DoD News Briefing - Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon
(Also participating in this briefing was Navy Cmdr. Yvette Brown-Wahler, director, Recruiting Plans, and Vice Adm. Patricia A. Tracey, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, Military Personnel Policy)
Bacon: What a boisterous, jocular group! Well, welcome to our briefing.
We're going to do the briefing in two parts. First, I'm going to introduce Commander Brown-Wahler and Vice Admiral Tracey to talk about two things: the Yahoo! Fantasy Careers in Today's Military Contest -- this was sponsored by the Department of Defense and Yahoo! Commander Brown-Wahler will talk about that. And then she will show a video, a public service video for recruiting. And then Vice Admiral Tracey will come and talk about retention and recruiting issues, answer your questions on that, and also Commander Brown-Wahler will up there as well to answer your questions on the Yahoo! fantasy jobs contest. This was very successful. It's an experiment for reaching out through the Internet to the young men and women of America. We're very pleased with the results.
I might also note that Jim Desler of my office worked very closely with the Personnel and Readiness people in setting this up. And we are now in the process of doing some advertising on Yahoo! for a new website, which they will talk about as well.
So without further ado, I'll turn it over to Commander Brown-Wahler.
Brown-Wahler: Thank you, Mr. Bacon.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Again, we are excited today to announce the five winners of the Fantasy in Today's Military Contest, sponsored by the Department of Defense in partnership with Yahoo! The contest was a new advertising initiative to raise awareness about today's military by using the Internet as the medium.
The contest was designed to expose the public to the military's role and to provide an opportunity for five individuals to experience a day in the life of the proud service members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. They will have the opportunity to fill their challenges -- teamwork, dedication, professionalism -- while serving side by side with these outstanding Americans.
The contest, by any measure, as Mr. Bacon noted, was a great success. Over 3,300 essays were submitted to the services through Yahoo! Careers, and of those essays, 40 percent of the contestants requested additional information from the respective service regarding career opportunities.
The Fantasies Career in Today's Military Contest Web page, produced by Yahoo! Careers, was viewed hundreds of thousands of times. From that, over 13,000 click-throughs went to the service websites. The industry average is normally a quarter to a half percent on click-throughs. We managed to reach over 2 percent. This demonstrated the power of the Internet as an integral tool for advertising and marketing to youth and their adult influencers.
Additionally, Yahoo! Careers continued to monitor page views and banner advertising to determine how best to balance activity and click-throughs to the Fantasy Career sites and to the services' content Web pages.
As we mentioned before, the Department of Defense spent $250,000 to continue banner advertising through Yahoo! What we have started now, and will open up on Monday, is the new today's military.com website. So as you look through the banner advertisements, that will lead you to the new service website, or DOD website, and it will also help take you down to the service websites.
These winners reflect the breadth and diversity of those who entered the contests, from Oregon to New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia and Georgia, these five winners cross age dimensions and are superb examples of today's youth and adult influencers.
The winners are:
For the Army, Rosalyn Sue Smith, age 18, from Marietta, Georgia. She's a full-time student at Kennesaw State University. Ms. Smith will travel from the 17th to 23rd of September to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to experience Army aviation simulators and fly in a variety of Army helicopters. She will then travel to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to visit the 82nd Airborne Division, then experience Army parachute operations in a vertical wind tunnel, conduct training with the Golden Knights, and finally, conduct a tandem jump, soaring from 10,000 feet.
For the Navy, Joseph Blondo, age 31, from Budd Lake, New Jersey. He is an eighth-grade U.S. history teacher at South Plainfield Middle School in South Plain, New Jersey. Mr. Blondo will travel to Norfolk, Virginia, to serve on one of the Atlantic Fleet aircraft carriers. Underway schedules are still being determined. He will experience a carrier arrested landing in a C-2A Greyhound, join in flight operations on the flight deck, and observe operations in the Combat Director Center and steer this veritable floating city.
For the Air Force, Dale Zimmerman, age 22, from Junction City, Oregon. He is a customer service representative for United Airlines and attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He also holds a private pilot's license. Mr. Zimmerman will travel the 22nd to the 25th of August to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. He will experience a two-day adventure as an honorary F-15 pilot in training, observe flight line operations and mechanical operations.
And for the Marine Corps, Richard Castanet, age 47, from Richmond, Virginia. He is a professional sales engineer and account manager. He will travel the 4th to the 9th September to the Marine Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, to experience how Marines translate leadership instincts into action. To follow this, he will visit Parris Island to witness the aspects of the Crucible, a basic training final exam for enlisted personnel, a Marine Air Station orientation, and finally, a tour of the Officer Candidate School.
Now last, but not least, for the U.S. Coast Guard, Stephanie Kelley, age 22, from Stow, Massachusetts. She's a recent graduate of Duke University with a degree in biology. Ms. Kelley will travel from the 11th to the 15th of September to Houston, Texas to experience the many facets of search and rescue operations, including training as a rescue swimmer, riding in a 47-foot self-righting boat, and observing helicopter rescue.
These Americans will experience first-hand how service members carry out the military's important missions throughout the world. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet face and face with the men and women who carry out these fantasies every day and contribute to our national defense.
The winners' full biographies and essays are available in the press kits located in the back of the room, with B-roll footage of the fantasy they may experience with the services. And they are also available on Careers.Yahoo.com.
We will now show a public service announcement video recently distributed to television stations and networks as a continuing effort to raise awareness of military benefits and career opportunities.
(Public service announcements are shown.)
