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Kosovo: Joint Chiefs chairman disagrees Your editorial on "lessons learned" from NATO military operations in Kosovo begins with a flawed premise from which it never recovers ("Lessons learned," July 9).

No knowledgeable Pentagon official would postulate that the considerable damage inflicted on Serb military and special police units in Kosovo compelled Milosevic to accept NATO's conditions to end the bombing. There is ample evidence that Milosevic has never cared about the fate of his army, the suffering of his people, or anything except holding on to power. We always said it would take time to grind down Serb forces in Kosovo, and we knew we still had a long way to go before the KLA would be in a position to challenge them on the ground.

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You are also incorrect when you say the critical element was NATO attacks on Serbia's "civilian assets." Every target struck was a military-related target, directly linked to achieving NATO's military objectives. There were strategic objectives that were a part of the military campaign plan from the start. This meant hitting infrastructure, industry, and other targets to reduce Milosevic's ability to sustain his brutal campaign. We fully understood that hitting only Serb forces in Kosovo would never be the answer. That was not the center of gravity for Milosevic.

We may never know what ultimately caused Milosevic to quit. I find it difficult to get inside the mind of someone who is willing to take his nation to war four times in 10 years and sanction "ethnic cleansing" and other atrocities.

Finally, we have already begun to capture and assess the lessons to be learned from our conduct of this operation. It is unlikely our inquiry will prevent others from drawing their own conclusions. We intend to get the facts first.

Henry H. Shelton, Washington Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

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