war in europe

Kosovo/Operation Allied Force After-Action Report  U.S. Department of Defense  January 31, 2000

how it was fought
ethnic cleansing
for moral values?

On February 7, 2000, the U.S. Department of Defense released an unclassified version of its After Action report on the NATO bombing campaign in Kosovo.

This excerpt summarizes the Department's findings and offers suggestions for future interventions. The entire report (194 pages) can be downloaded as a pdf file from the DOD web site.


A. Alliance and Coalition Warfare

Although Operation Allied Force was successful, our experience revealed the need for improvements both in the way we function as a government and in the way that NATO functions as an alliance.

1. Interagency Planning

Expand Scope of Policy Actions Considered during Planning. The interagency planning process could be improved by expanding the scope of policy tools considered. As it was executed, the interagency planning process (1) helped to mobilize and coordinate the activities of different agencies, (2) identify issues for consideration by National Security Council Deputies, (3) provide planning support for international organizations (e.g., OSCE and United Nations), and (4) develop benchmarks for measuring progress. This political-military planning played an important role in ensuring that the United States achieved the objectives set forth by the President. At the same time, it is now possible to identify an important area for improvement. Planning focused on air strikes and diplomacy as the primary tools to achieve U.S. and NATO objectives. As it became clear that Milosevic intended to outlast the alliance, more attention was paid to other ways of bringing pressure to bear, including economic sanctions. While ultimately these instruments were put to use with good effect, more advance planning might have made them more effective at an earlier date. In addition, our experience in Operation Allied Force has shown that Presidential Decision Directive 56 (PDD-56), Managing Complex Contingency Operations, had not yet been fully institutionalized throughout the interagency planning process. To remedy this shortcoming, the U.S. Government agencies involved in interagency planning have applied the lessons learned to further institutionalize PDD-56. The routine participation of senior officials in rehearsals, gaming, exercises, and simulations will further strengthen awareness of the broad range of available policy tools.

2. Political-Military Process

Improve NATO Political-Military Process. As previously discussed, NATO's political-military command structure played an important role in the planning and execution of the operation. NATO's command structure worked well, but parallel U.S. and NATO command and control structures complicated operational planning and unity of command. These structures are well defined, but had not been used previously to plan and conduct sustained combat operations. Despite the overall success of NATO's processes, the Department will work with our allies to:

-Enhance NATO's contingency planning process for operations outside the NATO area

-Develop an overarching command-and-control policy and agree on procedures for the policy's implementation

- Enhance procedures and conduct exercises strengthening NATO's political-military interfaces.

3. NATO Capabilities

Encourage NATO Defense Capabilities Initiative. If NATO is to meet future military challenges effectively, it must successfully implement the Defense Capabilities Initiative. Accordingly, the United States will continue to promote the Defense Capabilities Initiative and encourage experimentation by NATO's members with new and advanced warfighting concepts.

Develop Alliance C4 Policy. The United States must work with our NATO allies to develop an overarching command-and-control policy and an agreement on procedures for the policy's implementation. To accomplish this, we will develop additional policy and agreements, or ensure more effective implementation and enforcement of existing agreements, in the following key areas:

- Collaboration on allocation of limited bandwidth and communications assets to alliance members

- Establishment of network integration training standards for Joint Task Force command, control, communications, and computers

- Management of the electromagnetic spectrum to optimize operations and to avoid mutual interference in support of Joint Task Forces

- Implementation and enforcement of coalition agreements on network security

- Improvements in timely compliance with NATO Standardization Agreements

- Improvements in interoperability by focusing on overarching standards and architectures rather than hardware

- Refinements in the policy and process of releasing information

- Acceleration of Host Nation Agreement processes affecting extensive networks of command, control, communications, and computers for Commanders of Joint Task Forces.

Accelerate Development of Allied Joint Doctrine. Because the development of Allied Joint Doctrine has been slower than desired, the Department is currently reviewing U.S. procedures for participating in the development process. We believe NATO also needs to streamline its procedures for doctrine development and approval. Accordingly, the Department will engage NATO's Military Committee and High Level Steering Committee to facilitate these improvements.

B. Force Deployment

The deployment of U.S. forces to Operation Allied Force was, from an overall perspective, highly successful, especially given the compressed planning timeline and the great distances that forces were moved.

