Tuesday, November 14, 1995 - 1 p.m.
[Note: Participating in this briefing were Dr. John J. Hamre, DoD Comptroller, and Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD (PA)]
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
The briefer today is John Hamre, the Comptroller, who was described to me earlier today as "CINC-Train Wreck." I like to think of him as "Mr. Solution," rather than Train Wreck, but he's here to talk about the close-down and its effect on the military and civilian workforce. After that, if you have any more questions on other topics -- since I know he will answer every question on the close-down -- I'll be glad to take them.
Mr. Hamre: Thank you, Ken.
Actually, I think they call me the "Stationmaster for the Train Wreck," and unfortunately, an intended observer.
This morning, at about 10:30, the Secretary issued an order to military departments and to the defense agencies to comply with the direction that we received from the Office of Management and Budget to proceed with the orderly termination of activities consistent with the plan that the Department prepared this fall and submitted to OMB before the start of the fiscal year.
To be very brief, the Secretary.... I was responsible for developing that plan. The Secretary gave very specific guidance, and there were two primary requirements: under no terms would we sacrifice the capability of the Department to undertake any mission ordered by the Secretary of Defense on behalf of the President; second, was -- to the maximum extent possible, within the tools and the flexibility accorded by law -- we would bend-over backwards for our people to be as fair as possible.
There is one major change from the guidelines that we developed in September and what we issued today, and, that is, we did direct the Department to continue -- or the services to continue -- to operate the Department of Defense School System. This was done because there were other changes that were made that authorized other elements of the federal government to operate schools, and we did the same thing. Initially, we did not feel we could do that, but we received guidance very late yesterday we would be allowed to do that. I think that would have been a major factor in the quality of life, and we were very appreciative that we were allowed to do that. We got late-minute guidance from the office of the President yesterday to be able to do that.
Q: What kind of money?
A: What kind of money?
Q: Yeah, how much?
A: It's not big money.
Can I say something a bit about money here, Charlie? What we're allowed to do in this period -- when we don't have an appropriation -- is we're allowed to enter into an obligation to pay, in the future, when we have an appropriation. In the case for all of our personnel.... All military personnel will be paid for their services during this period. By the way, may I also say, they will receive their pay on the 15th. That's because those dollars were covered under the continuing resolution.
For everybody who is working during the period of this shutdown -- all military personnel and all civilians who are exempted -- we will pay them for their services. We will have to get permission from the Congress to pay them, and we will have to get an appropriation, but we will pay people who will be working.
In very general terms, approximately 250,000-260,000 civilians will be furloughed -- have been furloughed as of noon. That leaves about 400,000 [correction: 571,000] who will continue to work. Many of them are in activities where they are currently; they're exercising dollars that were appropriated in prior years. Once that's done.... And that's primarily in the operating funds -- the defense business operating fund. Once those cash balances are gone, then those individuals will have to be furloughed as well, but that's probably several weeks from now. I don't think anyone feels this is going to go several weeks.
Q: No person in uniform is being put off at all?
A: Active duty military personnel are directed to be here. They're under duty assignments by law, and they will be at work, and they will be paid for their work. I do require an appropriation to do that; and, at some point in time, we will either have to do that under a regular appropriation or under a continuing resolution. But every one in uniform will have to show up for work.
There is a case for Reservists and National Guardsmen. Those individuals who are involved in contingency operations today are directed to stay on duty. Those who are involved in contingency requirements that are currently.... We're not exercising the contingency now, but we would under an operations plan; anyone who is within that operations plan in the first 90 days is authorized to continue their drilling assignments with no change.
Q: What kind of figures are you talking about there?
A: I'll answer the question, Charlie, but I need to put in a preface. What we did from the Department here is issue guidelines to all of the services, the Reserve components, the defense agencies. It's up to them to develop the detailed, concrete plans, so I can only give you an estimate. Our understanding is that approximately 160,000 Guardsmen will not be authorized to drill during this period.
Q: Compared to how many that will be?
A: Probably, 240,000, I think. Aren't there about 400,000 Guardsmen? I think there are about 400,000 Guardsmen, and I think about 160,000 will not be drilling during this period.
Q: How about active duty? You get paid on the 15th...
A: That's because we have those dollars from the previous continuing resolution.
