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DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
June 07, 2001 1:30 PM EDT

Thursday, June 07, 2001 - 1:30 p.m. EDT

(Also participating: Rear Admiral Stephen Pietropaoli, Navy Chief of Information)

Adm. Quigley: Afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I have three announcements this afternoon. First, an update on Secretary Rumsfeld's travel in Europe. Yesterday in Thessaloniki, Greece, he met with the Greek minister of national defense for bilateral talks, and then attended the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerials, then at the end of the day, traveled to Brussels. Today the secretary has been in Brussels all day, where he and General Shelton are meeting with NATO defense ministers. The talks will continue there in Brussels tomorrow, after which the secretary will travel to Finland, where he'll be meeting with the ministers of defense from all of the Nordic and Baltic countries, and then he'll be returning to Andrews Air Force Base late tomorrow night -- or Saturday night; sorry.

Second, we'll have a bluetopper for you later today on new procedures for disposing of unclassified computers here at the Department of Defense. As some of you may recall, we had instituted a policy calling for the destruction of all unclassified hard drives when computers were sold, donated or otherwise disposed of from the department. Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has taken a look at that policy and determined that we can change it by requiring overwriting of the unclassified hard drives at a minimum. This action will allow us to continue our donations of used computers to schools and other worthy organizations. And I want to stress that this applies only to unclassified computer systems and unclassified hard drives. We will continue to destroy classified hard drives.

And finally, today we welcome 15 students from the Defense Information School, attending the Joint Officer Public Affairs Course. The course teaches and defines the art of public affairs in a joint environment, equipping mid-level public affairs specialists from different branches of the armed services to operate and function jointly. Included in the two-week course is classroom instruction, briefings from the service public affairs chiefs, and attendance at a Pentagon news briefing. So I will be safe to assume that you can put an "X" in that box at the completion of this. Welcome to you all.

And with that, I'll take your questions. Toby?

Q: Exactly how are you planning to remove the EP-3 from Hainan Island? And when is that likely to happen?

Adm. Quigley: We will disassemble the aircraft into four major components: two wings, the fuselage, and the tail assembly. This is a fairly complicated procedure but it's not unprecedented, by any stretch. When you convert a regular P-3 that would be in the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, and you choose one to convert to an EP-3 configuration, you disassemble it there at Davis- Monthan and you carry it, you fly it away to a Lockheed Martin facility, where it is changed to the EP-3 configuration. So this is something that is certainly not commonly done, but it's not unprecedented, by any stretch.

So after the aircraft, those four major pieces, they will be loaded onto an AN-124 cargo aircraft. There is very much an issue of proper loading of the AN-124s. These are the largest cargo aircraft in the world, and quite heavy. The aircraft will be loaded appropriately to conform to the structural limits, the weight-bearing limits of the runway and Lingshui there on Hainan Island, and those components will be then flown out and the plane will be reassembled at some location in the United States. Don't have a final decision on that yet, but we'll make that decision in the weeks ahead.

There are four members of the assessment team in Hainan Island right now. These were the four that were in Beijing for the past few days. And they are now on the ground at Hainan Island, at Lingshui, talking with PLA Navy officials and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials. There is a fifth member, a DOD civilian who is a specialist on runways. This engineer has yet to arrive. He is supposed to arrive later today. And his job will be to specifically assess the structural integrity, the weight-bearing capability of the runway there at Lingshui. That will then precisely determine the loading criteria that we will use to bring in the AN-124s and fly them out with the components on board. So the number of flights of the AN-124 will be determined by how heavy each of them can be. And we'll do that math and that will determine how many flights we will then need.

When you have the runway engineer completing his work and we have a good set of analytical data on the capabilities of the runway itself, we would anticipate that the full crew could then start to flow into Lingshui within about five days. So my best estimate at this point when that flow would start, sometime towards the mid to the latter part of next week. And then that would be -- again, the number of flights, as I said before, will be determined by the maximum weight of the aircraft that you could bring in, but in general it would carry people -- the engineers, the technicians that would actually perform the work -- the equipment that they would need to bring with them, very specialized tools, as you can imagine, to perform the disassembly, heavy lift cranes, jacks, things of that sort to move these heavy components from the aircraft where it's parked there onto the AN-124s and safely and quite gently, actually, load them onto the aircraft and fly them away.