Brown-Wahler: As demonstrated at the end of the video, and again on Monday, we'll launch the new today's military.com website, again it enables adult influencers to find a place on the Internet that can talk more about military careers and opportunities, and then take you down to the services' websites, and hopefully on to recruiters.
Is there any questions regarding the contest?
Q: I have a question -- it's not about the contest. On the video you showed us, is that the -- that's not the first military-in- general ad that's been out, is it? Because I've seen like service-specific ads. But is this the first one that's the military all together?
Tracey: This is the first Defense ad in a long time. We have not been doing Defense ads in probably about three years; I think this is the first one that we've launched in awhile.
There has always been a joint recruiting advertising program since we began the all-volunteer force, and its focus is on building basic awareness of military opportunities; runs this type of ad that covers all services as a routine, but we've not done a TV ad in a long time.
Q: The reason?
Tracey: No money.
Q: You said you had a lot of success with your web presence. Are you planning to spend more money on online advertising after this experiment?
Tracey: Certainly in the joint recruiting advertising program, we are looking at a different mix of media with emphasis on the web that's new for us. Services have been doing that for the last several years, and I think you'll see that there's a growing emphasis on the web investments in their allocation of dollars as well.
We learned lots of things as a result of this, also, with regard to how to move around in this medium, and that's one of the big things we wanted to learn.
Q: What did you learn about how to move around?
Tracey: Interesting things that -- Yahoo! was monitoring which services were receiving more play than others and were able to adjust banner advertising to even out the play from one service to another, and that kind of agility is important, especially for the joint advertising program, to be able to sort of even out the attention to the services.
Q: So of all your hits, was there one service that got more than the others?
Tracey: Unfortunately, it wasn't the Navy. (Laughter.)
Brown-Wahler: It was the Air Force.
Q: Do you have any idea why? Why would the Air Force be --
Brown-Wahler: Flying in the back of an F-15 caught everybody's attention.
Q: What was the breakdown?
Brown-Wahler: The breakdown? I would say 60 percent to the Air Force and the remaining to the other services.
Q: More or less evenly, or --
Brown-Wahler: More or less evenly. Over 300 for services and over 1,000 for the Air Force.
Q: How extensively will this commercial air, if you can tell us -- if you can give us a --
Tracey: It's a public service announcement, so that really depends on how the media plans to do that. We are launching a paid print ad campaign sometime in the next several weeks, rather than a television campaign, for the joint advertising, because we're trying to reach parents and other influencers, and our approach is a little different from what the services' approach would be with regard to advertising.
Q: Is this one for adult influencers, or --
Tracey: This one is really targeted at the recruit market.
Q: The kids.
Tracey: Although it has messages that are not incompatible with trying to reach influencers.
Q: Did you also say that this had a connection with military.com? Did I hear you say that?
Tracey: Today's military.com.
Q: I'm interested, what message attracts kids and what message attracts adult influencers?
Tracey: We don't know exactly. If we knew that, we'd have this knocked! We know that parents are interested in opportunities for their children, for things that build on the values that they have tried to inculcate in their children.
Interesting things we've learned in our adult research is that parents do not want to be in the role of telling their kids what to do with their futures. And so an approach that tries to open a generation of parents who don't know very much about the military to what opportunities exist for their children in the military they may not have realized has been a bit of a challenge. In our focus groups we've found that parents don't know very much about our education benefits, don't know about the huge number of job opportunities there are in the military, not just that there are many openings, but the variety of job skills for which we provide technical training. Things that are inherent in our view of the military are completely foreign to parents when they think about the military, so that's the kind of approach that we're taking with our advertising.
Q: What about the kids? Just -
Tracey: Education benefits always feature as very high on the list of reasons that people who eventually decide to join give us for joining. What attracts them to listening to our ads I think varies by location in the country. A lot has to do with style, and that's hard for us. (Chuckles.)
Q: Are you -- you've got a new ad. Are you hiring new advertisers? How are you getting your style?
Tracey: OSD has been using the same advertising firm since the early 1990s and we're still with them. We've engaged with them at some different levels from the way that we have in the past, and we have added a couple of consulting capabilities to working with the advertisers directly. We have a market research firm working with us now, and are going to be doing some different kinds of testing of ads as we roll out our ads, from the kinds of -- we've done ad tracking before, which basically verifies that the ad ran and it ran where it expected to, and you got the reach and frequency that you expected, but you don't get very much with regard to whether it was effective. And so we've attempted to contract with some organizations who try to do that kind of evaluation for us a little bit better than we have been in the past.
Q: It was also the DoD had recommended -- I forget who recommended it, but there's a recommendation afoot for a marketing director for the Pentagon. Do you know where that stands?
Tracey: It was Eskew Murphy who recommended that not just the Pentagon hire a marketing director, but that we upgrade the level of professional expertise in the whole business of marketing and advertising.
Each of the services has done something with regard to enhancing their skills, and they range from the Army having contracted for a chief marketing officer to other services having appointed someone with an education background in that field. OSD is in the process of an executive search for a chief marketing officer that will do primarily the joint advertising, but will attempt to weave together the individual services' approaches and the joint approach so that they're a coherent marketing approach.
Q: Have you done an analysis on the return on the investment on this, with the 40 percent that wanted more information, how much money it cost you to attract that 40 percent, and how that breaks down with normal recruitment effort?
Tracey: We have not completed that, but they look like good numbers to us, by comparison to our others, and we'll be doing that in the next several weeks.
Q: There are some, I guess, pretty loosely organized retiree groups, military retiree groups, that are warning people, young people, if they join the military, that their promises, the free medical care in particular, will not be kept, have not been kept. Is that having any impact on recruiting that you can discern?