Q: The next pay check....
A: The next pay check's on the 1st, or the 30th of...
Q: They won't get that unless you get an appropriation?
A: Until I get an appropriation.
Q: They're required to come to work, however?
A: Everybody is required to come to work -- military personnel are under duty orders and duty assignment, and they will show up for work.
Q: On the breakdown on the 250,000 of the 400,000. Of these 250,000 civilians, how many are domestic and how many overseas, and how many at the Pentagon?
A: In all of these cases I would have to bring together the detailed plans of all of the organizations that are involved. I know, for example, almost everyone in the Inspector General's office has been furloughed. I know that because I had to work out some details about those who are currently working undercover operations and things of that nature. I do not know the detailed plans for overseas civilians, for example. I will have to get that from the field, and I don't currently have that.
Q: What is the effect on the R&D and procurement programs?
A: That's a very interesting and complicated problem. Most of our R&D activity -- on a daily basis -- combines dollars appropriated in a previous year, which are not restricted, and dollars that are currently appropriated. Let me give an example.
If we were to go out to one of our test ranges today, there might be a test underway, and whoever is being tested, they have to pay the cost of the test. They will do that with, probably, FY95 dollars. They could continue to operate with no restrictions. But the range itself is operated with current year dollars, so the range may have to shut down. It's a very complicated thing that depends on every individual project.
We may have some project offices where some people are paid with current appropriations and some are paid with prior year appropriations. That's why it has to be executed in the field. I can't give you a good answer.
There's going to be disruption. The one exception to this is the Navy R&D activities, which are governed by a revolving fund, so they will operate under all the revolving funds. They can continue to operate until cash balances are expended.
Q: Do you know of any program off-hand, that might be at the end of their funding for prior years?
A: No. Again, we have 1,900 separate program elements for R&D. We would need to survey every single program manager to find out how it affects them individually.
R&D really spends out about 60 cents on the dollar the first year, and 40 cents the second year. I would expect that we would have a lot of R&D activity that will continue without immediate disruption.
Q: On procurement, do you anticipate lines will continue? Aircraft and weapons systems. What do you have, about a month or two months or 15 days?
A: We have a very interesting problem with procurement and especially with large contracts. Most large contract activity that's underway -- if we were to go out to one of the aircraft manufacturing facilities -- they are probably today executing dollars that were appropriated in FY93, or maybe '94. They will continue activity. But at the end of the production line, there is a government employee who works for the Defense Contract Management Command who is current dollars, and he's been furloughed. So they will continue to produce their trucks, and at the end of the line there's supposed to be somebody that signs to receive it, and he can't be at the job because he's been furloughed, and we cannot, in finance and accounting, pay the contractor until we have that receiving report. So this is going to be disruptive for industry.
Q: Will this exercise of shutting down and gearing down ultimately cost the Pentagon money or save the Pentagon money? And can you give us any....
A: It is obviously going to be disruptive. It is going to cost something with inefficiencies. We'll save money by not paying people, but obviously, we're not getting their work product either. At some point in time, people are not sitting around doing nothing, we need their activity. So it's, in the long run, going to cost us money. I don't have a good estimate for that. That's getting down to knowing what each individual program manager is going to be doing for every individual project. We told them to preserve as much of the content of their program as possible -- consistent with our guidelines.
Q: I notice that each of the furloughed employees here in the Pentagon today got a little packet of information, about 25 pages of forms and things. What did it cost to produce all those packets of information?
A: I don't know. I'll find out for you. [Response: No separate cost figures have yet been developed for the data packets provided to furloughed employees by the Washington Headquarters Service of the Department of Defense.]
Q: I'm curious to know.
A: We'll find out. It's all these little things. And, frankly, the human disruption.... We have 250,000 civilians here, who are going home today not knowing how long they'll have to stay home and whether they'll ever be paid. This is going to be very difficult.
Q: Just to clarify the procurement issue. You haven't advised anybody to slow production or stop...
A: No. And we do not have any legal authority to tell a contractor to slow up their work. So nothing changes for the contractor. But unfortunately, we're not going to be able to pay them promptly until our contract administration people can return to duty, and then we can start making payments.
Q: Back to the active duty -- the uniformed personnel. At what point will they not be receiving pay, at what date? Are they then expected, if this goes on -- which we hope not and expect not -- but will they be expected to work without pay?
