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DoD News Briefing, Tuesday, May 26, 1998

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)
May 26, 1998 1:40 PM EDT

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.

Secretary Cohen is arriving in Brazil this afternoon after his visit to Argentina and Chile. As you probably know, over the weekend he made some comments about the force redeployments in the Gulf and I just wanted to bring you up to date on where we stand.

To put it in the proper context, as you know, since the end of the Gulf War we've followed a policy of containing Iraq from attacking its neighbors and from retaining or reconstituting its weapons of mass destruction. There's been absolutely no change in that policy.

The pillars of the containment policy have been robust forward presence of American military forces, rapid reinforcement capability to build those forces up when necessary, and support of the United Nations Security Council resolutions and mandates. The pillars of that containment policy have not changed either.

What President Clinton has decided to do, is to reduce the current force there to its pre-crisis levels of about October of last year. Last year we had 18,000 to 19,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the Gulf. We began to build up in response to the problems over inspections and reached a peak force of about 44,000. Today there are about 36,000 or 37,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the Gulf.

We will continue to maintain a robust force in the Gulf. That force will ensure stability, but we will not maintain a full contingency size force as we have over the last couple of months.

So, as you know, the INDEPENDENCE carrier battle group is leaving the area. It's gone through the Strait of Hormuz, and it is still in the Central Command area of responsibility, but it will pass out of that area of responsibility tomorrow and head back to Japan.

There will be a second carrier there, the STENNIS, and we will maintain a presence of one carrier there on station in the Gulf for the foreseeable future. We also will be able to add a second carrier very quickly, in a matter of days, from the Mediterranean or elsewhere.

Second, the Air Expeditionary Force in Bahrain will leave as scheduled in early June and we will revert to our earlier policy of sending Air Expeditionary Forces to the Gulf on a periodic basis to set up for 30-45 days or longer and train in the area.

Third, we will reduce our ground troops in Kuwait by about a brigade. As you know, we surged the ground troops there to almost a division level at one point, to pick up the prepositioned equipment in Kuwait and train with Kuwaiti troops in the desert. We have an INTRINSIC ACTION task force there of about 1200 people and that will remain. We're also leaving behind a rocket battery, an MLRS -- Multiple Launch Rocket System -- battery, and increasing our helicopter presence there with eight Apaches.

We're also leaving behind a very powerful force of cruise missiles that will be about double the size of the cruise missile force before the crisis began last fall, and we have the ability to surge that to four times what it was last fall. So we have one, on-station the ability to exert a swift and powerful strike if we have to; and also the ability to increase that cruise missile force very, very rapidly.

The ability to increase the force rapidly -- rapidly redeploy in the face of increased tension is key to the President's decision to maintain a powerful force in the area, although a somewhat reduced force from the current levels, but to be able to bring that force back up to a higher level if necessary.

The President approved these redeployments because they allow us to protect our interest in the Gulf while reducing the wear and tear on the forces that have been patrolling there since early November when we began the buildup.

I think the events of the last months and, in fact, the last year, show that the U.S. and the international community are ready to enforce the United Nations Security Council mandates, and we will continue to maintain a force that can do that and continue our ability to reinforce that force very, very quickly.

With that, I'll take your questions.

Q: The F-117s... is that (inaudible) going home?

A: Although the President has made a broad decision, the deployment orders have not been written yet so I can't get into exact details of timing, but ultimately the forces that we sent over there to reinforce, including the F-117s, will be coming back. But I can't give you specific dates at this stage.

Q: Does that mean the EISENHOWER then will be going only to the Med. It will not be going, when it deploys, to the Gulf?

A: She will be going to the Med, as currently planned. And she will then constitute a backup force that will be able to make it into the Gulf rapidly.

Q: Does that include also the B-52s that we sent to Diego Garcia?

A: Ultimately we'll be drawing down many elements of the force. As I say, because deployment orders haven't been signed, I don't want to get into the exact details at this time.

Q: Can you give us any rough number of basically how many planes are coming back? There's the AEF and then there's the...

A: There are 43 planes in the AEF, but I don't have a global figure at this stage and I'd rather wait until the deployment orders are actually worked out and signed.

Q: You did mention earlier that pre-crisis there were 18,000 to 19,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen. Now, after the draw down, just a general sort of overview, how many do you expect to have remaining in place, generally?

