DoD NewsBriefing: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD (PA)
Tuesday, August 15, 1995 - 2:30 p.m.
Mr. Bacon: I'm prepared to take your questions.
Q: What does the Pentagon recommend on the authorization and appropriationbills that were almost finished up last week by the Senate?
A: The bills are not finished up, as you know.
Q: [Do you have any] comment until then?
A: I think we'll wait and see what the final package is. I think the bills...The Senate bill has been improved by the compromise on the ABM, but the Senatehas not completed work on it yet, and then, of course, it's got to go toconference with the House. So before we make a firm decision, I think we oughtto see what the final bill is.
Q: Can you give us your assessment of Iraqi movement today? Yesterday? Howthreatening does it now appear? Have forces moved out of garrison? What isthe border situation like? What additional actions are you taking to helpJordan?
A: The Iraqi movements going on now do not appear to be particularlythreatening. They appear to be more in the exercise category than the threatcategory. We do not see actions that appear to threaten Jordan right now.
The concern we have with Iraqi exercises and movements is that every time theypractice, they become better, faster at positioning their troops, which ofcourse reduces our warning time.
I think the important thing to stress to the Iraqis and everybody else is thatwe are watching them very closely. We have significant forces in the area, andthose forces are in the process of being enhanced to protect Jordan ifnecessary.
Q: Are their...
A: The enhancements have basically been in the form of aircraft carriers atthis stage. We've moved the THEODORE ROOSEVELT from the central Mediterraneanto the eastern Mediterranean, and some of its airplanes will participate in anexercise, INFINITE MOONLIGHT, which involves the Marine Amphibious Ready Groupthat's in the area with the NEW ORLEANS and the Jordanian Forces. It's a jointamphibious exercise, but there will be naval air support.
The THEODORE ROOSEVELT will stay in the eastern Mediterranean for as long asnecessary. In addition, we've decided not to remove a carrier from the ArabianGulf. The ABRAHAM LINCOLN is there now, and it was scheduled to leave, andthere would be a gap -- a carrier gap -- there while the INDEPENDENCE came in.The LINCOLN will now stay there until the INDEPENDENCE arrives, and then leave.So there will be a heavier carrier presence in the area than previouslyplanned.
Q: The troop movements by the Iraqis themselves. When you say they areexercising, does that mean they're outside of garrison? They're movingaround?
A: No. The Iraqi troops seem to go through fall exercises, and it appearsthat they are preparing for those fall exercises now. That is our bestassessment at this stage. We're watching very carefully to make sure that theydon't throw something else at us, but we think that's what's going on rightnow. There do not seem to be, at this stage, significant and threateningmovements of Iraqi troops.
Q: Last Thursday we were told there appeared to be no need to enhance U.S.Forces in the Gulf. What has changed since then to prompt the enhancementmeasures?
A: I think we took a look at what we could do quickly to show support forJordan and made a few adjustments. We've looked at other things. Forinstance, whether we should send in more aircraft to supplement the fairlysubstantial air power we already have in the Gulf and decided that wasn'tnecessary. But in light of the risks and in light of what Saddam Hussein triedto do last October, we've decided that it's better to be a little more cautiousand a little heavier with our force there than before.
Q: Have you finished the process of pre-positioning that three brigades' worthof equipment for an armored division?
A: That has not been completed yet. That's an important point. One of thesignificant changes that's taken place in the Gulf since DESERT STORM is thatwe have pre-positioned sets of equipment for Army units so they can fall in onequipment -- for instance, in Kuwait -- and marry up with their equipment.There will be an exercise involving some of that equipment soon, just to -- andthere are exercises fairly regularly -- but just to test our ability to fall inon the equipment and use it.
Q: How much is there now?
A: I'll have to check. We hope to have a division's worth, and we're notthere. We have some in Kuwait. And we're working on... We're going to putsome in Qatar, and we're working on a third site. Then, of course, there'ssome in Diego Garcia that moves up by ship. But we'll find out exactly howmuch is there now. [NOTE: We do not discuss exact numbers of weapons systems.However, the equipment that is currently in place completes a complementnecessary to support a brigade-sized combined arms team consisting of armor,mechanized infantry, field artillery, engineers, and associated combat supportand service support elements.]
