Thursday, July 13, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. EDT
ADM. QUIGLEY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have only one announcement this afternoon. The Air Force will name the nation's newest B-2 stealth bomber the "Spirit of America" in a ceremony at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. The "Spirit of America" is the 21st and final B-2 bomber to be named and will be on display after the ceremony. The aircraft to be christened "Spirit of America" was actually the first B-2 to fly, but was not named. The "Spirit of Kitty Hawk," named in honor of the Wright brothers, is scheduled to perform a figure-eight aerial maneuver above the airfield as the "Spirit of America" is unveiled on the flight line. For more details, the Air Force has provided a release and advisory, which are available in the back of the room following the brief.
And with that, I'll be pleased to take your questions.
Q: Admiral, three prominent Democratic senators today asked President Clinton to delay a decision on the national missile defense. I just wondered, how committed is the Pentagon to a 2005 deployment and what difference would it make if President Clinton leaves the decision to the next administration?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Well, the goal of having a system, a limited system, deployed by 2005 is responsive to the threat that we project to be in existence at that time. So that is the rationale for the 2005 time frame. President Clinton will take a look at the recommendation made by Secretary Cohen here in the next few weeks ahead and make his decision on the four criteria that have long been out there, David, as the ray points, if you will, to make his decision.
Q: Is there any possibility that Defense Secretary Cohen might simply say to the president, "Maybe we should wait until the next administration"?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't think Secretary Cohen has put any bounds on his recommendations that he'll make to the president. If he thinks it's relevant information that will help the president make that decision, I'm certain he would not hesitate to provide it.
Q: So it's not a simple yea or nay, up or down recommendation? It could have a variety of options or permutations?
ADM. QUIGLEY: There's very little simple about this, okay? It's a complex decision no matter how you look at it. The principal elements of his recommendation would be on the technical feasibility and the cost. But if he thinks, you know, kind of going back to David's question, if he thinks that there's an element there that would be useful to the president in helping him come to this decision, I'm sure he would not hesitate to provide that.
Q: Will there be technical analysis accompanying his recommendation? And would that be publicly available?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't think he's come to that decision as to the content, format, layout, if you will, of the recommendation that he'll provide to the president, nor has he come to the conclusion on the latter part of your question, on the public. He may choose to keep his recommendation between he and the president until the president chooses to release portions of it. Certainly there will be elements that will be classified that will never be publicly released. But there could be other elements that could be publicly released, that would be unclassified. I just don't think he's got to that point yet of determining what sort of an appearance and an organization and a package it will be to the president.
Q: He's still looking in the weeks ahead, as opposed to the months ahead?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Q: On a related question, the Russians several weeks ago got an unusual briefing here on the plans for NMD. Would there be any consideration given to giving that same briefing to the Chinese?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't know. I'll take that question and see if that's -- now that was a discussion item between President Jiang Zemin and Secretary Cohen earlier today. I think Secretary Cohen's words that -- a good discussion, but he does not believe that the positions and the views between us and the Chinese have narrowed any on -- after that discussion. But I don't know the content, the format of the presentation, or if there indeed was one, Chris. I'm not sure. Let's see if -- what I can find out for you on that.
Q: New subject?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Sure.
Q: The Navy yesterday announced another series of bonuses to try to retain pilots. I'm just curious if you could give me any idea of how short the U.S. military is of pilots at the moment. I assume the pilot shortage continues. And do you have any figures that would indicate how many more pilots you could use than you actually have at this point?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't have the figures here with me. I'll see if we can draw those together. I suspect the individual services would have a description of their current status of pilots and air crew members. I have overall recruiting and retention figures, but not broken down at all, just in the very macro sense.
Q: Can you give us some idea how recruiting is going? Are they going to -- are all the services going to miss their goals this year, or are they going to make their goals, or do you know?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I can give you figures that are current up through the end of April. So these are dated -- they're May, June -- two months -- two and a half months old. But if that's helpful to you, I can provide those, okay?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Army: As of the end of April, for the year, okay, was 3,624 short of its goal. Navy was 32 over its goal; the Marine Corps, 165 over its goal; and the Air Force, 2,991 short of its goal. And that was, again, as of the end of April of this year.
Q: Was that 2,191, Craig?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Two thousand, nine ninety-one. I'm sure those figures are different today. I just don't have them. Perhaps the services would have them more current. We tend to look at them at a quarterly snapshot.
Q: I've put this question to the Navy and they haven't gotten back to me yet, but do you know how much improvement there is in this new bonus program over the previous one? What is that?
ADM. QUIGLEY: No, I don't. I think they can probably get back to you quicker than I could on that, because that's where I'd go for the specifics. I'm sorry.
