With nearly three weeks of operation Allied Force completed, some lessons in modern warfare in Europe have become apparent.
A key component in advanced command and control using AWACS aircraft has enabled NATO to completely dominate the air. From the moment FRY aircraft take off they are tracked and the appropriate CAP is vectored for maximum kill potential.
While the MiG-29 is, in some respects, a better aircraft than the F/A-18, without the continuous updating of air space intelligence it is operating at a severe disadvantage. Even operating on itís home territory the FRY air force is almost impotent while day-by-day it is slowly being destroyed.
Lasers cannot pin point targets through cloud cover, what you canít see, you canít hit. Weather, as well as the need to accurately find the target to reduce collateral damage and to reduce losses from anti-air weapons severely restricts air power.
The current NATO strategy of only using air power to reduce FRY forces is open to debate. Weather limits this strategy. However, it needs time for the damage to command and control and supplies to take effect. It may never completely succeed and further degradation of individual FRY forces will need to be made.
The Apaches/ATACM will redress some of the disadvantages of an air-only strategy, but the addition of ground troops seems inevitable.
The ALCM, supplies of which are now almost exhausted, were originally intended for a nuclear mission, hence very few were needed. This weapon, which can carry a conventional warhead twice as big as a Tomahawk, has proved very useful and, no doubt, will be acquired in large numbers in the coming years. Several hundred Tomahawks will also be converted form nuclear to conventional weapons.
This underscores the changes necessary and not yet completed from a Cold War to what has emerged since: the need to contain the dictators of countries still in transition to democracy.
This latest of the modern dictators is also probably the least successful. Having lost most of Yugoslavia, he is now into his third losing conflict.
I would suggest that the outcome of his latest adventure would see him taken in by Russia to spend the rest of his days in a secluded dacha on the outskirts of Moscow. With his equally deplorable wife he will be unloved, unmissed and forgotten.