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Defense Department Special Briefing

Presenters: Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Policy Ryan Henry and Acting Under Secretary of the Army Ray Dubois
May 09, 2005 2:30 PM EDT
Defense Department Special Briefing

            MR. HENRY:  Good afternoon.  I'm Ryan Henry, the principal deputy undersecretary for policy here at the Department of Defense.  

 

            As you're aware, the Overseas Basing Commission announced the release of their report this morning, and we're here to share our thoughts with you regarding that report and to give you a couple of words to put in context how we understand the report, and then to answer your questions.

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  I'm Ray DuBois.  As many of you know, I was once the deputy undersecretary of Defense for installations and environment, and am now the acting undersecretary of the Army.  And because of some of the quotes that I read in the newspapers about what the Overseas Basing Commission report implied, I'll be able to answer those questions with respect to the Army planning, programming and budgeting for the return of force structure from overseas.

 

            MR. HENRY:  Let me start by saying that we in the department welcome the commission's statement of support for the president's global posture realignment, and characterizing it as both important and necessary.  We believe the commission's report reflects an earnest effort to assess the military facilities structures of the United States overseas.  It recognizes that our overseas presence must reflect the challenges we face in the 21st century.

 

            We are currently in the process of assessing the commission's report indepth.  From what we understand and have been able to determine so far, the report endorses many of the changes planned and already in implementation, and recognizes the strategic value of increasing our operational flexibility and building new relationships and partnerships with allies and countries who we need to work with in the global war on terrorism and providing for international security.

 

            Finally, we applaud the commission's concern for the quality of life of the men and women of our service. 

 

            There are a few areas where we may take exception with the report.  First of all, in the area of our warfighting disposition; whether or not the -- what we're doing in the Global Defense Posture is based upon threats we, in looking at the challenges of the 21st century do not think that we can plan for a specific threat at a specific time and place; rather, that we live in a world of uncertainty.  We can predict with a certain degree that we feel that in the coming years we will need to use our military forces, just like we did on December 26th when the tsunami off of Aceh.  What we cannot predict is where, when or in what manner we might need to use those forces.  And so we think that both flexibility and speed of response are critical attributes that we need to have, and that much of that speed can be gained by bringing heavier forces back to the United States, rather than having them in countries overseas where it might be difficult to use them and get them out.  We think that the value of reach-back allows us to move much quicker and to put the critical fighting or engagement capability forward; and then many of the administrative and support functions, to leave them back in the United States.

 

            The report also spoke to coordination issues and timing.  We believe that the -- that our Global Defense Posture has been coordinated from the very beginning.  The genesis of it was the Quadrennial Defense Review in '01.  After that, the secretary began to work with the regional combatant commanders; the men who live in the field in the region and understand the region.  They came forward with their recommendations, and at the time that we started to coordinate them in the building among the different regional commanders, we also brought in our inter-agency partners:  most specifically, Department of State, but the National Security Council and other areas of the U.S. government.  Every step of the way, we did consultations with them. In fact, much of the strategy in the global defense posture has been refined by inputs that we have gotten from the State Department.

 

            On the area of inter-agency, there was inter-agency coordination all along.  We took different meetings at the National Security Council, where the ideas were vetted, and -- many times -- improved on.  As far as Hill consultations go, we've been up to the Hill over 45 times to brief both staffers and members.  The secretary himself, along with the chairman, led a delegation to include the European commander, the Pacific commander, and the commander of U.S. forces in Korea to testify before the SAC on the importance of this Global Defense Posture.

 

            In the areas of coordinating with allies and partners and third nations, we have -- again, hand in hand with State -- gone to over 20 countries to explain to them what we're doing, why we're doing it, and get their ideas on how we could possibly do it better.  We have had over 40 ambassadorial visits and consultations, and numerous allied and partner delegations that have come to visit us here in the Pentagon to discuss this with us.

 

            In the area of speed:  all along the way, in not one of those negotiations did anyone raise any caution about the pace with which we were moving forward.  They, as we, saw it as deliberate, thoughtful and flexible -- which is a key, because there is not one specific global defense posture where we can show where every soldier is going to be, and where every installation is going to be at a specific place and time, because it's going to be subject to negotiations.  And it's also going to be subject to the world situation as it evolves.

