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

Presenters: Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
July 03, 2001 1:45 PM EDT

Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 1:45 p.m. EDT

Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have two announcements this afternoon, and then we'll take your questions.

We will be closed tomorrow to allow all of our personnel to appropriately recognize our nation's Independence Day. And we invite you to remember, however, the more than 250,000 service members who will be deployed around the world to ensure we enjoy the freedoms earned by those who have served before us.

Today there are more than 102,000 soldiers deployed to such places as Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Southeast Asia. There are more than 39,000 sailors serving on 178 ships currently under way, serving in the Arabian Gulf and the South China and Red Seas, while 32,200 forward-deployed Marines serve in the Mediterranean, the Far East, and guard our embassies around the world. More than 87,000 airmen are participating in joint operations, such as Northern Watch and Joint Forge, and serve in such isolated places as Greenland and Iceland. Coast Guard men and women guard our shores here at home and assist in maritime operations around the world. So please spend a moment to consider those who help ensure our continued freedoms every day.

And second, today we welcome Mr. Tsugumasa Uchihata from Tokyo, Japan, to our press briefing. Mr. Uchihata is the deputy foreign news editor with the Sankei Shimbun newspaper in Japan and is visiting the United States as a U.S. government-sponsored guest of the International Visitor program administered by the State Department. Mr. Uchihata will be in the United States until July 28th, and we're honored to have him here today to attend our press briefing and afterwards discuss the organization and structure of our news desk in handling relations with the new media. Welcome to you, sir.

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

Q: Craig, could you fill us in on the whereabouts of the surveillance plane now?

Quigley: I'm sorry. Say it again?

Q: The whereabouts of the surveillance plane now and when it'll get back to Georgia.

Quigley: Well, I don't know where it is this moment, but I know it is en route. It departed China this morning at approximately 4:45 our time, Eastern Time, this morning, and was taking a route that took it through the Philippines and Hawaii. I believe it will stay for some period of time in Hawaii, for crew rest, I believe, and ultimately return to Marietta, Georgia, the Lockheed Martin facility there at Dobbins Air Force Base, Thursday or Friday of this week.

Bob?

Q: Is there anything more you can tell us about the secretary's intentions regarding future military contacts with Chinese military, other than to say we review it on a case-by-case basis? Are there some things specifically that he has approved that you can talk about?

Quigley: I do not know if there are any recent things that he has approved. But the philosophical approach that he has put in place to approve them on case-by-case basis -- I believe his intentions are to keep that in place for the time being, at least.

Q: Sir, do you see any normal relations after what China did to the United States? Also, what happened -- can you forget?

Quigley: Well, I think that the incident was a difficult one for both nations to work through, certainly. But as we and other nations have shown again and again over the years, the reality of the fact is that China will remain a very powerful force in the world. The United States will as well.

There will be areas on which we will find agreement, and there will be areas on which we disagree in the years ahead. You're just going to have to work through those as time passes, on an individual and bilateral basis.

Charlie?

Q: Craig, our -- could you say our military-to-military ties, relations, exchanges, whatever, are likely to increase, now that the incident has been put by?

Quigley: Not necessarily. I don't think so. I don't think that is necessarily going to be a watershed event or a tie-breaker, if you will. I think it's always going to be looked at, for the foreseeable future, through the lens that Secretary Rumsfeld has put in place of what is it that -- if you take a look at a proposed mil-to-mil activity, is there a benefit here for the United States? Is there a benefit for both nations, for that matter? And is it roughly of reciprocal value? I mean, we've discussed that from here before.

But I think that will be the single most important litmus test, if you will, that will get applied to proposed mil-to-mil exchanges. Is it of comparable value to both countries, and is there a net gain, and does this somehow advance the relationship for the United States?

Q: Craig --

Quigley: Tom?

Q: Now that the plane is out of China, can you update the damage assessment and say whether you're thinking at all about your plans for the plane have been altered as a result of the, you know, what you saw on the ground there?

Quigley: I don't think that -- unless we have a very unpleasant surprise as engineers continue to look at the particulars of the damage and the current state of the airframe, the intention is to repair the airframe and return it to service; unless something we find that we haven't seen so far really says, "Whoa, wait minute, that's perhaps a bad engineering decision." But I think the current intention is to proceed and repair and return it to service.

