Thursday, November 9, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
Let me start with a couple of announcements.
First, Secretary of Defense Perry announced today that the President has nominated Admiral Henry G. Chiles, Jr., United States Navy, to be placed on the retired list in his current grade. Admiral Chiles is scheduled to retire on March 1, 1996 after completion of more than 35 years of active service. He's currently serving as the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Joseph Nye, will visit the People's Republic of China November 14th through the 18th. The purpose of Dr. Nye's visit is to conduct a broad exchange of views on regional and global security issues and to discuss the military-to-military relationship in the coming year. He will meet with representatives from the Chinese Ministry of Defense and Foreign Affairs and will address the Chinese Academy of Military Science on U.S. regional and global security policies. Dr. Nye will be accompanied by his Deputy for Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kurt Campbell; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bob Einhorn; and U.S. Pacific Command Director for Strategic Planning and Policy, Major General Martin Steele.
Dr. Nye will travel to Tokyo from China where he will be a member of the U.S. delegation during President Clinton's state visit to Japan.
With that, I'd be happy to try and answer your questions.
Q: Will Nye be proposing a rescheduling of the return visit here by the Chinese Defense Minister?
A: We'll try and get a little detail on that visit for you. I don't know that level of detail at this point, but I'll see what I can find out for you on that.
Q: Earlier this morning Mike McCurry gave hints that the White House is concerned about the government running out of money on Monday night. Do you have some details as to what this building's steps will be if that actually happens?
A: I think you know there was a plan which was developed and signed out of here on the 26th of September by the Deputy Secretary, John White. It was in response to a request by the OMB to come up with a plan to facilitate an orderly shutdown should that be required. That plan has been disseminated and is in place; and, in essence, what it does is to incorporate three primary elements.
The first of those is that we're, of course, seeking to accomplish an orderly termination of government activities should it become necessary in the event that there is no continuing resolution.
The second thing is that it took into account an exemption of those activities which are required for protection of life and property from imminent danger such as fire protection, physical security and law enforcement activities.
The third thing that it took into account was accommodation of national security responsibilities of the President as Commander-in-Chief under the Constitution.
As a result of that, all active duty personnel and reserves who are on active duty would report for duty. In addition, all civilian personnel in support of the exempted activities -- or those which will be continuing -- as well as civilians who are paid through prior appropriations through revolving trust or non-appropriated funds would continue to report for work. Our rough estimates are that that would be approximately 571,000 civilians who would be staying on the job.
Q: Not much affect on... Your active duty people are staying on the job, most of your civilians are staying on the job, most of what you're doing is getting done?
A: I think you would probably characterize the impact on us as being less than most of the other departments, that's correct.
Q: How many civilians are there?
A: There are about 866,000 I believe.
Q: The total work force?
Q: Would one notice any difference walking into this building Tuesday if...
A: There might be a smaller number of people. I can give you a couple of examples, but I don't have a very extensive list. The kinds of activities that would continue would be the normal hospital-type activities that you would see at Bethesda -- in-patient care, that kind of thing. The kinds of things that you would not see would be routine audits which were not involving criminal or undercover investigations.
Q: What about the support staff in this building? What about public affairs?
A: As I say, I don't have a large number of details at my fingertips here, but I think if you go by Susan Hansen's desk, you can get a copy of the overall plan. But I want to point out that a lot of the decisions are left up to subordinate commands. There was not an attempt for the Pentagon to specify every person in every command who would be asked to report to work. Rather, it was left up to individual activities within the broad guidelines which were drawn up by Dr. Hamre and his people in the Comptroller's office. Through this plan -- to kind of specify the types of activities that should continue and those which should not.
Q: How long can the Department subsist in such a situation?
A: I can't predict that now.
Q: People would continue to come to work, but would their activities change? For example, would training exercises be canceled? Would some ships be tied up at the pier, or airplanes forced to remain on the ground?
A: I would say, in general, anything that had to do with national security those activities that had to do with the protection of life, security at facilities, law enforcement, those kinds of things -- those would continue. I think you would probably see some kinds of military activities curtailed, but many of them -- particularly the operations that were called upon to conduct in response to Presidential orders -- would continue.
Q: This all occurs when the continuing resolution expires, right?
Q: What about when the...
A: And if there is no follow-on continuing resolution. I think everyone is hopeful that there will be one so that none of these steps will be required to be put into play.
Q: What about when the debt limit is reached?
A: The same sort of situation could occur there.
Q: There's not a more severe curtailment of activities?
A: I think, really, for a detailed analysis of exactly what would occur in that situation, you need to talk to the people at OMB. There was a very extensive briefing that was given at the White House at noon today, and I think they got into a lot of detail. I haven't seen the transcript of that so I don't have a lot of those details at my fingertips, but I think that by going over that you would get a lot of insight into how that would work.
Q: People would still come to work, but they are due paychecks on the 15th. Would they get those paychecks, or are they going to come to work and expect to be paid...
A: That's another question I can't answer at this point. The information that I have is that individuals -- who are in any of those categories that I have specified -- would continue to get paid, but there might be some delay in the receipt of that pay.
Q: Is the Department giving those individuals any advice? It's coming up on a holiday weekend when people sometimes are tempted to spend money. Is the Department saying you'd better sit on your cash?
A: I don't believe there's any advice that's been given up to this point, but I think it has certainly been widely reported what the potential fallout of this situation is, and I think people are generally aware of the consequences of this action or absence of action.
Q: If there's a delay in receiving paychecks, are you talking about days, months, weeks?
A: I think we're talking days.
Q: Has the Secretary been briefed on this latest incident of alleged sexual assault of a Navy sailor on board an American Airlines flight? If so, what's his reaction? Is he surprised?
A: Let me say what I can about this. I think you're aware that I can't comment on today's press reports concerning the alleged incident that involved some Navy personnel on board a commercial airliner.
There is a Navy Criminal Investigative Service investigation concerning the allegations which is pending at this point, and it would be, obviously, improper and premature for us to comment.
However, aside from that, I do want to point out that the Department's policy is unequivocal on the subject of sexual harassment. That is, that it is unacceptable in any form, under any circumstance, at any time. There is some paper that we can provide you which speaks to this subject, and reiterates that policy -- if you'd care to have it.
Q: You can't discuss specifics, I can understand that. But in a hypothetical -- what does it say, given the Tailhook incident of two years ago, that something of a similar nature could happen and hypothetically people stand by and do nothing?
A: I think you'd best direct your question to the Navy. They may be prepared to deal with that today.
Q: Can you describe, or give us, any more detail on what the Russian soldiers in the American division would do?
A: I'm not sure I can give you any detail of exactly how they would be deployed. I don't think that has been discussed at this point. I do know that the traveling party is just back, and we can get you together with Ken Bacon later if you want to pursue that one.
Q: I think Tammy asked you whether Secretary Perry has been briefed on the incident...
A: He is aware of the incident.
Q: He has no comment?
A: I just don't want to attribute any comment to him because I think you're aware of the position that he's in in this situation. He's already spoken on the subject of sexual harassment, and we'll provide you with statements on that.
Q: Speaking of harassment of a different sort. Can you tell us if the Defense Department at any time has undergone an investigation and rating of reporters that cover the Department?
A: Could you repeat that? I'm not sure I heard you correctly.
Q: Has the Defense Department ever undertaken an investigation and rating of reporters who cover the Department?
A: Certainly not as long as I've been here.
Q: Will Secretary Perry travel with Warren Christopher tomorrow to go to Dayton, Ohio?
A: That is not on his schedule.
Press: Thank you.