 

            Other issues that people have said -- and the report indicates -- might be (sic) to go slower is the coordination between the global defense posture and the Quadrennial Defense Review.  For the past two    years, we've been trying to orchestrate four major pieces to come together.  And they do come together during this period we're going through now in the Quadrennial Defense Review.  We are going to bring in -- and we take as a starting point, the overseas posture that is shown in Global Defense Posture. 

 

            Another input will be -- in a few weeks here -- when we get the Base Realignment Commission, the report from the Department to the Hill.  And we will also bring that in as one of the given situations from which we're adjusting.

 

            And then a third part will be the Mobility Capability Study, which is scheduled to finish here in a month or two.  And we'll have that to be able to look into how do we integrate lift. 

 

            All four of those pieces brought together are orchestrated and meant to dovetail so that we can get the critical planning done, and be able to work out the inner links and coordination between all four of those functions.

 

            And finally, references that we may not have done adequately to look out for our people in the impact of the quality of life.  We in the Department of Defense realize that the number one resource we have in the department are the fighting men and women that serve so bravely, and their families who support them.  They are the one asset that we want to make sure that we optimize.  From the president -- who we got specific direction from to put that as the number one priority -- to everyone involved in the global defense posture, that has been a key ingredient.  Think Ray will go into detail on some of the steps that we've taken to ensure that.

 

            But that has been at a core planning process throughout the analysis.  

 

            Ray?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  I think, as Ryan said, this process, which began in the summer of '01 -- that is to say, the memo that went from the secretary of Defense to the combatant commanders to begin an assessment of our force structure and our infrastructure in their areas of responsibility -- has been -- and I've lived with it every day since then -- as systematic and as thorough and as complete an assessment as I've ever seen on the infrastructure side.

 

            It is also important to note, as some of you who -- with whom I've spoken -- that the timing of the global presence strategy and its implementation and the decisions that the secretary has made and the president has made feeds perfectly, has fed perfectly into the BRAC analysis timing and assessments and deliberations.  It was purposely done that way, and to say otherwise is in error.  

 

            As Ryan said and -- in one way, and I've heard General Schoomaker, the chief of staff of the Army, say in another way, soldiers are not in the Army; soldiers and their families ARE the Army.  The Army has taken great pains to make fairly hard cost estimates, in terms of time and in money, what it will take to move Army force structure from overseas back into the United States.  

 

            Significant discussion to date has occurred with the Department of Education, with the communities -- potential communities impacted, state governors, military child coalitions and others, for the issues pertaining to education and facilities for the returning troops and their families.  And when the BRAC list is published on Friday, Friday morning, there will -- we will begin an in-depth community-specific planning process.

 

            Now, needless to say, we're not going to get into those specifics this afternoon, but I want to remind you that the decisions on units and the personnel returning from overseas, as a result of the Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy process, were incorporated, were incorporated into that comprehensive review of basing through the BRAC analysis.

 

            The other, I think, important note is that the Army and OSD, as I indicated, have made fairly hard cost estimates as to what those BRAC decisions will yield, will cost across the six-year implementation window.  BRAC doesn't happen in '06.  It happens through fiscal '11. And to suggest that we need to slow that down or we need to reorder those priorities is, I think, also in error.

 

            The global presence in forming the BRAC realignment process has -- and in the words of the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff of the Army -- laid an optimal basing structure for U.S. infrastructure for our forces.  Optimal basing structure, which includes bringing home troops and includes realigning troops within the United States.  

 

            So I'll stop there, and Ryan and I will take your questions.

 

            Q     Mr. Dubois, you've mentioned fairly hard cost estimates on bringing the troops back to the United States.  What is the cost estimate?  And how many different bases would they be coming to?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  I'm not going to get into the numbers, as I hope you can appreciate.  The secretary of Defense has not made his final decisions yet with respect to the Base Realignment And Closure recommendations, which will go the BRAC commission on Friday morning. The approximately $10 billion which is the current working number for the return of overseas force structure to the U.S. -- that is to say, the construction of both permanent and interim facilities -- motor pools, offices, barracks and so forth -- is going to be adjusted when the secretary in the next few days makes that final set of decisions.  