However, the specific answer to your question, the Lockheed Martin folks are going to kind of have to take a look at the plane with a different set of eyes. Those on the ground at Hainan Island were looking at it from the perspective of safe and effective disassembly, safe crating of the components and whatnot, not necessarily looking at what I need to do to inspect every last element of the plane to make sure it's a sound decision to repair, and what do I need to do and what might be optional to do, and things of that sort. So you kind of look at the same components with a different set of eyes. But unless there is an unpleasant surprise waiting for the more detailed inspections, the intention would be to repair it and to return it to service.

Alex.

Q: Two questions, Craig. Now that the plane is out, can you give us any information about what the crews found inside of the plane pertaining to the equipment that was there that was considered sensitive and which the crew apparently went through its destruction checklist on? And then secondly, akin to the military-to-military, what is currently the policy, and has it changed regarding any purchases by any military branch of any product whatsoever from China?

Quigley: I don't know as -- let me take the second part of it first. I don't know as if there are any changes in a policy in place to purchase Chinese components or anything of that nature. That already had a very specific process in place, that has been in place for a long time in the past, to make sure that there's quality inspections and fair pricing and whatnot of components that are foreign-manufactured and then inserted into American assemblies and subassemblies and the like. So I don't think that there is a factor in that.

So I don't think that there is a factor in that.

On the first part of your question, on the damage assessment, we have put together an interagency team to assess potential damage to U.S. national security, what might have been compromised, what pieces of equipment might need to be modified, what procedures might need to be modified because of that. But that is still very much a work in progress. It will not be done until this summer sometime. The folks have not -- have been pretty scrupulous to not put a specific time frame on themselves. They'll certainly take the information that was gained when you had U.S. personnel allowed access back into the EP-3 as it was sitting on the ground at Hainan and incorporate that into your overall damage assessment.

I don't know how much of that -- we would strive very hard to be able to share with you as much of that as we can. I don't know where that path will lead us in the extent of how much of the information will remain classified and how much would be unclassified and that we could share publicly. I don't know.

Q: Was all the equipment that was on the plane, inside the plane, returned to the United States?

Quigley: I don't know.

Q: What's your ballpark on what the operation has cost up to now to go in, do the assessments, take it apart and haul it out of there?

Quigley: Well, the contract that was let to Lockheed Martin as the overall prime was not to exceed $5.8 million. And that was the most recent assessment in the disassembly and movement of the components back to the United States.

Q: (Off mike) -- within that, you think?

Quigley: Yes. Yes. Now, how much of that, the various subcontracts that were let by Lockheed Martin, I don't have that level of detail, John. But Lockheed Martin will stay within the 5.8.

Q: Do you still have unpaid bills from our friends, the Chinese, for food, housing, damage to runways, any other interesting claims that they may have made?

Quigley: Well, I certainly wouldn't rule that out. I think that is still yet to be seen. We have said from the beginning that we would be willing to pay the fair value of services provided, entering into local contracts for food, ground transportation, drinking water, ancillary tools and things of that sort.

Q: Did you pay anything up front to the Chinese prior to --

Quigley: Not that I know of. Now, there were agreements entered into up front with local Chinese contracting firms, but it was more or less an open-ended thing because you didn't know exactly how long you were going to stay and therefore how much food you would eat, and things of that sort.

Q: What would be the estimate to put this plane back together as a flyable entity -- a ballpark figure?

Quigley: I have not seen a firm figure on that. I don't know that Lockheed Martin is prepared yet to give a firm estimate. It would be a ballpark, and they'll be working that in more detail in the weeks ahead, I suspect.

Q: Has China assessed any charges for the period of detention or of runway charges for the plane?

Quigley: Not that I have seen yet. They could have passed those through diplomatic channels, but not that I have seen yet.

Q: What is the status of those talks that were supposed to take place to establish ground levels regarding --

Quigley: We have yet to -- I asked that question before the brief today, as a matter of fact, and we have yet to get a response back. We have made a proposal to the Chinese government, and we have not yet got a response back to our proposal.

Q: And have --

Quigley: So it's kind of at a standstill until we hear back from them.

Q: Have the Chinese interfered, intercepted, or in any way communicated with any subsequent surveillance flight since the EP-3 accident?

Quigley: We're very confident that they have been aware of any of our strategic reconnaissance efforts in that area over a period of many weeks and months, but nothing that has been obtrusive or dangerous has occurred, no.

Q: Is it -- does the U.S. conduct those surveillance flights any differently in terms of giving any kind of overt heads-up to the Chinese that you're on the way, or is it business as usual as far as the U.S. is concerned?

Quigley: No, no -- yes, choice two: no change in the procedures over time.

