US And Britain Planned Massive Ground Invasion Of Kosovo
LONDON (Reuters) - Yugoslavia's dramatic agreement to pull out of Kosovo came only three days after Britain and the United States finalized plans for a massive ground invasion of the province, according to a British Sunday newspaper.
The invasion, code-named ``B-Minus,'' was to have been launched in the first week of September if Serbian forces had refused to withdraw from Kosovo, The Observer said.
Britain had agreed to provide the largest contingent of 50,000 troops to the 170,000-strong force, the newspaper said.
The Observer quoted Britain's Chief of the Defense Staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie, as saying that it would have stretched the British army to contribute so many men.
``We were to be over 50,000,'' he said. ``It was going to cause us great difficulty but we were capable of doing it.''
The United States was to contribute between 30,000 and 40,000 troops with big deployments also expected from fellow NATO-members France, Germany and Spain.
Guthrie's deputy, Air Marshal Sir John Day, was confident that other NATO members were willing to cooperate.
``At the point (Yugoslav President Slobodan) Milosevic suddenly caved in, we were within a few days or a week of some pretty big decisions needing to be made.
``By the first week of June the moment was not quite right for most nations on ground troops, but I am sure that if it had been required, it would have been done and many countries would have contributed, but we never got to that stage,'' he said.
NATO ended its 11-week bombing campaign on June 9 after Milosevic pulled his troops out of Kosovo, paving the way for the return to their homes of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees.