DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, USN, DASD PA
Thursday, July 6, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. EDT
Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a couple announcements this afternoon and will be glad to take your questions after that.
Secretary Cohen is in Tampa, Florida, today for the U.S. Central Command change-of-command ceremony. Earlier today, Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni relinquished command to Army General Tommy Franks.
Following the briefing, we will have a -- the first part of today's briefing, I should say -- we will have a senior Defense official to provide you all a backgrounder on Secretary Cohen's upcoming trip to China and Australia. He will leave next Monday on that trip. So we'll take a short break upon completion of the regular press briefing and allow those that are interested in the backgrounder to stay, and then we'll pick right up within just a few minutes for the backgrounder.
The annual war-fighting demonstration called Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration 2000 begins next Monday, the 10th, and continues through Friday, July 28th, this year hosted by General Ralph Eberhart, commander in chief of the U.S. Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. There will be 24 U.S. demonstrations, with additional participation of various NATO nations, Australia, and New Zealand. We've got a bluetopper in the back of the room with more information on JWID, and points of contact at U.S. Space Command and the JWID Joint Project Office.
One thing I have checked out is website, and the URL for that website is in the bluetopper. It's very good and very informative.
And finally, I would like to go through some of the mechanics of the upcoming national missile defense test shot tomorrow night. As I'm sure most of you know, Integrated Flight Test 5 of the NMD program will take place tomorrow night. The launch window opens at 10:00 p.m. our time and is open for four hours, until 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning. This is the fifth test, but only the third -- that's the third intercept attempt.
And just kind of a quick sequence of events -- and I'm not going to go into a lot of detail, because I know most of you have gotten some or all of this before.
But we are looking at a modified Minuteman target missile to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base sometime within that four-hour window. About 20 minutes later and 4,300 miles away, in Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, the interceptor will launch from another missile; that 10 minutes after that, about a hundred miles above the Pacific, we anticipate that intercept, the hit-to-kill technology, intercepting the target having been launched from Vandenberg.
Now, 30 minutes after the intercept, we anticipate that Lieutenant General Kadish, the director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Office, will be up here in the Press Briefing Room to provide a look at a very short videotape clip, 20, 30 seconds of videotape, and kind of talk through the shot, as best we know it, in that very, very brief period of time.
It'll be obvious as to whether or not we hit the target. There will be about a seven- to 10-day, to 14-day perhaps, data reduction period that will follow wherein we'll take a look in great detail at all aspects of the test shot -- of the supporting systems, the radars, the command and control -- all of it -- and have a very thorough understanding.
Our knowledge tomorrow night will end up being quite superficial, actually. It will be an obvious visual as to whether or not we hit the target. But all of your very good questions that all of us will have, as far as specifics, will simply not be in hand for several days following the test. But General Kadish will go through the test, as best we know it, right afterwards. And again, that's about 30 minutes after the intercept, up here.
We are -- please check with the web site defenselink.mil, all of you, I think, are familiar with. We'll be providing updates. Should there be any delay in that test shot tomorrow night, we'll try to get the word out as quickly as we can, to as many people as we can. And we'll also provide additional information today. We are setting up a special telephone line [+1 (703) 697-5332] that you all can call and try to get as much of a heads-up as you can, that, "The launch of the target vehicle" -- for instance -- "has occurred from Vandenberg. And it took off at such and such a time." And you can pretty much gauge your arrival here in the building to have follow-on questions from there.
So again, the website -- and we'll give the telephone information later on today. And hopefully, those two things will allow you to stay current as to the schedule of events for tomorrow night.
General Kadish will take as many questions during that brief, following the shot, as he can, and we'll, hopefully, have you all walk out of here tomorrow night with as much information as we have available to us at that point.
Then we'll go into a reduction of the data for the next several days after that, as I indicated. And then in the weeks ahead, Secretary Cohen, as you're all aware, will make his DRR recommendation to the president, and the president will make his decision, then, later on this fall.
So that's a quick and dirty -- a lot of details. But like I say, I didn't want to belabor it. We have more. Please check with the news desk folks following the brief, if you'd like, and they have the phone number and things of that sort.
And that completes my announcements.
Q: Craig, given the lateness of the hour tomorrow night and the time constraints, I assume you all plan to let us know as soon as you know, whether or not the test was successful, as opposed to waiting until General Kadish gets up there to make the announcement? I mean, if you know -- you say he's coming --
Q: -- he's coming 30 minutes after the impact, the scheduled impact, but you will let us know before that, as soon as you know, whether or not it's been successful?
