Tuesday, August 22, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
Let me start with two announcements. A joint memorial service for Dr. Kruzel, Ambassador Frasure and Colonel Drew is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, August 23rd at Fort Myer. Press desiring to cover this service should contact Kim Waltz at the Military District Washington Public Affairs Office. That phone number is (202) 475-0856.
Funeral services for Dr. Kruzel will be on Thursday, August 24th at Fort Myer, followed by internment at Arlington National Cemetery. The services will be limited to family and friends and will not be open to the media.
Secondly, I want to announce that Secretary of the Army Togo West will represent Secretary of Defense Perry in a visit with Albanian defense officials and members of the office of the President of Albania on Thursday. Secretary West will meet with the Chief of the General Staff who is the equivalent of our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He will also present the Albanian government with a donation of $500,000 worth of medical supplies, including hospital beds, a variety of surgical instruments, and consumable medical items. Secretary West will also take the opportunity to visit the ongoing U.S./Albanian engineering exercise called UJE KRISTAL which involves about 150 soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard.
With that, I'd be happy to answer your questions.
Q: This morning, Secretary Perry mentioned the various things the United States has done in response to the unusual military activity in Iraq in the last several days, but he didn't get into what is the latest assessment of what the Iraqi military is actually doing at the moment. Can you bring us up to date on whether this so-called unusual activity is continuing or has changed in some way?
A: It is continuing, and it has not changed significantly. We have not seen any unusual movements that cause us any greater concern over the last few days. I think the best way to characterize what's been going on is that both the Republican Guard and regular army troops have been reported to have taken some exercises in garrison, but no major movements have been reported toward either Jordan or Kuwait.
Q: Have you concluded what the purpose of this all was over the last several weeks?
A: No, we have not. But as I think you heard last week, we have taken some prudent steps that we believe are appropriate in this particular circumstance, and those steps are ongoing now. You've covered some of the movement of the troops out of Fort Hood.
Q: Does it seem that perhaps the U.S. is overreacting here somewhat? A very low level of activity, which even the Secretary went to some pains today to say didn't parallel the things that had been seen a year ago in the fall. It almost seems as though this is an American overreaction.
A: I think that from the very outset everyone who has characterized what we are doing has gone to great pains to emphasize that we are taking what we consider to be very prudent steps. We have moved up exercises that were already planned. And in both cases, there has been a movement forward of those exercises in terms of when they were going to occur.
The overall evolution that we are going through right now -- this effort is what we're calling VIGILANT SENTINEL -- is actually composed of three parts: the INFINITE MOONLIGHT, the INTRINSIC ACTION, and the pre-positioned units that are moving a little closer to the Gulf.
I think that as Dr. Perry said today, it's very hard to get inside of Saddam Hussein's head, and what we are doing here is just to take what we consider to be some prudent action early on. This is not meant to alarm anyone, but we are simply conducting the exercises we had planned to conduct in the past, and we're just doing it on a more expedited basis.
Q: It's not meant to alarm anyone? Yet out of the blue you are suddenly sending 1,000 or more Army Forces in a hurry to Kuwait; you changed deployment patterns of aircraft carriers; there's been quite a bit of saber rattling, yet you're not trying to alarm anybody?
A: We're not trying to alarm anyone, and yet we're trying to be responsive to situations that exist. As I said before, and as others have said before, this is simply seen as prudent action on our part. These were exercises which we have planned for a long time; and, in connection with INTRINSIC ACTION, these are exercises which we have done previously and will do in the future. It just seemed prudent to do them at this point in time.
Q: What is your assessment of the Iraq invasion launching capacity at this point?
A: Again, I think we always want to be prepared for any eventuality, but right now the activity that we have seen is primarily focused in and around Baghdad.
Q: Do they have the capacity to launch an invasion, do you think?
A: I believe that we feel that they do, or at least they feel that they do, and therefore, we must act prudently when situations arise that cause us concern.
Q: Can you give us some readout or some idea as to the nature of the phone call that Secretary Perry was on this morning that delayed the photo op?
