Murphy's Law: June 24, 2000


Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) has released a report of its experiences during the 1999 Kosovo bombing campaign. The RAF was a distant second to the USAF in bombing Serb targets. The Brits did a good job, but what is striking about the RAF report is the admission of numerous serious errors.

-If there had not been so many cloudy days when RAF bombers could not (unlike many USAF warplanes) operate, Britain would have run out of bombs before the campaign ended.

-British radios were older models that could be (and were) monitored by Serbs, KLA and just about anyone with a radio scanner. New radios, which encrypt transmissions, have been in the procurement pipeline for years, and were supposed to be operational in 1995. There was also no secure (coded) communications back to Britain. Many commanders used cell phones to call back to Britain, but if there were too many journalists around using theirs, there were no connections available. .

-When British ground troops went in, they spent the Winter in tents because the Army was not able to get proper winter quarters built in time. There were also shortages of medicine.

-Rapid movement of weapons and equipment to the Balkans was subject to Russian veto, because the principal British air freight aircraft are Russian built Antonovs leased from Russia and subject to recall by Russia.

-Many British guided bombs were unable to survive several takeoffs and landings (necessary because of all the missions aborted by bad weather at the target area.) As a result, Britain ran out of bombs more quickly. This had been noted during the 1991 Gulf War campaign, but was still in the process of being fixed.

-There was a shortage of technical troops. Signal units were 23 percent under strength. Aviation units were short mechanics and technicians. The Royal Navy did not have enough pilots.

Britain expects it's Kosovo operations to cost some $1.4 billion over five years. Operations so far have already cost over half a billion dollars.


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