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Tuesday, May 4, 1999 Published at 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK

World: Europe

Nato's strategy under fire

Nato "wrong in the early weeks to limit targets"

By Defence Correspondent Nick Childs

Nato's strategy over Kosovo has been strongly criticised by the London-based strategic think-tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Kosovo: Special Report
The IISS says that the Kosovo campaign raises serious questions about the alliance's ability to undertake complex political-military operations, adding that Nato was negligent to rule out ground intervention early in the campaign.

The alliance air campaign is now much more intense than it was at the beginning. But this has in itself been a focus of criticism among defence analysts.

Fear of casualties

Speaking at a news conference to launch the Institute's annual report, IISS director John Chipman said the alliance was wrong in the early weeks to limit the targets it felt able to hit, and in restricting the heights at which Nato pilots could fly for fear of casualties in their ranks.

[ image: Reluctance to involve ground troops]
Reluctance to involve ground troops
According to Dr Chipman, Nato leaders put too much emphasis on alliance cohesion alone and they underestimated public support for an effective campaign.

These errors, he argued, have made the air campaign less successful than it might have been. The alliance, he said, should now show it can be flexible in adapting its strategy.

Nato itself continues to insist its air campaign is being successful. But strains in alliance unity could begin to grow the longer the campaign goes on without achieving tangible results on the ground in Kosovo.

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