Feb. 2: Says progress is slow, but visible
NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark told the Senate Armed Services Committee February 2 that progress toward a return to civilian rule in Bosnia and Kosovo may be slower than the United States and NATO would like, but it is visible.
Clark departed from his prepared statement -- entirely about Kosovo -- to answer the committee's questions about the situation in Bosnia. NATO will continue the drawdown of the Stability Force (SFOR) from its high of 60,000 troops to about 20,000, he said. This will include some 4,500 U.S. forces -- down from the present number of about 7,000.
He cautioned that "civilian progress requires the continued presence of SFOR. It symbolizes to the people of Bosnia that the hard-liners are no longer in charge." This in turn gives confidence to residents who fled that it is safe to return home, and they want that, Clark said. More than 70,000 refugees went home in 1999, and their return is "vital" to preventing new outbreaks of ethnic violence.
Clark listed some of the tasks remaining to reach full implementation of the Dayton agreement:
-- Media reform;
-- Arrest and trial of indicted war criminals;
-- Police restructuring and judicial reform;
-- Greater integration of Croat and Muslim citizens into the military forces;
-- A credible police force to combat organized crime.
"We have made progress -- but of course we would like to see more," Clark said.
Clark told the committee that the Kosovo peace force (KFOR) has ensured that "the military implementation has proceeded smoothly." In the eight months since the NATO bombing campaign ended, the 44,000 troops of KFOR have overseen the complete withdrawal of Serb forces and the transformation of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) into the Kosovo Protection Force (KPF), whose mission will be humanitarian and disaster relief operations.
Military success has not yet translated into civil implementation in Kosovo and civil government structures are still lacking there, Clark said.
This is partly because Kosovo had little to build upon, suffering from "inadequate infrastructure and a precarious economy." The U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) carries the dual burdens of providing a transitional administration while working to establish institutions to provide a peaceful and normal life for all residents, he said.
UNMIK's progress also has been hampered by the pace of contributions to its manning and resources. For example, the goal for the international police force is 4,700 members, but it currently has fewer than 2,000 because, Clark said, participating nations are having a hard time recruiting police officers to serve in Kosovo, and the number of officers leaving each month is nearly equal to the number that arrive for duty.
Furthermore, "many of the nations and organizations providing aid to Kosovo are also assisting other countries around the world. Resources are limited and donors will need to carefully balance their contributions among competing requirements."
Clark said in summary: "Progress in Kosovo is being made, albeit slower than we would like, and many significant challenges remain. The continued presence of KFOR is necessary to provide a secure environment for civil implementation to take place and is key to achieving a lasting peace in Kosovo."
Following is the text of his prepared statement:
2 FEBRUARY 2000
PREPARED STATEMENT OF GENERAL WESLEY K. CLARK BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
Mr. Chairman, Senator Levin, distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today to discuss the situation in Kosovo. The statement submitted to the Committee last October provided the preliminary lessons learned by the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) during Operation Allied Force. The Department of Defense Report scheduled for release on January 31, 2000, provides the detailed analysis of the operation. The staff of the U.S. European Command provided significant input to that report.
Kosovo Force (KFOR)
The implementation force KFOR, is working to set the conditions for peace and security within Kosovo. The force operates under the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and a Military Technical Agreement (MTA) concluded between NATO and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The KFOR mission includes deterring renewed hostilities, establishing and maintaining a secure environment, assisting internally displaced persons and returning refugees within its means and capabilities, as well as implementing the details of the MTA.
Much has been achieved in the eight months since the suspension of the air campaign on 10 June. The evolution from a combat posture to a peace implementation posture occurred almost overnight, and by 12 June the first KFOR elements were on the ground. Presently, there are 31 maneuver battalions in KFOR comprised of nearly 44,000 Allied troops, including over 5,800 Americans. For comparison purposes, Italy and Germany each provide over 5,500 troops to the operation, and a German officer currently leads KFOR. Additionally, seventeen non-NATO nations contribute over 7,500 troops. Overall, our Allies provide approximately 85 percent of the troops for this operation.
