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DoD News Briefing - Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
November 28, 2000

Bacon: Good afternoon. I have several announcements at the top. The first is that Walt Slocombe, the under secretary of Defense for Policy, arrived in Beijing today, leading a delegation that is going to conduct the fourth round of Defense Consultative Talks with the Chinese People's Liberation Army. They take place tomorrow and Thursday. They will discuss a range of bilateral, regional and other issues. And as I say, this is part of our continuing contact with the PLA.

Second, on -- tomorrow, at 9:15, the deputy secretary of Defense, Rudy de Leon, will speak about national strategies and capabilities at the CNA Forum -- Center for Naval Analyses -- at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel, which is over there. And it's open to the press.

Also, tomorrow we will open a new theater with a new movie for visitors to the Pentagon. We have -- and actually, this movie features some of the people in this room -- it's hard to believe. But it's about a 12-minute film that will be shown to the 100,000 visitors who come to the Pentagon every year. And so if you want to come and see some of yourselves in this new film, you can show up tomorrow at 2:30 and -- in Room 3C1054, which is sort of above the barber shop.

And finally, on Thursday, Secretary and Mrs. Cohen will host a dinner in Los Angeles that, narrowly defined, is honoring Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America for his efforts to encourage positive portrayal of the U.S. military in film and television. But more broadly, is part of Secretary Cohen's plan to reconnect the military with America and to use influencers in film, television and sports as a way to get the military message out to the public. And that is also open to the press, Thursday evening, in Los Angeles.

Q: Do you know what that dinner is going to cost, by any chance?

Bacon: I do not know what it's going to cost. We'll know after it's over, but we don't know now.

Q: And who pays for it?

Bacon: It's being paid for by the department.


Q: Ken, can you fill us in on where the Cole is, when do you expect the Cole to arrive in Pascagoula?

Bacon: I expect the Cole to arrive in the second week of December in Pascagoula, Mississippi.


Q: What, if anything, is going on in the building regarding transition or preparation for transition, planning transition?

Bacon: Well, a fair amount is going on. I think you have to look at the transition as something that happens on two tracks. There is sort of the natural bureaucratic track, that starts before or shortly after the election, under which each office in the Pentagon, certainly the Joint Staff and all the major civilian offices start putting together transition books, which are basically briefing books for the incoming team that cover everything from the organization of their office to the major issues facing that office. That's been happening.

And there is a transition office set up in the Joint Staff, for instance, that's working on this. And people in my office and other offices are busily working on the mechanics of the transition.

The second track, though, doesn't really start until the transition office of the incoming president sends people into the building to begin the transition from their perspective. And that hasn't begun yet, obviously, because we don't know who the president's going to be. But when that begins, we will make office space available for them; make some staff available for them. And we would anticipate that the representative of the new president, or the representative of the new secretary of Defense, whoever that will be, would then have a team in the building, beginning to set up liaisons with the joint staff and with other offices in the building. We're prepared for that as soon as we know who those people are, but so far we have not started the second track.

Q: So the Bush team, for example, has not indicated -- communicated with the department that they're intending to send anybody --

Bacon: As far as I know, they have not. Now, of course, the Bush team is being headed by somebody who knows something about defense, but typically what happens is that teams are set up for each department, and those teams go into the departments. Sometimes they go in with the person who's going to be named the cabinet secretary for that department; sometimes they go in beforehand. But as far as I know, none of that has happened yet. And we have not made any office space available yet. And I think we'll be governed by the GSA decision more broadly on that as to when office space will be made available.

But we're ready to cooperate. The secretary will very quickly appoint somebody to head the transition from our end who will be the chief contact point. He will make sure that office space and staff is provided. He will make sure that the building is being as responsive as possible and he will also make sure that every major office or function in the building prepares a transition book which is then given to the new team for their review.

Q: Ken, shouldn't that be completed already since the anticipation would have been that by now there would have been a transition team?

Bacon: Well, I suspect that they are largely completed. It doesn't -- I think most offices would be able to pull these together pretty quickly. They know what their organization is, they know what the purpose of their office is, and they know what the major challenges facing their office are. So, it won't take long to do that.

But we obviously haven't given them to anybody yet, because there's nobody to receive them.


Q: Do you happen to know how many politically appointed positions are here at the Pentagon, how many folks they'll have to staff it with?