 

            Now, it should come as no surprise to any of you that the Army started with a census, if you will, of possible bases for the 1st Infantry Division and the 1st Armored Division.  It began to look at it in the totality of the U.S. basing structure and began to neck it down to the optimal location for each of those brigades that would come -- and there are five brigades in Europe -- that would come home.

 

            As I indicated, I'm not going to tell you where the Army ended up at the moment, because the secretary is still looking at the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff of the Army's recommendations.

 

            Q     Without saying where, can you say how many?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  How many -- ?

 

            Q     Bases they would come to, different bases.  Are you talking about one or two, or 20 or 30?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  The complexity here -- and I hope you appreciate this -- is that those five brigades currently in Europe, or headquartered in Europe, will come to specific installations in the United States, but there will also be movements of units, brigades, in    the United States out of one base to accommodate the unit moving in from Europe to that base.  I hope you will all hear on Friday morning at 10:30 because -- and you've heard me say this before -- this is a very complex set of moves, interrelated set of moves.  

 

            If I were to tell you that the five brigades are coming to X, Y and Z base in the United States, you would immediately, correctly, say, "Now, wait a minute; what happens to the brigade that's there?" Well, it's because one brigade is going to move back up here, another one's going to move down here.  It is as complex a set of moves as you can imagine.

 

            So I don't want to go into the numbers because the secretary, as I said, is still chewing over some of these last scenario recommendations, which are interrelated.

 

            MR. HENRY:  And I think we want to limit the BRAC questions to only how they impact or might interrelate with Global Defense Posture, and we'll have other opportunities to discuss BRAC indepth.

 

            Q     Mr. Henry, why has Secretary Rumsfeld not met with this commission to receive a briefing about the findings and recommendations?

 

            MR. HENRY:  The briefing has been offered to him and we're in the process of scheduling an opportunity to do it.  I think it's incorrect to characterize "he hasn't met with him"; the meeting as not taken place yet, I think would be more --

 

            Q     Is it scheduled?

 

            MR. HENRY:  We're in the process of looking at something that works out for both parties.

 

            Q     Just to go back to the other question, because I think that you never actually responded to the question, and it may be something you don't want to answer.  But I think, very simply put, the question was simply, would those five brigades go to five different bases or would they go to some lesser number of bases?

 

            MR. HENRY:  They will go to what works out best for military utility.  And that's the reason -- that's one of the reasons why BRAC and the Global Defense Posture work so well together, because absent having BRAC, we wouldn't have the flexibility to put them where we get the best military value out of them, and we would be constrained by a lot of other bureaucratic problems.  And BRAC allows us to be able to make those moves and just to solely focus on what is best for military value along with the lives of the families.

 

            Q     Mr. DuBois, you put cost right now, the working estimate at approximately $10 billion for the return of overseas forces.  But the commission report said the Pentagon is underestimating that figure and it's closer to $20 billion.

 

            MR. HENRY:  Yeah, there's -- let me take it and you can back me up on it.    The numbers that they used and where they looked were probably in agreement.  They added on a lot of other costs associated with the moves that we feel are covered in other places already in the defense budget.  So our figure focuses on what's new and additional costs that weren't previously accounted for.  Once you start to get into what's the total cost, there's so many different ways to apportion those that you can --  that's an expandable number.  And they looked at a much broader set of conditions, some of which are already covered in the money that's been set aside for BRAC, others are covered other places in the budget.

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  Yeah, I think that I read here that there's been an independent analysis conducted for the Overseas Basing Commission, and I haven't seen that independent analysis, number one.  Number two, one must also remember one of the economic reasons that we're moving back from Europe, and that is we will get out of paying an enormous among of O&M funds to maintain those installations in Europe.  The Army will cut by nearly half the number of installations that it operates and maintains in Europe, should all of these movements come to pass.  That is a significant amount of money, quote, "to be saved," end quote, and reinvested in infrastructure in the United States for those returning forces.  

 

            Q     The commission also was somewhat critical, saying that the criteria was almost solely military effectiveness and didn't put enough emphasis on other, intangible benefits of having a larger presence overseas, such as cementing alliances and just more diplomatic -- could you just respond to that?

 

            MR. HENRY:  Well, if you make the supposition, which we think is incorrect, that numbers versus capability equate to commitment, then that's one way of looking at it.  But the whole global defense posture is based on the idea that it's capability that matters and not numbers, and that's what has your strategic value.  And I think that's basically what we're talking about, and the opportunity to build partnerships and strengthen partnerships.