A: It will vary from a day to day basis, but it will be around 20,000 -- sometimes a couple [of thousand] more, sometimes a couple of thousand less. But we'll be moving back to an area of around 20,000, give or take a couple of thousand on either side.

Q: And just to reiterate that the U.S. believes that this is fully capable of meeting any challenge, these 20,000...

A: Absolutely. We will continue to patrol the no-fly zone under SOUTHERN WATCH, which is absolutely crucial to containing Iraq. We will continue to patrol the Gulf aggressively, the sea lanes in the Gulf aggressively. We will continue to have ground forces exercising in Kuwait, and we'll continue to have air expeditionary forces and other forces moving in and out for training missions as necessary.

Q: Can you go through the Army part of this in Kuwait again? I just didn't follow what you...

A: Currently there are between 6,000 and 7,000 troops in Kuwait. When we finish the redeployment it will be down to about 1,200 troops which is the INTRINSIC ACTION Task Force.

As you know, one of the things we've done since the Gulf War to improve our military posture in the Gulf is to preposition a division's worth of armor equipment in the Gulf. So, we have task forces going over very regularly to train with the prepositioned equipment, and that's what the INTRINSIC ACTION exercises do.

Q: There will always be an INTRINSIC ACTION task force there?

A: Generally, there will be. Nearly always. I can't say there won't be a day or two, but our goal is to have people training there on this equipment, and we've been doing that even before the earlier crisis.

Q: Didn't you say last week, I think it was that someone was headed over there for training to Kuwait?

A: I think the group just arrived. I think a task force just arrived within the last week or so -- 1200 people.

Q: When did the President make this decision?

A: He made it, I believe, last week. At the end of last week.

Q: What type of time line are we talking about from when the orders are actually given to the time when our troops are scaled down? Four weeks? Six weeks?

A: It will be relatively soon. I would say in the next three weeks or so.

Q: I'm unclear on the number of people there now. You were saying 34,000, 35,000. Are you still counting the INDEPENDENCE...

A: Yeah, I'm still counting the INDEPENDENCE because technically the INDEPENDENCE is still in the Central Command area of responsibility. That is, she has not transited yet into the Pacific Command area. So although she's steaming away from the Gulf with, I believe, four combatants and several support ships, she's still in the Central Command area.

Q: Once that transition is made, then the total will be...

A: Well, that alone is about 7,000 people. I think the INDEPENDENCE battle group has about 7,000 people. So I think there are now about 37,000 people there and that will drop it down to 30,000, as of tomorrow.

Q: Before this buildup there were occasionally gaps, time periods of several weeks or even months when we had no carrier there. Is that contemplated now, or is the decision to make sure we always have at least one?

A: For the foreseeable future we'll have at least one carrier there.

Q: If the threat has diminished, why the need to double the number of Tomahawks in theater?

A: What has happened, of course, is that Iraq has been complying with the UN mandates to allow inspectors to do their job. What we found over the years is that Saddam Hussein will do bad things from time to time and be threatening either to his neighbors or to the UN. We want to be in an unambiguous situation where we're able to respond very quickly and very forcefully, and increasing the number of cruise missiles there does that. It has a ready, powerful, and very swift force on station all the time.

Q: Richard Butler, the chief arms inspector, was in Sidney, and said that he will be presenting fresh evidence that Iraq is maintaining illegal weapons stores including, he said, some recently declassified U-2 photographs. Do you have any information or can you describe in any way what those photographs might show?

A: I cannot. I think I'll have to leave it up to the UN Special Commission, UNSCOM, to release those and to describe what Mr. Butler has in mind.

Q: Can you give us a ball park range on the number of crews we have in the area?

A: I can't right now. It's a large number.

Q: Back when they were discussing the draw down of the forces they said another prong of the policy would be to move away from using military force as a threat, to move toward something more positive than using threatening military force. Can you elaborate on that other prong?

A: What I want to say is that our policy is unchanged. It's a policy of containment. We've made it very clear by our force movements in the past and by our actions in the past that we're willing to use military force if necessary to contain Iraq from either attacking our forces, attacking neighboring countries, or from reconstituting its weapons of mass destruction. The drama now, in the Gulf, is whether Iraq will comply with the UN Security Council resolutions to abolish its weapons of mass destruction program. That's what the inspectors are trying to discover, what Iraq is doing with its weapons of mass destruction.

