NATO Deploys Apaches, But They're No Silver Bullet

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U.S. Apache helicopters finally arrive in Albania Wednesday, and their first target will have to be the unrealistic expectations of them created by three weeks of pre-publicity. "The Apaches can only affect the game around the margins, and they're not going to make much difference early on," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "Besides, right now the Serb air defenses are probably still too robust to send the vulnerable helicopters into action deep inside Kosovo -- they're more likely to be firing missiles at tanks from a safe distance."

The Serbs, meanwhile, moved to consolidate their flanks Wednesday by engaging in firefights with Albanian troops across the border, strengthening their defenses on the Croatian border and attacking ethnic Albanian villages inside Montenegro. NATO fears that Yugoslav army attempts to take over Montenegro's police force suggest President Slobodan Milosevic plans to seize control of the small Yugoslavian republic, whose leadership is pro-Western. "These actions aren't necessarily indications of an imminent coup," says TIME Central Europe bureau chief Massimo Calabresi. "The mission of Yugoslavia's Second Army is to secure Montenegro, but any coup against its civilian leadership would demand reinforcements, and the Yugoslavian military may have other priorities right now." Western leaders may once have viewed Kosovo as a limited air campaign to underscore their diplomacy, but four weeks later it's starting to look a lot more like the protracted and inconclusive conflict with Iraq.

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