 

            We think that the disposition that we will have will allow us to do that much better.  We'll have more places to exercise.  It'll be easier to exercise.  We'll have more venues for security cooperation. Instead of having a garrison force that can only work with those in the local area, we'll have the ability to have expeditionary and rotational forces that will be able to work with new allies and partners and old alliances throughout the world.

 

            Q     And you mentioned the savings and the reinvestment, but typically we've always heard that the -- that up front it costs money, and then the savings comes down the road.  How long before you actually see the savings and are able to reinvest that?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  Well, of course it depends upon the timing of the return from overseas.  

 

            But let me make -- it's a very good point and one that's been mentioned in various quarters recently.  The Government Accountability Office, GAO, and the inspector general both looked at our calculations, and they both say that while there are certain individual BRAC-related or overseas return-related issues that might be questioned, in the totality, we have -- we always project costs at higher than have come in and savings at lower than have come in. Their principal criticism -- and of course that's a conservative way to approach it, and the way we have approached it this time -- is that it's sometimes difficult to track those savings or cost avoidance numbers.  We're putting into place a tracking mechanism, unlike prior BRACs, that will capture that.

 

            Q     So you can't say how long it would take before you actually realize the savings, or is it --  MR. DUBOIS:  Actually, on Friday, you will see, in terms of each individual movement, realignment, there will be a net present value over 20 years, as the BRAC statute requires, plus an annual savings figure.  And the secretary of Defense will discuss that both in the totality as well as the individual base.

 

            MR. HENRY:  Yes?

 

            Q     Could you guys talk some more about the mobility aspects of this process?  The Basing Commission's report questioned whether there was enough airlift currently in place to sort of keep things going and make sure that forces are deployable, even though there are plans long-run with the Mobility Capabilities Study to see what might be needed and to expand airlift as needed.

 

            MR. HENRY:  Well, this is -- the Global Defense Posture is something that's going to be phased in over time, and it will be probably at least six years, if not more.  And that's -- part of the flexibility there is dependent upon how negotiations go with different nations.  And during that time, the impact of the Mobility Capabilities Study will be felt and it will come in.  That's something that's being handled by Transportation Command, and we're expecting that, again, in a few months, and that will be part of the QDR process.  And then in the QDR, we will work in exactly what the timing and the pacing is so that strategic lift and inter-theater lift is exactly paced with the implementation of the Global Defense posture.

 

            Q     But are you worried that there won't be enough lift to go around and that you'll be making risky assumptions based on what lift you expect to be available in the future?

 

            MR. HENRY:  No.  We plan on doing good planning and coordinating that.  And as the chairman recently said, we will be able to meet all our commitments contained in the defense and the military strategy, and we don't see any reason to start changing doing that now.

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  I think it's important to note that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have fully embraced the return of this force structure from overseas, in no small measure because in their judgment, in their military judgment, moving to the fight or getting faster to the fight is enabled by being in the United States.  

 

            MR. HENRY:  Well, not only have the combatant commanders and the service chiefs endorsed it, they have been basically the ones that have put it forward.

 

            Q     Thank you.

 

            Q     The report recommends most of the Marines in Okinawa, Japan should remain in Okinawa, maybe except Futenma Base.  Do you share -- at this moment, do you share this kind of recommendation?

 

  MR. HENRY:  We're currently having discussions with our Japanese allies on the best disposition of forces in that area, and our final opinion will be based upon what we and our ally feel is best for the alliance and for regional stability in that area.

 

            Q     One of the specific quality-of-life recommendations in the report is that the department make sure that all of the quality-of- life infrastructure at a drawing-down base remain in place until the last personnel leave, and that all of that stuff is in place when the first troops begin to arrive at their new space.  Is that something that the department is going to be able to do, and if so -- given the fact that in past similar movements of troops back to the United States, that hasn't been the case -- what are you doing differently this time to make sure that you can accomplish that?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  The plan on behalf of the First Infantry Division, the First Armored Division is to accomplish it in such a way that when they leave Europe, they will not leave some dilapidated set of infrastructure.  We have made appropriate investments in Europe; in some cases, not as much as we might have wanted over the past decade. But the important thing is to address where they're going and the new structure, new military construction that will take place in the U.S. bases where those troops and their families will end up.