Quigley: Yes, sir. For those of you who have a desk in the Press Room across the hallway here, what we can do is we will give you -- or you might be here in this room -- we will say -- and just walk through the offices and through the spaces here -- "The target missile has been launched from Vandenberg." And we'll give you a time when that occurred. And then we'll give you a follow-on after that; "The interceptor has been launched from Kwajalein." So that you can keep kind of a running tally of what events have happened. And then, after that, 10 minutes later the intercept is scheduled to occur, and right away we will know whether it was a hit or a miss, and we'll provide that information as well. So those of you with a need for filing just literally that couple of sentences that you'll need to do at that point in time can do so, and then with follow-on information available about 30 minutes later, plus actually take a look at the pictures.
Q: Given some of the obvious variables in terms of weather and mechanics and the like, will you be able to tell us that it's anticipated that the target vehicle would be launched at 10:15 or 1:15 or --
Quigley: As best we can, Mik.
As best -- right now, if you take a look at the weather map, there don't appear to be any weather conditions that would delay the launch. Weather in the area of Kwajalein is good. There is an issue, as there always is, in the area of Vandenberg Air Force Base of fog, and their safety rules preclude launch unless you have a visual on the missile that you're about to launch. Again, that's the target vehicle, so we need to actually -- the range control folks would actually need to have clear visibility on the target missile. So issues of that sort are always possible, but we don't see any big storms, and mechanically the systems are ready to go. And if all those things stayed that way, we would launch the target missile from Vandenberg very shortly after 10:00.
Q: Okay. And I understand that --
Q: -- that Boeing has a facility.
Q: What kind of coverage is going to be permitted there? Are cameras permitted there? What's the --
Quigley: Boeing has a facility. They're the lead integrator, contractor for the national missile defense system, or the program. They have a facility in Rosslyn. I don't have that address with me. I'm sure we do, as well as phone numbers. They have a coax cable, a T-1 line that goes into their facility, so there you can get a real-time look at the exoatmospheric kill vehicle, the visual seeker on the kill vehicle. And you can get a real-time look at that imagery there. However, they don't have filing facilities there for correspondents like we would have in this building. So correspondents who wish to go to take a look at Boeing and actually see the intercept live, I would recommend take your cell phones. But we're also looking at a rush of folks to go from the Boeing facility -- you have roughly 30 minutes at that point -- to get over here to the Pentagon to hear General Kadish. So you could be in both places, in all honesty.
Q: Also, will DoD provide any video of the launch of the missile at Vandenberg or at Kwajalein, or do we have to --
Q: Okay. There will be --
Q: At the time of the Kadish briefing?
Quigley: I don't think we'll have it that fast.
Q: The next day?
Quigley: (To staff) Is it the next day?
STAFF: Early morning. Early morning Saturday.
Q: Okay. Five o'clock?
Quigley: We've got to get that here and then get in into broadcast quality that we need. The only thing we'll have immediately, Mik, will be the brief, 20, 30-second seeker video. That we'll have right away. And within the early morning hours of Saturday, both the other parts that you're looking for, Kwajalein and --
Q: With those two pieces of video be distributed to the pool?
Quigley: Yes, as well as -- we'll have one as well; we, the government. And for those outlets who are not members of the pool, we'll have it as well.
Q: So Craig, it is my understanding that assuming that -- the weather was fine, there's no -- that they could lift, their plan is to lift off as close to 10:00 as possible?
Quigley: Yes. Absolutely.
Q: So, and then a half an hour later, if all goes well, that's when the impact happens, doesn't it?
Quigley: Yes, very close to that. I mean, if the weather and everything is still good at like five after 10:00 or so, here we go, and we start.
Q: Okay, so it doesn't have anything to do with mechanics or anything; just the weather?
Quigley: Right. We give ourselves that four-hour cushion so that the fog at Vandenberg can dissipate, and if we wait 30 minutes and the fog has thinned and the safety controllers have that visual on the missile, we're good to go. So, we don't lock into a particular time, but it will be as early as we can do.
Q: Okay, and then one other thing is, General Kadish is going to speak Friday night/Saturday morning, but is there any chance that there will be further briefings over the weekend, if more information, like Saturday or Sunday?
Quigley: We don't -- we don't plan any, Andrea, because we don't plan any -- we are going to try very hard to leave here tomorrow night, having shared with you everything that we are going to know by that point. We don't think the ball is going to be advanced any further by Saturday morning; that we will not have any additional imagery, will not have any data reduced yet as far as being able to tell, with any more precision, exactly what went right and what may have gone wrong. So our goal is to get it all out tomorrow night.