A: The next pay period for active duty military personnel is, I believe, the 30th of November. That is the next time when they will expect to see -- and rightly see -- a pay check either deposited electronically to their account or a check in the mail.
Q: That period started about the middle of the month, about now?
A: It starts right now. It's to pay for the second half of the month.
Q: So they're essentially working without pay?
A: Yes. But they will get paid. I want to emphasize our military personnel will get paid, and many of them -- I've got a lot of people in the military, here -- I hope you got your Leave and Earning Statement in the mail today. You should have gotten your pay for the 15th. You will get paid on the 15th.
Q: How much lead time, before the end of the month, will service members' pay checks not be in jeopardy of being late? Is that the 29th, or....
A: I will have to get a formal answer for you. Even when we do electronics funds transfer, we need to pre-stage the dollars in bank accounts all around the country. That takes days. So it's probably five, six days we would need beforehand.
Q: Can you give us an example of some of the things that aren't being done today? Some of the major things.
A: Contract administration. Those people who are responsible for observing and receiving goods produced by contractors, and certifying we received them. They were furloughed as of noon.
The Inspector General. All but about 25 or 30 people in the Inspector General's office have been furloughed.
In my personal office, all but five people have been sent home. Most of the headquarters staffs have been scaled back to minimum numbers.
No elective surgeries are allowed in any of our medical facilities right now. No routine appointments for other than military personnel are allowed in our medical facilities as of noon. Those are examples of things that we have to do.
Q: Construction is continuing, however?
A: Construction continues. It continues here in the building. I need to explain the operation of the Pentagon and the ongoing renovation of the Pentagon is governed by a revolving fund, and the dollars that are being spent right now -- the drilling that we hear underneath us -- the dollars that are being spent were appropriated in FY95, so they're not constrained by the shutdown.
Q: You said all but five people in the office were being sent home. How many are there?
A: I have 150 people, I think, that work for me.
Q: So 145....
A: Yes. [Note: There are 186 civilian employees in the Office of the Comptroller of whom 164 will be furloughed.]
Q: How about Public Affairs?
A: Remember, all military who work for Ken will stay.
Bacon: We have 50 military people who will obviously stay on duty. Of the civilians, about 60 percent of the civilians will be furloughed -- that is 43 out of 69 civilian employees in Public Affairs will be furloughed.
Q: What about money for jet fuel and diesel fuel for the ships? What account would that come out of -- steaming and flying?
A: The defense fuel supply system is authorized; it can either make purchases as long as they have cash balances because they're governed by the revolving funds.
We will, for some period of time when we run out of cash, of course, be able to operate with fuel stocks, but we're getting into war reserves. We cannot go for an unlimited period of time without an appropriation.
Q: What about fields? If you're operating from outlying fields -- landing in different places -- you have to buy your gas. You have to have a chit.
A: I've met with the Defense Logistics Agency. The Defense Logistics Agency has in place a cash conservation plan so that we do have resources to cover those kinds of contingencies. But at some point in time when we run out of cash, we have a serious problem.
A: Not longer than weeks.
Q: What is your bi-weekly payroll? What kind of an appropriation would you need to meet the military payroll, the civilian payroll?
A: Can we do a quick call on that? And I'll find out. I'm sorry, I don't have it off the top of my head.
Q: In other words, how much you have to ask for in order to meet your payroll....
A: I want the whole thing. But we'll find that out.
Q: Since you're taking the question, you might as well throw in how many workers that covers, approximately.
Q: As long as you're taking questions, you might also figure out what is your monthly outflow from this building total -- procurement and....
Bacon: These are the only people in the world more interested in numbers than you are. [Laughter]
A: Daily cash expenditures?
Q: Daily, monthly, any way you care to... How much does this place cost to run?
A: You don't mean just the Pentagon, you mean the entire Department?
Q: Yes, the Department.
A: We're about $250 billion, so we're $800 million a day. One of my finance centers spends $35 million an hour. [Note: There are approximately 2.9 million military pay accounts at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (covering active duty military personnel; reservists; National Guardsmen; ROTC students: Service academy students; etc.). Approximately $3 billion is disbursed every two weeks for these accounts. There are approximately 800,000 DoD civilian accounts for which approximately $1 billion is disbursed every two weeks. Average daily disbursements for the Department of Defense for contracts, travel, and all other obligations amount to $700 million.]