U.S. Forces lead the effort in the Southeast sector of Kosovo as part of the Multinational Brigade East. Our forces face a difficult and dangerous environment on a daily basis. During the first six months, in the vicinity of the U.S. troops in KFOR, there were 615 incidents of hostile fire, 15 mortar or recoilless rifle attacks, 20 altercations with unruly crowds, 129 grenade attacks, and 58 mine strikes. There are 616 minefields with 35,814 mines laid by Yugoslav Military Forces and 136 minefields laid by unknown sources with an undetermined number of mines. As of last month, KFOR had destroyed 1,500 mines and over 5,600 items of unexploded ordinance. We have lost one soldier as a result of a land mine, and had two wounded (minor injuries) in the U.S. sector as a result of hostile action. In a typical week, soldiers of the Multinational Brigade East conduct 1,321 security patrols (day and night), and provide seven day a week, twenty-four hour a day, security at 48 checkpoints and 62 key facilities. Our troops are extremely busy and are doing a great job.
The military implementation has proceeded smoothly. Serb forces completed their withdrawal in accordance with the MTA. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) has demilitarized and has been transformed into the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). The mission of the KPC is to perform a humanitarian mission to include disaster relief operations. Training requirements for the KPC are still being developed and KFOR will provide assistance, advice, and direction for KPC training.
Despite our progress in missions assigned to the military, civil implementation has been slow and in Kosovo today, civil government structures are lacking. Criminal activities and violence remain constant challenges. The province has inadequate infrastructure and a precarious economy. This reality requires extensive and quick work in four areas: civil implementation, the rule of law, infrastructure improvements, and contingency funding.
United Nations Security Resolution 1244 authorizes the UN Secretary General, with the assistance of other international organizations, to establish an international civil presence in Kosovo. The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is providing a transitional administration while establishing and overseeing the development of provisional democratic self-governing institutions to ensure conditions for a peaceful and normal life for all inhabitants of Kosovo. Although UNMIK started slowly, it is making progress towards civil implementation and normalizing Kosovo.
The work of UNMIK is being conducted in five integrated phases. The first phase is focusing on the establishment and consolidation of UNMIK's authority and the creation of interim UNMIK-managed administrative structures. The second phase is directed toward the administration of social service, utilities, and the consolidation of the rule of law. The third phase will be the conduct of elections. The fourth phase, if necessary, is to assist elected Kosovo representatives in their efforts to organize and establish provisional institutions for democratic and autonomous self-government. The final phase will include the transfer of authority from provisional institutions to those established under a final political settlement and the eventual termination of UNMIK presence in Kosovo.
While UNMIK has overall responsibility for civil implementation in Kosovo, other organizations are making significant contributions. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is responsible for institution building and the Kosovo Police Service (KPS) Training School. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is responsible for all humanitarian efforts. The European Union (EU) is responsible for economic and infrastructure reconstruction efforts.
The pace of contributions to the manning and resources of UNMIK have resulted in sporadic and uneven progress toward civil implementation goals. Many of the nations and organizations providing aid to Kosovo are also assisting other countries around the world. Resources are limited and donors will need to carefully balance their contributions among competing requirements.
Rule of Law
There is an urgent need to build a genuine rule of law in Kosovo, including the re-establishment of an independent, impartial, multi-ethnic judiciary. The UNMIK Judicial Affairs office is currently providing judicial oversight and has four major areas of responsibility. These are: the administration of courts, prosecution services, and prisons; the development of legal policy; the review and drafting of legislation; and the assessment of justice in Kosovo. Several hundred local judges and prosecutors have been appointed and sworn-in. Although ethnic Albanians fill the majority of these positions, there is Serb representation in both areas.
Crime remains a significant problem in Kosovo. Crime rates have reduced by approximately 83 percent over the last six months. The murder rate has declined from a peak of 127 reported murders per 100,000 population per annum to a rate of 23. Arson and kidnapping have also dramatically declined. Contrary to most press reporting, we find ethnic Albanians on ethnic Albanians perpetrate 90 percent of criminal acts, while only 10 percent can be attributed to ethnic Albanians intimidating and retaliating against ethnic Serbs. This is due in no small measure to KFOR efforts.