If some -- if that should change and we just come across something that is -- that is important, okay, for your understanding of what just happened the night before, we'll change that. And, again, stay tuned to that same phone number and the web site and we'll try to get the word out as best we can. I would tell you that we're not planning that, at this point.
Q: Yeah, can you give us a sense of the activities that are underway between now and launch time? For example, are the missiles on their launchers?
Q: You know, what --
Quigley: Well, it's a constant monitoring of the systems, both at Vandenberg and at Kwajalein, with test systems that monitor the conditions of the boosters as well as the interceptor vehicle, the EKV, itself. And you get readouts from the test equipment that shows you that things are okay or they're not okay, and we'll try as best the test equipment can discern to give you an indication of what may have gone wrong, what you can do about it, and things of that sort. Of course, the meteorologists, you're taking a constant look at weather conditions, both immediate, locally, as well as what might be coming to you in the next five hours, 10 hours, something like that.
And then you're making sure that you have the appropriate people in position, well rested, on a regular watch rotation basically, at both locations, as well as here in D.C.
Q: But essentially the systems are just waiting for that launch window to open up, at this point?
Q: Did I understand you to say that after the data reduction, that Secretary Cohen will be making a recommendation to President Clinton? Because I thought General Kadish had said we were going to wait for the fourth attempt later in the fall.
Quigley: No. I would anticipate -- we all anticipate that this will be the last planned shot before the secretary makes his DRR [deployment readiness review] recommendations to the president, using the data from previous tests, as well as what we learn from this shot.
Q: So, Craig, so if you have 14 days to crunch the data --
Quigley: Please, that's an approximation too.
Q: Okay, assuming 14 days, that goes to Cohen, and does he have a time frame between when he gets the data and he makes his recommendation?
Quigley: Well, he anticipates making his recommendation to the president in the next several weeks. That's all encompassing. Next several weeks -- that's incorporating the knowledge that is gained from Flight Test 5, as well as taking a look at all the data, as well as the four criteria that we've discussed many times before, and then incorporating that all into one comprehensive recommendation to the president on his recommendation of the way ahead. And this is, again, on the feasibility of the system.
Q: But so, before Labor Day for sure?
Quigley: I would only say in the next several weeks. I can't pin it down any more precisely than that. If he needs a couple more days than that in order to do what he feels is a more thorough job, he'll certainly take that and the president will understand. But he understands the need to be both comprehensive, accurate and pretty quick about it in getting the recommendation to the president, and that's -- and he fully understands that.
Q: Craig, a lot of attention has been focused on this particular test because it's, as you said, the last scheduled before his recommendation. In your words, how critical is this particular test? Is this a make-or-break event? How would you rate the importance of this particular test in the program?
Quigley: This test is important -- they all are. But there are many tests yet to come with -- remember, this is very much a prototype system in every way. You're using a modified Minuteman for a target booster; you're using another sort of a prototype to boost the EKV; using prototypes of radar systems, and so these are all representative of the final version.
But this is to test the feasibility of the comprehensive, integrated system that you need of both detection, command, control and communications; the radars themselves; the kill vehicles themselves; the process, Jamie, the flow of information and human beings and decision-making processes in the loop.
So it's a test of the feasibility of this technology as a package, and that is what the secretary will be making his recommendation to the president --
Q: But is it a make-or-break event?
Quigley: They're all -- again, they're all important. I wouldn't characterize it that way. It -- this is an important test. The last one was important, and the next one will be important.
After this -- remember, there are 16 additional tests currently scheduled -- and that could always change -- for the system before you get to a decision as to whether or not you're going to fully deploy this system. And that national decision will be made a long ways down the road.
Q: And what do you say to critics who say that this test has been dumbed down to the point where it's almost a can't-miss proposition?
Quigley: I just couldn't disagree with them more. I mean, we've said that on any number of occasions. We have a very calculated, methodical, progressive testing program that we have designed over a period of time. Little by little, test by test, you make the tests more complex, you replace prototype systems with the ultimate production systems that would replace them, and every test is different from its predecessor by design. So you try very hard to move the ball down the field in each and every test.
Now the issue of dumbing down, as far as decoys and things like that, this is a progressive testing program in that regard as well, where you grow the complexity of decoys that you'll use in the future, as well as try your very best, based on intelligence estimates, to be representative of reasonably expected decoys and countermeasures that you could expect in the years ahead.
So this is very much not a static system. We anticipate this system will evolve over time to react to and prepare for whatever threat may face it in the years ahead. But this is a walk-before-you- run process. This is the way to evolve a system of this complexity, and we think it's the right path to take.