Tracey: Not right now, although we are engaged with VA. Those are really criticisms of the Veterans' Administration more so than DoD, but, you know, together we're combining our efforts to address the issues that the organizations have raised and to try to temper the messages. They've been using billboards -- I think that's the group that you're talking about -- using billboards. They're located outside of installations, so they have the potential to affect retention as much as they do recruitment, because they're right outside the installations.
Most of the places where they are located, we're told, at least by the people we have contacted, that they have not had much of an impact on the local population. In fact, we made some phone calls, and in fact, until we called the people at one installation, they hadn't even seen that billboard, although it was right outside their gate, which doesn't change the fact that the message is an important message that has to be dealt with.
Q: Are all the services meeting their recruitment goals?
Tracey: There was a lot of euphoria in the press over the last couple of days, and we're doing better this year than we had done last year at this time. There's still some work to be done. Air Force and Army are a little bit behind where they wanted to be at this time this fiscal year, but they made up some ground in the month of July, so July was a good month for them. And Air Force, in fact, has written enough contracts for people between now and the end of September to make the number that they expect to make for the year, 34,000 recruits for the year. So they're going to ship them at a time different from what they had originally planned to do. So Air Force expects to make their numbers.
Both Army and Navy have a fairly large number of contracts to write for the rest of the fiscal year, but they both expect to meet their requirements for the year. Navy's retention and attrition rates are better than they expected them to be, so they may be able to adjust downward the number of recruits they have to bring in, which is also good news.
You'd make a -- you really make a strength plan, a plan to meet a given number of people in each of the services, and you do that by a combination of retaining the people that you have, not losing people outside of their regular reenlistment points, or recruiting new people. And you strike a balance amongst all of those three things over the course of the year.
So in the Navy's case, we think that they're going to make a different mix than they had originally planned to make between recruitment and retention, but they will probably make their number.
Marines have written enough contracts to make their number through the end of the year. And you know we write contracts ahead of time. We write a contract for up to 12 months into the future for an individual to ship up to 12 months into the future. And so the size of the delayed entry program is a measure of how successful your program is.
Q: And do those numbers count for the year that they sign the contract, or --
Tracey: No, they count for the year in which they actually ship.
Q: And were the numbers adjusted? Are they the same numbers they're looking for this year that they were last year, the services?
Tracey: There's variation amongst each of these services, and the numbers required will continue to grow over the course of the next five years because the large cohorts that were left from downsizing will begin to hit retirement dates, and so you'll lose more people at the 20th year and you'll have to bring in more people to replace them. We're in a steady-state mode, in that we are replacing losses on a basically one-for-one basis in the services now.
Q: I know you know airlines announced that they need 1,200 to 1,300 more pilots. Is that going to punch a further hole in the pilot retention problems?
Tracey: It's not going to make it easier, I suspect. Our pilot retention bonuses that were passed by the Hill last year have worked well. We haven't fixed all of our problems, and I doubt that we will be able to keep pace with the way that the airlines can compete with us. We have done several different things with regard to pilot retention, and we'll just need to keep working at this. Our analyses would indicate that the airlines need lots more people, even, than we produce, and so I think there is a nationwide need to think about how we make people qualified to fly airplanes, both for military and commercial use. But the bonus that we've put in place this year has had some positive effect, not everywhere exactly where we wanted it to have the effect, and we'll work it again next year.
Q: Which of the other specialties are there difficulties in retaining?
Tracey: You would expect. Information technology, communications fields, airline mechanics. Mid-grade leaders of almost any skill. They're being hired for their leadership skills, not necessarily just for their technical skills, but their experience at motivating and leading troops. I lost a -- I hate to say this, but I lost a captain out of my organization who was hired away to run a software development shop. He had zero computer skills, trust me, but -- (laughter) -- he was hired because he was a leader. And he's doing great. And that's probably the place where we will face unending competition, because we really do turn people into pretty phenomenal leaders at a very, very young age.
Bacon: I've got a couple of announcements before I take your questions -- the first to bring you up to date on the wildfires in the West. As you know, President Clinton and Secretary of the Army Caldera are out today meeting with firefighters, both military and non-military, in Idaho, I believe.
Right now we have -- we, the Department of Defense, have more than 2,000 service members, active-duty Army and Marines, as well as National Guardsmen, who have been called to active duty, conducting operations and getting ready to -- training to fight wildfires. The number will probably increase relatively soon to 2,500, because this weekend the Army is preparing to send a second battalion from Fort Hood, Texas. This would be the 20th Engineering Battalion, the 1st Cavalry Division, and they will assist firefighters in Montana. As you know, the Army already has one battalion from Fort Hood working in Idaho.
The National Guard in 10 states has now activated more than a thousand Army and Air Guardsmen to help with the firefighting. To date, Air Force Reserve and Guard C-130s have flown more than 525 hours, made 490 sorties, and dropped more than 11.4 million pounds of fire-retardant chemicals.
We expect, unfortunately, the fires to continue during August, so the firefighters will continue during August as well.
Finally, an announcement about the impact of our Gulf War illness program.
As you know, for -- since 1996, Dr. Bernard Rostker has run the -- he's been the special assistant for Gulf War illness. And that office has now morphed into a new office, which is the Department of Defense -- he will be a special assistant to the secretary of Defense for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness and Military Deployments.
The idea here was to take some of the lessons we learned from the Gulf War illness study, to apply them to future force deployments to make sure that our medical recordkeeping is correct, that we do everything we can to avoid some of the problems we had during the Gulf War, and that is a lack of good recordkeeping, sometimes a confusion over what doses were given and weren't given, who took them, when they took them, et cetera. So it's an effort to do a better job of making sure that medical services and vaccines are -- are administered well during deployments. And Dr. Rostker will take that over and, I'm sure, bring the same energy and knowledge to it that he brought to Gulf War illness.
