Pentagon budget guided by Kosovo lessons

One of the most successful military air wars ever prosecuted, the U.S.-led NATO air war in Kosovo, revealed several technological shortfalls that Pentagon officials are scrambling to rectify in the upcoming budget process.

The Pentagon's final report to congress on the lessons learned from the war, released on Tuesday, describes an urgent need to beef up DOD's electronic warfare, intelligence and surveillance capabilities.

"Despite NATO's success, it is evident that further integration of worldwide collection of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems is needed," the report stated. In addition, the report warns Congress about shortfalls in key assets, such as the Navy's EA-6B electronic warfare aircraft.

To date, DOD has funded more than $3.5 billion in enhancements as a result of the lessons learned during the war in Kosovo. Congress provided $1.9 billion of that amount last year in a supplemental emergency funding bill. However, DOD has earmarked an additional $1.6 billion for enhancements and procurement in the fiscal 2001-2005 budgets.

To address one of the most pressing concerns to come out of the war in Kosovo, the Pentagon has appropriated $389 million to accelerate improvements to the EA-6B electronic warfare aircraft and to add a fifth expeditionary squadron of the planes to the inventory. The EA-6Bs were stretched thin during the war to conduct electronic warfare attacks against Serb air defense systems, enabling 38,000 attack sorties to be carried out with no casualties.

The fiscal 2001-2005 future budget program will also provide an addition to the Air Force's fleet of Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft. Using its sophisticated radar sensors and data communications systems, JSTARS aircraft functioned as mobile surveillance, reconnaissance and control centers, detecting enemy tanks, trucks and other targets and directing fighter/attack aircraft to them.

In addition to big-ticket electronic warfare hardware, DOD's fiscal 2001-2005 future years budget program adds $1.5 billion to improve the military's ability to task, produce and communicate intelligence information. In particular, the Pentagon has focused on accelerating development and deployment of additional Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which were used for the first time extensively in Kosovo to provide surveillance and intelligence.

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