Ultimately, the components would be refurbished, the plane would be re-assembled, and it would go back into regular use.

Q: So the earliest that you can see a piece of the EP-3 actually flying off Hainan Island would be what, next week?

Adm. Quigley: Several -- no, several weeks from now would be my best estimate.

Q: Several weeks.

Adm. Quigley: Yes. Now, I don't think we've determined the exact flow yet. I mean, if I -- let's just say I disassemble the left wing of the plane, that happens to be the part that I take off first. Will I fly that out individually? Will I wait and do all the parts sequentially? I don't know that. I have not heard that level of detail yet.

Q: One last thing. After -- if there is too much weight that ends up being put on that runway, what happens? Does it sink the island, or what? (Light laughter.)

Adm. Quigley: Well, no. I mean, you would take a look at a runway and you would think that that's a very, very strong structure. And it is, of course. But every runway is designed to have a particular maximum weight that aircraft can use to both take off and land.

If your field is constructed to take only very light private or light commercial aviation planes, like little Cessnas and pleasure craft, business aircraft, things of that sort, you don't have to have nearly as strong a runway or as robust a construction as you would if your goal were to operate Boeing 747s or something of that size -- much bigger, much heavier, a very different footprint for the different models of aircraft. So I'm going to only invest in the construction of my runway to the maximum that I need to, to fly the types of aircraft that I desire to fly from that runway.

Now Lingshui, on a normal day, is used as a fighter base. The aircraft are much smaller, much lighter than the An-124. We think that the An-124, as we understand the construction of the runway, will be able to safely land and take off there with the components of the EP-3 on board, perhaps lighter than you might otherwise maximum load the plane. And so we would anticipate there need to be more flights than you might have to do, but that's okay; you're going to have to adjust to the maximum load-bearing capacity of the runway.

Pam?

Q: How many people will be flown in, and how many flights of an AN-124 will that take? And when you talk about possible multiple flights from Hainan Island, is that one plane flying multiple times or several planes?

Adm. Quigley: I believe we're going to try to get two planes. And I can't answer the first part of your question. I don't think we have that level of detail yet. But you will have a combination of people and equipment. You'd want to bring the people in first, but right after them their equipment, to start using that.

We're also in the discussions with the Chinese authorities on the ground today at Lingshui. We're trying to ascertain the level of support that the Chinese would be able to provide, with companies and whatnot, to rent vehicles, perhaps electrical power generators and the like, and those discussions continue as well.

Q: Price tag?

Adm. Quigley: Unknown until their discussions are complete.

Q: How long to disassemble the plane? Your estimates have been up to a month or longer. Is that now telescoped?

Adm. Quigley: No, that's still a good approximation, John -- is about a month's worth of work. And that figures on a full workday of somewhere eight and nine hours. There is a "J" factor cranked in there to accommodate for bad weather and unanticipated delays. But our best estimate at this point is still approximately a month.

Q: Do you know if the Chinese are going to impose a five-day work week on you? Have you been given permission to work seven days a week?

Have you been given permission to throw lights up so you can work at night? Do you know any of those details?

Adm. Quigley: I do not. I do not.

Q: Do you know where the people will sleep? Will it be at Lingshui? Will it be at the other air base where the last bunch was forced to stay?

Adm. Quigley: No, it will not -- actually, neither of those. The other airfield is well north, I believe, like two hours north on the north coast of Hainan Island. And there are facilities, guest houses and the like, just outside the perimeter of Lingshui Airfield that we anticipate will be the ones that will be used to house the technicians and the air crews and the like.

Q: Will you be allowed to use your own communications equipment, which the group was not allowed to use the last time, or are you going to be using hotel phones to communicate with the outside world?