KFOR elements and the international police force strive to provide a secure environment, but they cannot be everywhere at once. Countries are having trouble recruiting active duty police officers to serve in Kosovo and there are currently less than 2,000 members of the force. The goal for the force when fully deployed is 4,718 personnel.
The OSCE has established the KPS Training School in Vucitrn to train new police officers. The first class of the KPS Training School recently graduated 176 students who are currently attending follow-on field training. The second class with 178 students will graduate 19 Feb 2000. However, it will be sometime before the KPS is ready to assume control of law enforcement duties in Kosovo.
Hard work and contributions by many organizations and nations prevented a humanitarian disaster in Kosovo. Despite the vast destruction of homes and infrastructure by the Serbs throughout Kosovo, most Kosovars have access to shelter during this winter season. This was no small feat considering the huge number of refugees and displaced persons who returned to find their homes burned or destroyed. Overall food supplies and distribution are relatively good. Electric generating capacity remains a problem. The two power plants supplying Kosovo its power are only operating at 50 percent of their capacity. While Greece is assisting with electrical power supplies, other Allies are providing petroleum, oil, and lubricants. Despite these efforts, Kosovo suffers from daily shortages of electric power.
The country is serviced from the south by a single rail line operating with a few older locomotives donated by European countries. A single two-lane road from the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia provides truck access. We are working to improve this infrastructure, as this route passes over four critical bridges and two tunnels en route from Skopje to Pristina. Failure of this supply line would have severe consequences for the population.
The near-term economic outlook for Kosovo is precarious. The industrial and manufacturing sector is debilitated due to lack of capital investment, damage caused during the conflict, and in some cases, by the departure of Serb managers and skilled workers. Significant economic activity will continue to be hampered by the existing system of discriminatory property rights, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of commercial and industrial finance.
The international community is providing the people of Kosovo with needed humanitarian support. This has been a tremendous success when measured against the time constraints imposed by the onset of winter and the sheer numbers of Kosovars needing assistance.
The USEUCOM theater contingency funding requirement for Kosovo is estimated at $1.2 billion for this year, of which our Army Component's share is $1.19 billion. The total for the Department of Defense as a whole will be around $2.0 billion.
No military construction projects have been approved for KFOR and all base camp construction is being paid for with Operations and Maintenance (O&M) funds. The total cost of camp construction will be around $330 million; of this amount $270 million was funded from fiscal year 1999 O&M accounts. By comparison, in Bosnia base camp construction required two years and cost $550 million. In Kosovo we used the experience gained in Bosnia and completed our camps in only four months with 12 percent greater capacity and at 60 percent of the cost.
Kosovo contingency operations were not funded in this year's budget, and a supplemental appropriation will be required. Force readiness could be adversely affected if we do not receive timely passage of the Kosovo supplemental funding. Kosovo contingency funding is included in the fiscal year 2001 budget, which will be submitted by the President next week.
We continue to enjoy the support of the people of Kosovo in executing our mission. The recent events in the town of Vitina, involving improper allegedly action by U.S. service members, are under active investigation. If improper actions or crimes were committed, we will take necessary steps to hold those individuals accountable. The overwhelming majority of our nearly 6,000 troops continue to do an outstanding job under adverse circumstances and deserve our strong support.
Our tremendous success during Operation Allied Force must not overshadow the realization that the hardest part of securing peace in Kosovo lies ahead. As is the case in Bosnia, the pace of military progress is ahead of civil implementation. We must remember the U.S. force in Bosnia three years ago was around 20,000 and today it is less than 5,000. Progress in Kosovo is being made, albeit slower than we would like, and many significant challenges remain. The continued presence of KFOR is necessary to provide a secure environment for civil implementation to take place and is key to achieving a lasting peace in Kosovo.
Again, I would like to thank this committee for its support, and look forward to answering your questions.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)