Q: Would you consider the EP-3 flight that collided with the F-8 -- was that -- (inaudible) -- our dangerous flight or --

Quigley: Oh, certainly. I mean, we consider --

Q: No, no, no, not the collision -- of course that was -- but what the EP-3 was doing up until then. You said --

Quigley: Flying in international airspace?

Q: Right.

Q: Right.

Quigley: I do not consider that obtrusive or intrusionary at all. My interpretation of Mik's question -- and maybe I got it wrong, Mik -- was, did we consider any dangerous flight activity on the part of Chinese aircraft to come up and take a look at our reconnaissance and surveillance planes, and the answer is no.

Q: So we haven't changed the way we fly those kind of missions?

Quigley: Fundamentally, no. No two are exactly the same. But fundamentally, no.

Yes, sir?

Q: Switch gears, sir. Can you give me any kind of update on the situation on Okinawa and the arrest warrant issued for an airman there?

Quigley: Mm-hmm. We checked, and it is not -- the situation on the ground has not changed much in the last several hours. We very much regret the incident and are working closely with the Japanese authorities there, governmental authorities, legal authorities. But no final decisions have yet been made.

Q: Okay. What is the status of the airman himself?

Is he in custody? Is he under arrest?

Quigley: He is in custody at Kadena Air Base there in Okinawa.

Q: He's not under arrest?

Quigley: No.

Q: Okay. Can you confirm his -- are you releasing his name or rank?

Quigley: No. We are saying that he is a staff sergeant, a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, but we are not releasing his name, as no charges have been filed.

Q: One of the questions that have come out of this is that the original allegations was this woman was approached by a group of possibly American service members and that they fled, but this one person committed the crime itself. Do you know if any investigation or any action is being taken against other service members who may have been there, or do you know if any other service members were there? Is that an untrue statement that came out before?

Quigley: All the issues and the questions you just raised are all very much a part of the ongoing investigative efforts, and we are working closely with the Japanese authority to try to sort that out, but that's still a work in progress.

Q: And what's the status of the negotiations on this?

Quigley: Basically, as I indicated before, is no final decisions have been made on our part.

Q: Can you help us with the rules of the road as to what happens when an American serviceman gets involved with Japanese law? There are certain things that the U.S. does not allow the Japanese to do, like take someone into custody in a case like this until they have issued a formal indictment.

Quigley: Correct. No pre-indictment.

Q: And why is that?

Quigley: It's a part of the standing status of forces agreement, or SOFA, as it's commonly referred to. Each of our -- we have status of forces agreements with a variety of nations around the world. Each and every time, they are a bilateral agreement; no two are alike. They take into consideration the concerns of the U.S. government and the U.S. military in conjunction with local laws and customs and cultural differences between the United States and the country concerned. So we have one with Japan. We have had for many years. It is different from every other nation's, and it is very specific in its description of who has custody -- for instance, in elements of crimes or suspected crimes -- who has custody, under what circumstances, how would custody be handed over from one party to another, and each is unique in its construction.

Q: Is it true that if an American serviceman is taken into custody in Japan that, number one, they are not allowed a translator and not allowed to talk to a defense attorney during the early stages of their arrest?

Quigley: It is my understanding that that is typically true, John, yes.

Q: But that wasn't the case here, as I understand it. He was on base when the Air Force -- or the local military authority was approached to speak to him?

Quigley: Well, if I understood John's question correctly, it's more along the lines if the Japanese authorities have custody of a U.S. servicemember, and that's not the case here. The allegation of the crime was to have taken place off of military installation property. This was a private facility, area, public facility. And the suspect is -- never has been in the custody of the Japanese law enforcement officials.

Q: He's been questioned by them several times, right?

Quigley: Yes.

Q: In normal circumstances, when an American serviceman is finally indicted and charged, what happens? Is that still a decision that the U.S. has to make, or do you always turn him over?

Quigley: Ultimately, it's a very deliberate decision made by the government of the United States to turn over an American citizen to a foreign -- in this case Japanese -- legal authority. So it's a very deliberate process that's entered into each and every time, and that is the ongoing review that's going on right now.

Q: And what are the considerations once the indictment has been made that determine that decision?

Quigley: You would look carefully to the terms of the SOFA. You would enter into continued discussions with the Japanese government as to how you might ascertain the continued conditions under which the individual would be held and questions and details of that sort.

Q: Are there things, for example, the United States government would require that he have, such as a translator, a defense attorney, et cetera, before you would turn him over?

Quigley: Well, these are all the details that are under discussions right now.

Q: I mean, those are the kinds of things.

Quigley: Generally speaking, yes.

