DoD News Briefing: Capt. Mike Doubleday, USN, DASD (PA)
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon. I have no announcements. So if anyone has any questions? Charlie.
Q: Mike, could you expound a little bit on the six F-16s leaving from Germany to Italy. Is this kind of a form of not only logistical planning and preparation, but muscle-flexing to show the Serb hard-liners that stand by?
A: Charlie, the air expeditionary force deployment has as its primary purpose support of the SFOR mission in Bosnia to maintain a safe and secure environment. One of the primary events that's coming, as everybody knows, is the elections. So these aircraft will play a role overhead in Bosnia of ensuring that the environment on the ground remains such that people can get to the polling places and vote.
But it has another purpose also, and that is that it is the first time the Air Force in Europe has done one of these expeditionary force deployments. So it is in that regard a test of the concept that the Air Force has been developing in the recent past to be able to deploy forces which are tailored to an operation.
This is another indication of the flexibility and the versatility of U.S. forces, and it just is an indication that where there's a requirement, we can put together exactly the kind of force we need and deploy it rapidly where we need to deploy it and then move it on someplace else when the need is no longer there.
Q: How could fighter jets be used against sporadic civilian violence on mobs on the ground?
A: Well, this, Charlie, is a part of the overall picture, which is one of ensuring that people on the ground realize that there is a NATO presence. It includes not only the SFOR troops, but air assets also.
Q: How is this different than other movements of aircraft from other bases in Europe before? Weren't they tailored to the mission?
A: Well, I think, Susanne, that the primary difference is that in the past, historically when deployments have occurred, you frequently hear about squadrons deploying, or wings deploying.
In this situation, what you have got is this air expeditionary force deploying, which is task oriented -- put together with exactly the mix of aircraft, without necessarily deploying every one of the aircraft associated with a squadron or a wing.
Q: Has there been any pause in the air operations over Bosnia at all since they first began in Aviano?
A: The air activity and the air capability which comes out of Aviano, which has been flying out of Aviano, has continued. But, of course, the focus in the last 18 months has been primarily on the ground effort.
So, as I say, this deployment has two purposes and it certainly is an indication that these air units can deploy rapidly in a tailor-made organization.
Q: Mike, how many aircraft -- approximately how many aircraft -- are now based in Italy participating in operations over Bosnia? And does this addition of aircraft represent any significant change in that number?
A: Jamie, I'm just looking to see if I have a specific number, and I don't think that I do. But we can certainly get for you the number that are there.
Q: Mike, just to follow Susanne's question -- it doesn't seem all that different from the routine rotation of aircraft in and out of Italy, as part of the mission that's been going on there for several years now.
A: Other than the fact that this is a package which is tailor-made to a specific requirement which was answered by the Air Force.
Q: Did it result in any significant increase in capability that wasn't there before?
A: Numbers, certainly. Numbers of aircraft.
Q: Mike? Mike?
Q: Could you...
Q: I'm trying to get to whether there was a...
A: Excuse me.
Q: I'm trying to get at the question whether there was a cause and effect relationship. In other words, was this deployment long scheduled and would have happened whether there had been any recent violence in Bosnia or not? Or is it in response...
A: No, the -- the response was to...
Q: ... to a situation?
A: ...elections. And to the desire to maintain...
Q: But not -- elections, yes. But how about the recent events? The violence?
A: No, I don't see a connection with the recent violence on the ground in Bosnia. This is something that's been planned for sometime.
Q: It's a long-scheduled deployment?
A: It's a deployment that has been scheduled before the weekend events, certainly.
Q: Could you explain how it's tailored to the elections?
A: Not to the elections, but to the requirements of the commander. What the air expeditionary forces does, it enables a commander to say, I have a certain requirement. My requirement is bigger or smaller than normally you would associate with a wing or a squadron deployment.
In this particular case, there are six aircraft that are going to be deploying from one location -- 12 aircraft are already there -- tailor-made to what the requirements that were levied by the AFSOUTH commander.
Q: What are those? I'm sort of missing -- tailor-made, task-oriented? What are the requirements? They just fly around in circles over Bosnia or what, which you already do anyway.
A: Well, I think that you would have to talk to the on-scene commander to find out exactly what his thinking was about the package that he wanted to put together. But obviously he felt he needed to have some additional air assets for the period of time leading up to the elections and the elections.
He put together a requirement. The air forces in Europe fulfilled the requirement and they are deploying.
Q: Can the people on the ground expect to see a great deal more air activity over their towns and villages in the weeks ahead?
A: I can't predict exactly how much activity they're going to see. My expectation is that with this deployment, they're certainly available to the commander if he feels they're necessary.