Bacon: I believe there -- this is just from memory, so don't hold be to it; we'll check this. I believe there are 43 Senate-confirmed civilian positions in the building. This is just from memory. And there would be several hundred more so-called Schedule C positions, which are political appointees below the Senate-confirmation level. [Update: in the Department of Defense there are 39 presidential appointees with Senate confirmation, 72 non-career senior executive service, and 105 Schedule C in grades GS-15 and below.]

Q: So that still leaves, what, 24,000-plus folks in the Pentagon that have worked here for a while, so it's not -- is it a big change in personnel?

Bacon: Well, it won't be a huge change in personnel. It could be a change in direction, depending on what the new president and his team wants to do. But I would anticipate that the new president will follow through on many of the policies that we're following now, that is to improve military quality of life, improve readiness and adjust our strategy to fit the needs of the 21st century.

Yes, Tony.

Q: Middle East question: A couple weeks ago, Admiral Moore, the commander of the Fifth Fleet, asked CentCom and the Joint Staff for force protection, a unit of Coast Guard and active Navy or reserve Navy components, to provide port security units over there. Where is that request in the building? Is it being actively reviewed? And will it be approved?

Bacon: We are reviewing requests from all -- any requests for additional force protection is being actively and expeditiously reviewed, and that would apply to requests from Admiral Moore as well as from anybody else.

Q: He wants the units to be deployed by December 15th time frame. Is that a doable time frame from your standpoint?

Bacon: We are doing our best to meet the requests of all commanders for additional force protection assets. I don't want to get into details, but obviously, since force protection is a high priority, particularly in the Middle East, we'll do what we can to meet the requests.

Yes. Nice to see you again.

Q: Back to the election -- (inaudible) -- Congressman Buyer, who's down in Florida for the vote monitoring work -- (inaudible) -- for the absentee -- military absentee ballots, thinks that there needs to be some sort of overhaul in the way the military, particularly overseas, votes.

Do you know whether the department has any look at the way they helped set that program up and whether they think there's any need to revise that, to avoid the kind of mess we had in Florida?

Bacon: The secretary has asked the inspector general of the department to look at the absentee voting process as handled by the military, and to recommend any changes that might be necessary to make it more efficient, more fair, and more inclusive -- and to make it easier. So, that will happen and I assume that the review will produce recommendations that will be implemented. Now, I don't know how soon this will occur, but the secretary's goal and his instruction to the IG is to make sure that we have a system that makes every vote count.

Q: Well, one of the current major drawbacks to the system, including, for example, lack of postmarks, I mean, can ships put postmarks? Do aircraft -- if somebody votes on an aircraft carrier, does the aircraft carrier postmark it? I mean, these lack of postmarks, is that a problem with the system or a problem with wherever they are mailed from? Is that one of the things that's being addressed?

Bacon: I'm not an expert on postmarks, but obviously, the IG will address every aspect of the system. Now, one of the complaints was that some of the absentee ballots were not properly postmarked. The DoD regulations require a postmark, and postmarks can be done automatically or they can be done by hand.

My understanding is that the ballots are mailed postage-free -- absentee ballots are mailed postage-free -- so, like franked mail on the Hill, they frequently are not postmarked, because there is not a stamp to cancel. So many of these ballots were not postmarked, apparently erroneously, and that was one of the problems in Florida, that the ballots weren't properly postmarked. So one of the things the IG will look at, obviously, are the postmarking regulations and procedures to make sure that there is no gap between what the regulations require and what the procedures produce.

Yes, Bob?

Q: In addition to the postmarking, were there specific shortcomings that the secretary pointed out that he wanted the IG to look at, or did he just give him a general instruction?

Bacon: He gave him a general instruction.

He requested the IG to undertake a review which would include, but not be limited to, current standard procedures for overseas handling of military ballots, standard cancellation and postmarking procedures, and any discrepancies between established procedures and how those procedures have actually been implemented. And it says that the review will serve as a basis for any changes that can and should be implemented by the department in order to ensure that voting rights of all U.S. military personnel are respected.

Q: When did he do that?

Bacon: Today.

Q: Ken, this raises a question, will the IG be charged to look at some of the Florida situation and to sample some of those ballots down there?

Bacon: Well, the IG can follow whatever procedures it wants, but my understanding of the Florida situation is, whether the ballots comply with Florida regulations and law, that's up for the Florida authorities to determine.


Q: And in this -- (inaudible word) -- city press conference, when he was asked about the discounting of military ballots, he said it was unfortunate and that he was going to look into it. Is his looking into it just the IG, or did he make any sort of personal or directed intervention specifically to Florida authorities in connection with the ballots that were discounted?