Q: Now, are there discussions between -- with Japanese authorities over these kinds of things?

Quigley: On a regular basis in a variety of instances, yes.

Q: This gentleman has been --

Quigley: Yes, sir?

Q: According to Japanese sources, the U.S. government will inform the Japanese government to agree to hand over the sergeant this afternoon. Can you confirm this?

Quigley: No, I can't. I have no indication that that's true at all. I have no time frame to attach to it, nor a final decision.

Q: Would our government turn this man over without an indictment? As far as I know, there's not one. And as I'm told, there's only been one other case where a serviceman has been turned over without a formal indictment.

Quigley: Well, the best answer I can give you at this point is no final decision's been made.

There are many issues involved here. We've got to weigh them carefully. And no final decision has been made.

Q: Has a U.S. service member been turned over to the Japanese government without a formal indictment in the past?

Quigley: I don't know.

Yes, sir?

Q: The local town council of (inaudible) is requesting the midnight -- the night-time curfew and not to drink the alcohol beverages for the U.S. servicemen. How do you respond to that request?

Quigley: I'm not aware of that level of detail here in Washington. I'm sorry. I don't know that level of detail.

Q: (Off mike) -- about damaging the U.S. presence in Okinawa?

Quigley: Say that again; I'm sorry?

Q: How can the Pentagon avoid damaging the U.S. presence in Okinawa?

Quigley: The U.S. military presence in Okinawa is an issue that needs constant attention on the part of our senior leadership there on the ground, military leadership, as well as political representation of the United States government. The relationship, the security relationship that we have with Japan is very important to us. It is central to the security arrangements that we have in that part of Asia. And it's very important. By the same token, we have a great deal of concern for the individual service members' rights and we care about the men and women that wear the uniform of the United States.

So that is why such great care goes into the crafting of the Status of Forces Agreements with a variety of nations around the world. And the circumstances surrounding issues that pertain to the SOFA never seem to be easy ones, or if they are, they're handled very quickly at a local level. It's the ones that deserve a higher level of attention that are really difficult to work through, these are the ones that we want to take our time and make sure we get it right the first time.

Q: Are you considering some extra measures to -- you know, so that such cases never happen again, extra measures?

Quigley: We constantly stress to the men and women that are American military members on Okinawa that their conduct is of paramount importance both to the relationship locally there on Okinawa with the people of Okinawa and also on a government-to-government basis. Every time that there is misconduct on the part of an American service member, it is an issue that is taken very seriously both by the local U.S. military leadership as well as by the local political leadership there in Okinawa. And it's something that receives a great deal of attention at the highest levels of both governments.

You're dealing with human beings. There are going to be errors in judgment made over time for a variety of reasons. Every time that happens, it's painful and it's a difficult period to work through. But you just work through it because the relationship is so important to both of our countries.

Q: Have any activities on any of the military bases changed as a result of this? Have you gone through any time restrictions or curfews or anything?

Quigley: No, not that I know of. Not that I have heard discussed, no.

Q: How about protests of security concerns?

Quigley: Again, not that I have heard from here, no.

Chris?

Q: Going back to the beginning, in the early reports of this incident, there were supposed to be several American servicemen involved, and then other accounts later were that in fact although other servicemen have been questioned, they in fact may have intervened to stop the alleged conduct. Do you have any clarity on that?

Quigley: Not at all. I mean, these are the sorts of issues that need to be sorted out by the professional investigators there on the ground, talking to a variety of witnesses that would hopefully have been present and able to observe what actually happened. This is classic law enforcement, to sort out what happened from what didn't happen, where is fact, where is rumor. I do not think that they have arrived at that point yet.

Q: Would other American servicemen be obligated to serve as witnesses in a Japanese trial, if one took place?

Quigley: We would always ask the individuals who have something positive in the sense of firsthand knowledge to contribute to finding ground truth as the investigation proceeds.

Yes.

Q: Different subject?

Quigley: Sure.

Q: You had a number of visitors here in the building. One was, I believe, a -- (inaudible word) -- leader from India, Sonia Gandhi, then there was a Mr. Brajesh Mishra here, and also the foreign minister of Pakistan. So what they discussed here? Like India's Brajesh Mishra met with Secretary Rumsfeld, and the foreign minister of Pakistan met with some other high-level officials. So what they discussed, including this upcoming summit between India and Pakistan?

Quigley: I don't know the specifics of --

Q: General Shelton's visit to India?

Quigley: I don't know the specifics of what was discussed, except that as a general rule, the matters discussed pertained to the particulars of the relationship between the United States and the senior defense official representing the other nation that's visiting. So they tend to be very focused, either on the bilateral issues between the U.S. and the other country, or certainly regional issues that apply to both nations.