Adm. Quigley: I do not have the specifics, but I understand that there was agreement on the specific communications to be used, and we did not feel, whatever those details were, and I'm sorry I don't have them, but we did not feel it to be an imposition or any sort of a hindrance to our ability to call back.

And I can envision any number of reasons for doing that. You're going to bring very well-trained technicians with very specific tools, but there is going to be something that they're going to want to call back to another firm or another person within Lockheed Martin and consult and say, "I have this problem, this is what it looks like. What do you think?" And so there will be a continuous need for that over the course of the days, I would suspect. And our team has not described any hindrances from the communications agreements.

Q: Do you know if any Chinese technical people will be involved in any of the hands-on work on the aircraft?

Adm. Quigley: They will not.

Q: I have a three-parter. Do you know what the length of the runway is there, and is that a factor -- the length of it, not just the amount of weight it can bear? And the other thing is, do you know which country of origin these AN-124s are coming from? And the third thing, does the Pentagon have an estimate on when this plane will actually be back in service?

Adm. Quigley: Let me see if I can remember all those. I do not know the length of the runway, but yes, it matters. Although that one is pretty easy to ascertain, and we're sure that the length of the runway is not an issue for the AN-124, particularly knowing that we're going to have to light-load them, which decreases the amount of runway you're going to need to get off the ground and to stop the plane. So I don't have a figure for you; it is an issue, but it's not going to be a hindrance in this particular case.

There are a couple of countries that own these; Russia, the Ukraine. Which country they're going to come from is going to be up to which company the Lockheed Martin team contracts with to provide them, and they're going to go for the best deal they can get.

Q: You don't know if that's settled yet?

Adm. Quigley: Do not have that settled yet because, again, we can't tell our contractor how many flights or over what period of time in any specific, so they can't go out and request bids from companies because there's just not enough information there yet.

Now, we are moving materials and people to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa. That will be our final staging area. And the AN-124s will fly from there and then down to Hainan.

Q: And any estimate on when it will actually be back in service?

Adm. Quigley: No, I do not have that. I don't think we're going to have that probably for some time to come, until we can do -- remember, the original assessment was what would be the minimum we need to do to the aircraft to make it safe to fly, and we had the answer to that. But as far as putting it in the condition that you want to have a fully operational aircraft, I don't know as if that assessment has been done yet.

Anything else?

Q: New subject?

Adm. Quigley: Mm-hm. (Affirmative response.)

Q: Okay. On the issue of Vieques, the governor of Puerto Rico proposed legislation and the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, the leadership, has decided that they will be approving next Tuesday a local referendum which will include another option that's not provided in the Defense Authorization Bill for the Navy to leave. This referendum will take place on July the 29th. Is that a real option?

Adm. Quigley: Well, we still do not understand the legal impact if there is to be a local referendum outside the terms of the agreement, which is the law, and the law stipulates that there'll be a referendum on the 6th of November. So other than saying that we don't understand yet the impact, if any, of a local referendum on the 29th of July, the distinction you point out of there being an option, if you will, in the referendum, choices not covered by the law, is very real. And again, that would be something that -- the recognition of that we would just have to take a look at and assess.

Q: And to follow up, according to the legislation and the presidential directives, the Navy has to define, 90 days before the election of the referendum, Option B, which is provided in the federal referendum in terms of what would happen after 2003; the Navy is going to conduct exercises, or what are they proposing in order to stay in Vieques. Has the Navy finally decided on what that option will -- that appear on the ballot?

Adm. Quigley: I think the due date for that is August. I -- so I -- my guess is I don't think so. And I don't -- I think that would be working towards that goal of August. But I don't believe on the 7th of June that it's completed, no.

Q: Where was -- what do you make of the testimony from several people from Puerto Rico before the Hispanic Caucus on the Hill that, you know, they were subjected to body cavity searches and other unsavory things like that, I mean, after they were arrested?

Adm. Quigley: Steve, perhaps?

For those of you who don't know him, this is Rear Admiral Steve Pietropaoli, the Navy's Chief of Information.