We will continue, obviously, working on Gulf War illness. We have a number of research projects we've started. We're continuing to deal with veterans. We have surveys and hotlines set up, and all that will continue.
With that, I'll take your questions. Bob?
Q: Ken, I wanted to ask you about the statement that the secretary put out yesterday on national missile defense.
Q: He said that a number of difficult issues remain to be resolved in the deployment readiness review, I think he was referring to. Which of those would be the most significant in terms of meeting the time schedule that exists at the moment of -- (inaudible)?
Bacon: Well, one of the questions we're still working on is the new booster. As you know, the flight tests we've had so far have used an old rocket or booster made out of the second and third stages of Minuteman rockets. And we are developing a new booster for the interceptor, to put the kill vehicle into space. That is running behind schedule. The question is, how much behind schedule. And so that's one question right there.
Another question has to do with flight tests. Usually after a failed flight test, we delay the next flight test. It's highly likely that the flight test, integrated flight test six scheduled for October-November will be delayed. We don't know how long a delay it will be, but it will probably be delayed. And that will have an impact on other flight tests. So that's another question that has to be worked out.
There's also a question of numbers of tests.
As you know, the independent review team headed by retired Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch recommended more tests, and the question is, should we add more tests and, if so, where in the testing pattern? So those are among the types of questions that are being reviewed.
In addition, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and Dr. Gansler's office -- he's the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics -- have not finished their review of Integrated Flight Test 5, which took place a month ago today, July 7th -- July 7th and 8th, I guess, because it took place over the morning hours. And as you know, that test failed. We believe it -- we know it failed because the kill vehicle, the last stage that actually hits the re-entry vehicle, failed to separate from the booster.
We understand that it failed because data was not properly transmitted to the kill vehicle to allow it to separate from the booster. We don't know exactly why that happened, although we're pretty sure why it happened, but more importantly, we haven't figured out how to respond to it. And one of the issues is we had what would be called a "single point of failure" there; in other words, one little system failed and, as a result, an important event, separation, didn't take place.
So now they're looking at whether to -- what's required to build a parallel system or a more failsafe system so we don't have the single point of failure, and that, depending on what they figure out, will take -- could take some time. There are a couple of options. They haven't determined which option to take. Depending on which option they select, it'll take more time or less time.
So those are a number of the issues that are yet to be resolved.
Q: One more quick question on it. You mentioned the booster right off the bat.
Q: It's been known for some time, I think, that the development has been delayed approximately eight months. Is there something new, in addition to that, that raises the question of additional delays, or why is this --
Bacon: The delay will end up being longer than eight months. It's -- rather than closing the gap, the gap is getting longer. So more work on the booster is required.
Now, the part that malfunctioned in the last test was called an avionics processor controller, which is in another part, the bigger part, called the upper stage assembly.
The upper stage assembly is a bunch of navigational and electronics equipment that is on top of the booster, and it's therefore -- it sends signals from the booster to the kill vehicle. It's on top of the booster but between the booster and the kill vehicle.
The upper stage assembly that -- part of which malfunctioned -- will not be part of the final system. When we have a new booster, it will have a new upper stage assembly with largely new equipment, and there will be some components that will be common to the current rockets that we've been testing. But basically it will be a new design. So we're working on that as well.
Q: Isn't there any concern that the longer it takes for the secretary to give his recommendation to the president, the shorter time the president has to make a decision and also it's going to smack right into the election, the heat of the election season?
Bacon: Well, we've always said that this is a -- we've said recently that this is an event-driven program, not a schedule-driven program. And our goal is to try to get it right and to wait as long as we need to, to make sure we're on the right track. So we will do that.
I think the secretary's confident that he'll be able to make his recommendation in a few weeks, several weeks, late this month, early next month, probably. And that should give the president enough time to evaluate the secretary's recommendation and to make his own decision about how to proceed.
I think that there's ample time in the fall, assuming that we -- that the secretary makes his recommendation sometime in September, I think there will be ample time for the president to make his decision.
Q: The booster was supposed to be done when? And then we can add eight months-plus to that?
Bacon: Well, I'm afraid that -- I know how long the delay is, but I don't know when it was supposed to be ready. I think they were supposed to have been able to test it initially this year, but it won't be tested the first time until probably next spring sometime.
Q: How much has the delay grown?
Bacon: Several months. That's still being worked out. Now we're in the process of a fairly massive review of the program right now. That isn't complete. That's one of the reasons why the secretary delayed his decision.
So we're still looking at the time schedule.
Q: Two things. Is there a reason -- maybe I missed it here -- why the booster -- why the booster delay? What's going on there? And could you just go back and explain -- is the fail safe then just for the test program, since that goes away once you do get the new booster?
Bacon: The idea is to take the lessons learned at every stage during the test program and build them into the final product. So what we identified here was what's called a single source of failure. If one thing goes wrong, the separation doesn't take place. What we want to devise is some sort of a parallel or backup system, so that we're not held captive to a single source of failure. Although the design of the avionics processor controller will be different, we would still want to have a parallel or backup systems, so we have a more robust system than we had this time around.
Q: And -- thank you. And what is causing this booster delay? What's the problem that's making this delay grow?
Bacon: It's a variety of things, but basically it's just a question of getting it designed and built, and that's taken longer than anticipated.
