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A Moral Vs. Military Dilemma

The loss of a stealth fighter coupled with reports of ethnic cleansing poses a huge dilemma for NATO's top planners.

According to CBS News military analyst Mitch Mitchell,, the urge to focus the attack in Kosovo at a time when air defenses may still be potent will place aviators directly in harm's way.

What's more, Mitchell says, NATO's slower-flying airplanes, which can target tanks and troops, are far easier to target than stealthy aircraft or B-52's firing cruise missiles from hundreds of miles away.

Ultimately, he warns, "you need ground forces to stop a ground force in an urban area." In plain words, it may be impossible to end the forced migration and other ethnic cleansing without the presence of U.S. and NATO army troops in Kosovo itself.

For Americans used to the high-tech successes of the war against Iraq in 1991, there are important differences between then and now. "The U.S. was fortunate to avoid casualties during the Gulf War, said Mitchell, a retired Army colonel.

Â"When we did the bombing campaign over the desert, we were able to define our targets clearly, to use great stand-off distances to strike them,Â" Mitchell said. Â"When we get into the mountainous terrain around Kosovo, thatÂ's a totally different story".

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The terrain will force NATO planes to reveal themselves to enemy radar, he said.

Â"Our aircraft are going to have to go in lower to pick out individual targets,Â" Mitchell said. Â"Therefore, you can expect some type of casualties, unless we get very lucky.Â"

Mitchell said the B-2 bomber will be very helpful to NATO because Â"it uses stealth technology. It can avoid radar detection. It carries 162,000-pound bombs. It will be able to drop bombs on a designated target.Â" Still, "air power alone may not be able to do the job." Bombing may be able to cut off the "logistical tail" but is ineffective when soldiers or para-military forces disperse .

Another difference between the crisis in Kosovo and the Gulf War, Mitchell said, is that Milosevic has higher-tech weapons than Saddam Hussein had.

Â"The weapons that the Serbs have available to them, the SA 6, 9, 13, are all mobile and can be moved in and out of mountain passes and into hiding places. Our job is going to be difficult: to find them and dig them out,Â" Mitchell said.