is very much Y2K related. Most of those Cruse missiles are non compliant...use it or lose it! Also, Clinton must win it by December both for Al Gore's future, and to avoid giving the Serbs a chance to defeat us when our technology quits!!!

Andy, PLEASE KEEP POSTING THESE STRATEGIC ASSESSMENTS!! We may experience an even more complicated Y2K environment due to the war!!

-- K Stevens (, April 16, 1999.

I am not about to be ground down bay any thought police on tyhis forum - don't worry.

Hardliners said on another thread, to which I replied...

Ahh now you've got it hardliner... "Wasn't there an incident somewhere in history where the ruler sent the military off to war (and some hurculean task) so that he could work his schemes at home without fear of their interference?"

Clinton wants a prolonged war, if it's not the balkans plan B will be put into operation.....

watch this space...

-- Andrei-hung-lo (, April 16, 1999.

Someone recommended me to this site as a place where I could receive good info about Y2K. Instead I read some of the most vile comments (INVAR) anywhere on the Internet. Mr. INVAR, you need to relax and take some valium, your hate is out of control!

-- Ching (, April 16, 1999.


INVAR is a pussycat compared to the likes of Diane, Leska, Old Git to name the thress worst offenders.

Stick around, maybe you'll like us :)

-- Andy (, April 16, 1999.


INVAR isn't a bad guy. He's just ticked off at Y2K Pro. Many of the regulars here have gone a round or two with Y2K Pro. This is the best site for Y2K info. It's also a pretty much wide open public forum, so distractions do come up now and then. Please just try and ignore them. And WELCOME to the forum! <:)=

-- Sysman (, April 16, 1999.

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