Q: Just so I make sure I understand -- so this new design for a redundant system that would, you know, lessen the chance of this kind of failure is for the new booster that's being designed, not the old booster that's going to be --
Bacon: The next two tests will pretty much involve the same avionics processor controller. So we're looking at a way to avoid what I call the single source of failure. It could be a software change. It could be as simple as a software change.
Q: But that's in the new --
Bacon: No, no --
Q: -- you're developing that for the new booster, or are you doing it for the next test?
Bacon: There is -- no, this is a system with a lot of concurrency built into it, and what we want to test -- what we wanted to test in Integrated Flight Test 5 was the kill vehicle, its ability to seek the target and to zero in on it and hit it, and to discriminate against -- between the target and a decoy. And we also wanted to test some communications links, the radar, et cetera.
We are doing that in order to develop the kill vehicle as quickly as possible with old rockets and some old avionics processor controllers or upper-stage assemblies that have this electronic equipment in it.
Eventually we will have a new booster and we will have new avionics or electronics in the top.
So the next two tests will involve pretty much the existing avionics processor controller. After those tests -- Integrated Flight Tests 6 and 7 -- we will move on to a new one. We want to make fixes in the old one and design the new one in a way that doesn't have a single source of failure for the separation mechanism or data transfer that this one had.
Q: And so now when is the likely time frame for this next test, number six? Is that --
Bacon: I can't tell you when the next test will be.
Q: Is it likely to be delayed into December or even later --
Bacon: Well, Secretary Cohen, I believe, testified on the Hill that it could be delayed into December. So we're looking whether December is reasonable or whether it could be later. That decision hasn't been made.
Q: And then one last big picture question. You've always said that this is an ambitious test schedule, that the deployment date of 2005 would require a lot of things to go right along the way. It seems like, you know, whether these are big problems or little problems that there are lots of little delays that are coming into this. Doesn't this again call into question the likelihood of being able to make a 2005 deployment date?
Bacon: Well, I think that's exactly the type of question that the secretary is considering now, or will be able to consider when he gets a final review from the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and Dr. Gansler. He doesn't have all that information yet, but the goal of gathering this information together. And the reason the gathering process is taking so long is that he wants the best possible information, and then he'll have to make a decision based on the -- one, the information; and two, the recommendations he gets from General Kadish and Dr. Gansler.
So I think it's premature to say right now how this is going to change the schedule, if at all. You know that General Welch said that 2005 was possible, although high risk. But he felt that it was possible enough to stick to the 2005 deployment target. And the secretary will have to make a decision whether he agrees with that statement or whether he doesn't.
Q: But just -- is it -- it's not likely at this point that the next flight test would take place at its previously scheduled time frame of October/November?
Bacon: I said it was likely that it will be delayed, and that's what the secretary has testified.
The question is, How much will it be delayed?
Q: Ken, you all have been very clear that the decision this November doesn't deploy National Missile Defense. What it does is it begins construction on the radar site. So what I'm having a hard time understanding is how these difficulties would really affect that decision, because if you still buy the 2005 threat that's out there, you have to get started on the radar next spring, whether or not this booster, or this mechanism, is working out. I'm having a hard time seeing the connection between the two, because you can work on the booster stuff on the side, but you have to get started on the radar, if you still buy the 2005 deadline.
Bacon: Well, these are exactly the types of issues that the secretary is going to be considering, and I can't forecast what he's going to recommend at this stage, but these are -- these questions of scheduling are exactly what will be on his plate when he gets around to making the decision.
Q: Until now, the secretary and you, General Kadish and Dr. Gansler have all been very consistent in -- (inaudible word) -- a point the panel is making that this program was timed to be deployed by 2005 -- expressed complete confidence, despite the risk, that that was a feasible target and, indeed, did separate out the question of starting construction with Shemya as something different because the development of this was going to continue, you know, on a parallel track with the initial construction. But what you're saying now and what the -- in terms of what the secretary is now considering, I just want to be clear. It sounds like you're saying he is considering 2005 as to whether that is a feasible date, having previously always said and expressed considerable confidence that 2005 was a feasible date.
Bacon: I think you are attributing too much solidity to what the secretary said. When the secretary testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, he pointed out that General Welch had said that 2005 was feasible, it was possible, but it was high risk.
We have always admitted that this was a high-risk program, and part of being high risk is the deployment date; whether we can meet the deployment date of 2005. We will try our best, we have been trying our best, and we may meet the deployment date.
I'm not going to forecast what the secretary's going to decide, because what he has to do is look at all the information. Obviously, he wants this system deployed sooner rather than later, and -- if he decides that deployment is necessary. We've been working on a deployment schedule that would get us to 2005. We have not abandoned that deployment schedule.
Q: It is under question?
Q: It is under question?
Bacon: I think everybody who has followed this program has realized that it was a high-risk program. Part of being high-risk is the schedule. There's nothing new about that. Two thousand five was highlighted as a high-risk schedule by General Welch. The secretary has admitted that it was high risk. He's pointed out that General Welch, in his latest review by the independent review team, said that although it was high risk, it was possible that we would make it -- there was enough possibility not to change the schedule. The secretary will decide whether that is still the right course.
Q: Has the secretary been briefed on the new intelligence estimate on those -- we were talking about it a lot on the trip to Asia, about taking a look at --
Bacon: He has. He has.
Q: And the results are?
Bacon: And the results are that it was a classified briefing -- (laughter) -- that he doesn't want to discuss publicly.
Q: Is it fair to say that since the Welch report came out on June 13th that talked about an eight-month booster slip, that the situation's gotten worse because the first three booster verification tests have slipped as much as a year, according to briefing charts floating around last week, and that's pushed everything back; so, even with Welch's milestone, it's gotten even riskier? Is that a fair statement?
