ACCESSION NUMBER:271156 FILE ID:POL203 DATE:03/09/93 TITLE:DEFENSE DEPARTMENT REPORT, TUESDAY, MARCH 9 (03/09/93) TEXT:*93030903.POL DEFENSE DEPARTMENT REPORT, TUESDAY, MARCH 9 (Bosnia, Iraqi casualties, Somalia) (680) NEWS BRIEFING -- Spokesman Bob Hall discussed the following topics: U.S. DROPS MORE FOOD, MEDICAL AID IN BOSNIA Hall said the United States air dropped 45,350 military meals and more than 38 metric tons of medical supplies into Bosnia-Hercegovina in the early morning hours of March 9. The eastern Bosnian towns of Srebrenica and Gorazde were chosen for the latest round of supplies, the spokesman said, because of the rapidly increasing refugee population in those areas. Hall said there is "increasing anecdotal evidence" -- from such sources as United Nations personnel, ham radio operators and reporters -- that the deliveries are being recovered and the food is being consumed. "We are convinced the (air drop) operation is meeting with success," the spokesman said, "and is worth continuing." Since the Air Force began parachuting supplies into Bosnia, Hall said, 342 food bundles and 41 medical packages have been delivered. Aircraft deliveries into the airport at Sarajevo, first begun in July 1992, continue, he said. While the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has told the United States that the humanitarian supplies are reaching some of the dispossessed in Bosnia, Hall said, there still remains "a tremendous need" to be filled. The spokesman said he expects other nations to begin providing relief supplies to Bosnia shortly. He mentioned Turkey's commitment to provide bulk rations of wheat, flour and canned meat and fish; Norway's plan to 1rovide military rations, medical supplies and baby food; and the United Kingdom's offer of food rations. Hall said a Russian advance team will travel to Frankfurt shortly to discuss various aspects of participation. "We believe that this (Russian participation) is something that is doable," he said, indicating that Russian flights may begin around March 12. The spokesman also noted that the Germans are conducting air drop training and may become participants. Asked about the safety of air drop operations to date, Hall said all missions have taken place "without any apparent threat." But the spokesman pointed out that the situation on the ground is "still uncertain" and presents a certain amount of risk to the air crews. Asked about the status of ground convoys into Bosnia, the spokesman said some are moving under pressures from diplomatic and journalistic sources, and that sanctions and the airdrops are pressuring those who have impeded the land convoys to let them pass. NO OFFICIAL U.S. ESTIMATE ON IRAQI CASUALTIES Hall said no U.S. government agency, including the Defense Department, has any official estimate on the number of Iraqi casualties which occurred during the Persian Gulf war. Hall was asked about a March 4 Washington Times article quoting a former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst whose private estimate put Iraqi dead at about 1,500 -- much lower than an earlier DIA study which suggested that 100,000 Iraqis were lost during Operation Desert Shield. Press reports put the Iraqi dead figure as high as 250,000. Hall insisted that there is no reliable information on which to base such estimates. The only figure that is known, the spokesman said, is how many Iraqis "we actually buried," but he did not provide that figure. U.S. WITHDRAWAL FROM SOMALIA CONTINUING Hall said the United States continues to withdraw its military personnel from Somalia. There are currently 12,909 Americans on the ground in Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope, he said, and another 608 offshore. The spokesman said coalition forces participating in the humanitarian relief effort total 12,701 on land and 148 at sea, with six of nine sectors now controlled by coalition forces. He said the Bale Dogle area was recently turned over to Moroccan forces, while the Kismayo sector is now controlled by the Belgians. The spokesman cautioned that some U.S. controlled sectors may not be ready to be turned over to coalition forces by May 1 -- the administrative target date set by the United Nations secretary general. NNNN .