U.S. Naval Lessons Learned During Operation Allied Force, March-June 1999
Statement of Vice Admiral Daniel J. Murphy, Jr., U.S. NAVY, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, and Striking and Support Forces, Southern Europe:
Good morning, Mr. Chairman [Herbert H. Bateman] and Mr.[Solomon P.] Ortiz. When I last appeared before members of this subcommittee it was only three weeks before the beginning of Operation ALLIED FORCE. You were kind enough to meet us on our home turf in Naples, and we had representatives from all of the services there. At that time you asked me what my number one readiness concern was and I told you it was numbers; numbers of ships, numbers of airplanes, numbers of bombs, numbers of Tomahawk missiles.
That is not unchanged by our experience in ALLIED FORCE and indeed the many operations surrounding ALLIED FORCE, as General [John P.,] Jumper [Commander in Chief, U.S. Air Forces, Europe], U.S. Air Force alluded to. ALLIED FORCE itself has remained in the spotlight. It was, as we all know, simply a means to the end to get boots on the ground to resolve what would be a very long-term and intractable for a long-term situation in Kosovo proper.
The Army isn’t represented here. I would like to say on their behalf they are on the ground in Kosovo right now. Which leads me to my second point, which is that it was only 13 years ago that the Congress enacted Goldwater-Nichols legislation. At that time, the greatest concern was the inability of the services to work very closely together. What has gone completely unmentioned in all of the after-action analyses of ALLIED FORCE and JOINT GUARDIAN, which was then the follow-up land mission in Kosovo, was any concern with respect to our ability to operate together as a single team. In fact, despite the enormous complexity of working within a NATO Alliance that was not at all times fully committed to the effort, the glue that held everything together was the full integration of General Jumper’s organization, Admiral Ellis’s Naval forces in Europe, the Army forces in Europe, and the Marine forces in Europe. We did work very, very closely together. It was a team effort that began, frankly, as long ago as June of 1998. And again in March of last year when Members were there discussing with me, I gave you an update of where we stood at that point in planning for Kosovo and mentioned this was a fully integrated planning effort.
I view the role of the 6th fleet, the Navy and the Float Marine Forces assigned to me as being that of a junior partner to General Jumper and his Air Forces. Naval aviation, Tomahawk missiles, cannot do what the Air Force can, as only the United States Air Force can put together an air campaign of the enormous complexity and size of what we saw in ALLIED FORCE. Our strength resides in our self-contained strike planning and support. Through our relative size–that is, compared to the overall effort–we enjoyed a certain degree of agility that was used very well by the air component commander to go after real-time targets as they emerged. And I am particularly proud of the same-day devastating strikes, for example, again Podgorica Airfield conducted by Air Wing 8.
We all had a very significant role to play, and I think the terrific news is that all of the forces were applied to their best effect; and there was never, to my knowledge, a very significant parochial issue that intervened in how those forces were applied.
In terms of readiness and reconstitutability, the Naval forces takes a bit of a different approach than what you have discussed with the Air Force. We flew only a very few forces that were not normally deployed forces, unlike the Air Force. So the impact for us was on playing that ever increasingly challenging shell game of attempting to find under what shell the Carrier Battle Group P is going to be located at any one given time. The Enterprise Battle Group, which had trained up with General Short’s team to perform strikes within Serbia and Kosovo proper, was sent to the central command region and ordered to maintain pressure on Saddam Hussein. That was done just ten days before the start of the conflict. I don’t dispute the need to do that, but this was precisely at the same time that Secretary General Javier Solana was attempting to make very clear to Mr. [Slobodan] Milosevic that we were dead serious this time. It is difficult to avoid the sense that there might have been mixed signals in that. But that is indeed what we wrestle with every day today.The reconstitutability factor for us is that the Kitty Hawk Battle Group, whose responsibility is to have expertise in the western Pacific and was to be on station in particular because of some of the turmoil in Korea, was sent with no notice to the Arabian Gulf to fill in behind the Theodore Roosevelt that was sped across in order to make up for Enterprise that was sent home on time.
This is a reconstitution and readiness issue that we deal with. We must be ready on day one in all three principal theaters in any given time, and then we have to be prepared to fill in as quickly as possible should our prognosis of where those forces are needed turn out to be wrong.
But the last point that I would like to make is that while there does remain a significant disparity between U.S. capability and NATO capability in terms of technology; and, in particular, the ability to exercise proper command and control of forces, that I do believe that our having evolved to an Internet-based means of communicating among commanders provides the key to how NATO can regain much of the lost technology that we have seen.
We have a terrific opportunity now to embrace a whole new means of exercising command of forces and exchanging data. That was pioneered by General Jumper, by Admiral Ellis, and General [Wesley] Clark, and I believe that is the way for NATO as well. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Bateman. Thank you very much, Admiral Murphy.
