Downed Pilot Rescued -- This Time

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NATO's first downed pilot is safe in northern Italy after a multi-service U.S. force orchestrated a daring ground rescue on Saturday. But though NATO has not confirmed that the U.S. F-117 stealth fighter bomber was shot down by Serb forces (the plane may have malfunctioned), it's clear that with the bombing operation entering Phase Two -- attacking Serb armor, artillery and troops on the ground in Kosovo -- this near-casualty won't be the last. "This strategy gives the poorly armed Kosovo Liberation Army more chance of holding off Serb attacks, but it also carries great risks," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "It demands that planes fly in low over hilly terrain. Pilots may be lost and rescue teams put in the line of fire."

The alliance's dilemma is that even low-flying strikes on Serb assets in the field may not be enough to achieve its prime objective: stopping attacks on civilians in Kosovo, which NATO reports are on the increase. More than half a million ethnic Albanian refugees have now fled what NATO is calling Yugoslavia's "scorched-earth policy" -- and officials say there's alarming lack of males aged 16 to 60 among them. Although air strikes can limit the Serbs' use of armor and artillery, preventing truckloads of armed men from butchering civilians requires ground troops -- and that's an option NATO remains unwilling to consider. For now, at least, the allied intervention has done little to ease the plight of the innocents on whose behalf it was launched.