Adm. Pietropaoli: Hi. I told Craig I'd take him off the hook on Vieques today after the Hispanic Caucus. Let me just say at the outset we understand the caucus is interested in the events that surrounded both the demonstrations, of course, which we support the right of protestors to protest, and then those that chose to break the law and trespass onto the federal property.

In terms of the allegations about body cavity searches, the Atlantic Fleet has done a -- first of all, it's not part of our standard operating procedure. The type of search that's done by the security forces there in -- pursuant to the detention of these individuals who break the law is basically a frisking to ensure that there are no sort of hidden weapons, things that could hurt them, or hurt the security forces. A pretty standard pat-down-type of thing. Women prisoners were searched by female security personnel and men by men. There were no body cavity searches, there were no strip searches, and no requirement for that.

The unfortunate recollections of these individuals who were -- who broke the law and were detained are unfortunate but not surprising. I don't think very many people who wind up in custody with law enforcement and security people have a particularly fond memory of that experience. But it is a necessary element of detaining individuals who have broken the law that you maintain some control. Therefore they are searched, they are handcuffed, in this case with the flexible wire-wrap cuffs, and they are -- generally speaking, your security forces, there are frequently more law-breakers and more detainees than there are security forces. And it's important to maintain control for their safety and for the safety of the security forces.

So no matter how much you think it's appropriate for you to get up when you've been told to stay down, from the security officer's perspective it's important you stay down. And unless you've explained to them before you start to rise why you need to get up, you're probably going to be put back down in the position they asked you to maintain.

We are unfortunately at a big disadvantage during the briefing for the Hispanic Caucus, because there are ongoing legal cases that the Justice Department continues to bring before the courts, and we are not at liberty to discuss events surrounding cases that have not been resolved.

I can say that the issue of the detention, as it was handled by both Navy security forces and by U.S. marshals and others, has been brought up in the court systems down there as these have been tried, and essentially the procedures have been validated and accepted by the courts down there as appropriate for the situation that presented itself.

Our security forces -- I think Edward James Olmos brought up in the briefing for the Hispanic Caucus, you know, that many of these young petty officers who are part of the security force had been up at this for some time and were tired and, you know, had been working the fence line, patrolling. And they're right.

It is unfortunate, from our perspective, that those who choose to go beyond peaceful protest and cut fences, break the law, enter the federal property require us to put a number -- dozens -- of our people up 24/7 along those fence lines, to ensure that the law is upheld and that the integrity of the federal property is maintained. And we would much prefer not to have to put that many people out there in the hot sun in full battle uniform, patrolling those fence lines. But as long as those who wish to make a statement by breaking the law continue to do so, we'll have to provide that security presence.

Lena?

Q: Mr. Olmos mentioned that some of the security officers had been awake for about 72 hours.

Adm. Pietropaoli: Yeah, I --

Q: Is that true?

Adm. Pietropaoli: I don't know that. I heard that yesterday. We've asked down there to check. I doubt it. I mean, it is -- almost certainly every military officer back here or sailor back there can tell you that they have spent in their careers many hours, many stretches of duty in which you are catnapping, in which you are, you know, working long as 24/7 along that line -- not for each individual, but the presence has to be maintained. And as most of you know, these intrusions went on throughout the day and throughout the night. So our requirement wasn't to be out there for 12 hours and then catch a good night's rest and go back at it in the morning. We had to be out there throughout the day and the night.

Q: Some of the detainees said that some security officers made slurs or ethnic remarks against Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics in general. Is that going to be investigated? Is that an issue of concern?

Adm. Pietropaoli: Again, we have affidavits -- I mean, the Atlantic Fleet has done a review of the treatment of the detainees. I don't know if they've completed that. I know the basic review was done by Admiral Gaudio, who was in charge of the operation down there, and it's under review at Atlantic Fleet.

There are affidavits attesting to that. Many of the members of the security force are Hispanic themselves.

We don't see, the Navy doesn't see this as a Hispanic issue. I mean, this is an issue about training, about the importance of training Naval forces. We don't see this as an Hispanic issue any more than we would see training in North Carolina as a Tarheel issue, or Texas as a Lone Star -- I mean, it's about training American forces that are going overseas and giving them the tools they need to defend American interests.