Q: On the anthrax, on Tuesday General West said that about 80 percent -- they've determined about 80 percent of how Secretary Cohen's policy would be implemented. Have you gotten the other 20 percent filled in?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Well, I'd say we've got 85, Vince, would be my -- we have gone with the 30-day period. And as you may have heard in testimony yesterday, I have been able to only tune in to the House testimony today just infrequently, so I don't know if the topic came up today. But yesterday at the Senate, it definitely did, and Deputy Secretary de Leon indicated that the policy, which had been a zero-day policy -- in other words, if you had spent any time at all in the high-threat areas, a day, or landed your plane for just a few hours, you would have been required to take the vaccinations. We're moving to a 30-day policy. And specifically, as we indicated a couple of days ago, those forces ashore. So, on the ground.
Now, exact details, I'll give you an example. If I have an amphibious ready group, some elements of that amphibious ready group, both Marines and sailors, go ashore, are designed to go ashore, and others are designed to more or less stay afloat. We don't have -- there's still 15 percent out there that we don't have the granularity on, so exactly how we treat that distinction between the same group of folks, we have not worked out those details yet. But the 30 days, we're confident of that.
Q: How about on-the-ground staff, who are taking their shots as a --
ADM. QUIGLEY Well, it would depend on what your duties call for you to do. Much of the senior leadership -- the chairman, the secretary, the service chiefs -- have either finished it or are someplace in the process. And as we said, you can only ship vials of vaccine that have been unopened, that have not been opened. So throughout all of the military's medical treatment facilities, if you have an opened vial or vials of vaccine, as you've been giving it to troops at your base, you're expected to continue giving it, then, until the supply is exhausted. So you'll find exceptions for relatively small numbers of people throughout the world at any military medical treatment facility. But those would be the exceptions.
Plus, if you're assigned to a staff somewhere, whether it's in the Pentagon or elsewhere, and you are in receipt of orders, let's say, to transfer to a unit that is about to deploy to one of the high- threat areas, you would certainly meet the criteria. So there's many particulars and exceptions to the overall goal. But you're talking about pretty small numbers, I think, in the aggregate. It's scattered at various headquarters and staffs around the world.
Q: Craig, exactly how many doses of stockpiled vaccine have failed the FDA certification process at least once? Do you know?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't think there are any. But I will double- check that.
Q: Senator John Warner yesterday, in opening the hearing, seemed to be under the impression that as many as 800,000 doses had already failed at least once. And as you explained, I think, in the briefing the day before, if a dose has failed twice, they're no longer available to be retested.
ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't think there are any, but I will double- check. Now, there have been several invalid tests -- okay? -- for a variety of reasons.
That was discussed at length, I think, here and before the Senate yesterday. But as far as being formally presented to the FDA and them then saying pass or fail, I don't think there have been any. But I will double check.
Q: Let's clarify that just a second, if I could just step in. Which is, the ones that have been declared invalid, have you then not even submitted them to FDA certification?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Correct.
Q: So how many doses have been declared, under your own process, as invalid?
ADM. QUIGLEY: How far back do you want to go?
Q: Whatever you want.
ADM. QUIGLEY: Okay, I will see what I can find, Barbara. Although I would say that the question is irrelevant. Never will those batches be used before we think that the test has indeed been valid to present to the FDA in the first place; going back to our original commitment that only safe vaccine would be ever administered to our troops. So it's an academic question; it has not practical application.
Q: (Off mike) -- sort of even further then. How many doses have been declared invalid once, and how many doses have been declared invalid more than once?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I'll try.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Is it doses declared invalid, or is it the test declared invalid?
ADM. QUIGLEY: The lot would be declared invalid. And a lot would have a varying number of doses in it.
Q: Because there are two problems here. There was the problem with the potency of the tests -- I mean the potency test --
ADM. QUIGLEY: In all cases the issue has been the potency. I am not aware of any lot that has ever been tested that has failed the safety, purity and sterility tests. The issue is the potency test.
Q: Okay, so how many haven't made it past the potency issue? Otherwise, if they had, you wouldn't have this problem.
ADM. QUIGLEY: Well yes, true.
Q: I don't know, maybe I'm asking the question the wrong way. How many haven't proved to be as potent as you wish they would have?
ADM. QUIGLEY: The FDA has advised us for some time that we should put our focus on testing the lots in storage on the most recent -- on the newer lots that have been produced. And we have. It's quite an effort of focus and management to try to get a lot through the testing process.
As General West and Deputy Secretary DeLeon said the last couple of days, we keep the option open in the months ahead for perhaps doing some additional testing on lots in storage. But our focus will be to try to gain the new vaccine production through Bioport and now other methods; a second source, perhaps.
I'll see what I can do, though.
Q: And just to clarify, because I realize you're taking this question. You're not answering it now. But my question specifically is, How many of these have failed a potency test, as opposed to the test being declared invalid? Because Senator Warner seemed to indicate that somebody told him, or briefed him, to give him the impression that 800,000 doses had failed the potency test at least once. And I'd just like to -- if not, maybe you could clear up what that 800,000 figure refers to.