Q: Sir, what's --
I'll be right back.
Q: Yeah, the DDR -- will that determine what --
Quigley: DRR. Deployment readiness review.
Q: I'm sorry. DRR. Will that determine whether or not this is technologically possible?
Quigley: Yes. It's a technological feasibility, taking a look at the test results to date, and Secretary Cohen's judgment and his best recommendations to the president.
Q: Now, if you determine it is technologically possible, wouldn't that lock the president into deploying this, because the law states that, if it is technologically possible, it should be deployed?
Quigley: I don't think the president feels any locks on his judgment in the future.
Q: But doesn't the law state that?
Quigley: I'd have to check the law. But the law stipulates that the system will be deployed "as soon as it's technologically feasible." But the president has stated his --
Q: (Inaudible) -- your view?
Quigley: -- yeah. But again, there's four criteria here: It's cost; it's the implications on arms control; it's the technical feasibility; and it's -- one more -- the threat. And you're incorporating all four of those elements into his recommendations to the president. The law definitely says that, you know, that you will field a system "as soon as it is technologically feasible." And that's certainly a very important element of that. But the president will take the recommendations of Secretary Cohen, and he will make his best judgment in the months ahead.
Q: But again, you say it's --
Q: Admiral, if I could follow up on that? Doesn't the "Deployment Readiness Review include a recommendation on all four criteria or just the feasibility question? Does it, for instance, also make a recommendation about the threat or the cost of the system or the effect on arms control?
Quigley: Let me take that, Jamie. I'll check.
Q: What is the scope of the secretary's recommendation? Is it a simple thumbs-up, thumbs-down? Or is it, "Well, on one hand, you can do this; on the other hand, you should do that"? I mean, is this recommendation wide open? Can he recommend, for example, just to proceed with the initial radar construction and put off a decision on actual deployment? Or, in other words, what are his parameters?
Quigley: Let me incorporate the answer to that one into Jamie's, as well.
Q: Sir, as far as this test is concerned, what is the distance between the tests? and also, if you have any advance warning or reaction from the countries like China and Russia and other countries?
Quigley: Did you say "the distance between the tests"?
Quigley: What distance?
Quigley: From where to where?
Quigley: Well, the distance between Vandenberg and Kwajalein, for instance? Forty-three hundred miles.
Q: Forty-three hundred.
Quigley: Forty-three hundred miles.
Q: And any reaction or warning from China or Russia or any other countries, in advanced warning I mean?
Quigley: As far as us shooting on that?
Q: Yes --
Quigley: Oh well, all nations are very much aware of this test going on. I don't think this will be a surprise to anyone.
Q: And the secretary has been -- or department -- in touch with Russia or China about this?
Quigley: I don't know if we have made a separate effort on that. Let me see if I can take that, as well.
Q: Admiral, will the people at Kwajalein know in advance the precise time of the launch and the intended track of the missile, or is it up to the equipment to detect that entirely on its own?
Quigley: I guess "yes" to both questions, okay? There's a safety flight path that you need to do because you are launching missiles that travel a very long distance -- okay? -- and there is a safe way to do that. And your challenge is to try to test a system and present as realistic a challenge to it to make sure that it works like you hope it will, and still stay within the safety parameters. So as far as knowledge of when things are lifting off and stuff like that? Yes.
Ultimately, however, it will still be a decision -- for instance, I mentioned in Jamie's question that no two tests are exactly alike. The X-band radar in this particular case, in this test, is sending its target-locating information directly to the kill vehicle -- we haven't done that before -- with no help from any other quarter. So that is where the kill vehicle is supposed to get its best and latest updated information as to the location of its target in space. So you have knowledge of varying degrees of specificity at various points in the test, both for safety as well as a logical progression here in complexity in this test and in the tests ahead.
Q: And just to follow up, can you quantify the difficulty of this test compared to a projected real-world situation? For example, is it -- would an intercept here be 50 percent as difficult as we expect it would be in the real world? Would it be 90 percent as difficult? Do we know?
Quigley: I don't think I can give you a very good answer to that, Dale. It would depend on what sort of a threat you'd be looking at, from where, in what numbers, with that level of warning. I don't think I can give you a good answer, I'm sorry.
Q: Well, this isn't really much of a test at all, it's more really a demonstration, isn't it? Because you'd never know exactly where an in-coming missile is coming from, and you have a lot of surrogates in this kind of test, right? You only have one real thing.
Quigley: A demonstration means I show you something when I know what the outcome is going to be -- okay? -- and I'm going to demonstrate for you a new thing that I have developed, but I know how it works already, and I'm going to show you how it works because I know how it works.
