Clinton tried to explain to the public that the campaign was launched to prevent a "an even crueler and costlier and wider war in Europe" (so-called domino effect) and damage Serbian’s military forces in order to stop harming Kosovo’s people. Although, throughout the operation there were quite a few amendments to the initial set of aims and objectives that were set by Clinton’s administration that shows poor initial planning.
In fact, NATO operation in Kosovo had controversial mixed results. From the beginning of the Operation Allied Force, the amount of refugees from Kosovo greatly increased and the Serbian offence intensified significantly, which made NATO to nearly double its forces. This clearly shows that the Administration did not expect Milosevic not to surrender in the first place. That is when the Administration issued the quite a few amendments to the general policies and war aims. On May 6, 1999, in Bonn, Germany the countries of G-8 developed a new plan to solve the situation. As the result, Slobodan Milosevic was recognized as negotiating party and Kosovo was to be kept in Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A document signed by G-8 in Germany was just another try to define and clarify always-changing objectives. Another problem was that there were actually a lot more objectives hidden behind just simply prevent the further war and stop the violence against the Kosovars.
Let us attempt to examine the key aims and objectives and the degree to which they were fulfilled if any. To a certain degree number one objective was to stop violence in Kosovo. Clinton said that he would do everything possible to weaken Milosevic’s ability to massacre people in Kosovo. Jamie Shea who was a NATO spokesperson at that time clearly stated at the press conference on March 29 in Belgium that the main objectives were to stop the violence in Kosovo and prevent humanitarian catastrophes. Although, Yugoslav forces continued to murder in Kosovo. According to NATO reports at least 4,600 were killed and more than 750,000 became refugees. It appears quite unclear what the Administration has done to prevent that.
Another key objective was to damage Milosevic’s military capacity, which was basically a core of the trouble in the region. If Milosevic had no military there would be no conflict since he would not have any offensive power against the Kosovars and defensive against NATO. Secretary of Defense William Cohen said "We must deter Slobodan Milosevic from carrying out his campaign of ethnic cleansing, and failing that, to make him pay a serious substantial price for doing so and to take his military down as best we can through the air power". In fact, the air campaign was quite successful in destroying tanks and aircrafts. Around quarter of Serbia’s tanks and over 80 aircrafts were destroyed, although the important and tricky part here was that Serb forces fought the war against Kosovo Albanians on the ground. That what was needed to be destroyed, the Serb ground forces. There were quite a few controversies regarding sending the troops to fight the ground war. President Bill Clinton mentioned that he had intentions to send the troops. Although, National Security Adviser Samuel Berger said that there was no plan for ground forces and that it would not be wise to send the troops. Madeleine Albright in her turn also said that the President did not mean that we intend to send the troops to fight on the ground.
Returning to the objectives of the war, I must mention that Administration set a goal not to allow the spread of the war in the Balkans, which could easily spread to more European countries. In his address to nation, Clinton said, "We act to prevent a wider war; to defuse a powder keg at the heart of Europe". However, the war in Kosovo has already stretched. The NATO stroke in Kosovo even increased the possibility of war growing bigger and wider. Serbian military started ethnic executions in Montenegro and Croatia. They have also started to attack north of Albania. Another alarm was that Bulgaria was looking for protection if needed or at least some security guarantees from North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
NATO’s Supreme Commander during the operation General Wesley Clark in his book Waging Modern War points out quite a few problems that NATO might face if the organization will have fair fights in the future. A lot of the issues were basic of any typical war. However, the majority of the problems were concerning the NATO approach. Firstly, Clark faults NATO for fighting a war and being too diplomatic to call it a war. He also sees a problem in conflict of different ideas from the Administration in which way to use the NATO forces. He also criticizes the NATO’s legal advisers for their choices of tactics. Clark uses a quote from Karl von Clausewitz, which means that people should not start wars unless they have plans how to finish them. This way he condemns the Administration in being very poor in planning everything from A to Z. Clark described the initial part of the air campaign as initially restrained. The Allied Forces left too many targets that could and should have been damaged. He mentioned that it would have not been too difficult to squeeze Serbia if NATO really wanted to do so.
NATO sort of did not intend for a real war and that is why was diplomatic not too call everything real names. The Administration’s expectations were that Milosevic would surrender from only a threat of bombing, thus there was no real exit or clear continue strategy. Most of the Allied members showed unwillingness to use significant force against Milosevic, this fact of course gave politicians a from both sides of the Atlantic a good opportunity to speculate over the effectiveness of the use of significant force (meaning ground forces) against Serbia. Then President Clinton made himself clear and announced that he did not intend to use the ground forces, NATO’s Javier Solana undermined the coercive potential of the air campaign by suggesting that it would last "days, not months." Given this one-two punch against NATO's own strategy, it is little wonder that Milosevic thought he could outwait the bombing.
Clark has also experienced a problem of two sides (American and European) pulling in a bit different ways with their objectives, which of course limited his actions as a Supreme Commander of Allied Forces. General also so to say lack of support from his American military colleagues. U.S. Secretary of Defence Bill Cohen refused to accept Clark’s efforts to use Apache helicopters for air operations, as well as Clark’s efforts to use the ground forces. Cohen also contradicted Clark in ever-going consultations with the allied countries. Clark mentions in the book that he felt himself just like a regular NATO officer that also had to report to the U.S. Administration. General also felt like his military colleagues resisted the obligation to win. To his disappointment, they also resisted to put the greatest effort in the Balkans for fear of deteriorating the readiness of military for Iraq or Korea: "The Chiefs were seriously considering withholding forces to be ready for two ... hypothetical major theaters of war elsewhere, even if it caused the United States and NATO to lose the actual war in Europe."
Clark was also very critical of his own military force, the Army. Half a year before the operation Clark warned General Dennis Reimer who was the Army chief of staff at the time that the Army should be ready for the real ground war with Yugoslavia, however the reply he received was absolutely negative. Gen. Reimer said that he does not want to fight there. Clark found it very difficult to be on the cross-road of allied sides and not to have any support from home. According to his book, he issued a secret order that NATO’s key condition was to avoid any loss of a single aircraft. This concern significantly limited the effectiveness of the air campaign. Since the planes bombed from the high altitude in order to be on the safe side, it greatly increased the possibility of the civilian casualties. Although, the General was not going to change his mind regarding this issue. Clark once again points out the role that debates between the allied sides played in the operation. The European allies believed that the majority of airstrikes should be targeted at Serb’s forces in Kosovo, while the American side wanted to target the bombs at Belgrade. Besides, one of the French officers gave the early version of the war plan to the Milosevic administration. The main part of debates though, were among General Clark and Pentagon about some targets that general viewed as the most essential to be destroyed, like fuel storages and power plants that would paralyze Milosevic forces. However, Pentagon wanted to save those targets in case American peacekeepers would be attacked by Serbs later on after the airstrikes.
The Clinton’s Administration started the operation against Milosevic with a great number of confusing and difficult to achieve objectives, especially when restricting the military actions only to air war. That is why most of the objectives were revised throughout the Kosovo campaign. Some of them though, after being revised, were achieved to some extend, however the progress was very slow. I would have agree with General Clark regarding the lack of preparation for this war. Administration has to plan not only one alternative, but a few back-up choices and of course the exit strategy.