One of the main ways to enforce those resolutions right now is through the economic sanctions that apply to Iraq. I think the international community has made it very clear over the last couple of months that those sanctions will remain as long as Iraq refuses to comply with the UN mandate, and the principal mandate -- although there are many others -- but the principal mandate is to stop work and abolish its weapons of mass destruction program. There are many others that have to do with accounting for Kuwaiti POWs, returning equipment, etc. But the one that has really galvanized the world's attention is their weapons of mass destruction program.

Q: So in other words if they don't abide by this, instead of rattling our sabers we'll reinforce the sanctions? In other words, use that as the argument to get...

A: Well, I think, that we've made it very clear in the past that we're willing to respond to provocative action by Iraq. That policy has not changed. We will do what we can to reinforce the UN's ability to do its job, and I don't want to speculate about what's going to happen in the future. I hope, since Saddam Hussein has said that he wants the sanctions lifted, I assume that means that he'll continue work to abolish his weapons of mass destruction program, and let the inspectors in so they can see what progress he's making. And if he has made progress, then the UN will have to decide what to do next.

Q: Can you give an assessment of the Iraqi military force? Has there been any movement? Has it been relatively quiet? Any threatening actions towards anyone at all?

A: It's been relatively quiet recently.

As you know, back in the fall they made public threats about shooting down Operation SOUTHERN WATCH planes, about trying to shoot down U-2s flying in support of the United Nations. That bellicose rhetoric stopped last fall when we sent a carrier into the Gulf in November. And they have basically moved their forces away from a crisis posture starting in the late winter/early spring after the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reached the inspection agreement with Iraq.

Q: Any violations of the Northern or Southern no-fly zones in the last four weeks?

A: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q: What about the smuggling? I think the CENTCOM CINC complained recently that that was on the rise again. Are we doing anything... We're downsizing the force, are we doing anything to try to tighten up the embargo?

A: You're talking about the maritime interdiction force. There was a very sharp reduction in the amount of oil being smuggled out of Iraq in the spring. In February, March. And it fell to about ten percent of what the levels had been in December or early January.

Since then it has risen maybe three-fold from its low, but it still may be a third to 40 percent of what it was at its peak, as I recall, and that's some figures I looked at last week. I'm not aware that things have changed that rapidly since. So there is less smuggling getting through. There are a number of reasons for this. One is we are more aggressively policing the smuggling ban, and we've been boarding some ships recently. We've been doing that for a long period. I think for a while we'd assigned an additional ship to the maritime interdiction force.

But the main reason that the shipping went down along the smuggling routes was that Iran became less compliant in allowing the Iraqi smugglers to hug the Iranian coast. To a certain extent they have eased up a little, but I believe the smuggling is still less than it was at its peak.

Q: How much was this decision influenced by the strain on readiness that the deployments had created within the U.S. military?

A: Well, it was a factor, and the President has addressed that. He, a couple of days ago, noted that we ask our forces to do a lot, they have longer deployments, and that he and his military advisors were looking at ways to reduce the strain of these deployments.

But the fact of the matter is that we ought to remember what our pattern's been in the Gulf since the end of the Gulf War. That is we've maintained a very powerful force in the Gulf. The composition of that force has varied from time to time, but it's been an extremely powerful force. That force has been made more powerful over time as we've added prepositioned equipment, expanded SOUTHERN WATCH, etc. We've always had an ability to surge that force in response to current conditions, and we did surge that force in late 1997 and early 1998 in response to Saddam Hussein's refusal to allow the inspectors to do their job. We surged the force in October of 1994 when we had intelligence suggesting that Iraq was about to attack Kuwait again. We've surged it several other times since 1994. We've always surged it and then brought it back to a robust level, but a smaller level, and that's what we're doing this time.

So I think everybody anticipated that at some point, after the inspection crisis was over, we would reduce the force to a more reasonable level. What we've done here is while reducing the force, we have actually strengthened our rapid strike capability by dramatically increasing the number of cruise missiles we have in the theater.

Q: Will the F-117s be brought back as part of the draw down?

A: Eventually they will, but I don't have anything specific on that now.

Q: JSTARS also, will that stay as a key asset in the theater, or will that be brought down?

A: I can't get into the details because the deployment orders haven't been signed.

Q: On the cruise missiles, to follow up on Jamie's question. He asked about Diego Garcia and the B-52s and the cruise missiles there. Are you talking about naval cruise missiles primarily, or are you talking about both?