ADM. QUIGLEY: We'll try.
Q: Some people might say that if you thought you were going to get a ding, you were going to get a failed test on the potency, that you, rather than get that, you pulled the plug on the test and called the test invalid.
ADM. QUIGLEY: We don't assess our own tests. The FDA is the ultimate arbiter of the results of a test, and if it's clear --
Q: (Off mike) -- if you don't submit it to the FDA, which is what you -- essentially, when you call something invalid, you don't submit it to the FDA -- then you're basically canceling the test in mid-stream, right?
ADM. QUIGLEY: True, for a variety of reasons.
Q: Can you assure us that you're not doing that because you think it's going to get a bad potency grade?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I can assure you that we will never administer vaccine to our troops that have not passed all four tests. Now, internally, the test process takes several twists and turns, but ultimately, you've got to pass that gate. And that is my assurance to you and to our men and women in uniform.
Q: Craig, on the 30-day policy, do you happen to know how many doses that -- I want to say "saves you" -- the doses you wouldn't be administering if you move to a 30-day policy, as opposed to, you know, just zero days, anybody who goes through the area has to get vaccinated?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Hmm. I'll see what I can do.
Q: And the other --
ADM. QUIGLEY: What would you like to compare it to, though?
Q: Well, I'm saying if --
ADM. QUIGLEY: Seventy-five thousand doses a month now, roughly. And to go to the 30-day policy, it takes us down to just over 14,000 doses a month. And you would like to compare that to what?
Q: Well, I think you just answered the question, then, so --
ADM. QUIGLEY: Oh. Okay.
Q: -- so you figure by putting the 30-day policy in, you will then only go to -- you'll only have to admit a 14,000 -- okay --
ADM. QUIGLEY: And we need to still refine those figures a little, because, as I mentioned, events -- there are several still very good questions -- the Marine -- the MEU is a good example, the amphibious ready group is a good example, but there are others -- to really precisely define, because, in all fairness to our forces in the field, they need to understand what we expect of them, what is the policy. And we anticipate issuing that policy to the field here just in the next few days, with as much clarity as we can.
If there are still questions coming back from the field, and there's a question in their mind as to what exactly the policy entails, we'll try again until we get it clear and understood by all.
Q: I had a new topic.
ADM. QUIGLEY: Mm-hmm. Go ahead.
Q: I have a two-part question, really, on the curfew and the drinking ban recently applied to U.S. troops in Okinawa. I believe both of those measures went into effect on Monday of this week. And the first question is, has there been any determination yet as to exactly how long both the curfew and the ban, the drinking ban, will be in effect?
And secondly, I was wondering if you could tell us what the reaction has been among the U.S. troops in Okinawa to both of those measures.
ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't think I can give you a very good answer on either one. We leave it in the hands and the judgment of the commanders on the ground there in Okinawa to make that determination. And I know I have no feedback from the last three days on personnel stationed in Okinawa as to what their reaction is to it.
Q: Does it still apply only to Marines?
ADM. QUIGLEY: No, I think it's all U.S. forces on Okinawa, the vast number of which are Marines. But I think it's all U.S. forces on Okinawa. I'll double-check that.
The senior military commander on Okinawa is a Marine, a Marine three-star. But I think that that policy applies to all. I'll double-check.
Q: New subject. On Korea, has there been a change in U.S. policy about South Korea developing an indigenous ballistic missile capability?
ADM. QUIGLEY: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q: So the policy is what at the -- currently?
ADM. QUIGLEY: I don't know that the Pentagon has a policy.
Q: Well, it's been reported that indigenous attempts to develop such a system, which were being done without the U.S. knowing about it, alarmed some U.S. officials when it was discovered. And now it's been very recently reported that now U.S. officials think it's okay for them to develop an IRBM capability.
ADM. QUIGLEY: Let me check, although I don't think that's -- I don't think that is a policy on which this building would make such a determination.
I'll see if I can get our currents. My thinking is, it's probably State Department. But let me check.
Q: Well maybe I shouldn't narrow it to this building, I should say the United States administration. Has there been a change in --
ADM. QUIGLEY: Then I'm probably not the right one to answer the question, I'm sorry.
Q: Can you give us any clarity on what Admiral Blair's remarks were in Beijing, I guess it was earlier today, when he talked about the fact that there was rising tension against Americans in the region and people should be more cautious?
ADM. QUIGLEY: No, I can't, I'm sorry.
Q: Are you familiar with his remarks?
ADM. QUIGLEY: No, I have not seen any treatment of those at all.
Q: They were carried in your press service.
ADM. QUIGLEY: Okay. I haven't read that today, I'm sorry.
Q: Thank you.
ADM. QUIGLEY: You bet. Thank you.
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