So I understand the Hispanic Caucus's interest in it, but we really don't see this as a Hispanic issue. It's an issue of the importance of training our forces before we deploy them.

Q: The caucus says they have requested videotapes or pictures that the Navy took during the whole detainment process. Will those documents or that evidence ever be turned over to the caucus?

Adm. Pietropaoli: I think, on one level -- and I think Mr. Molzahn, who was up at the hearing, spoke to this -- on one level, there are, in fact, with ongoing legal cases, there are real issues with respect to releasing any of that information about specific cases, documentary or otherwise. Beyond that, I have serious questions about the propriety of releasing footage shot -- documentary footage shot by security forces or by the Navy of people in custody. I can tell you that if people released footage of people that were detained by other countries or by other people of our sailors or soldiers, we'd be not very happy about it.

So even with permission, this was not shot for public release. The activities along the fence-line, the protests that occurred in public areas, the rock-throwing, slingshots of fishing weights and batteries, that we released still photos and videotape. But once an individual is in the custody of the U.S. government, I have serious doubts about the propriety of releasing videotape of that. It's done for documentary purposes. It's not meant for public release.

Q: Many accused of the detainees are people who testified before the Hispanic Caucus that the prisoners detained on Vieques April 27th, 28th, 29th and May 1st, I believe -- were treated in worse conditions than our Navy personnel in Hainan Island. How do you respond to those claims, or accusations?

Adm. Pietropaoli: A, I wasn't on the scene for either one of them. B, the people that were on Hainan, our sailors, Marines and airmen that were on Hainan Island, had broken no laws and, in fact, were, in our view, being detained improperly, as opposed to those who on Vieques openly and freely admitted they were there to break the law. And one of the consequences of breaking the law is being detained by the security forces and turned over for processing in the legal system. And as I said at the outset, I don't think very many people look back on those kinds of experiences and remember them fondly. It's unfortunate, but that's just the way it goes.

Q: Well, what measures are you taking for the upcoming exercises scheduled for next week?

Adm. Pietropaoli: We will be prepared, as we were in this case, with the proper procedures in place, with the assistance -- we had great support last time from U.S. marshals, from the FBI, from the Coast Guard providing some water-borne security. Overall, despite these allegations, which we have not been able to substantiate, we think that it went pretty well. It would be wonderful if there were no people who went beyond protesting.

We support the right of those people who come in from the main island of Puerto Rico or from the United States or New York or wherever they're coming from who want to express their political opinions about the importance of Navy training in Vieques. When it goes beyond protest and goes into law-breaking, we'll have to implement the same procedures we've used in the past.

Q: Could you just fill us in on what's happening next week, who's going down and which ranges they're going to be using?

Adm. Pietropaoli: To be perfectly honest with you, I think the DDI desk has that, but I don't have the details in front of me; I was only going to come back for the caucus.

So if that's it, I'll turn it back to a guy who actually may have that information.

Adm. Quigley: Are there any other questions? Yes, sir.

Q: My name is Janne Pak from KBS, Korean Broadcasting System. I would like to ask two questions regarding MD policy program.

Adm. Quigley: MD?

Q: Missile defense?

Adm. Quigley: Oh. Okay.

Q: I'm not sure if you're -- can you answer the question, sir.

Adm. Quigley: I'll give it a shot.

Q: Okay. The first question is, I know it's still in the initial stage to talk about MD program, but last May 1st, President Bush just announced the MD program, merging the NMD and TMD. Our crew are here to shoot this documentary on MD and peace in the Korean peninsula, and my question, specific question on MD is that when -- I know it's still initial stage, but when is the program will formalized and put together in order to make it as a solidified program, and when are you going to make the announcement of that?

Adm. Quigley: Okay.

Q: And the second question is, I know the Pentagon and the White House are still working -- in the process of working on putting things together for the North Korean policy, and when is that going to be done? What is that going to be completed? And could you tell us some of the content of it?