Bacon: The first booster test, to answer an earlier question, was supposed to have taken place in April of this year.
Bacon: Now it looks like it will take place early next year.
Bacon: So it has slipped. The question is, has it slipped by so much that it changes the schedule of the program? That question has not been answered.
Q: The second and third ones have slipped by 10 and 12 months, though, according to briefing charts that were floating around for --
Bacon: Well, I don't want to get into the briefing charts that were floating around. Briefing charts come and go. But there is no question that the booster is behind schedule; and the question is, what can be done about it, if anything, and how it affects the general program.
Q: Is it fair to say the slips in these production models are also impacting the integrated flight tests that -- the IFT 7, 8 and 9 that test the production model warhead from Raytheon and the production model booster from Boeing, and those are being pushed out also?
Bacon: Well, obviously, if the booster is delayed, integrated tests involving the booster could also be delayed.
Q: Could you try to be a little more precise about this delay? I mean, you've got eight-months-plus.
Q: You previously said that you know what the -- I mean, obviously, people know what the delay is as of now. Can you just be a little more precise about what the actual -- rather than just say it's somewhere more than eight months?
Bacon: I'm not going to announce the delay until we finished -- until BMDO and Dr. Gansler finish their review, which hasn't been done yet. So rather than give a figure that may turn out to be incorrect, I think we'll say that it's -- we knew that it had a delay of eight months, and the delay may turn out to be longer. But I think that the review is ongoing and it's just not appropriate to discuss how much longer the delay may be until the review is complete.
Q: Ken, isn't there a domino effect here that continues, if you -- for example, Tony's point about flight tests 7, 8 and 9, in which you integrate the production model booster with a kill vehicle, are delayed, that runs up to and beyond the DAB [Defense Acquisition Board] of '01, which you're supposed to make a decision on long-lead items for the new booster, which then runs into subsequent -- you know, the other elements of the schedule beyond 20001?
Bacon: At some point, obviously, it does. But it was General Welch who made the observation that the program should be event driven, not schedule driven. Secretary Cohen embraced that when he actually changed the program from a three-plus-three to a three-plus-five program and said the deployment goal was 2005. We will continue -- obviously, no one wants to deploy a system that doesn't work, so we're looking for ways to bring all elements together as well as possible, but we need to make sure that every section works.
So at some point, yes, there could be further delays in some of these out tests, but that hasn't been decided. I mean, you're asking me to forecast the future in a way that I can't right now because the reviews are ongoing.
Q: I'm just trying to ask you the logic of a timetable that would seem to point pretty clearly towards --
Bacon: Well, I think people can draw their own conclusions. But I would advise you against drawing conclusions until the analysis is complete.
I think that conclusions drawn before the analysis is complete run the risk of being wrong.
Q: The secretary is on the record several times, you know, saying that he personally believes in the need for this type of a missile defense system. So given that that is his basic belief, I mean, what would it take for him to actually recommend -- make a recommendation against taking the next step?
Bacon: Well, the secretary is operating with the four criteria that the president set, and those are the criteria that shape his analysis. And those criteria are technical feasibility, threat, cost, and overall impact on national security, which obviously includes arms control and relations with the allies. So he will look at all those criteria in making his recommendation to the president.
I am not going to speculate on what -- on how he's going to make his decision at this stage, because it's premature. He hasn't -- the whole reason we're talking about a delay in his recommendation is because the analysis that he's awaiting has not occurred yet. And he doesn't want to force an analysis to come to him before it's complete.
Q: But could you actually envision him making a recommendation against taking --
Bacon: I'm not going to forecast what the secretary's going to do. He's going to wait and get the best information available, and then he will make a recommendation.
Q: Whose fault is it that the booster is delayed? Is it a contractor problem or a production problem, or can you classify it in any way?
Bacon: Well, I'm not enough of an expert on the booster to comment about it.
Q: The avionics controller processor -- what caused it to fail? Was it just a bad part, or was it the environment or something else?
Bacon: Well, basically what happened was that digital information didn't get from the booster up to the kill vehicle. In other words, it was supposed to convey a message; when the booster had stopped boosting, stopped firing, it was supposed to convey a message to the kill vehicle that it was time to separate. And that didn't happen. Why that didn't happen -- it could have been a malfunctioning circuit board. It could have been a short circuit of some sort. It could have been something caused by vibration. They don't know for sure right now.
They have a pretty good sense that they will be able to narrow the options further than they have so far.
Q: Is Boeing seeking any addition funds to help it through this delay, or are you considering any additional funds to them to help them get past all of this?
Bacon: Well, I think that funding, obviously, is one of the questions that relates to schedule and timing, and it's premature to talk about cost at this stage, until those -- until decisions are made about schedule.
Q: This has to do with the U.K. radar question. Now, a report in the British Parliament -- (inaudible) -- said that they would be opposed to letting the radar in U.K. be used for the U.S. NMD. And in the testimony in the Senate, the secretary said that not having that radar would render the U.S. NMD technically unfeasible. Now, is there any alternative to that? Is there a -- supposing, in the eventuality that the U.K. might say, "Well, you cannot use this radar," is there any alternative being considered to that?
Bacon: Well, I think that might be putting the cart before the horse right now. The radar in the U.K. is an early warning radar. It's one of, I think, five early warning radars necessary for this system; three of those are in the United States, two are not.
We have been working closely with our allies, particularly the U.K., on this, and will continue to work closely with them. I think it's too early to predict a problem there. I wouldn't anticipate there would be a problem, actually.