Q: Are all the Iraqi troop movements still Republican Guard, or have you seenanything outside the Republican Guard?
A: I think they're pretty much Republican Guard. There have been some airdefense exercises as well, but they're pretty much Republican Guard.
Q: Air defense in the north?
A: Largely in the Baghdad area.
Q: When is the INDY/LINCOLN turnover scheduled?
A: I'm sorry, we'll find out. [NOTE: The INDY/LINCOLN turnover is scheduledfor early September.]
Q: Bosnia. Have you grounded the Predators there?
A: The Predators are not flying now. This was a decision made by EUCOM. Aspart of their assessment, they have stood them down for awhile. I don't knowhow long they will not be flying.
Q: Have you determined if they were shot at?
Q: They weren't, you...
A: We have not determined. I answered the question you asked me.
Q: Have any weapons been recovered in either case?
A: We don't have a lot of people walking around in Bosnia. My guess is no,but I'll try to find out.
Q: Are you going to replace those two?
A: There are now three there. There were four. Two of them lost. So onecame in over the weekend in a pre-planned arrival. I think it's premature tosay what our plans are now for building back up to four or more.
Q: On the authorization bill. About ten days ago the Senate adopted anamendment that would impose a moratorium on the use of anti-personnel landmines. Does the Department have a view on that?
A: The Department does have a view on land mines, and I'm afraid I don't knowwhat it is, but we will find out.
Q: Why did the Secretary feel it was necessary to conduct an operationalreview of Predator procedures?
A: Whenever there's a malfunction or a crash, a wide range of reviews areappropriate. One of the things we frequently look at is the ground rules underwhich they're operating.
Q: Does it suggest, though, that they're being used in a cavalier fashion?
A: No, it certainly does not. It suggests that we're cautious, careful peoplewho want to find out why things go wrong when they go wrong so we can preventthem from going wrong in the future.
Q: China began its latest round of military exercises in the China Sea today.Since you have had more time to find out about the exercises, do you have anynew comment on this, and more specific comment on this latest round ofexercises?
A: We want to see peace and stability in Asia, and particularly in the Straitsof Taiwan. We believe this is in our interest, in China's interest, and in theinterest of the people of Taiwan. So we're hopeful that China will not beoverly provocative in these exercises.
We also believe that it would be helpful to China -- and for the cause ofstability in Asia -- if China were to resume its security dialogue with uswhich has been interrupted recently, and we hope that will happen.
Q: In view of the successive exercises by China in the China Sea, are youdrawing up or have you drawn up any contingency plans?
Q: I understand from a report in the Washington Times that Mr.Gertz said the Chinese have and will continue to have -- I believe it's calleda DF-21 intermediate range ballistic missile, usually capable and usuallydesigned to carry a half-megaton fissions device, fission nuclear warhead. Iunderstand they're targeting from bases at Tonghua and Chuxiong -- quite awaysinland, and targeting very close to Taiwan.
What possible message could they be trying to deliver here? Or do you seethat there's anything other than intimidation implied -- that they should befiring this particular missile into an area close to the Taiwan Sea area, closeto Taiwan? It seems pretty clear that intimidation is their goal.
Q: China is one of the five declared nuclear powers, and it has been workingto develop delivery systems or missiles for some time. I'd just like to repeatwhat I said earlier: that we hope that China will not take actions thatdestabilize the balance and intimidate its neighbors. We believe it would bemore appropriate for it to follow a more peaceful course.
Q: Another UAV question. Hunter UAV and Pioneer UAV have been touted as toalso go over and supplement Predators. Any plans to send them?
A: I can't give you details on that.
Q: The question of this videotape. Who might that be appealed to? It's beenreleased to the print, it's been released to radio, and it's not being releasedto television.
A: I think General Sklute dealt with that, and I have nothing more to sayabout it.
I have an answer to the land mine question. Is the land mine person stillhere? [Laughter] I'm always trying to avoid land mines, but...
The Department is opposed to this legislation for two reasons. First, landmines remain integral to U.S. warfighting methodology, and the prohibition onthe use of anti-personnel mines would too severely limit our effectiveness.
Secondly, if our government were to refrain from providing military equipmentto allies that export APLs as called for in the proposed legislation, the U.S.would risk an adverse impact on its military relationships with allies.
Press: Thank you.