A: Well, largely about naval cruise missiles.

Q: Why did the INDEPENDENCE battle group, why was its departure date, it seems actually moved up. I think the 27th was the date for departure.

A: I think the 27th was always the date for departure out of the Central Command area of responsibility. That's basically when she passes by India.

Q: So this is a scheduled departure.

A: Yes. As you know, she's going back to Japan, and then to the U.S. to be decommissioned, and she'll be replaced by the KITTY HAWK in Japan.

Q: Can you just get us, later, some sort of rough number on the number of cruise missiles since you've made such a point about saying they would double and ...

A: I can't promise that I'm going to be able to give you any figure...

Q: Is it possible to explain to the average person why if you're not increasing the ships there how you're possibly doubling the cruise missiles if they're largely naval cruise missiles?

A: Well you can put more cruise missiles on each ship. Or you could have different ships.

Q: That's what you're doing.

A: Or you could have ships carry more cruise missiles. That would be the easiest way.

Q: A question, if you can solve some confusion in my mind over the shipment of the satellites when they go to China. Does the Department of Defense guard these satellites still, from the time they leave the U.S. until they're blasted off?

A: My understanding is that there is a chain of custody for these satellites to go over there. We have people there on the ground during the setup period and actually until the launch takes place.

Q: When you say we, you mean the Defense Department?

A: The Defense Department does, yes.

Q: Another question on China. There was a report in the London Daily Telegraph over the weekend that Iran had concluded a secret deal with China to get chemicals that could be used for the production of nerve gas. Do you have any comment on that at all?

A: I don't.

Q: Do you have any evidence to suggest that's true?

A: I can't comment on secret intelligence reports.

Q: Did that chain of custody get affected at all when primary responsibility for these things went from the Defense Department over to the Commerce Department?

A: One of the conditions is that there are Defense Department people on the ground watching these, or monitoring what happens there. My belief is that the chain of custody was not changed. What was primarily changed was the licensing authority.

Q: There was a report in the Washington Times that NSA and DISA are investigating that failure of the beeper satellite to see if it was knocked out by hackers. Do you know if that's true?

A: I'm afraid I don't. I'll try to find out.

Q: I have a question on the article yesterday in the Post regarding Colombia. Can you explain to us exactly the JCET program and how does that apply to Colombia?

A: Sure. First of all, let me give you a broad overview of the JCET program. It is a fairly important program to train our special operations forces. JCET stands for Joint Combined Exchange Training. We conduct such training all around the world. In fiscal 1997 we conducted such training in 101 countries.

The fundamental requirement of this Joint Combined Exchange Training is that we derive greater benefits from it, the majority of the benefits from the training, as opposed to the host country. This is training that is designed to help our special operating forces improve their language facility. As you know, all special forces are supposed to be fluent in another language. It's to give them an opportunity to learn about the geography, topography of other nations, and to build up relationships with the military in other nations in case they're called upon to do hostage rescue operations or evacuations of American citizens or peacekeeping work or help training with forces of other nations.

So this is a program that has been going on for some time and it's a very extensive worldwide program and one that's fundamental to training for the special operations forces.

I should also point out that all JCET missions, as they're called, are reported to Congress every year, so there's nothing secret about this program. It's a program that is made very public to Congress every year.

In Colombia, we have had JCET programs going on for several years, but it's actually a relatively small part of our overall military involvement in Colombia. In the current fiscal year, which is fiscal 1998, we plan to have six JCET missions in Colombia involving 32 people -- a total of 32 people and six missions. That is dwarfed by our counter-narcotics program in Colombia which will involve 18 separate deployments involving 252 people in Colombia.

Now the counter-narcotics program is under another program. It's separate from the JCET program. In Colombia, we have worked on counter-terrorism training with Colombia forces and we've also worked on hostage rescue training with Colombian forces. I think anybody who's followed the kidnappings in Colombia recently can appreciate that hostage rescue training is something that is worth doing in Colombia and could be helpful to American citizens in that country.

The JCET training has been suspended temporarily during the current election campaigns in Colombia, but my anticipation is it will start again after the campaign is over.

Q: Do you have any mechanisms set-up to make sure that the soldiers you might be training was under the JCET program? In other words the Colombian soldiers have not been involved in the past with any type of human rights violations, which was seen to be some of the preoccupation, even of the Clinton Administration.