Bacon: He did not instruct Florida authorities how to carry out Florida law, if that's what you're asking.

Q: Did he make an appeal to Florida authorities?

Bacon: He did not. He did not. He made a statement that he felt it was unfortunate if people serving overseas weren't able to have their ballots counted and he then instructed the IG to perform this review into the current procedures and to make recommendations for --

(Cross talk.)

Q: He also told us that he was consulting with the general counsel of the Pentagon to see what legal options were open to him, as he was getting into his Airstream trailer. Could you tell us if anything has come of that?

Bacon: No. Nothing has come of that.

Q: Did he make an inquiry?

Bacon: He did. He did --

Q: Are they -- have they --

Bacon: As I said, we cannot instruct the people in Florida how to interpret their own laws.

Q: I'm sorry, when you say nothing has come of it, has the GC not gotten back to him yet, or did they get back to him and say, "We can't do anything"?

Bacon: This is what came of it, was the instruction --

Q: (Inaudible.)

Bacon: -- the instruction to the inspector general to review the voting procedures and ways to make them more efficient.

Q: Does that mean the general counsel said he didn't have any legal options?

Bacon: The general counsel said -- I don't know how many times I have to say this. What the general counsel said was that it's up to the individual states, including Florida, to determine how to interpret their own laws; that we cannot -- we, the Department of Defense, cannot instruct Florida how to interpret its own laws.

Q: Do you have a copy of that instruction?

Bacon: Yeah, I don't have a signed copy of it, but I'll try to get you a signed copy.


Q: (Off mike) -- but one of the problems apparently is the conflict between state laws and the federal law that set up the uniform absentee ballot for overseas people which includes the State Department and others as well. Is it possible that it would require federal legislation, you know, to more clearly establish which takes precedent in those kind of conditions?

Bacon: Well, I suppose that's possible. And if that's what the IG decides, he could make such a recommendation. I'd be surprised if Congress doesn't hold hearings on this and reach its own conclusion as to whether the law is adequate. But my understanding is that the case that -- the examples of concern here involved ballots that were not postmarked. And so one of the first things the IG will do is look at the postmark regulations and the postmarking procedures to see if a large number of ballots escaped being postmarked because they travel postage-free, and then to look at ways to stop that and make sure that all are postmarked in the future.

As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, we do have a Federal Voter Assistance Program that's designed to encourage people to vote and make it easy for them to vote. It encourages them to get absentee ballots significantly in advance so they can get them in on time, given the movements of ships and forces, and the remoteness of some of our people. This is another layer, though, that'll have to be looked at, which is, how are the ballots treated once they're turned in?

Yes, Barbara.

Q: Has the secretary had any conversations with any representatives of either the Bush or Gore political campaigns on this matter?

Bacon: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q: That voting assistance program you just mentioned -- they do a survey after each election to see how military voting went. Do they have any preliminary figures for this latest election?

Bacon: I'm not aware that the survey's been completed yet.

Yes, Pam?

Q: Do you have any statistics or anecdotal evidence from previous elections that these ballots were troublesome? And is this -- is --

Bacon: Well, I don't.

Q: Has this happened before, or are we just finding out about it?

Bacon: I mean, there's a very thick report that comes out after every election, and you're certainly free to get a hold of that report and go through it. It may actually be on DefenseLINK. But I haven't read that report -- [Update: an executive summary of the 1996 post election survey is available on line through http://www.fvap.gov/othertools/survey.html [no longer available] ]

Q: (Off mike) -- unusual?

Bacon: -- so I can't tell if this particular problem has been highlighted. Again, my -- highlighted before. My suspicion is that this has been an education for the military, as it has been for most of the rest of us in the United States, and that we will try to -- we in the military will try to learn from this, to make sure that the mistakes don't -- if there were any, don't happen again.

Q: Did you say that -- or do I understand correctly that the department regulations say that overseas absentee ballots are to be postmarked, even though they are postage-free, or --

Bacon: No, it says mail is to be postmarked and -- this would be mail. But I suppose one of the things that the IG will look at is the clarity of the regulations.

Yes? You want to switch?

Q: Yeah, I just want to go back to what Charlie touched on, on the Cole --

Bacon: Oh. Are we through with absentee ballots?

Back to the Cole?

Q: Yeah.

Bacon: Okay.

Q: Just a quick, just a -- now is it going to stop in Norfolk at all before that, just to arrive back home?

Bacon: Well, I keep getting conflicting reports on this. My latest report is, she probably won't stop in Norfolk. But I would advise you to stay in touch with the Navy on that.