This is not a demonstration. This is a test.
And there's a very logical, analytical approach to developing a very complex system.
Q: Having said that, following up on Bill's question, when that rocket lifts off at Vandenberg, the battle command center at Kwajalein will not necessarily -- will not only depend on what that spy satellite sees on the lift-off; it will know via other means that that Vandenberg rocket has been launched; right?
Quigley: Yes. And the folks at U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs as well. But there's a process here of determining a flow of information and decision process involved. But you also have to make sure that you don't have so many uncontrolled variables that you don't learn the engineering specifics and the physics specifics that you need to, Charlie, to make sure that you understand how the various systems that you're operating are working and whether or not a hit necessarily -- I mean, I think one of the things we have to guard against is, if we hit tomorrow night, then there might be a natural tendency for many to just throw up their hands and say, "We did it! It worked just fine." But such a declaration would be way premature. We're going to have to take the time in that next couple of weeks to take a real hard look at the data to see which system performed -- systems performed as we wanted them to and which performed below par, and really take a hard look and be cautious of being overly optimistic as we take a look at what actually happened tomorrow night.
Q: I guess my point is that if the spy satellite somehow fails and didn't warn about the launch, the battle command center would still know that there had been a launch, would know where this rocket is headed, and the X-band radar could still pick it up and guide the hit-to-kill vehicle to the target, whereas in a real-life situation, if that satellite fails, you wouldn't know a rocket was headed your way. That's what I'm --
Quigley: Well, I guess, yeah, I would agree with that for tomorrow night's test, yeah.
Q: Craig, on previous tests, GPS data located in the target has been dumbed down and fed then to the kill vehicle to act as a surrogate for radar tracks. Will that be done this time? Will GPS data still go to it?
Quigley: I don't think it will be used in the same way. Let me take that question . It will be used, but in a different way. And I'll double-check, Chris.
Q: A different question?
Quigley: Could we finish national missile defense, if there's any more, first?
And I'll come back to that.
Q: One quick question --
Quigley: Yeah. Go ahead.
Q: Will the target warhead be transmitting in any sort of way to the kill vehicle or to the ground, to note its location?
Quigley: To the kill vehicle, no. But we need to have a location of the dummy warhead, the target, in space. And I think -- let me take that again. I want to make sure I give you the right answer to that question, but I think that there's no help provided to the kill vehicle from the intended target tomorrow night. But there is information given to a separate system on the ground. Let me double-check that to make sure I'm right.
Q: A new subject?
Quigley: Any other -- Barbara, do you --
Q: No, I had a different topic as well.
Quigley: Okay. Any other test shot questions from tomorrow night?
Quigley: Yes, sir. Go ahead.
Q: Yeah, in Japan, Okinawa, a junior high school student was sexually assaulted by a U.S. serviceman. And there are -- some protest is going on in Okinawa. Do you have any comment on that?
Quigley: I think General Hailston, the U.S. Marine Corps commander of the forces on Okinawa, has spoken very clearly on that. I read his words earlier today apologizing to the people of Okinawa, pledging that he would try even harder to improve the conduct of his Marines, expressing his disappointment in the apparent poor behavior of his Marines, pledging very close cooperation, as close as he can, with the police force on Okinawa, who has jurisdiction in the case.
I don't think I can improve on his words. They're very thorough.
Q: Some say that they are really wondering that the good neighbor policy is really working in Okinawa. So do you have any (inaudible) on that?
Quigley: The good neighbor policy what? I'm sorry.
Q: The good neighbor policy is working in Okinawa -- they are wondering on that fact.
Quigley: Well, again, and from reading General Hailston's words earlier today, he expressed his confidence that the good -- he wants to be as good a neighbor to the people of Okinawa as he can be. And by and large, the overwhelming majority of Marines are very good neighbors to the people of Okinawa. And it saddens him greatly when apparently there is a Marine here that just simply does not meet his standards nor those expected of their neighbors, the people of Okinawa.
Q: A follow-up?
Quigley: Yes, sir?
Q: Do you plan to have any -- to take any further actions, like a late-night curfew, which was imposed after the rape incident back in '95?
Quigley: I think that the -- I know that the U.S. force commanders there on Okinawa are contemplating additional actions to take. I don't think they have decided on that, the final version -- the final details of that, but they have said that they will announce those when they have come to that final decision. So I think today that's a work in progress, but I do think that's contemplated, yes.
Q: Can you bring us up to date on how much trouble the anthrax vaccination program is in right now, and just how close you are to considering suspending the vaccinations?