A: Yes we do. First of all, all of the JCET missions have to be approved by the Ambassador, so there is an in-country stamp and review of the programs. They're also all approved by the Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida. We are now creating a new approval level at the Office of the Secretary of Defense that will be done in the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict area -- SOLIC, it's called.

In addition, we follow the State Department's human rights rules in designing these programs and picking the people who will participate in the programs, and also in selecting the curriculum for the programs. We make it very clear that it's important for military organizations to follow human rights rules and to follow the rule of law.

So we do make an effort to make sure that the training is limited in its scope, that it benefits American forces, and that we are working with people who are not, have not been involved in human rights abuses in the past.

Q: When was this new level of oversight instituted?

A: It's in the process of being instituted now. I'm not sure it's up and running but I think it will be in the next month or so.

Q: That will be then the Assistant Secretary for Special Operations will have to give his stamp as well?

A: Right.

Q: Talk about the number of trainers in Colombia, it's sort of a moving target that goes up and down and it's always hard to see a trend. Do you have a current number and is there a trend?

A: You mean the current number of people right there in Colombia? It does go up and down depending on what we're doing. It ranges generally from 175 to 275 at any given time, and the latest figure I have is for the end of March and it was for 216. I'll try to get a more updated figure.

Now a lot of these people actually run or maintain radar stations in Colombia. That's one of the main tasks of American officials.

Q: ... the assignment of this third level of oversight for the JCET programs? If you already have two, an ambassador signing off and the command in Florida signing off, why do you need a third?

A: Secretary Cohen felt that in light of the growing congressional interest in the program, and there has been increased congressional interest in the last several months, particularly related to Indonesia and now Colombia, that it was appropriate that he have somebody in his immediate office, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, monitoring this program. It's no lack of confidence or lack of support for the Special Operations Command, it's just an effort to have a central clearinghouse right here in Washington to make it easier to get information about the program, to answer congressional questions, and easier for him to find out what's happening.

Q: When did he make it?

A: I said he made it, I would say two or three months ago. It might have been less. It should be up and running in the next month or so.

Q: A related question. What do you say to people on the Hill who say, when they try to clamp down on IMET or change IMET and you go to JCET as a way around it?

A: They're entirely separate programs. The JCET program is designed specifically to help us train our own special forces in ways that are valuable to us and valuable to people in other countries as well. This clearly is a program that foreign militaries find beneficial because they invited us to come in and do these programs in 101 countries in fiscal 1997. But, it's mainly something that helps our forces learn to do the jobs they may be called upon to do around the world.

Q: Could you address the broader point? When you listen to the critics of JCET in Indonesia and in other countries, the gist of the criticism -- it seems to be -- that having U.S. forces train with other forces gives some sort of endorsement, some sort of Washington approval to these forces, some of which later turn out to be involved, or are accused of being involved in unsavory activities. Does this carry some sort of message of approval from Washington of these units, or is that the perception?

A: We believe that this training is important for a number of reasons and the primary one is that it trains our forces to do jobs they may be called upon to do around the world. In addition, we think it is a way for our forces to work shoulder-to-shoulder in parachute training or hostage-taking training, or counter-terrorism training with other forces, and in so doing, to teach them the values that we think are important to our military, and that we think help make our military the best in the world.

One of those values is respect for human rights. We stress that in our training when we deal with other forces.

I think, that it is -- it should be obvious that you have a better ability to convey that message if you have communications with other forces than if you don't have communications with the other forces. And I think also that that message is frequently more convincing when it comes military-to-military than when it comes through other channels to the military. We believe that that's been one of the valuable aspects of this training. It's something that we watch and it's something that we care a lot about.

Q: Have you been contacted by Ken Starr's office in recent days? If so, about what?

A: I don't think I want to get into issues about my legal history or lack of legal history.

Q: The JCET program, is there some program with the Japanese defense forces?

A: I'm not aware that we do work with Japanese defense forces, but I'll try to find that out. I don't have here a complete list of the 101 countries with which we've been dealing, but I will check into that.

Q: I read in the New York Times today that, in Japan, a driver for the Aum Shinrikyo Cult testified apparently some months back that he took part in an attempted germ attack on several locations around Tokyo including the U.S. naval base at Yokosuka. I'm curious, first of all, whether you have any information that would corroborate whether or not such an attack took place; and two, does this point out any problems with vulnerabilities or offer any other lessons about the threat from germ warfare from terrorists?