Q: What do you say to the civilian employees about their prospects of being paid?
A: This is a very -- to be honest -- a very awkward situation. We are governed, of course, by Office of Personnel Management ground rules. When you furlough people.... First of all, we have to get permission after the fact to pay anybody. Now, if we have approximately 60 percent of our people who we make come to work, and 40 percent of our people who we do not allow to come to work, after the fact we have to get permission to at least pay those who we've made come to work. There are going to be serious injustice issues if this is just a very brief period. And how will we sort that out? In the past, Congress simply gave us permission to pay everybody. If this goes a week, or two weeks, we're going to have very serious problems. Some people we're going to tell they have to show up -- and it's of, totally, forces out of their control -- and others that aren't, and we're only going to pay those that show up. Or Congress may give us funds and direction to pay everybody. Then, of course, we have a different ethical problem. We'll pay everybody, even those that we made not show up. It will be a very awkward situation.
Q: Is anyone on Dr. Perry's staff furloughed or...
A: Let me explain. The Secretary of Defense is a constitutional officer. During this period, we are not going to suspend the operations of the Department as it relates to the national security of the country. Dr. Perry is authorized to have anybody in his personal office work who he feels is necessary to sustain him in his ongoing business dealings. So he is making that decision. He's going to a meeting this afternoon on the situation in Bosnia. The Department is not going to put at risk any of our security requirements right now, and the Secretary will have everything he needs to undertake his job.
Q: To the best of your knowledge, does most of the civilian OSD structure remain....
A: Oh, no. I'm talking about his immediate office. I think that's 60 people. The rest of it, I have two people on my budget-side who are there to cut emergency spending authority orders if something comes up. We're an austere operation right now.
Q: National security is not being affected in any way?
A: National security is not at risk. In the long run... Let me indicate there are a few things that are disrupted in the near-term, which the Secretary has reserved the right to reverse because he's afraid of long-term consequences. The best example of that is recruiting. We shut down recruiting this afternoon.
Now the Secretary has said, "I'm only going to let that go a week," and he has reserved the right to restart recruiting after a week. The reason is, we could not shut down recruiting in this country for more than a week without having consequences six months out that will affect readiness. So we will restart recruiting if this goes more than a week.
Q: Recruiters are primarily uniformed military members. If you're going to shut down their office, what are they doing?
A: They are in their office. Hopefully, they're working on their paperwork. Unfortunately, and I know this sounds really goofy, but they can't drive their cars. It gets down to that small a deal. We have no basis to tell them to drive their cars. Those are current appropriations. They are allowed to stay in their office so long as the rent was paid for the month; and, of course, we're mid-month so there's not a problem. They can use their telephone.
We have stretched it, let me tell you.
Q: They can't drive government cars?
A: They can't drive government cars. They, I guess, can drive their own cars. But we're really being unfair. These are people that are military people, living in high cost areas, and now we're saying to them, if you're going to do your job -- because they're still going to have people asking them to make the recruiting quotas.... And we're saying, "You can't use your government car." We found no basis to be able to do that, hard as we tried.
Q: Any trip planned by the Secretary canceled so far?
A: The Secretary is scheduled, was scheduled to travel to the Yugoslavia region this coming weekend. He is wrestling with whether he is going to do that or not. There are very important reasons for him to do that. He has not yet decided.
The Deputy Secretary canceled a trip he was going to take to Brussels this morning.
Q: Just one more question on the breakdown. Could we get you to break down this 250,000? How many are being laid off....
A: We'll give you the best we can, Charlie. [Response: Of the 258,000 civilians furloughed, there are approximately 118,000 in the Army; 44,000 in the Navy; 76,000 in the Air Force; and the remainder in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Defense Agencies. Breakdown is not available by geographical region
-- here in the United States and Overseas.]
Q: How many of them in this country, how many of them overseas, and how many at the Pentagon out of the 250,000?
A: Can I say one thing about overseas? We are governed for civilians, especially foreign-hired civilians, by Status of Forces Agreements. So there are a lot of legal complications with these numbers. If the Status of Forces Agreements requires us to pay them, then we've told them to show up for work. There's no reason for the government to say, "We're going to pay you anyway, don't show up."
