NATO Chiefs Ponder Best Way to Deliver Military Right Hook

Article excerpt

THE Serbian army, regardless of its size, would suffer defeat in a ground war.

Despite having a million soldiers, it would be no match for the professionals NATO would send in.

The Serbian army is a conscript force, far different from the army of guerrillas which won its honours against Hitler's occupation army.

From its ranks, Marshal Tito formed the new Yugoslav Army. But Milosevic now has only the Serbian rump of that army under his command.

The soldiers have no experience in late 20th century war and the call-up boys may not have the stomach to fight professionals.

Moreover, they will be in action without cover against the most powerful air and missile forces in the world.

The Soviet training, built around massive concentrations of defence and attack forces and fighting without regard to losses, will not help them.

When Saddam Hussein's forces, trained in a similar way, used these tactics in the Gulf, they were overwhelmed by the air assault with infantry back-up.

At the moment, Allied diplomats are preparing the way for a military right hook from the east.

Staff officers have long pondered the formidable problems set by geography, history and logistics.

The first task is to decide which route battle groups must take for an attack on Milosevic's armed forces.

The most promising line of march is overland through Slovakia, the Czech Republic and into Hungary. Then armoured columns would cross into Serbia.

Slovakia has just opened its borders to NATO. Hungary is willing. All that is needed is agreement from the Czech Republic.

American armoured divisions in Germany could then be transported by rail to the Hungarian border with Serbia.

All things being equal, the golden road to Belgrade would be the one leading westwards from Macedonia.The terrain is favourable, the roads are good and the starting point is the Greek port of Thessalonica. …