Q: Any idea when General Shelton is visiting India?

Quigley: We have made no announcement on his visit yet, although he has said that he will reschedule it, but we have not made an announcement of that yet.

Lina?

Q: Yes, has OSD finally submitted the draft legislation to Congress to amend last year's defense authorization bill on Vieques?

Quigley: I don't know. Let me take that. We'll get back to you. [Update: No.]

Q: And there are preliminary results of the investigation on the Udairi, Kuwait range. And among the preliminary results, is there any linkage to the fact that the Truman battle group had not trained with live fire in Vieques?

Quigley: Not that I had seen is any element of that. But I don't think there's -- I think we're past preliminary on the actions from the Udairi accident. I think the services have taken the final action to the -- with the personnel involved.

Q: And there's no --

Quigley: I don't think it's preliminary. I think it's final.

Q: But is there any linkage to Vieques at this point?

Quigley: I have not seen any linkage to the type or quantity or quality of training as being a cause of the accident. I have not seen that.

Alex?

Q: A different subject: Has any final decision been made on terminating DOD's support for peacekeeping training in Africa?

Quigley: No. No. You always take a look, constantly -- what am I doing? Am I doing it for the right reasons? What is the effect of the training that I am providing, whether it's training, whether it's equipment, advice, or something of that sort?

But it's our view that the -- and your answer could change over time. But it's our view that at the moment we are providing equipment and training to nations who are willingly contributing to a peacekeeping process in Africa. These are African nations that are willingly asking for our help to train soldiers and equip -- some uniforms and some items of equipment -- to help keep the peace on their continent. And we think if we can make a contribution in that regard, it's a good thing.

Q: But that could change tomorrow?

Quigley: You always assess how you're doing. If the process somehow is seen to be counterproductive or less productive than we would hope, certainly we reserve the judgment to make changes. But at this point, I mean, we vet the individuals that receive the training. There's a great deal of emphasis not only on professional military skills, but also on democratic, civilian control of the military; humanitarian sorts of efforts; professionalism within the battalions that are being trained to perform the duties there in Africa. We think the units, when we're done with them, are more professional and better qualified to carry out the missions they're assigned. And we see things going in the right direction, not the wrong direction.

Q: No complaints?

Quigley: No, no complaints. I won't say that.

Q: (Laughs.)

Quigley: It's never perfect, Alex. It's never perfect. You don't carry out a complex mission like this without bumps along the way. But the overarching goal, disregarding the bumps along the road, is that the battalions are more qualified and more professional and better able to carry out the peacekeeping duties that their nations sign them up to do when we're done than when we started. And by any yardstick, that's a plus.

Q: Fiscal '01 supplemental? We're in the third day of the fourth quarter. The Senate will act on the ninth or 10th day of the fourth quarter.

Does the department have in mind a date by which, if the thing isn't in hand, you'll have to start taking actions terminating scheduled activities in consideration of the Anti-Deficiency Act?

Quigley: If we had to, Pat, we could come up with a date to be responsive to your question. But we are very confident and assured by the senior leadership in both houses of the Congress and in both sides of the aisle that it will not come to that. And with a promise that the supplemental will be taken up among the very first issues, once the Congress reconvenes on the 9th of July -- if that all comes to pass, you won't have to do that.

Is somebody somewhere in the services doing "what if" questions? Probably. That's probably not a bad expenditure of time. But we don't think that it will come to that.

Q: Thank you.

Quigley: Hunter?

Q: Admiral, just to return to the P-3 issue quickly, the Navy budget was directed by OSD in the '02 bill to include funding for the conversion of one P-3 to an EP-3E configuration. This was funding that was not included or planned by the Navy initially, and they have now added that money into the program. Is this an indication that OSD is prepared to write off the P-3 from Hainan Island and just go ahead and convert one from the standing stock of P-3s and get on with it?

Quigley: No. It's an insurance policy. If the inspections of the damaged airframe, as we indicated before here this afternoon -- if we are met with an unpleasant surprise, and it just is damaged beyond the point that we think it is, then you have that planning wedge in the budget, so that you can take a P-3 from the boneyard and convert it into the EP-3 configuration.

If that's not the case, then we would probably seek reprogramming in the months ahead to change the direction of that money as not being needed, or possibly use it for the repairs of the EP-3. But it -- more than anything else, it is an insurance policy.

Q: Okay. Thank you.

Q: Thank you.

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