Quigley: Well, we've been in an "anthrax tight environment," as we call it, for some time, and have been in a process of testing additional lots of the vaccine over a period of time. As additional lots have met this safety and purity and potency testing that Secretary Cohen committed to at the initiation of the program, those lots have been, then, released to the field and shipped to military medical facilities around the world.
We're to a point now -- and, of course, the Bioport facility is still working to meet the FDA standards, as a new facility, to produce new quantities of the vaccine. And from last fall's inspection, they've been working very diligently to try to correct the shortcomings that FDA discovered. So we don't have a new supply of vaccine on hand yet, and won't have for probably many months to come. So it's been a very cautious management of the available stocks of the vaccine.
We're to a point now where the testing on a fairly large lot of vaccine is not completely finished yet. Secretary Cohen is going to be briefed tomorrow, or over the weekend, but definitely before he takes off on his trip to China the first part of next week, on options. And when we get his guidance, we'll take action and we will announce his decisions.
Q: The lot that's being tested right now, though, has already failed once -- is that not correct? -- and you're trying to test it again and see if you can get it to pass? And since it has already failed once, if it does not pass, how quickly would you have to suspend vaccinations?
Quigley: I don't think it's been tested before, but I will double-check and get back to you on that. I think this is its first test, I think. I'll double-check.
Q: Well, how soon are you facing the possibility -- if you're briefing the secretary, you obviously are facing some decision points. So how close are you to running out of usable vaccine?
Quigley: Well, if you test a lot of the vaccine -- and it doesn't really matter how many doses there are in it -- but it's about a 28-day process to test a lot, from initiation of the testing and setting up your test, to the actual carrying out of the test and getting the data when you're all done. So let's call it a month; it's a fairly lengthy process.
We'll probably need to make a decision, before another month has gone by, as to whether or not you need to have any sort of restructuring of the program. And that's being watched very carefully, and the information will be provided to the secretary. And we'll go from there.
Q: How many doses are currently available?
Quigley: I think it's about 190,000 doses are currently on hand.
Q: And how much do you go through a day?
Quigley: About 4,500 a day, as we're still in phase one of the program.
Q: This large lot that is about to be tested or --
Quigley: In the process of.
Q: -- in the process of being tested --
Quigley: Already started; well started.
Q: -- that is pre-Bioport lot; that's an old lot?
Quigley: Correct. There has been -- now just to -- for everybody's clarification here: if you remember the little history of Bioport, it started off as an adjunct of the University of Michigan (sic) [State of Michigan] called Michigan Biologics. And all of the vaccine doses so far that had been shipped to the field, had been produced by that much smaller facility. They're the only license-holder in the country.
New-facility construction is complete; attempting to meet the FDA requirements to produce new vaccine, as we speak. So all of the stocks that have been shipped to the field so far, since the program started, were those that had been held in storage and manufactured by the old Michigan Biologics.
Q: Tell us what you mean by "restructuring ... the program"? And are you having an increased rate of test lots failing these days to meet --
Quigley: The restructuring of the program is the options that are before Secretary Cohen, when he gets briefed on those in the next couple of days.
Q: Does that include suspension?
Quigley: It includes a variety of things. And I'm not going to take away any of his flexibility and go into any detail on those options.
Q: Craig, on the 190,000 on hand, those are tested and approved?
Q: Those are ready to use --
Q: -- these 4,500 a day? How many are in this batch that you're testing?
Quigley: A hundred and ninety-four thousand.
Q: Are in that batch?
Quigley: Mm-hmm. (In agreement.)
Q: Did you say that is --
Q: Simply by the math -- the simple math because that's all I can handle -- (laughter) -- it looks like you have 42 days' worth of vaccine left at the current rate of 4,500 per day?
Quigley: Well, there's other options you can do, Mik, but they're --
Q: That could be stretched out if you reduce the number of 4,500 --
Quigley: Yeah, and if you recall lots from certain parts of the world that you have shipped them to already, and prioritize. So this is all amongst these options that are going to be briefed to Secretary Cohen.
Q: So the 190,000 --
Quigley: That's why there really is no exact answer. I mean, every answer has a different amount of time attached to it depending on how many doses of the vaccine you can get to a particular location at a particular time.
Q: Are you, in fact, seeing an increased rate in failures at the retesting of what's on the shelf?
Q: Did you say the secretary --
Q: Now, would one of the options be to suspend shots for those that have come back from Southwest Asia?
Quigley: I'm not going to get into the permutations and combinations, Tom. I'm not going to take away from the secretary's flexibility.
