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Wednesday, July 14, 1999 Published at 03:20 GMT 04:20 UK

World: Europe

Nato air campaign under scrutiny

Many have argued Nato did less damage than was claimed

By Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus in Pristina

A Nato team has begun work in Kosovo to make an assessment of how effective the air campaign in Yugoslavia really was.

Kosovo: Special Report
The 20-strong team, led by a US air force colonel, is surveying a large number of targets both on the ground and in the air. Its chief interest is in the effectiveness of weapons systems.

But the team may not be able to provide a definitive answer to the question of just how many Yugoslav tanks Nato destroyed.

As far as acronyms go, this team's title is perhaps an inauspicious start: It is called KMeat - short for the Kosovo Munitions Effectiveness Assessment Team.

Its task is to survey a number of targets attacked by Nato aircraft to determine how accurately they were struck, how far the weapons impacted from the aim point and how much damage was done.

They will be looking at both fixed installations like headquarters buildings and also at mobile targets like armoured vehicles.

They will be comparing their findings with the pilots own reports and gun camera imagery taken at the time.

'A post-match review'

The leader of the team, US Air Force Colonel Brian McDonald, likens his task to the detailed study of an American football game.

"Our goal is a post-game review of how each individual play occurred," he said.

"We're looking from the defensive men side, how well did the decoys, the protective measures, that sort of thing, operate, and how well did the offensive ... how well did we employ the weapons that we had at our disposal."

However, because the team is looking at only a sample of the targets hit, it is unlikely to be able to provide overall figures for how many tanks or armoured vehicles were destroyed.

Colonel McDonald says that in mined areas off the roads, there is significant evidence of knocked out military equipment.

But many sceptics have argued that Nato war planes did much less damage than was regularly claimed at the daily briefings in Brussels.

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