1. Deployment Checklist

Develop Deployment Checklist. To build on this success in future conflicts, the Department is developing an appropriate checklist for use by U.S. negotiators to ensure our international agreements contain critical host nation support for military operations plans and contingency operations. Items that will be considered for inclusion in these checklists are: designated points of entry and departure, customs, overflight authorization, use of radio frequencies, air traffic control, blanket diplomatic clearances, basing rights, facility access agreements, coalition contracting procedures, connectivity, force protection, site surveys and update process, site explosive material handling plan, and weapon storage. Implementation of such international agreements will facilitate quicker access and assist in realizing the Joint Vision 2010 goals of rapid deployment, as well as rapid employment and immediate sustainment.

2. Aerial Refueling Forces

Review Aerial Refueling Capabilities. The Department is reviewing its aerial refueling forces and crew levels to determine whether they are sufficient to meet future needs in major theater wars or other contingencies. The Department is also reviewing options for improving our capability to plan in theater, in real time, for the most effective use of our aerial refueling fleet.

3. Deployment Planning Tools and Procedures

Improve Deployment Planning Capabilities. The Department is reviewing the suite of tools used to generate time-phased force and deployment data with the goal of providing a more seamless system for planners at every level. However, improving the automated planning systems is only part of the solution to eliminating delays in the process used to generate Time-Phased Force and Deployment Data (TPFDD) for an operation, especially one that is unplanned. To ensure that existing deployment-planning tools are used effectively, the Department will also provide more deployment-oriented continuation training from the highest staff levels down to the lowest. The Department also continues to pursue long-term, end-to-end solutions for this aspect of deployment planning.

4. In-Transit Visibility

Improve In-Transit Visibility. The Department will continue to develop internal in-transit visibility plans that leverage the technical in-transit visibility capabilities that are being developed and deployed by the Services and other agencies.

The Department is also evaluating the need for additional joint doctrine and procedures to link strategic and theater in-transit visibility into an integrated process so as to provide commanders with a much clearer picture of the status of deploying units, equipment, and supplies.

5. Role of Airlift

Continue To Support C-17 Program. The Department will provide continued strong support for the C-17 program. The performance of the Air Force's C-17A airlifters was one of the great success stories of Operation Allied Force. The planes flew half of the strategic airlift missions required during the operation. Their capability to land on small airfields and to accommodate rapid offloading of cargo were particularly important.

Examine Utility of Placing Strategic Airlift under Theater Control. The Department is also examining the structure and concepts of operation employed at the Air Mobility Operations Control Center to determine if they are applicable to other theaters. To accommodate the deployment demands associated with Task Force Hawk, the U.S. Transportation Command, for the first time, gave a theater tactical control of a significant number of strategic airlift aircraft for a specific deployment. An established mechanism for temporarily placing strategic airlift aircraft under theater control may be of great help in major theater wars if commanders are faced with sudden, large intratheater lift requirements.

6. Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore Capability

Review Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore Capabilities. The Department will review its requirements for Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) systems and similar logistics enablers. Although our JLOTS capability was not needed in Operation Allied Force, the Department must ensure that we have adequate capability to provide logistics support across a broad range of major theater wars and smaller scale contingencies.

C. Force Direction

Command, control, and communications systems and facilities provide essential force direction capability. While the command, control, and communications capabilities available during Operation Allied Force enabled effective application of U.S. and NATO forces, some shortcomings were apparent. These are discussed below.

1. Air Operations Center

Develop Expeditionary Air Operations Centers. Operation Allied Force highlighted the need for the Department to develop expeditionary air operations centers and equip them with supporting resources and manpower to enable U.S. forces to create combined air operations centers that can be tailored to the crisis at hand and deployed quickly. Future conflicts will continue to require appropriate command-and-control centers to effectively execute and manage the joint force commander's strategy and execution plans. If such centers are to be effective, they cannot be set up from scratch.

2. Joint Tactical Data Connectivity and Control

Establish Joint Interface Control Officers on CINC Staffs. The Department is staffing a joint requirement for the Joint Interface Control Officer (JICO) organization to fill authorized positions on CINC headquarters staffs. The JICO is the only activitythat is trained to integrate tactical data systems at a joint level. At present, however, theater CINCs are currently not authorized to include elements of this organization within their headquarters. Consequently, during Allied Force, the JICO school at U.S. Army Forces Command dispatched its cadre of trainers to Europe to support the operation. The JICO school has now been reestablished at Joint Forces Command, where it will need strong support, including the development of automated tools and the right people.