Q: Could you just back to what you said in response to the previous question about costs? You said it was premature to talk about costs -- (inaudible) -- until these issues with the booster are resolved. How, then, does that relate to the consideration of costs as one of the factors in terms of the recommendation the secretary is going to make? I mean, is that also very much an open question now?
Bacon: I think it's premature to say whether it's a question or not. Obviously, if schedules get stretched out, costs increase. Costs increase over time. The quicker you can build something, generally speaking, the less it's going to cost than if it's stretched out over a longer period of time.
So this is a question that relates to the schedule, and the schedule questions have not been answered at this stage.
Q: Do you expect the schedule questions will be answered sufficiently to come up with hard cost estimates by the end of August or beginning of September?
Bacon: I anticipate that will be the case, yes.
Q: Including on the booster question?
Bacon: That's certainly the hope. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but that's certainly the hope, yes.
Q: Ken, is it fair to say the secretary's been briefed that the overall cost of the program seems to be going up three to four billion dollars since your last baseline estimate of about six months ago, and that's one of the concerns here; it's the boosters, flight tests and the overall cost of the program?
Bacon: I think it's fair to say that the secretary is briefed from time to time on the program, and the briefings sometimes differ, and I don't think I'll get into the substance of the briefings.
Q: Getting back to the booster schedule briefly, IFT 8 is the first scheduled test now for the booster. Is that going to stick? In other words, if the booster is delayed, will IFT 8 be delayed, or is there a chance that the first booster use would move into IFT 9 and you would continue other testing using the surrogate booster?
Bacon: That's a technical question that I'm just not prepared to answer. I don't have the facility to answer that.
Q: Ken, what is the current cost estimate?
Bacon: I think the current cost estimate is about $20 billion.
Q: What does that include?
Bacon: That includes, I believe, everything up to the point of deployment of 100 interceptors in 2005.
Q: What schedule is that based on?
Q: A hundred interceptors, or 20?
Bacon: I'm sorry. This could be -- it may be the first 20 interceptors. So it would be the first 20 that would give us the IOC in 2005. You're right. (sic) [Cost estimates state $20 billion for 100 interceptors through 2007, based on the current estimated schedule.]
Q: On another subject, what about --
Bacon: Well, are we through with this?
Q: One more on --
Q: What was the original target date for the secretary to receive the readiness review from BMDO and Gansler? And what is the current target date?
Bacon: He was hoping to receive it by the end of July. And I think he is likely to receive it shortly, but I can't put a precise day on it.
Q: Does shortly mean -- can you be slightly more precise in calendar terms? I mean, like a week, month, two weeks, end of August?
Bacon: All those would fall into "shortly." (Laughter.) In my book.
Q: (Off mike) -- back to the delay one more time. You've had a failure this time, as I understand it, with established technology, something that's been around for a while. Is it fair to say that as you move into new technology and a new booster, that the likelihood of future failures and, thus, future delays increases?
Bacon: I don't think that follows logically.
Q: Could you tell me why?
Bacon: Well, I think that the newer the technology, the greater the attention on testing and retesting, on thinking what could go wrong and backstopping. The older the technology, probably the greater faith that the system is going to work. Now, this is -- was an old part, about 10 years old.
It had been tested and retested a number of times.
But I think that the history of our space programs and our military programs wouldn't prove -- would not substantiate your idea that new technology or new developments are more likely to fail than old ones.
Q: I have a question.
Q: I'm sorry, Toby. Are there any other single points of failure? Is anybody doing a look at the entire system to see? Are there any other single points of failure that we need to back up before we have another one of these?
Bacon: Well, every time you have a problem, you go back and look at all parts of the system. I'm sure that people are. I can't give you specifics on what they're looking at.
Q: Yeah. Just to go back one more time over a slightly theological point, is it -- given that the procedures have been laid out for the secretary's recommendation to the president, he is -- is the decision -- is his recommendation on the feasibility of the system and the technical feasibility of it separate from the simple question of whether or not to let contracts to start building in Shemya? I mean, are these -- is this one single package of recommendations that the former -- the technical feasibility relates directly to the contracts, or are these two separate issues that he's going to have to present his views on to the president?
Bacon: I guess the easy answer is that I see that as a distinction without a difference. I mean, he has to make a recommendation on the program, and he has to make a recommendation on what he thinks the best course of action is on the program and then give the president the information he needs to decide whether to accept or reject the recommendation. So I'm having a hard time separating the two.
What his interest is, is making sure that if we go ahead and build this system, that it's built as quickly and reliably as possible. That's his interest. And he wants a system that works.
So his decision will be based on -- if he recommends going ahead, will be based on a schedule best designed to build a successful system, a workable system, reliable system.
I can't separate the two. I mean, I think they're connected.
Any more questions on this? Yes?
Q: Going back to what you were just talking about, having the old equipment used for the test, now the same equipment is going to be used for the next two IFTs, basically. So is -- I know that in the last one the decoy balloon, for instance, just didn't inflate.
So is it wise to continue on using this old stuff if the anomalies can affect it again, something unexpected?
Bacon: Well, to a certain extent we're -- you know, I think conceptually you face, in the broadest terms, two choices. You could say we're going to develop this concurrently, knowing that we have to develop radar, we have to develop a kill vehicle, we have to develop a new booster, we have to develop a battlefield management system; we could say we're going to develop them concurrently, working as quickly as we can in each element of the new system. And that will involve using some old equipment in order to test the new kill vehicle, we will use old boosters we don't have a new booster yet. That's the path we've taken.