A: The phone call that he was on was simply... It was a phone call that had previously been arranged, and it involved a European country where a translator was required, and a translator was in place, and evidently when the phone call -- the return was made to Dr. Perry -- it happened at a time when a visitor was about to arrive. So Dr. White went down to meet the visitor, and Dr. Perry joined them as soon as possible. The meetings have proceeded since then.
Q: Would you describe that phone call as urgent?
A: Dr. Perry certainly wanted to conduct the call. I think part of the urgency was the fact that there is a certain logistics involved in making sure that the translators are in position at the appropriate time, so that was done.
Q: It wasn't necessary the nature of the call that made it urgent, it was just a matter of...
A: I'm not sure of the contents of the call, but it certainly was a call that Dr. Perry wanted to conduct.
Q: Can we go back to Iraq for just a moment? Who's paying for VIGILANT SENTINEL, INFINITE MOONLIGHT, all the different parts...
A: In fact INTRINSIC ACTION, which is the deployment that goes on to Kuwait, is an exercise that Kuwait pays for. The other exercises I would have to get back to you on. I'm not sure exactly how those are funded.
Q: ...dollar-wise, Kuwait...
A: INTRINSIC ACTION runs $13 million.
Q: ...Fort Hood. Is that...
A: Frankly, I think there has been some reporting on this that is inaccurate in that it points the finger at allies and friends overseas, and that is not at all the case. The deployment has gone extremely well, and the troops are moving very quickly. The troops are moving now. I don't want to give you a firm timetable on exactly when the movement of these troops will be completed, but all indications are that everything has gone as well as it ever has, except that in the one case of an administrative matter that had to be handled regarding overflight clearance, there was a slip-up which has since been corrected on our part. It's one of those things where we are involved in moving units and people on an expedited basis in a time when we are operating under peacetime flight clearance procedures, so we're just looking at those procedures and making sure they're flexible enough to accommodate, when we want to move people more quickly than normal.
Q: When are the "trigger pullers" actually going to get out of Fort Hood? They were supposed to go out yesterday.
A: In fact some of them have. There are a number of flights that have departed today. I don't have a complete rundown, but I think you could check with Lieutenant Commander Scott Campbell. He can get for you kind of a ball park figure on how many have departed and the flow as it's going.
Q: All of them were supposed to be out yesterday, so all of them will be out today?
A: I just want to caution you. You don't want to get involved, necessarily, in prescribing a timetable on exactly when everybody is going to move, because -- frequently in movements where people are involved and equipment -- you certainly have a timetable that you would like to see, but you certainly build into it some flexibility. I think this is a case where flexibility was probably called for.
The exercise itself will go on as scheduled according to the timetable that the commanders had put into place once it was decided to move up the exercise.
Q: Can you comment on reports that governments that were slow in providing overflight were somewhat skeptical about the American desire to...
A: Everything that I have heard indicates that is not correct.
Q: ...in question are not skeptical?
A: Everything I've heard is that the governments in question were very helpful and moved very expeditiously in authorizing those overflight clearances.
Q: Did you have any of these overflight complications last year -- October '94?
A: Last year? I'd have to look at it. I think from time to time the overflight clearances are delayed for one reason or another. In this particular instance, as I say, once the overflight clearance request was in hand, it moved very quickly. The normal timeframe, routine operations -- it would be probably 10 to 14 days that an overflight clearance would take. If you talk in terms of moving something more quickly, you ask to move in terms of perhaps three days. In this case it was moved in 24 hours, so I think it certainly is indicative of the willingness of these countries to be helpful in providing the appropriate clearances to move our units.
Q: You were asked about continuing unusual troop movements. You said it is continuing, and you went on to say that both Republican Guards and regular army troops have been reported to have taken some exercises in garrison.
A: Just movement of the troops in garrison, that's correct.
Q: What's unusual about movement of troops...
A: I don't want to get into more detail than the briefers last week did, but I think if you go back to those transcripts you can perhaps get some sense of what they're talking about. Individually, it would be nothing that anyone would think was all that interesting. But taken collectively, it was enough that as was indicated last week: there was interest, there was concern, but not alarm about what was going on.
