War In The Balkans: Strategy - Nato chiefs pick date for advance

War in the Balkans: Strategy

SENIOR NATO military strategists have advised their political masters that Kosovo will have to be taken by the end of August if the refugees are to start returning this year. Lieutenant General Sir Michael Jackson, commander of the allied forces in Macedonia, is believed to feel this is a realistic time scale to avoid a hazardous winter war.

In Macedonia preparations are being made for the arrival of troops to thrust into Kosovoin late July, or early August, by which time the air strikes should have severely degraded Serbian armour and seriously weakened their morale.

An opposed entry would require airborne troops to seize and secure routes into Kosovo and strategic targets around Pristina, including the airport. Light armour and multiple rocket launchers can be airlifted in to help defend the positions. The plans include attacks by AH64A Apache helicopters and Spectre gunships as heavy armour spearheads the advance. The main advance would be from Macedonia.

General Clark's request for the extra troops for Kosovo Force (Kfor) is not the final one. Some senior officers want more commando-type units to flush out Serbian special forces and irregulars who may threaten the flanks of the attack.

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