Q: You mentioned that recruiters can't drive their government cars. Are there any other things like, "You can't use the telephone," or other ordinary functions...
A: On the issue of telephones, we exempted from shutdown virtually the entire communications structure. The reason we did that is it's too hard to decide what part of communications you require for national security -- what do you need for normal security operations? People that live in military housing on post need a telephone in case there's a fire -- so they can call the fire department. It was just too hard, and we decided it was rather arbitrary and silly to say, "You can't use the telephone." But for recruiters, for example, they basically have to have had it paid for the month. We don't think it's a problem for them.
Q: At military bases across the country, one of the big pushes has been to privatize or civilianize the different functions and services on base. A lot of it's cooking and cleaning. Does that all cease on base... [Laughter]
A: No. Our plan authorized the continuation of any contract activity where the activity would have been exempted had it been done by military personnel or government employees. So, for example, feeding, clothing, protecting all of our people... if it's done by a contractor or if it's done by a government employee -- that's authorized during this period. We authorize the continuation of all of our fire protection -- obviously, our emergency activities.
The Department does lots of things which a lot of people don't think about. Oil spills, for example. Our ability to promptly respond if there's an oil spill. If there's a nuclear emergency. We have monitoring systems daily for our weapon storage facilities. Every day, twice a day, we check every igloo that contains chemical weapons to make sure nothing's leaked. All of that continues. That's authorized by our plan.
Q: You mentioned routine medical care. Is routine medical care when you're sick and need care...
A: No. Any acute care is authorized, whether it's for active duty personnel or dependents. That is authorized. What is not authorized during this period is elective surgery and routine appointments -- vaccinations, things like this -- for non-active duty personnel. We authorize routine examinations.... For example, we need to be able to have flight examinations for pilots so they can go out and assume a rotation. So we authorize routine medical care for active duty only.
Press: Thank you.
Bacon: Thank you very much, John. I've got a couple of announcements to start with.
First, I'd like to welcome the Air Force's Public Affairs Company Grade Excellence Program members here. I think it was 19 years ago that Captain Doug Kennett came here as part of this program, so you can see that it does a good job of training public affairs leaders for the Air Force.
I have an update for you also on the tragedy in Saudi Arabia yesterday. We can announce the names of two more of the victims. One is Sergeant First Class David K. Warrell, 34, who was assigned to the Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization in Riyadh. And the second name we can give you now is an Army civilian, William Combs, 54, who was working in the Army Office of the Program Manager with the Saudi Arabian National Guard.
Q: Were there four or five Americans killed? You all were kind of waxing and waning yesterday.
A: As I told you from the...
Q: Can you give home towns for either one of these guys?
A: I do not have home towns, but we'll try to get them for you.
Q: What was the age on the second person?
A: The age on the second person was 54.
Q: You don't have a piece of paper on it?
A: We have a piece of paper that will give you more information than I've given you, including spelling. Right now we have five reported dead.
Q: Five Americans?
A: Five Americans reported dead.
Q: Were there other people killed in this bomb blast?
A: I'm afraid I do not have figures for that, but we'll try to get you figures.
Q: Is the breakdown still two military and three civilian, to your knowledge?
A: Right now I understand there's one active duty military and four civilian employees.
Q: Is it fair to assume that Sergeant Warrell was the one active duty...
A: I think that's a good assumption.
Q: Well, I've assumed a few things recently and been wrong.
Q: Of those injured, do you have any count on how many Americans or how many anybody? Where does that stand?
A: There were 42 total casualties that we know of so far -- five dead, 37 injured. Seventeen remain hospitalized. Six of those are in critical condition. Twenty have been treated and released.
Q: You're talking about American casualties?
A: These are all about Americans. I do not have figures on... Well, I do have figures. First of all, there were no known Saudi fatalities in the explosion. The principal reason for that was the blast took place during mid-day prayers.
There were eight third-state casualties -- one death. Of the seven casualties
-- that is, eight minus the one fatality -- two were listed in critical condition; two remain hospitalized; three were treated and released.
Q: Did any other groups claim responsibility that you're aware of...