Q: Is it anticipated that these aircraft will be dropping bombs on things?
A: No, I don't believe that there's any expectation that they're going to be doing anything of that nature. There are two squadrons of F-16s in Aviano. This total, which is now 36, will increase to 42 with the deployments.
Q: When do you (inaudible)?
A: Excuse me?
Q: When will they be deployed?
A: Well, they are in the process of deploying right now and we anticipate that they will be in Aviano from the 8th through the 22nd of September. Although that, of course, could change if there's some requirement to change it.
Q: You're not suggesting that these F-16s are going to have some sort of close air support mission?
A: I'm not suggesting anything at this point.
Q: Well, Mike...
Q: How do planes in the air like this -- high speed jets -- how do they maintain a secure environment...
A: I think...
Q: ...when you don't have forces on the ground?
A: Charlie, you don't look at just one element of the package that the NATO commanders put together for their requirements in Bosnia. Now, this is certainly the air picture. We maintain a very robust ground presence there. This is just another part of the NATO mission to maintain a safe and secure environment in that country at a time when there could be some turmoil.
Q: I'm mixed up on some numbers here. Thirty-six F-16s are there now. The number is going to go to 42.
Q: But then you said six aircraft are going to be deploying and 12 are already there.
A: Right. They are part of the 36.
Q: They are part of the 36?
Q: So are we talking -- we're talking six more F-16s?
A: That go together with 12 that are already there.
Q: So we're talking an addition of six F-16s?
Q: This is what you're calling an expeditionary force?
Q: You talked about 18 total that came for this purpose?
A: I think what you need to do is think of this in terms of a package that is augmenting what is already there to support a mission that the air component commander feels that he has with regard to Bosnia. They'll be operating out of Aviano. They'll leave when they're no longer required.
Q: Are there any other military resources that are being dedicated to Bosnia for this electoral period that you know about?
A: Other than...
Q: Any other hardware or any other change in military assets directed?
A: Well, we've been talking for the last several weeks about the troops that are on the ground there and those numbers have increased somewhat over the last few weeks.
Q: Are any other augmentations expected?
A: At this point, I'm not aware of any other augmentations.
Q: The 12 that are already there...
Q: Why did you single those out?
A: They are part of this package. They are already there. I don't have any idea how long they've been there.
Q: They're part of a package because you put a different number on their tail or something? I don't understand.
Q: Did they come from Europe?
A: Well, they are assigned to the mission which NATO has. These are U.S. forces that are being committed to a NATO mission.
Q: So what were the planes, the 36 minus 12 planes, what were the other 24 doing?
A: They're F-16s.
Q: What's the distinction between the 12 that you say are already there and the other 24 that go to make up the 36 that are there? There are 36 there, right?
Q: Okay. And of those 36, you've singled out 12 as being...
A: Part of the air expeditionary unit.
Q: So that means 24 other aircraft of that 36.
A: Right. Right.
Q: What are they?
A: They are already assigned to the support of NATO.
Q: Is an easier way to say it that you're supplementing the number of F-16s on the ground to support operations in Bosnia from 24 to 36?
A: Well, I think what some people are missing is that aircraft, U.S. aircraft, can be at Aviano and not be assigned to the NATO mission. This is a deployment in support of a NATO mission. What we are saying is that we now have this air expeditionary unit force which is going to be assigned to this NATO mission.
Q: So these 12, then, were already on the ground, but not connected to this mission, so you just...
A: They are now connected to this mission.
Q: Okay. Thank you.
Q: For a total of 18?
A: For a total number there of...for the AEF, there is a total of the 12 that were already there plus the six that are coming.
Q: So 18 are going to be there to support operations in Bosnia.
Q: And they'll be doing what?
Q: You're beefing it up in terms of the NATO operation by 18 F-16s?
A: Right. That's right.
Q: But the remaining F-16s in Aviano, aren't they also flying missions over Bosnia?
A: As far as I know, they are also flying missions over Bosnia.
Q: So, (inaudible) the number of F-16s flying missions over Bosnia...
A: No, what I'm saying is that...
(Multiple inaudible comments.)
A: We're not getting any place on this, so let's go on to something else.
Q: A related question. I know as of a couple of days ago there were no U.S. naval vessels in the Adriatic. Has that changed?
A: I don't think I have a list with me of naval assets in the Adriatic, so we'll get that for you.
Q: A related question?
Q: DOD and the Japanese later this month are set to release defense guidelines, the U.S.-Japan defense guidelines.