Adm. Quigley: Let me take the second one first, because that's a far shorter answer. There is no Pentagon policy on North Korea. The president's announcement from yesterday afternoon has very firmly put the State Department in the lead with working out the details that you describe, so I would need to steer you to the State Department on that issue. The Defense Department will certainly support State in any way that we can and State thinks is useful.

But at this point the lead is firmly in the State Department's hands, and I would steer you there for that aspect.

Going back to missile defense, the first part of your question, the whole issue, if I could for just a second, of calling it "missile defense" and not "theater missile defense" or "national missile defense" or any other flavor of missile defense, that completely depends on where you are and what sort of a method you choose to engage the ballistic missile during its path. I can shoot it -- I can shoot at it in boost phase, in mid-course phase, or terminal phase. And I use different systems, or would use different systems at each step along the way.

What I think you will eventually see in the system that the United States has in mind is a layered system, using a variety of means to intercept ballistic missiles at various points in their paths. And you will test -- the secretary has been an advocate of a very robust test and evaluation period -- to try out different means of intercepting ballistic missiles in flight. Some will be fruitful; some will not. We will pursue those that appear to be more productive than others, and we will abandon those that simply don't work out. What you will end up with at the end of the day is probably a layered system of defenses that could prove effective at various stages in the trajectory of the missiles along the way.

We are still talking -- Secretary Rumsfeld is in Europe today -- still talking with our allies and friends around the world about their views, their thoughts. Several of those nations have a considerably robust system of their own to typically do a tactical terminal phase missile defense system. We want to hear about that. And we want to see if that could play a role in that phase of the trajectory for a ballistic missile and use that synergy amongst the various systems to provide an overall system architecture that would be useful at different steps along the way. Long answer to your question, but -- .

Q: So in other words, does that mean that you will take longer in terms of time in order to complete -- come out with a completed version of the program? Is that what you're saying, sir?

Adm. Quigley: I think before you see a specific architecture or system of architectures that will be chosen we will spend some more time talking to our allies about the particulars and their views on that. I think there are some things that the president and Secretary Rumsfeld have been very unequivocal about, and one is certainly the need for a missile defense system for both the United States and our allies and friends around the world. A second part of that is to work very closely with our allies and friends to try to ascertain how we can cooperate on those systems.

So there are some things that are -- have been in place, if you will, from a philosophical foundation for many weeks and months. But the hardware particulars that you're looking for -- that is still a work in progress.

Q: A very personal question, but do you think that due to Senator Jeffords' moving from one to the other side of the house, do you think that would affect the MD program at all?

Adm. Quigley: Oh, I think his shift away from the Republican Party will have an impact on a variety topics within the Senate, certainly, putting different people in the chair of the various committees, Defense and otherwise, throughout the Senate. It's no secret that different senators in the Senate have different views on missile defense. We're very much aware of that. We think there's a good, sound reason for putting a missile defense system in place, and we're very prepared and eager to get on with those discussions.

Q: Thank you.

Adm. Quigley: Linda?

Q: Along those lines, Craig, what is the U.S. view of a NATO- only system? Is that something that we want to cooperate with? Is that something that we think is not so great, because we want to use our system?

Adm. Quigley: Well, that would not be -- as an end to itself, that would not be something that we would look with favor upon, because it's not enough. What we have in mind is not only for NATO but also for the United States and other allies around the world -- Korea, Japan, other nations that are all within the range of those small numbers of ballistic missiles that we're talking about, that the system would defend against.

So as a starting point, as a system that might be uniquely tailored to the geography of Europe, sure, but only as a part of a larger system.

Chris?

Q: Yeah. The gentleman who was missing for some time in the Philippines and now has resurfaced -- have you ever gotten any context on why it was that those folks went touring in an area that required armed escort?

Adm. Quigley: No, we don't have a good explanation for that yet.

Q: Are you seeking one?

Adm. Quigley: I'm sure the Navy is.

Q: Thank you.

Adm. Quigley: Thank you.

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