I suppose conceptually you could say we'll wait until we have everything designed, a totally new system, and not test it until we have something that is brand new from top to bottom. Obviously, that would take a lot longer and it would include a lot more risk. It would be akin to saying we're going to put a man on the Moon; we won't do any test shots of having people orbit the Earth in one-man capsules or two-man capsules until we develop the whole lunar module, and then we'll just fire it up there and assume it's going to work the first time. That clearly is not the path we've taken. I don't think any reasonable person would take that path.
So we've taken a step by step, sequential approach. And I think that's the right approach; it's the only sensible approach to -- you know, every time you do one of these tests, you discover little blemishes, I suppose, that don't really have an impact on the test at all. There were little blemishes in this test, and one of them -- I think I would put the balloon failing to blow up, expand, as one of those blemishes. It actually would have made the test harder because the seeker would have been looking for a smaller object in space.
There was another little blemish on the target, which was one of the reasons for the test delay the night it took place; that is the batteries. There were some questions about the batteries operating at full power. They decided that the batteries were powerful enough to do what they had to do, and it didn't seem to be a problem.
When they did -- on the interceptor side there were other little blemishes that developed; one had to do with the pressurization of helium in the kill vehicle. The helium was pressurized sooner than it was supposed to be. They determined that this had no impact on the basic failure, and they also determined that it would not have had an impact on the ability of the kill vehicle to operate effectively, if it had been launched.
And there was another little blemish about telemetry, which actually is information that's sent back from the rocket to ground stations. One of the ground stations didn't receive all the telemetry it was supposed to, but there's so much duplication built into the telemetry reception network that we were able to get all of the telemetry from other ground stations or ships at sea. So those were two little blemishes, things that didn't work 100 percent, but we don't think they had any impact on this test.
So, you know, all in all, you'd like everything to work 100 percent, and that's the goal.
Q: Going back to IFT-6, have you determined pretty much what the target configuration is going to be for that, if it happens in December or whenever it will occur?
Bacon: Well, I'm sure that BMDO has determined where it will be, but I don't know where it will be at this stage.
More questions on this?
Q: Is there any -- are you guys doing anything in Sierra Leone?
Bacon: We are doing nothing in Sierra Leone. We are doing something in Nigeria. We have, I would say, a survey team or a curriculum development team in Nigeria right now, and we also have some people in Ghana. Let me explain why.
Several months ago, when the U.N. troops were going into Sierra Leone and when some of the troops were taken captive by the RUF, the rebel forces in Sierra Leone, the administration, President Clinton, said that we would spend $20 million to strengthen the U.N. peacekeeping effort in Sierra Leone. That money will probably be spent in large part helping to equip some Nigerian battalions. And we now have a team in Nigeria -- and part of the team is also in Ghana because we may do the same with a Ghanaian battalion -- reviewing what their equipment needs are and what their training needs are for using that equipment. We're looking at three battalions in Nigeria, one battalion in Ghana. That team is there; it's been there since the end of July. It's several dozen people, including some Special Forces people, some people from the Air Force in Europe and the Army in Europe. And they are, as I said, looking at a curriculum, what curriculum needs to be developed to help the Nigerian forces use equipment that they may get from us.
They will be through with their work, I think, relatively soon -- a week or so -- and then they'll make a recommendation, and then we'll decide how to act on that recommendation.
But this is all designed to train Nigerian or Ghanaian peacekeepers who then might be deployed to Sierra Leone.
Q: There's been no decision on sending equipment, per se?
Bacon: Well, part of what they're looking at is the equipment needs, and then I would assume that some equipment -- communications equipment, for instance -- will be part of this $20 million package. There could be some vehicles, there would be trucks, small trucks that would be part of the $20 million package, and some other equipment as well.
Q: The package is still being developed, I take it?
Bacon: Well, the package is being developed; that's one of the things that the team is doing there now, deciding on what the equipment package will be and then what the training add-on will be to the equipment.
Q: Change the topic a bit. Could you give us some details on the visit of the president of Croatia?
Bacon: Sure. President Mesic was here, his first visit to the Pentagon as president, certainly. Croatia, as you know, has taken a big step forward to democracy, which we're encouraging. They have recently joined the Partnership for Peace, so he and the secretary talked about the Partnership for Peace. They talked about an assessment that the U.S. is doing of the Croatian military, how we can help advise them in a military reform plan that they want to undertake, and they also talked about Croatia's steps towards civilian control of the military, something that we're encouraging. Those are basically the issues that were discussed.
Q: What's the amount of U.S. military aid towards Croatia?
Bacon: Well, it's going up. In the current fiscal year, we are providing $40,000 for funding in the Partnership for Peace, and that will go up to $117,000 next year. We are providing some money to finance about 10 to 20 people going to the Marshall Center, which is in Europe, to teach newly democratic countries how to run militaries under civilian control. That will increase to 20 or 30 people next year. There is some funding for international military education and training, called IMET.
That amount was 425,000 in 1999, and it will rise to 600,000 in fiscal -- this year, fiscal 2000, and then to 650,000 in fiscal '01. And we're also providing some -- this year, for the first time, $108,000 for foreign military funding of equipment. So it gives you an idea. It's in the -- I guess that adds up, probably, to less than a million dollars, but it's on the way up. And it's up from basically zero the year before.
Q: Thank you.
Bacon: You're welcome.
THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS PREPARED BY THE FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., WASHINGTON, DC. FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE IS A PRIVATE COMPANY. FOR OTHER DEFENSE RELATED TRANSCRIPTS NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH THIS SITE, CONTACT FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE AT (202) 347-1400.