Provide Secure Joint Tactical Data Link. The Department must develop a joint, secure, tactical data-link capability across all strike platforms to allow real-time data exchange and precision-target processing between sensors and shooters, and to establish a robust common-tactical picture.

3. Joint Operational Architecture

Develop Joint Operational Architecture. To address interoperability deficiencies in the near term, the Department needs to develop a concept of operations for joint and coalition warfare that identifies interoperability shortfalls and defines contingency plans. For the long term, the Department must consider construction of an end-to-end joint operational architecture that provides a roadmap for U.S. and NATO acquisition strategies.

D. Intelligence and Targeting Support

The overall quality and level of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support provided during Operation Allied Force was far superior to that provided during the Gulf War. Moreover, many of the intelligence system and architecture shortfalls that surfaced during Allied Force had been recognized prior to the crisis and remedies had been programmed. Others, however, became evident for the first time.

1. Intelligence Support

Improve Federated Intelligence Capability. The Department will continue to develop and refine tactics, techniques, and procedures to guide our federated intelligence efforts. The Department will also reassess the communications systems needed to support our increased reliance on federation, taking into account the needs for deployable systems and technicians. In addition, the Department must develop a clear policy and implementation plan to explain when and how coalition partners can be connected to U.S. networks and when and how data can be shared with those partners.

2. Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems

Enhance the Employment of ISR Assets. The Department will identify innovative and affordable ways to enhance the employment of low-density/high-demand ISR assets. In particular, the Department will identify ways to adjust the deployments of ISR platforms dynamically so as to provide adequate support for emergent theater-level requirements while maintaining required levels of surveillance and intelligence awareness in other areas of the world.

Improve ISR Sensors and Communications Capability. The Department must also develop better sensors and communications to improve our capability to target an adversary's mobile-fielded forces. We also need to emphasize rapid collection and dissemination of no-strike target information to avoid collateral damage.

3. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Improve Capability To Use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. To enhance U.S. capability to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Department is investigating specific technical and training improvements. In addition, the Department will improve the tactics, techniques, and procedures that guide UAV operations so as to better integrate these systems in overall campaign plans.

4. Precision Intelligence

Improve Precision Intelligence Capability. To improve U.S. capability to provide precision intelligence, the Department will focus on specific technical enhancements.

5. Countering Camouflage, Concealment, and Deception Tactics

Improve Capability To Counter an Adversary's Use of Camouflage, Concealment, and Deception. The Department must devise better means to counter the use of camouflage, concealment, and deception tactics by potential adversaries. Greater emphasis needs to be placed on the development of advanced sensors and improved training.

E. Force Protection

From a force protection perspective, Operation Allied Force was among the most successful major military actions in modern history. Despite a determined enemy, NATO defense forces quickly fought and won control of the air, ensuring that its forces enjoyed complete safety and freedom to maneuver outside the borders of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

1. Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses

Prepare for State-of-the-Art Air Defense Threats. While NATO prevailed in delivering an overwhelming air offensive with virtually no loss to its forces, we must acknowledge some concerns for the future. Although the Yugoslav air defense systems were among the most capable that U.S. forces have ever faced in combat, those defenses do not represent the state of the art. Much more capable air defense systems are currently available for sale in the international arms market. The Department needs to prepare for the possibility that, in the years ahead, the United States may face an adversary armed with state-of-the-art air defense systems.

Enhance Capability To Locate and Attack Air Defense Threats. The Department is investigating ways to improve our capability to attack hostile radar and missile systems.

Develop a Comprehensive Air Defense Suppression Capability. Our experiences in Operation Allied Force re-emphasized the importance of having a comprehensive air defense suppression capability. Accordingly, the Department is conducting a detailed and thorough study of our joint air-defense suppression capabilities.

2. Personnel Recovery

Designate and Train Combat Search and Rescue Forces. Because personnel recovery operations are among the most complex and dangerous missions undertaken by our forces, the combatant commands must include appropriate personnel recovery training in joint exercises. Moreover, this training must include the full spectrum of recovery operations. In addition, the combatant commands should designate in contingency and operation plans a primary combat search-and-rescue force for each component and joint task force and should then ensure that these forces train appropriately.

3. Communications and Operations Security

Provide Secure Telephone Capability. Over the near term, regional commanders and the Services will review their distribution and allocation plans for secure telephones to ensure that sufficient numbers are available to enable U.S. forces to communicate with allies and coalition partners. Over the long term, the Department has developed a strategy for achieving secure interoperability with our allies and coalition partners that relies on the new Secure Terminal Equipment.