Statement of Brigadier General Robert M. Flanagan, Deputy Commanding General, II MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force), U.S. Marine Corps:
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of the subcommittee. I would like to also thank you for this opportunity for the Marines to represent their story in Kosovo. I have a somewhat different perspective perhaps. We were a much smaller contingent in that conflict, as you know. We also think that readiness is one of our hallmarks; and I think in our way, again, we proved that in how we responded to operations in Kosovo. We had about 6,000 flight hours in support of operations in Kosovo, as many of you may know. We deployed our AV-8B Harriers in operations there aboard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) shipping; and, of course, one of the ARGs was presently in theater when the conflict began. So we had immediate response with our ARG aircraft, in this case six AV-8B Harriers. We quickly deployed our EA-6Bs in the theater, a total of 11. They arrived within four days of notification and they were on the ground and ready to do operations.
We also deployed two squadrons of F/A-18Ds, our two-seat Hornets, from a cold start; that is, no warning. And within 14 days these Marine fighters were on the deck and ready to go. In addition we deployed a couple of C-130s in support of our aircraft theater. We had about 1,200 Marines total in theater.
My statement does provide some details on our lessons learned from Kosovo, but if I may in the next few minutes, I would like to highlight a couple of pluses and minuses that we encountered. Let me first talk about our Prowlers, or EA-6Bs. We have four squadrons of Prowlers, a total of 20 aircraft. In this case, a total of 11 actually were in theater but, in essence, the heart of three squadrons were deployed.
Mr. Ortiz, the bill payer for the deployment of the three squadrons was, in fact, the squadron that remained at home. Because of the parts personnel that we needed to keep our three squadrons running in theater, our remain-at-home squadron provided those parts and now will slide their next—their planned deployment will slide until next year to get them a little bit in step.
We did need that support from the rear. I will tell you that the three squadrons did a very good job in theater. They were 100 percent mission capable and complete. They never dropped a mission while they were there. They fired the High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) missile, as you know. We think they did a pretty good job. They also supported stealth ops early on.
Our VMAQ–2, Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare squadron, the first one to deploy within four days, was in fact the only tactical Electronic Warfare (EW) platform in theater on the first two days of the war.
What were the shortfalls? We had a few in this aircraft. This is a relatively old aircraft, about 20 years or so. The first one we noticed is that it is not Night Vision Device capable. That includes the cockpit configuration as well as the devices and training for the pilots themselves. Thanks to your efforts of this subcommittee and the full committee, we did receive a supplement and we will be upgrading all of the EA-6Bs with the night vision capability, a tremendous capability. Our limitation there was that everyone else in the theater had night vision goggles and devices. We were kind of odd man out, somewhat of a higher risk.
Another issue that came out in the EA-6B community was our lack of LINK 16 or wideband data reception. This really is probably the main step in our Sensor to Shooter Program that DOD is trying to follow. The EA–6B is not LINK 16 capable and, therefore, did not have the full integrated air picture, again making it a little more difficult to operate in that high-tech environment. I would like to thank you again for your continued support and the Congressional plus-up that we received in fiscal year 2000 for LINK 16 upgrades.
My last comment on the EA–6B was we found it to be absolutely essential for these kinds of combat operations. We anticipate that all of our EA-6Bs in the Marine Corps will have an extended life out to about 2015; and we are now in the process of looking for a replacement, although we have not found any yet.
To address also the parts issue, I would just tell you that the average flight time of our air frames in Kosovo ops was about 95 hours per month. Remember that we plan about 36 hours per month per airframe, and our supplies and spare parts are designed and purchased with those numbers in mind. So we exceeded that not quite by three times during that operation.
We deployed 24 F/A–18Ds in theater. A little different here. We were set up in Taszar, Hungary pretty much on our own up to the north. The F/A–18D is a multi-role aircraft. It has considerable capability, we think, for a two-seater. It is strike TACA, FACA, Forward Air Control Airborne and Tactical Air Control Airborne. It is a HARM shooter and it has a rugged capability with our new ATARS system, the Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance System. ATARS provides us with several means of identifying targets, taking pictures of the targets for both Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) efforts as well as target destruction.
I happened to bring a piece of ATAR imagery with me this morning that I would like to show you very quickly. These are actually friendlies. This is our new layout in Skopje, Macedonia, taken by an F/A-18D. This is an electrooptical view of our aircraft. Standout capability, out to 40 and 50 miles with the radars, the synthetic aperture radars, and up to 20,000 feet. Excellent capability. We had two systems in theater that we used up north in Taszar. The downside of the deployment of the ATARS is that the technology that pushes the ATAR out is very complex. Today it is not compatible with all systems that we encountered in Europe. And some of the ATARS data was not used in a good way because of the high technology of the system. Nonetheless, it is an excellent system.