Q: Did you say the secretary faces a decision within the next month, or did you say this weekend?
Quigley: Well, we expect him to be briefed on the current status of the program and options for the way ahead between now and his departure for China on Monday, and then we'll take his guidance and announce his decision probably the first part of next week.
Q: What was the month -- you said you have a month. Was that referring to the amount of --
Quigley: It takes 28 days -- I think I was -- you're talking about a month in that -- to test a lot of vaccine, from start to finish; from the time you prepare the test, do the test, take a look at the test results and get FDA, of course, very much in the process, here. That is a 28-day process.
Q: Is there any change in the level of threat or the level of concern about this kind of biological warfare? I know it was fairly high at one point. Is there any reason that it's going to --
Quigley: No, the threat remains very real. If you take a look at the threat around the world, nothing much has changed in that regard. It's very gratifying to see that people have, once we have had an opportunity to sit down and brief them -- for instance, many in the Congress, at the classified level -- there's been very little disagreement that the threat is real and the need for this protection program is very much there.
Q: You said there were, I believe, 194,000 doses in the lot being tested. How many more doses are there outside that lot to be tested? Once you test this lot, how many more doses are there in this universe?
Quigley: There's a large number of lots in storage, but we try to choose the lots that we think would have the highest probability of passing the supplemental testing so that we can not have the -- optimize your chances of success of testing lots and having them pass so that you can get them out to the field. So the number of lots that are in storage, the number of doses in those lots, isn't necessarily a vaccine that we're going to initiate testing on anytime soon or, perhaps, ever.
What you really want to have is to get to that point where you have the assured new production of vaccine that's meeting the FDA standards and the production capacity of the Bioport facility will be much larger, of course, than the old Michigan Biologics ever was.
And you've got this steady supply of a much larger production capacity. That's where we want to get to.
Q: But if you have all these doses still in inventory, I don't understand what's making you face the prospect of an immediate decision on restructuring. If you've got all this stuff in inventory, why are you having to consider restructuring the program?
Quigley: Well, if you take a look at the test that is ongoing now on this lot that's undergoing testing, and you say that it's about a 28-day process to test a lot of vaccine, and then you take a look at the already-approved doses that we have for use either at Bioport to be shipped or stationed somewhere around the world, the time lines don't match. And that's the decision process that's --
Q: Why don't you think that all the other stuff on the shelf will just pass the supplemental testing as well?
Quigley: I can't give you a detailed answer to that. It has to do with the -- it has to do with my lack of knowledge, not any other aspect. But the chemists and the folks that do the analysis, again, they try to choose the lots of the vaccine that have the highest chance of passing the supplemental testing so that we can get it out to the field as expeditiously as possible.
Q: Is it your thinking that the stuff that's on the shelf doesn't really have much of a chance, then, from the chemists' point of view, passing the supplemental testing; you're beginning to get diminishing returns?
Quigley: Well, we've tried to pick the lots that we felt had the highest chance of success. And so you prioritize those, and those that we have not chosen, we think have a lesser chance of successful testing. So the test procedure, as you would expect it to be, is very detailed, very precise. You wouldn't want it any other way. We want to make sure that the vaccine is still -- it's safe, it's potent, it does what we expect it to do, but that it's safe. That's why Secretary Cohen committed to the supplemental testing along the way.
Q: How many doses --
Q: How long will it be --
Q: What's the shelf --
Quigley: Just a second, Jim. Tom?
Q: What's the shelf life in a lot; do you know?
Quigley: No, I don't. I'll take that.
Q: How many -- sorry.
Q: How long will it be before Bioport actually begins producing vaccines?
Quigley: Well, as soon as possible, I guess is the short answer to your question. But it's a part of the regulatory and inspection process. And when FDA did their initial assessment last November, I think it was, they ended up with a list of 30-some, I think, discrepancies, shortfalls, in Bioport's processes and what they found.
So Bioport has been working since that time to correct those, and their goal is to eventually get FDA -- call FDA back in, ask for a relook at what they have done to correct those shortcomings from last fall, and then FDA will inspect and assess the readiness of Bioport to begin production. Once that occurs, then Bioport will be free to start the production process and release those lots, then, for distribution.
Q: But they must have some idea how long it's going to take them to get to that point where they're inviting the FDA back in.
Quigley: Well, there's no specific schedule. Again, it's just as soon as possible. But it's going to be -- it's all part of the regulatory and inspection process. We want them to get there as quickly as we can. But they have to be ready for this very thorough inspection. So they're working very hard towards that goal, but we just don't have a date certain yet.
Q: How many doses have been administered, Craig, to date?