Q: In your negotiations with the Japanese, have you come any closer to defining what kind of language you're going to use to address the question of China and Taiwan? Will reference be made to Taiwan?
A: I don't want to predict what the language is going to be -- mainly because I haven't seen it. I think we've got to wait until the announcement actually is made.
Q: Can you say now, though...can you say categorically that Taiwan will not be included? Because there's been some controversy about whether to include it or not.
A: I don't want to say anything on it because I have not looked at the language, so I really can't say from any position of knowledge of what the thing is.
Q: Would Korea be part of it, though? Would Korea be mentioned?
A: On all of the issues associated with this, I think we've got to wait until we actually see what the final language looks like.
Q: The document of strategic assessment center prepared for OSD regarding war over Cyprus and the Aegean for the S300 Russian missiles which I mentioned last Tuesday (inaudible) the signature, the name of the DOD official Harold Brown. Therefore, I'm wondering if its contents reflects the DOD opinion.
A: Now, one minute. It wasn't Harold Brown. It's Harold Rhoads.
Q: Rhoads. Excuse me. Harold Rhoads. (Inaudible.) I'm wondering if its contents reflects also the DOD opinion, too. The (inaudible) document.
A: The document that you're referring to is a document that was designed as a part of an overall review of policy. The document has a number of scenarios listed in it, in the text of it. It outlines quite a few of them. They're hypothetical scenarios; it's not what is happening, it's what could happen.
Does it represent the DOD view? No, it doesn't. It represents the view of individuals who watch various parts of the world very closely. They assess what might happen and, as a result of that, it stimulates thinking within the building here on plans and approaches that we should take.
Q: His Excellency (Inaudible), the new coordinator for Cyprus, he will be in (inaudible) September 12. Could you please comment on the (inaudible) that he's going to meet DOD officials prior to his departure?
A: That he's going to meet DOD officials? I haven't seen any kind of an itinerary for him. It wouldn't surprise me that, if he is the representative of the U.S. Government, that he would meet with some officials in the department here. But I don't believe that any of the Department's people at this point are scheduled to travel with him when he makes his trip to the area.
Q: Something for the Aegean. As DOD -- are you in the position to monitor the air activity over the Aegean Sea technically?
A: The mission of monitoring the air picture over the Aegean Sea is a NATO mission and as we discussed here a week or more ago, they have equipment that they have in place which -- the inputs to which are provided by Italy, Greece and Turkey and any of the countries participating in that air picture can get information from that equipment.
Q: How efficient is this system, as you are a part of it? How efficient is it?
A: How efficient is it?
A: My understanding is it's very efficient.
Q: Back to Bosnia for a moment. Can you tell us anything about how the meeting between General Wes Clark and Yugoslav president Slobodon Milosevic went? Did that meeting take place and what was the result?
A: I can't tell you, other than the fact General Clark did meet today with Mr. Milosevic. I understand that General Clark was going to provide a readout of the meeting, but I have not seen a report of that readout at this point.
Q: I understand that the meeting went longer than it was originally scheduled. Is there anything that we can make out of that?
A: I certainly couldn't interpret what that means. But I, like you, understand that the meeting went about an hour longer than it had originally been scheduled.
Q: Clark said yesterday it's too early to assess Serb compliance with that agreement on the broadcasting -- access to broadcasting. What is the read today?
A: I have not seen a read that would indicate one way or another as to compliance, but, as you know, our primary goal in that agreement was to get more balance in the broadcasts and that's what we're going to be looking for.
Q: Let me ask it another way. Have there been any more inflammatory broadcasts?
A: I'm not aware of any more inflammatory broadcasts either.
Q: And just on another matter, we asked General Clark yesterday.
A: Are there any more on Bosnia?
Q: This is a Bosnia question.
Q: We asked General Clark yesterday about Mrs. Rehn's willingness to go to Pale, meet with Karadzic and present the U.N.case -- the tribunal's case. Apparently she has been willing to do this and yet the tribunal is apparently closed to mediating with Karadzic at all. Can you tell me what the U.S. point of view on this matter is?
A: This is the kind of a question you ought to ask of the State Department.
Q: Starting this week, Congress is going to be working out final versions of the defense bill and I just thought maybe you could talk about whether or not the Secretary has any plans to go up there and meet with folks on the Hill. I know there are some contentious issues there that still need to be worked out.
A: Well, I don't know that I've seen a specific schedule for the Secretary, but I do know that there are many officials here in the building who are maintaining close contact with senators and representatives as they go through this process. They'll continue to do that, not only through face-to-face meetings, but also through telephone conversations and the provision of information that we may be requested to provide on any of the issues that are confronting the Congress.