Q: The one specific example that was cited by the briefers was the movement of troops in convoys, presumably, from their garrison. Now you're referring to exercises in garrison, which doesn't sound unusual at all. The concern came from the forming up, if I understand correctly, of convoys moving from garrison.
A: My understanding is that the training has all been either in garrison or near garrison at SAM sites and at air bases. And that there certainly has been no major movement that gives anyone at this point any kind of cause for alarm.
Q: The pre-positioned ships that are moving out of Diego Garcia, is the plan to move them into the Gulf and unload them all or in part as an exercise, or...
A: The way it has been characterized to me at this point is that they're moving them closer to the Gulf. It could be later on that there will be further refinement of exactly what will be done with those, but we'll have to get back to you once that becomes a little clearer.
Q: Are you planning to send additional Marines to join with those supplies?
A: My understanding is there are some Marines that are also going to be deployed.
Q: How many?
A: I don't have a figure for you on that.
Q: In addition to the ones who were flying up to the ships?
A: Those are the ones that I'm talking about.
Q: Those guys are already gone. They're flying out to prepare the pre-positioned ships which are en-route. You're not talking about moving...
A: Let me get back to you on that one. We'll see if there are other deployments.
Q: Those are...
A: Those are the ones that are going out to the ships.
Q: What about the brigade that would normally fly in on that equipment?
A: I don't have anything for you on that one.
Q: Are you saying there's been no delay in this deployment? Because that is totally different from what...
A: No. I'm saying that, first of all, when you look at a deployment and you look at a movement of units and people and how long it normally takes for units to move, this one has gone extremely quickly. There was, early on, a delay which was the result of administrative procedures which caused a delay yesterday. But right now the troops are moving.
Q: There was a delay of 24-some hours?
A: Twenty-four or less, yes.
Q: Is there any diplomatic problem with transiting the Straits of Hormuz? Any objections from...
A: The Straits of Hormuz is international waters. There certainly should be no problem whatsoever there.
Q: Is there any concern...
A: There never has been before.
Q: Is there any concern that Iran might object to this, or delay this transit?
A: I have seen nothing that would indicate that.
Q: Have we notified them that this...
A: I don't think that we normally notify Iran of our intended movement of ships through the Straits of Hormuz. There would be no reason to establish that precedent. It would be a bad precedent to establish.
Q: Back to the question of the Iraqi capabilities. Can you say specifically, is there any evaluation whether or not the Iraqis have the capacity -- whether they believe they have it or not -- but do we understand them to have the capacity to either attempt or succeed in an invasion of Kuwait or Saudi Arabia? Attempt or succeed, as was discussed by...
A: I think the Iraqis have previously shown that they believe that they have the capability to do a lot of things, and they are willing, on occasions, to attempt to do those things.
I don't feel at this point in a position to characterize whether they actually could succeed in doing those or not. But that is one of the difficulties, I think, in dealing with Iraq. That is, it's very difficult to predict exactly what they are going to do and when they are going to do it and how they are going to do it. I think it's always wise to take prudent steps that enable us to react to whatever actions are taken.
Q: Have any other countries such as Saudi Arabia, been asked to participate in...
A: Not that I'm aware of at this point. This INTRINSIC ACTION is normally an exercise that deals strictly with Kuwait, and, in fact, involves Kuwaiti forces.
Q: Can you give us the Pentagon's view on information turned over to the UN concerning Iraq producing weapon systems to deliver germ warfare? Just give us the Pentagon's view on that information.
A: I really don't have anything for you on what's been turned over to the UN at this point.
Q: Or what has been turned over to Rolf Ekeus?
A: I don't have anything for you on that right now.
Q: A question on a different subject related to the Citadel. The Pentagon runs an ROTC program there, I believe. Has there been any thought about discontinuing that program in view of the policy the school has towards admitting women?
A: What I can say at this point is that the issue of the Citadel is a unique one, and presently that situation is under consideration by the courts. It has to do with whether there should be a parallel system of education established at that school. I really am not in a position to comment on the details of that case while that is working, so I don't really have much for you on that one today.
Press: Thank you.