Q: And also, I mean, has the trip -- has it been running smoothly? I know that there's concerns about the weather and also with security reason. Is there anything at all that's been slowing them down or anything like that?

Bacon: I've heard that there is -- I have heard nothing to suggest that there's a problem.


Q: Ken, these reports, which I guess everybody who went on the Middle East trip was aware of, of the secretary's plane picking up these indications of missiles being fired at the plane, dispensing flares -- what's -- presumably, a lot of analysis has been done on whatever signals were detected that prompted all of that. What's the state of knowledge now as to whether there really was any attack, or whether it was really just false --

Bacon: The crew at the time did not believe that there had been an actual illumination of the plane or an attempt to launch any attack against the plane. Apparently, the system is very sensitive and can be set off by a bright light, such as sun shining on a windshield of a car.

There's a lot of brightness in the Middle East.

The two times that flares were dispensed they think were triggered by such a bright reflection. They were able to check manually, visually each time, looking out both sides of the cockpit. They saw no signs of missiles approaching the plane.

It's a very sensitive system. The first time Secretary Perry flew in a C-17 operationally was into Sarajevo in January of 1996, and he was sitting in the cockpit, and the alarm went off, "Missile Launch!" "Missile Launch!" And the pilot casually reached up and shut off the alarm. (Laughter.) Secretary Perry was alarmed by this -- (laughter) -- and took the alarm seriously, and said, "What are you doing?" And he said, "Well, it's very sensitive." (Laughter.)

So, I think that the -- I think that the system reasonably is very sensitive, and they think that this was an example of that.

Q: The old 707 has dispensed chaff several times previously on landing in Cairo coming in over the desert because of that.

Bacon: I didn't know that was the case, but it --

Q: Did they take evasive action?

Bacon: They took evasive action the second time. Well, they didn't take evasive action, they were banking. It's a little complex. They were coming in on an approach. They didn't like the approach. They thought the instructions were for too steep an approach, so they pulled out of the approach. And they pulled out of the approach quite abruptly, began to climb, and as they were climbing, they were also banking, I believe, to the left. And suddenly they lurched sharply to the right, and that was the time when the alarm -- that was right after the alarm went off because they could see clearly off to the left, because they were banking to the left, but they had to lurch over to the right to be able to see out of the right-hand side of the plane to check to see if they saw any missiles coming, to do a visual check.

So --

Q: But they don't ignore it; they simply check and then --

Bacon: They did not ignore it. There was nothing about this that was ignored. But they did go through a series of checks.

Q: What were the dates of these two incidents, and where were you at the time, what location?

Bacon: They were on the same day, and we went to -- it was Sunday, and the first occurred when we left Oman, and the second occurred when we were landing in Saudi Arabia. So it was Sunday the 19th, I believe, of November.

Q: What time of day? I believe you said it was bright out, so it was during the day -- daylight hours?

Bacon: Yes.

Q: Are the flares automatically dispensed or just the --

Bacon: Yes, they're automatically dispensed.

Q: And why were you in a C-17?

Bacon: Well, I think we've flown in a C-17 on almost every trip we've taken to the Middle East but one, and it's for security reasons.

Q: And you were flying in two of them now, right?

Bacon: And we almost always have two C-17s on those trips. That's fairly standard.

Q: Does the C-17 have better detection and equipment than other planes that the secretary could fly in?

Bacon: I can't -- I am not -- I am not schooled enough in this to be able to answer that question.


Q: Is there any post-event analysis from any of the cockpit data that has led you to this conclusion, or is it simply -- do you come to this conclusion on the basis of the crew's visual assessment?

Bacon: That's a variation of the question asked earlier, and my answer hasn't changed. We have no reason to believe that there was an actual illumination or attempted attack against the plane. We think this was a product of the sensitivities of the system.

Q: Understood. But I'm sorry, I'm just not understanding on what basis you came to that conclusion. Is it --

Bacon: Well, that's the crew's conclusion.

Q: It's the crew's?

Bacon: Right.

Q: So there is no analysis of cockpit data per se; it's simply the crew's conclusion?

Bacon: The crew said nothing to change its initial conclusion. I mean, I'm sure that they went back and reviewed, but I don't know that for a fact.

Q: Okay.

Q: And you were over -- just to be clear -- you were over friendly territory both those times, and fairly close to the -- at low altitude when these events occurred? You say you were taking off, and one was when you were landing?

