The war between NATO and Yugoslavia was an interesting one. Rather than bore you with history; you should already know the moral arguments you’ve all heard before, let’s think about Practical Realities in the context of that action. NATO’s objectives seemed to be:
(1) Stop the massacres and burning of villages in Kosovo.
(2) Destroy Yugoslavian Army and Interior Ministry units and their supporting infrastructure until the government of Yugoslavia allows the peaceful introduction of NATO ground forces into Kosovo.
(3) Return displaced persons to their homes.
Milosovic’ objectives seemed to be:
(1) Hold on to Kosovo at all costs, doing whatever is necessary to ensure this end.
(2) Deny entry of foreign forces onto the territory of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
(3) End the Kosovar problem forever (“Final Solution”) by removing Kosovars from Kosovo by all necessary means.
NATO’s military strategy to achieve their objectives was:
(1) Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses.
(2) Disruption and destruction of the logistic infrastructure supporting the Yugoslav armed forces and Ministry of Interior Police
(3) Disruption and destruction of the command and control infrastructure of the Yugoslav armed forces and Ministry of Interior Police.
(4) Disruption and destruction of Yugoslav mechanized formations
(5) Continue (1) – (4) until the Yugoslav government agreed to let NATO into Kosovo.
Milosovic’ military strategy appeared to be:
(1) Conserve mobile anti aircraft units for employment in tactical air defense.
(2) Secure the territory of Kosovo and then dig in and prepare for NATO ground assault.
(3) Eliminate as many male Kosovars of military age as is practically possible, especially the educated.
(4) Chase as many Kosovar civilians out of the country as is practically possible.
(5) Destroy as much as is necessary in Kosovo to ensure that refugees cannot return.
It’s a no-brainer to see that the Yugoslav military and interior police have a decisive advantage when it comes to achieving most of their military objectives. They are there, on the ground and in action. Male civilian Kosovars who have remained behind without guns are dead or soon will be.
By the time you read this, most of the civilian population in Kosovo will have already been chased out or killed. Areas of KLA strength will be under extreme pressure and may well have been finished off, thus pushing KLA survivors into Albania, Montenegro, and Macedonia.
Meanwhile, NATO will continue to do damage to Yugoslav targets, but the nature of the terrain, combined with the facts on the ground will soon put NATO in a situation with conditions similar to the following:
(1) The overwhelming majority of Kosovar civilians will have been killed or displaced beyond the borders of Kosovo. This will create a new Palestine-like problem in Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia.
(2) There will likely be tens of thousands of Yugoslav troops dug into defendable positions in Kosovo. The bulk of their equipment will have been destroyed by NATO airstrikes. Recall however that the KLA had only a few thousand men under arms (without significant equipment) at their height and were able to secure significant amounts of territory for sustained periods of time until confronted with overwhelming force on the ground.
(3) The logistic support of the Yugoslav forces will have to remain under constant suppression by NATO until the cessation of hostilities. This can be achieved militarily by airpower when most targets are trucks and other vehicles moving along the road; it becomes more difficult when mules and pack animals are employed in number to supply infantry in mountains and hills. Kosovo is a small hilly area (with mules), and Yugoslav lines of communication are not long, so it will be a big challenge to starve them out by airpower alone.
(4) Should Montenegro attempt to separate from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, NATO will come under extreme political pressure to intervene in support of secession.
(5) Any attempt by Milosovic to negotiate entry of NATO ground forces onto the soil of Yugoslavia will likely result in his assassination and replacement by someone more extreme.
So, the question that most were asking before the war started, “what do you do if bombing doesn’t work” now confronts our clever leaders. What is the answer? “It’s a huge sh*t sandwich and we’ve all got to take a bite”