A: First of all, I think, both the President and the Secretary of Defense have made it very clear that we do live in a grave new world, and one aspect of that grave new world is the ability or willingness of terrorists to use chemical or biological weapons.

We have no evidence in relation to your particular question about Japan, that U.S. forces were exposed to biological agents in Japan. That is to say, that there was no contemporaneous or later health information or other evidence suggesting that they were exposed to biological agents.

Now, the article made it very clear that many of the efforts by this cult were failures, for a variety of reasons. I think that highlights a point, that although use of biological weapons is a real threat and one we take very seriously and one we're working very aggressively to combat in a variety of ways including new medical force protection plans for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, it's not always easy to deliver this stuff. One of the poisons or biological agents they tried to deliver was a version of botulinum toxin, and that is very susceptible to sunlight. They tried to spray it out of a truck driving around an American military base in Japan, according to the story, but it apparently didn't work either because they had the wrong agent or because the agent was quickly incapacitated by heat and other natural elements.

Q: You just added a qualifier, according to the story. Do you have any knowledge, does the U.S. have any knowledge that it actually took place?

A: As I said, the Navy had no information at the time. We've had no evidence that anybody was exposed, and that is health evidence, reports for sick call, etc. My understanding is that we learned this the same way the New York Times did which is through the testimony that had been given by members of this very deadly cult.

Q: You're sort of skipping a little step. No health effects, but, when you heard this testimony, were you able to determine whether, indeed, this group's truck was driving around base trying to do this?

A: This happened a number of years ago, and it wasn't something that happened recently. I think the story made it very clear, that this happened in the early '90s. I should say that since that time we have improved our ability to deal with chemical and biological weapons in a number of ways. One is that we have improved our detection capability. We did not have significant detection capability in Japan at that time, now we do. We're putting detectors on all ships as they come in for overhaul so they will be able to detect whether they're subject to chemical or biological attack to a greater degree than they were in the past. We're also -- in the newer ships they have over-pressure which makes it possible to operate in an environment that's more secure from biological attack. Ships have special washing systems on them that allow them to wash themselves down very quickly with seawater which I gather is something that is quite damaging to a lot of chemical and biological agents.

But you know that Secretary Cohen spoke about this a couple of months ago at the National Press Club; the President spoke about it at the Naval Academy last week. We are making many efforts in this field to protect our soldiers. The most fundamental one is anthrax, the vaccination program we've started for the total force.

Q: Is Yokosuka now, was it at the time, a closed base in the sense that nobody...

A: Yes. It was at the time and it's still a closed base.

Q: So you don't have any evidence that any truck was able to get on the base and drive around...

A: We do not.

Q: There's a rumor floating around that Acting Army Secretary Mike Walker's going to resign. Do you have any...

A: I can't help you with that rumor.

Q: The number that you gave for the folks in Colombia, is that a combination of the anti-drug, or counter-narcotics and the JCET...

A: The JCET people move in and out. I think that this year we're planning on a total of 32 in six separate JCET missions, so you can see it's pretty small.

Q: Right.

A: They move in and out. At any given time, there are a certain number of people in Colombia and most of them are working on counter-narcotics. The number I gave you was as of March 31st, and that was 216.

Q: But is that primarily the counter-narcotics...

A: Yes. Our main relationship with the Colombian military is in the counter-narcotics area.

Q: So about 32 of that number would be...

A: Well, the JCET is separate. They're doing separate things. They do work on some counter-terrorism. But none of our forces in Colombia [are] doing anything with counter-insurgency. We do not have advisors in Colombia working with the Colombian military on counter-insurgency operations.

Q: Just a clarification of the 32 number, do you mean 32 people all together next year?

A: Right.

Q: So we divide the six into 32 and get a rough average number of people per mission?

A: Yeah, approximately five and a third people per mission. [Laughter]

Q: The Saudis have come to the conclusion that the investigation of [the] Khobar bombing is over and that nobody except Saudis were involved in it. I see the Saudis sending their Foreign Minister to Iran, to Tehran today. I just would ask, certainly those explosives had to come from somewhere outside of the country and there's been a lot of indications that the Iranians were helpful in financing it. Do you have a reaction to that?

A: My reaction is the reaction I give you every time you ask me such a question, which is the Justice Department is still investigating this and they're the people who should talk about the progress on the investigation.

Press: Thank you.

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