Facilitate Distribution of Intelligence Products to Warfighters and Allies.

The Department will explore ways to permit intelligence and other information to be classified at the lowest possible classification level in order to ensure its availability to warfighters and coalition partners, while still protecting intelligence sources and methods.

Maintain Operational Security. To further enhance operational security, the Department will ensure that all personnel (especially augmentees) receive appropriate training in security procedure awareness.

Protect Computer Networks. To ensure that DoD computers are protected from deliberate attack, the Department will appropriately restrict access to sensitive information that could be useful to either a wartime adversary or computer hackers. We will also ensure that system administrators emphasize computer security during training and that they implement all available hardware and software security features.

Counter Hostile Intelligence Collection Efforts. Because the United States and NATO are among the highest-value targets of many foreign intelligence organizations, U.S. counterintelligence agencies must provide adequate capability to detect, identify, deter, and neutralize hostile intelligence collection efforts.

4. Joint Deep Operations

Develop Joint Concepts for Employing Army Attack Helicopters and Tactical Missiles. The Department will develop Joint Deep Operations concepts to guide the employment of Army attack helicopters and tactical missiles in support of overall operations. The concepts will include procedures for including Army assets on the Air Tasking Order, when appropriate. In addition, the Department will continue to evolve standard tactics, techniques, and procedures for integrating Army Tactical Missiles into Joint and Combined operations. We will then reinforce these concepts and procedures through appropriate joint training exercises. Finally, the Department will explore technological innovations (e.g., using unmanned aerial vehicles or other airborne platforms to find and designate targets for attack helicopters) and attendant equipment upgrades that will improve our ability to integrate air operations.

F. Target Attack

Operation Allied Force was notable for its heavy reliance on standoff and precision-guided munitions to attack targets and by the successful introduction of new strike platforms and weapons. In the main, however, the campaign was primarily and successfully prosecuted by systems and platforms that have long been in the inventory.

1. Precision Engagement

Enhance Precision Engagement Capability. To improve U.S. capability to conduct precision engagement, the Department will continue to assess technologies that will ensure flexibility and enable all-weather precision strikes. In addition, the Department will continue to pursue technologies that will process, exploit, and disseminate target information in a timely manner to support precision engagement.

2. Preferred Munitions

Enhance Capability To Use Preferred Munitions. The latest generation of air-delivered munitions was employed in substantial numbers for the first time during Operation Allied Force. Throughout the conflict these weapons were highly successful in hitting their intended targets and in producing the intended results, while limiting collateral damage to civilians. To further enhance U.S. capability to use these weapons effectively, the Department will:

- Continue Service initiatives to replenish inventories of preferred munitions.

- Continue to assess development of weapons that fill gaps and shortfalls in current capabilities and pursue their subsequent certification on launch platforms.

- Assess methods to determine wartime planning factors affecting expenditure rates.

- Assess future weapon inventories to achieve the proper balance of capabilities for future requirements.

3. Information Operations

Improve Information Operations Planning. The Department will ensure that information operations planning is initiated early and synchronized with other operational plans.

G. Logistics and Force Sustainment

The magnitude of the forces employed to Operation Allied Force and the limited availability of logistics infrastructure presented particular challenges to the logistics units and personnel tasked with sustainment operations. The implications of the most important of those challenges are summarized below.

1. Preferred Munitions

Reexamine Allocation of Preferred Munitions. In light of the high demand for preferred munitions during Operation Allied Force, the Department will reexamine the allocation of preferred munitions to the different theaters. This assessment will reconcile the demands of smaller-scale contingencies with other operational plans so as to minimize the risk to our overall military posture.

Reexamine Prepositioned Munitions Mix. In a similar vein, the Department will reexamine the mix of preferred and non-preferred munitions in its prepositioned munition stockpiles.

2. Engineer Assets

Provide Timely Engineering Capability. To ensure that theater CINCs have sufficient engineer support for rapid response contingencies in their theaters, the Department will investigate options for establishing different mixes of forward-deployed engineer assets. The Department will also examine its requirement for air-deployable engineer assets.

3. Humanitarian Assistance

Ensure Adequate Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance Operations. To ensure that future humanitarian assistance operations are conducted as effectively and efficiently as possible, the Department will explore such activities as exchanging liaison officers and conducting humanitarian assistance training exercises. When conducting humanitarian assessments at the outset of a crisis, the Department will closely coordinate, or perhaps even combine, its activities with those of other U.S. Government agencies involved.