Quigley: One-point-eight-million; 455,000 service members have received at least one shot.
Q: This current lot that's being tested, has it already failed one test?
Q: Oh, it has not?
Q: Admiral, who's providing the briefing to the secretary? And did his office ask for this, or was it recommended to him?
Q: The briefing he's going to get on the anthrax.
Quigley: It will be a team of folks.
Q: From which office? Who --
Quigley: It will probably be the deputy secretary, it will be Health Affairs, it will be Personnel and Readiness, it will be Reserve Affairs; it will be all the folks that had been involved. Certainly the Army, as the executive agent of the program, the AVIP Program Office. So a variety of folks will be presenting the information to him.
Q: Did the secretary specifically ask for this or was it recommended to him that he --
Quigley: No, it's just the right thing to do. We're to a point now where he needs to be presented the information with the current state of play so that he can make his decision on the way ahead.
Q: New subject?
Q: I've got one more on this.
Quigley: Go ahead.
Q: I still don't understand. If you're getting down to this rather desperately short supply of about a month supply left, why you wouldn't just test all the lots that you have on hand in the hopes that if this one doesn't work, then this one does, or whatever, and then you have at least some more supplies so you don't have a month. Why are waiting to do one lot at a time?
Quigley: It's too comprehensive an approach. You just can't manage the scope of that testing program the way you described it and have it come out in an orderly way and still keep the quality control, keep the right number of inspectors, the right number of testers engaged in that process.
Q: Does that mean it's a resource pinch, you just don't have enough resources to do that, or you didn't expect to be down to this point where you are?
Quigley: I'd say it's some of each. It's some of each.
Q: Yes. On Vieques, what's the latest count of the people who have been detained or arrested?
Quigley: Seven hundred and ten, grand total, since the 4th of May.
Q: Since the 4th of May. And then, of these last individuals, apparently some were held without bail, some were released without bail, others -- two elected officials or people who are running for office, actually, are going to be sentenced today. Do you have any judgment in terms of the different sentences that are being applied?
Quigley: No, that's certainly not our call at all. That's a function of the justice system down there.
Q: And in terms of the future maneuvers in Vieques, any new information on that?
Quigley: No. Uh-uh. (Negative.) We're very glad that we got the elements of the George Washington Battle Group to provide the -- to receive the training that they did a couple of weeks ago -- still need that live-fire training for several of the surface ships. We feel the George Washington Battle Group deployed at a sufficient level of readiness, but one of the shortcomings in their preparation to deploy was live fire. And that's still very much an issue.
Q: Where are they going receive it? Along the way?
Quigley: That has not been determined yet.
Q: What certification do they get? C-2? C-1?
Quigley: Well, I can't get into that, for classification reasons. But we do feel the G.W. Battle Group is prepared to carry out and has received the essential training that they need to carry out most of their missions.
Q: Sir, on the 4th of July in New York, the president was among the thousands of people who reviewed the international ships or a kind of international naval exercise that -- (inaudible) -- of countries, including from India. Now these ships are under invitation? For some kind of special reason they are in New York, or what -- they are --
Quigley: Why were they invited to New York?
Q: Yes, and how long they will be here? What is the --
Quigley: I think most of the ships -- I mean, they're certainly free to keep their own schedules, but I think most of the ships and most of the events will carry on into this weekend. But by the end of this weekend, I think most of the vessels will be gone, both the naval vessels and tall-sail sailing vessels.
And the event itself was simply to help America celebrate its birthday and to have both the international naval review and Operation Sail in New York Harbor. That was the purpose.
Q: Thank you.
Quigley: Let me correct myself and answer a couple of questions from earlier in the brief, if I could, Charlie, just for a sec.
On the DRR, the secretary will end up giving his recommendations to the president on technical feasibility and cost. Those will be his criteria.
On notification, I think someone had a question on notification of other nations, we notify everyone through the International Airmen and Mariners Law and through our embassies overseas. So, yes, we do notify foreign governments abroad.
And I stand corrected. GPS was never used to guide the EKV to the target before. It was available as a backup but never used. Chris, I think you were asking that. And it will not be used this time, not even as a backup. It's not even there.
And on the target transmission, the target uses a C-band beacon, which again goes back to the range, C-band just describing a piece of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is demanded by range safety concerns from Vandenberg so that they can know the location of the target at all times. We really do want to know where that thing is. But again, that provides no information at all to the EKV as it navigates its way to the target.
And this doesn't answer all the questions. We'll work through those by close of business today.
And again, we'll take a short break here before we start the backgrounder on Secretary Cohen's upcoming trip.
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