A: No. So far we're only aware of the two groups that have claimed responsibility.
Q: The State Department said the FBI would be helping in the investigation. Does the Defense Department have criminal investigators there also?
A: As I understand it, the team that's gone over is 19 FBI agents and two State Department security personnel.
Q: Are they there now?
A: I believe they're leaving today, or... They've arrived.
Q: Some preliminary information on the size of the bomb or any of the components? I recognize that the team has just gotten there, but there are some people...
A: I don't have anything on the components. The size was between 150 and 225 pounds of high explosives. I don't know what type of explosive.
Q: Pardon me for asking this question again, but I haven't been able to get an answer on the record. Was access to the parking lot free, or was there any kind of picket or security or...
A: It was free.
Q: Has it been determined for sure that it was a car bomb as opposed to some other kind of explosive?
A: We think it was in a van. That is our best information now.
Q: Other than the two parties yesterday, any more claims...
A: That was asked earlier, and none since I last answered the question. No. Tigers of the Gulf and the Islamic Movement for Change are the two organizations that we know of so far who have claimed responsibility. There may have been others that I haven't caught up with yet, but I think these are the only two so far.
Q: We were told yesterday that the Islamic Movement for Change had faxed messages before -- expressing their displeasure and calling for a total break in U.S./Saudi relations. In retrospect now, does any of that seem to have been a warning that might have foreshadowed such an attack?
A: As the briefers explained yesterday, this is generally a dangerous part of the world where there are many threats made. Saudi Arabia has been a safe environment for U.S. troops and U.S. Americans until yesterday. Every threat or seeming threat is considered and weighed appropriately. These earlier faxes were considered. They were studied and certain actions were taken.
Q: You can probably answer this one too, but have you found out whether there are two bombs or one?
A: It's a good question and I don't know the answer to that at this stage. There were competing theories yesterday, and I just don't know. We'll try to find out.
Q: You're talking about the...
A: The 150 to 225 was the major explosion. There was a major explosion and then a minor explosion. But the briefer yesterday referred to it as perhaps a sympathetic explosion. I don't think we know the details on that yet.
Q: Are there any suspects in the bombing at this point?
A: I'm not aware that there are at this stage.
Q: Mindful that this is a generally dangerous part of the world, and mindful of the Beirut bombing and Oklahoma City, how would you characterize the lack of security at this facility? Especially knowing there are 1,500 Americans assigned there?
A: There weren't 1,500 Americans in this facility.
Q: I know that, but there were 1,500 assigned to it -- civilians, military and contractors.
A: In retrospect, it's always easy to find ways that events might have been prevented. In retrospect, perhaps something different could have been done. But the fact of the matter is that the security situation has been under review -- is reviewed all the time in response to information we receive -- and there had been a number of messages sent out by the Secretary over the last several months -- including one after the Oklahoma City bombing and another one last summer -- urging military leaders and heads of military installations to review their security plans and to make sure that they're all they can be.
Now it isn't always easy to act immediately on these plans, but we have been following the security situation quite closely in this area of the world.
Q: How would you react to critics' claims that we were just trying to placate the Saudis?
A: I react with amazement, because I think we've done.... We take care of our own security, and we adjust it to what we think the circumstances are.
Q: Weren't the Saudis responsible for security of this building? Does the Pentagon have any input on....
A: It was secured by the Saudis, but we've been in discussion with the Saudis about the security of our facilities over there.
Q: So I ask again, what's being done differently now in Saudi Arabia? And elsewhere in the Middle East.
A: There have been a number of steps taken in the last day. Obviously, I can't detail them; I wouldn't detail them. General Peay has ordered a general upgrading of security at American military facilities.
Q: Is that just in that region, or was the security....
A: General Peay is the commander of the Central Command. It's his responsibility for the Middle East. But after the Oklahoma City bombing there was a message sent out by the Secretary asking all military installations to review their security procedures. There was another one last summer asking them to review their security procedures. So this is not.... Security is something we take very seriously and it's something we are always asking installation commanders to review.
Q: About the recruiting stats for the FY95. They've met their quotas, but I understand it's kind of a year thing. And there's a part that you don't report in these things which is the pool that they try to maintain so they can fill future quotas at the boot camps. Do you know whether they've drawn down on the delayed entry pool?