Bacon: Right. Right. That is true. That's what happened. More of you ought to come on this trip. You could have experienced the thrill of a sudden lurch of a C-17 yourself!


Q: Ken, when you stopped in Israel, did Secretary Cohen at all bring up the subject of the use of AH-64 Apache anti-tank helicopters against the Palestinians?

Bacon: The secretary spoke almost exclusively about the need to build confidence in the -- between the Palestinian and Israeli sides that could be the basis for restarting peace talks. And he focused largely on the need to get this so-called Mitchell Committee on the ground and doing its work. This was the committee that was established at the Sharm el-Sheikh talks. And that was his discussion with Prime Minister Barak.

Q: Was there any talk in the prebriefs of the secretary that he might want to bring up this issue of proportionality, using Apaches against the --

Bacon: I think the government's position on this is very clear. There's enough violence to go around and it should stop. And the only way to a stable and secure Middle East is to stop the fighting and get back to the bargaining table and try to reach an agreement that will settle these issues. And we've stressed that -- President Clinton through Secretary and Secretary Cohen, Dennis Ross; everybody who's dealt with this issue has stressed the same point.


Q: Ken, on a different subject: I read a published report today that contained quotes from the Pentagon inspector general's report on the laptop used by former deputy secretary John Deutch. Can you tell us what's either -- can you either tell us what was in that IG report or what conclusions it came to? Or better yet, can we get a copy of the report?

Bacon: Well, I think if the report's not available, it will be available this afternoon and I think I'll let you draw your own conclusions about the report.

Q: Yes, but we -- do you think it will be available this afternoon?

Bacon: It should be. It should be available after this briefing.

Staff: (off mike)

Bacon: Not after this briefing? Sometime.

Q: Ken, what's the next step on that whole thing? Is the secretary committed to getting that resolved before he leaves office? What happens next here?

Bacon: Well, in February the secretary put two -- took two steps. The first, he asked the IG to find out what Dr. Deutch had done with personal computers while he was the under secretary for acquisitions and technology, and when he was deputy secretary of Defense.

Second, he asked the -- he asked the assistant secretary for command, control, communications and intelligence to look at any damage, to try to find out what, if any, damage had been done by the way Dr. Deutch handled classified information on his computers at home.

The first part of that review has been completed by the IG. It was actually completed in August. The second part is not yet complete. That's the damage assessment. That's still being worked on. My anticipation is it'll be done relatively soon, and by that, I mean, I would guess by the end of the year.

There is a recommendation in the IG report about the way disk drives should be handled for DoD computers that are disposed of, in other words that leave the department. And these are disk drives -- it basically recommends the disk drives that handle both classified and unclassified information be destroyed before the computers are disposed of. We're in the process of looking at that, and I would anticipate there will be a ruling on that relatively soon. It's easy policy to carry out, but it would -- it would hurt a program by which we give a lot of old computers to schools. They would get these computers without hard disk drives, which would reduce their usefulness somewhat. (Laughter.) So we're looking at the best way to handle that. And there may be other actions taken as well, but that's the primary recommendation in the IG report.

Q: But what happens after the damage assessment is done? What does the secretary do next?

Bacon: Well, I think we'll wait and see what the damage assessment says. It's a little hard to determine what we do next until we have the complete review. And the review isn't yet finished, because we don't have the damage assessment.

Q: Does he want to get this done before he leaves office?

Bacon: Well, he would like to get it done before he leaves office, sure. And -- but I think we'll just have to wait and see what the damage assessment says before we answer that question, "What do we do next?"

Q: What happens to Deutch? I mean, is there -- what's the next step in terms of his future as a defense --

Bacon: Well, Dr. Deutch voluntarily relinquished his security clearances and said that he has not handled any classified information since he relinquished those security clearances voluntarily.

The import of a voluntary cessation of security clearances is that it can be done instantly and was done instantly. To withdraw a security clearance requires a bureaucratic process that can take some time. So Dr. Deutch's decision to volunteer the cessation of his clearances ended this aspect of it quickly -- that is, whether or not he's improperly using classified information in his current role as a director of companies or as a professor. So that's already happened.

The IG report basically looks at what Dr. Deutch did with his computers and whether or not it complied with DOD regulations.

The next step will be up to the secretary, but we can't decide what that will be until we have the full assessment.


Q: Just on the damage assessment thing, is this a hypothetical damage assessment? In other words, if the information that he improperly handled had -- something had happened to it, or -- I mean, do you know that there is any damage?

Bacon: No, because the damage assessment isn't complete.