 

            I think that every military family has the same concerns as every American family.  Safe neighborhoods, good schools, good infrastructure, educational opportunities beyond secondary school, spousal employment.  Reducing turmoil, reducing how many PCS -- permanent change of station -- go on in, say, the first 10 years of a soldier's life by moving this force structure back to the U.S., by the Army Modularization Initiative the chief has, by some realignments that you will see on Friday.  We are going to reduce the PCS needs -- which also has a direct impact on money, but it also reduces the turmoil to the families through this process; both the return and the BRAC realignment.

 

            Q     That quality-of-life infrastructure for those troops returning from Europe -- that will be in place when they arrive?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  It will be in place, but it's important to note that there are -- because of the operation imperatives and the timing, it is -- there -- much of it will be military construction permanent, and some of it will be military construction interim.  Similarly, as we have done over the past two years with the increasing the number of brigades per division from 33 total to 43 -- some of you know that in my old job, I approved, on behalf of the secretary, the interim construction at certain bases pending the ultimate decision of BRAC with respect to the increase of brigades per division.  If you go down to Fort Stewart, for instance, you'll see new construction.  And it looks pretty good, but it's technically, according to the engineering standards, temporary, which means it can be anywhere from 10 to 15 years.  Barracks, with a bunch -- 25, 22, 23, 19- and 20-year olds have a less useful life than Class A office space or headquarters space.  The point is that they will have the appropriate infrastructure.  They're not moving into World War II, clapboard, coal-fired barracks -- which I was in in 1967.

 

            Q     I'm a little unclear on the return of the forces.  Have you worked out how many come back each year over what period of time, exactly?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  Yes.

 

            Q     What is that?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  Some of you have heard the expression TPFDD. Deploying to Iraq, for instance.  This is like a reverse TPFDD.  And we have, by quarter, by fiscal year, exactly what moves when.  Now, the important thing, especially when one considers the OIF/OEF rotation, you don't necessarily want -- and this dictates some of the timing -- you don't necessarily want a brigade currently deployed to Iraq to have to go back to Germany and then pick up six months later. What we'd like to time is, the brigade is in Iraq, families are in Germany; the families begin to move back to the base where their brigade is then going to come back to, rather than have that double move.  And that's a quality-of-life issue that we're focused on.

 

            Q     So how many per year, is what I'm asking.

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  I think --

 

            MR. HENRY:  That would be based upon what the operational rotations are; it's also going to be based upon negotiations.  So things are not --

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  You said you already worked it out quarter, by fiscal year.  So I'm asking, what are those?

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  Right.  Rather than -- also the question from your colleague about how many bases are these five going to, I would like to defer that until Friday because it does raise a number of issues and could lead you down the wrong path as to which bases may be closed or realigned in the United States. 

 

Q     How do you feel about this recommendation here -- I'm just reading a summary of this -- "Congress should provide more rigorous oversight, including hearings on the global basing process."  How do you feel about the recommendation?  And what do you think that will do to the timing of it?

 

            MR. HENRY:  Well, Congress has had hearings on it already, and it's had consultations and it's had briefings.  So we feel that Congress is fully informed, and we will continue to look forward to working with Congress and the value they can add.

 

            Q     So you think they have an appropriate level of oversight right now and that doesn't need to in any way be beefed up?

 

            MR. HENRY:  To date, the Congress has been satisfied, from our understanding, with the amount of consultations they've been getting, the transparency on the moves.  And we will continue to work with them in a similar manner.

 

            MR. DUBOIS:  And also on that issue, the criticism, if you will, that there hasn't been enough, quote, "interagency" involvement -- I can remember multiple meetings in the Senate and the House with members and committees where the State Department, the NSC staff, the Department of Defense were all there at the table together.  In fact, in this very room -- or maybe it was in the old press room -- I can remember sitting up here in front of you with State folks, NSC folks, and policy people, I representing the installation side of the house.

 

            Q     Just to follow that last question, could you tell us when members of Congress are going go be informed about the BRAC recommendations?  Are they going to learn about this Thursday night, Friday morning?  What can you tell us about that?

 

            STAFF:  We'll have more on that.

 

            Thank you.

 

            Q     Thank you. 

 

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