A: I'm afraid I can't answer any questions on recruiting. We have a release for you. It's either done now or it will be done later today on that. I have not had a chance to look at the release, so I just can't answer that question. I do believe it was the third or fourth best year we've had in recruiting, and I do believe you're right -- that the pool is declining. But you should look at the information. If you'd like, we can get Fred Pang or somebody down here to brief you further on the recruiting situation.
Q: On Bosnia, can you give us some idea of where the planning now stands for flowing forces into Bosnia? Any notional timeline of how that's going to work?
A: The planning is well advanced and very precise, particularly for the U.S. part of it. The problem is that we will not be able to do anything until an agreement is at least initialed. You may have seen the letter the President sent to Speaker Gingrich yesterday in which he talked about some of the deployment timetable, but basically, we are waiting on Dayton right now. After the people in Dayton.... If the people in Dayton reach an agreement and initial it, there will be a window of time between the initialing and the final signing of that agreement. There will be a London conference to talk about peace implementation, and economic and other rehabilitation actions. There will be a Paris conference to sign the treaty. I would assume the agreement will have to go back to the respective countries and be approved by their parliaments. During that time, the President will also ask Congress for an expression of support of the peace implementation force -- the U.S. participation in the peace implementation force.
During that time, we will begin to make some pre-positioning and to do some of the infrastructure -- construction, communications, etc. -- that have to be done to prepare for the troops to go in. But that will not start until we find out that there is a peace agreement and until the President has determined that the peace agreement is satisfactory.
Q: If you have done the precise planning of this sort of timeline material, can you release it?
Q: Can you release the precise planning that you've done on this? It's not classified. It's a peacekeeping sort of operation, right?
A: What I have right here is classified, so I guess we will release it when we think it's appropriate, but right now...
Q: Why is it classified?
A: I think you can answer that question yourself. It involves moving troops through a number of countries; it involves moving troops into a country that is currently at war. There are dangers involved. We have never said this mission is risk-free. We think we have taken a number of very appropriate steps to reduce the risk as much as possible. Those steps we've reviewed here many times -- sending in a heavy, exquisitely trained force, very well supplied, very well commanded. But basically, we want to take every step we can right now to hold risks to a minimum.
Q: Does the Secretary still believe that this mission can be completed within one year? In some of the Congressional testimony there's been rather strong criticism of that notion -- that you can accomplish anything within a one-year time frame.
A: The Secretary believes that it is worthwhile to set a one-year goal for the accomplishment of this mission. And the President subscribes to that belief, although he said he's going to hold off on setting a deadline until he has a chance to review the plan, which seems prudent to me. But we believe that it should be possible to complete the military part of the mission, which is different from the economic rehabilitation and the political rehabilitation of the area. But the military part of the mission should be able to be accomplished in one year.
We also think that setting a deadline of one year prevents the type of mission creep that seems to be so unpopular in Congress and is very unpopular in this building as well. We think that a well-focused, well-trained force should be able to complete this job in a year.
Q: Is the timeline still something like the signing at Dayton, about a week, the signing in Paris in 96 hours, and the U.S. military is on the ground? Is that still the plan?
A: Yeah, the military would begin to be on the ground in less than 96 hours. We'd have a fairly significant headquarters operation there in 72 hours. We would then, within a week, have a fairly significant protective force on the ground. But the timing of this depends on what happens in Dayton.
Q: How do you respond to the criticism that this is not enough time to evaluate the peace agreement?
A: I respond to the criticism that the peace agreement will be evaluated very quickly by the Administration and I'm sure by everybody else who has access to the peace agreement. I think the peace agreement has been worked out -- is being worked out very carefully, and we will take the time necessary to evaluate it. But obviously, if we get a peace agreement, and a peace agreement that meets the demands of our negotiators and our facilitators in Dayton, that we can assume certain parts of the peace agreement aren't going to land on somebody's desk without prior knowledge of what the terms are.
Before you go, I'd like to correct something. Ed, you earlier said there were 1,500 people in that building. There were...
Q: I said there were 1,500 assigned.
A: There were 378 there. Those were assigned. Three hundred and seventy-eight people assigned to the Office of the Program Manager of the Saudi Arabian National Guard. Not 1,500.
Press: Thank you.