Q: Will the damage assessment try to answer the question of whether it was compromised or what if it had been compromised?

Bacon: I can't answer that question, because this is ongoing.


Q: Rudy de Leon's November 7th memo to Art Money said, specifically, implement the IG recommendations to destroy hard drives before these things are donated or leave the building. You're saying now that that's being reviewed, that directive? (Off mike.)

Bacon: Well, I didn't -- since I just talked to Rudy de Leon's military assistant, who's in charge of all this, before I came down here, he said that it hadn't -- a decision on that hadn't been made. If I'm wrong, I'll go back and check. I wasn't aware of the November 7th memo.

Q: (Off mike) -- Money.

Bacon: I hadn't seen that memo, so I'll go back and check.


Q: The -- words are escaping me. Russia is going to back out of its so-called -- the so-called Gore-Chernomyrdin pact this December 1st, this weekend, I guess. And in doing that, it might end up selling arms to Iran. Could you give us an assessment of what the Pentagon views as the particular dangers that Iran poses, and maybe what technologies Russia might be able to offer them that they don't now have? And would you like to, you know, roundly condemn backing out of that thing, so I can have a quote?

Bacon: Well, first of all, Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Ivanov met recently, and they agreed to set up a working group to address this issue. And I believe the working group is going to meet next week.

So I think that will determine -- it will be difficult to answer your question until that working group has met.

We have argued consistently that Russia has as strong an interest as the United States does in seeing that Iran does not develop weapons of mass destruction -- those would be chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. And the agreement between Vice President Gore and former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin was designed primarily to limit transfers in the nuclear area, but also, more broadly, to limit weapons transfers between Russia and Iran.

It's no secret that Iran has an active military modernization program underway, and it has been purchasing submarines and missiles and other types of equipment from nations who will sell this to Iran. We think that this will add an element of instability to the Middle East, and that's why we have worked over the years with Russia and other countries to try to stop arms transfers to Iran.


Q: Can you give us a brief assessment on the situation in Kosovo and your concerns or lack of concern about what is happening in the "no man's land," the three-mile buffer zone in the Presevo Valley?

Bacon: Sure. You're talking about the five-kilometer ground security zone, which begins at the Kosovo border and goes into Serbia. The issue here was some skirmishing between an Albanian guerrilla group, Kosovar Albanian guerrilla group, on the one hand, and Serb forces on the other. There is a cease-fire in place now that started out as a 48-hour cease-fire, then was expanded to a 72-hour cease-fire. Now I understand the cease-fire is an indefinite cease-fire. So we're very pleased by the cease-fire.

Second, we're very pleased that the president of Yugoslavia, Mr. Kostunica, on his visit to this area yesterday, called for a peaceful solution to the problem and said that Serbs would honor the Military Technical Agreement that specifies what can happen in these zones. He said it's a time for peace, not a time for war. So we are glad that he has taken that position. And also, the Albanian leaders seem to have taken the position that the fighting should stop.

We think that the activities by the guerrilla groups were damaging to the progress that we've made in Kosovo, and certainly damaging to stability in the region. The KFOR forces, which include U.S. forces, particularly in that area because the U.S. sector borders on the Presevo Valley where these incidents have been taking place -- the U.S. forces in that area have not increased their presence along the border, but they are very actively patrolling both on the ground and in the air. They have been carrying out very careful checkpoint operations. They have intercepted some shipments of arms, and they have prevented some people from -- alleged guerrillas from going into the Presevo Valley from Kosovo.

There are flows of refugees coming out of the Presevo Valley. Some are Kosovar Albanians going back into Kosovo, and others are Serbs going into Macedonia or leaving the area. And there have been authorities trying to help those refugees.

So that's -- basically, we see it as much calmer today than it was several days ago. We think it's moving in the right direction, and we applaud all the forces, both Serb and Kosovar forces, who are working for a peaceful resolution here.

I might add that the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Ralston, and the Secretary-General of NATO, Lord Robertson, will both be visiting that area, I think on Thursday. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Shelton, is going to Kosovo -- this was planned separately, obviously, and long before this, but he'll be in Kosovo over the weekend talking to U.S. troops.

Q: Thank you.

Q: One more thing. Will Shelton be addressing the Chernomyrdin-Gore Pact when he goes to Russia in a couple week's time?

Bacon: I can't answer that question specifically. It's certainly a matter of concern to him. But as I said, Secretary Albright and Minister Ivanov have put together a working group that will begin addressing those issues more immediately.

Okay, thank you.


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