When we deployed our F/A-18D to Taszar, we brought with them our special Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) capabilities. We brought with them an engineering support that enhanced the airfield, set up air traffic control, Marine air traffic controllers; and we allowed the airfield to go to 24-hour-a-day operations in foul weather. We set up arresting gear that allowed them to operate again in foul weather conditions when other airfields couldn’t operate, and we also sent with them our MPs for force protection. They were pretty much of a stand-alone operation up north.
To give you an idea of the ops tempo of our F/A-18D, let me just tell you about two of the squadrons that were there. The VFA(AW)-533 returned from Unit Deployment Program (UDP) deployment in March of 1999 and turned around and deployed to Kosovo in May. The other squadron that was there, the VFA-332, will deploy in January of this year, UDP having come back in July of this year.
I mentioned our AV-8B II Pluses that were stationed aboard ARG shipping. They operated very close to theater off the USS Nassau and the Kearsarge. That gave them no footprint ashore, excellent maintenance capability, and supply support. Basically we had no problems with those aircraft operating aboard ship, and no missions were lost due to maintenance for those aircraft. The one limitation that we had with the AV-8B was its inability to designate a target with a laser.
Once again, due to the efforts of this committee, you provided us a supplement for nine external laser pads to retrofit into the AV-8Bs. We are still looking to see if we can retrofit the additional 47 systems that we need.
Another interesting point about the Harriers I would like to mention is one of the key lessons we learned in their deployment and employment is that you have to come to the fight ready to go. Both of these squadrons had the benefit of passing through Vieques [Puerto Rico] on their way into theater and were fully trained with live ordnance on the integration of combined arms with ground maneuver forces, although there were no ground maneuver forces, as you well know. But they were well-trained in live ordnance operations. When they arrived in theater, in some cases they went immediately into action.
We think this is essential for our forces when they deploy and that they be ready to go at a moment’s notice. There is no time to plan for or train in theater. We had two C-130s deployed in Bari, Italy. They refueled not only U.S. aircraft, EA-6Bs,they also refueled the Spanish, the Italians, the French and British Tornados. Essential for us, they did an essential job.
And we are very grateful for the support we are receiving now from this Congress in replacing our 40-year-old KC-130F/Rs with the new KC-130Js. We think Kosovo was a success for Marine aviation and we think it validated or helped to validate our expeditionary capabilities, both sea-based and ashore.
Thank you for your support in the supplemental, the 45-1/2 million that we received that paid back our flight hours, our additional flight hours, and refurbished our spare parts and supplies. That amount of money was sufficient for us and allowed us at II MEF to not degrade other programs as we repaid our debt for the Kosovo operations.
I also would like to thank you for your support in the supplementals for the specific programs that I mentioned, the laser pods, the night vision devices in the Wing 16, and for your continued support on pay allowances and increases. Thank you again for this opportunity and I am ready to answer any questions.
Statement of Vice Admiral Amerault, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics), U.S. Navy:
Mr. Chairman, I have a statement for the record that I would like to see entered into the record. Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you once again. I represent with pride those personnel, sailors, Marines, and also civilians who work behind the scenes and often on the scene for the success in operations like ALLIED FORCE, those people in the logistics arena.
As always, I am very grateful for your support in ensuring that sailors and Marines have the resources and training that they need to respond to challenges today as well as to prepare for those of the future.
First and foremost, while we were fortunate not to lose any personnel, our people’s skill, innovation and professionalism in action made the operation in Kosovo succeed. I think that we must continue to provide them the resources and training and quality of life that they deserve. Your help has been invaluable in the past, and I hope and I am sure that it will continue in the future. I thank you in advance.
Operation ALLIED FORCE reminds us also of the value of a forward presence that is provided by combat-ready carrier battle groups and amphibious-ready groups with their embarked Marine Expeditionary Units. The Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group commenced highly successful strike operations three days after entering the Mediterranean and only ten days after beginning her regularly scheduled deployment. The Roosevelt Battle Group’s performance is noteworthy for its many successes; scores of fixed targets destroyed, more than 400 tactical targets destroyed or damaged, in excess of 3,000 sorties flown without a single loss. Following the hostilities, a largely self-sufficient detachment of 375 Marine Seabees with 99 vehicles, tools, and equipment constructed shelters for NATO personnel and for Kosovars who were left homeless as a result of the war. They helped restore running water and reliable stored power to the devastated region. This Seabee capability is often unsung but is an essential capability that comes also from the sea and one we are determined to maintain in very vigorous condition. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Bateman. Thank you, Admiral.
Source: U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services. Military Readiness Subcommittee. Operations in Kosovo: Problems Encountered, Lessons Learned and Reconstitution. 106th Cong., 1st sess., 26 October 1999, H.A.S.C. No. 106–27. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2000. [Much of this document is available at http://www.fas.org/man/congress/1999/has299030_0.htm. Statements by subcommittee members, other non-naval military officers, and questions and answers involving the three naval officers who testified above, are included.].
27 April 2004 – Kosovo: U.S. Naval Lessons Learned During Operation Allied Force, March-June 1999
Naval Historical Center