H. Personnel and Training

Our people made Operation Allied Force a success. They were well trained, disciplined, and creative. The paramount lesson learned from this operation is that the well being of our people must remain our first priority. Other important aspects of mobilizing people in support of the operation are summarized here.

1. Personnel Augmentation

Develop Personnel Augmentation Plans. In the near term, the theater CINCs will develop and disseminate to the Services detailed personnel augmentation plans to support Joint Task Force contingency operations. We expect these plans to identify the personnel billets that will need to be filled during a crisis as well as the component or Service that should be tasked to provide those personnel.

Improve Personnel Augmentation Process. Over the long term, the Joint Staff and Services will work to improve the process used to provide personnel augmentation during times of crisis. Actions include identifying the specific responsibilities to be assigned to the theater CINCs, the Joint Staff, and the Services; setting realistic reporting dates; and establishing a timely reclama process to resolve the inevitable conflicts that will arise when crisis needs are at odds with other Service or agency priorities.

2. Reserve Component

Ensure Access to Reserve Component Personnel. Because a significant fraction of the military's total pool of uniquely skilled personnel resides in the Reserves, a Presidential Selected Reserve Call-up should be considered early on in future contingencies to preclude undue stress on other Active Component units, especially those in other theaters.

3. Intelligence Personnel

Develop Rapid Reaction Intelligence Support Capability. The Intelligence Community will develop a rapid-reaction capability that enables the various intelligence agencies to better anticipate requirements, prepare their work forces, and streamline procedures for individual or organizational augmentation.

4. Training

Emphasize Joint Interoperability Training. The Department will place greater emphasis on interoperability training among our own forces, with those of our allies, other nations and partners, as well as on interagency training within our Government. When the Services work as a joint team, each Service's capabilities and systems can complement those of the other Services to enhance both force survivability and combat effectiveness, and permit the full exploitation of their operational capabilities.

I. Impact on other Operations

Given the size of the military force deployed for Operation Allied Force, the potential for adverse impacts on other U.S. commitments around the world seems clear. The implications of the most important of these are summarized here.

1. Major Theater War Operation Plans

Ensure Use of Deployment Order Coordination Process. The Department will ensure that our theater commanders in chief and the Services fully utilize the deployment-order coordination process when conducting risk analysis. Over the long term, the Readiness Assessment System should assist the CINCs, Joint Staff, and Services in performing risk analysis. We expect this system to provide a user-friendly, Web-based tool that allows users to view time-phased force and deployment data that supports operational plans.

Improve Conflict Assessment Tools. In addition, the Department will pursue a more structured and dynamic set of tools to assess our ability to conduct major wars while at the same time responding to contingencies. The desired tools should also enable the Department to gauge the risks that contingency operations pose to our ability to execute the overall defense strategy.

2. Joint Staff and Joint Force Issues

Apportion Forces To Support NATO's New Strategic Concept. The Department will ensure that future editions of the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) consider and apportion appropriate forces to the U.S. European Command for use in supporting NATO crisis management and crisis-response operations.

Add a Dynamic Assessment Capability to the Joint Monthly Readiness Review. The Department will expand the Joint Monthly Readiness Review to enable rapid, internal, and dynamic assessment of force-deployment options and to capture their impacts on competing requirements.

3. Global Force Integration

Emphasize Global Focus when Organizing and Training Forces. The Department will continue to develop a global focus in U.S. military organization and training. Accordingly, we will improve both doctrine and training as well as our capability to organize and equip our forces to meet the demands of global engagement. When designing future exercises and training, the Department will include the global capabilities that are required to support theater operations. While our forces must necessarily focus on their respective theaters, we need to increase their proficiency in the complex actions necessary for integrating a global force. Additionally, we will encourage new levels of adaptability and flexibility in global interoperability and integration so that our forces are better prepared for unpredictable scenarios.

Include Global Engagement in Emerging Joint Operational Architecture. The Department also intends to incorporate global engagement tenets in our emerging Joint Operational Architecture. Our experience in integrating worldwide capabilities highlights the importance of a Joint Operational Architecture that defines the relationships between the forces and commands involved in complex operations. This architecture will also serve as the basis for developing technical architectures to support warfighters' needs and prioritize resources and training requirements. Eventually, we expect to develop similar architectures for the spectrum of global threats as well as to identify and describe the organizational changes necessary to support the National Military Strategy.

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