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DoD News Briefing, Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA
September 09, 1999 1:30 PM EDT

Rear Admiral Quigley: Good afternoon. I have two announcements to make this afternoon.

I want to remind you that Secretary Cohen is in California today, both San Diego and Coronado. While in San Diego he'll visit with sailors in the Combat Direction Center aboard the cruiser SHILOH, and while there, there will be a media availability following that, at 1:00 p.m. Pacific time.

This evening in Coronado at the Hotel Del [Coronado], he'll provide the keynote address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies annual conference dinner. He'll speak at about 8:00 p.m. Pacific time on the topic of Kosovo lessons learned. We will have a blue topper at DDI following the brief today that will be embargoed until 11:00 p.m. our time, East Coast time, tonight, until Secretary Cohen has completed giving those remarks.

Second, a senior Defense Department official will provide a background briefing on Secretary Cohen's upcoming trip to Russia at 10:30 tomorrow morning in this room. The Secretary is scheduled to leave on September 12th, this coming Sunday, and will have discussions on the status of cooperation in Kosovo, defense reengagement, and strategic issues including Strategic Arms Reduction Treat, the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, and National Missile Defense. The Secretary is then scheduled to return late in the evening on the 14th, on Tuesday.

With those two announcements, I'm prepared to take your questions.

Q: Craig, could you bring us up on Indonesia, what's happening?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Indonesia or East Timor?

Q: East Timor. Any ships we might have in the region, any plans we're making.

Rear Admiral Quigley: There are a total of three ships that are either in the immediate vicinity or en route. The cruiser MOBILE BAY is in Darwin; the destroyer O'BRIEN is in Darwin; and the ammunition ship KILAUEA is en route from her homeport of Guam.

As we have said before, we fully expect that the Indonesian government and military has the full responsibility to control the situation. It's within their ability to do so, and I think that's what the international community expects it to do.

We remain very engaged at a variety of levels within the government, with their respective counterparts in the Indonesian government and military, to express that view just as clearly as we possibly can.

Q: Have you gotten any clear message from the Indonesian military that they intend to do this?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Admiral Denny Blair is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. He met with General Wiranto who is the Chief of Defense for the Indonesian military, and he has officially announced, delivering a message, that we are suspending our military-to-military relationship with the Indonesian military in light of the current activities.

Q: Including the invitation to General Wiranto to a meeting in Hawaii next month?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I believe so. Yes.

Q: What does that mean, suspending the military-to-military relationship? What's involved in that?

Rear Admiral Quigley: We have a military-to-military relationship with a variety of countries around the world. Each is tailored to that particular nation, but with Indonesia, as it is with many other countries it had been exercise planning, exercise execution, typically on humanitarian aid, civil defense, issues of that nature. But that has now been suspended in light of the current situation.

Q: How is this different from what happened last year when the Pentagon suspended joint training exercises last year? How is this different from that?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I'm sorry. Say that again.

Q: How is this different from what the Pentagon did last year when they suspended some joint training exercises with the Indonesian military because of questions about human rights abuses by the special forces?

Rear Admiral Quigley: The exercise program that we have with a variety of nations is but a piece of what is typically a broader relationship between the militaries of the United States and another foreign nation, so that's just one aspect of that, Jamie.

Q: What won't be happening now that would have happened had you not suspended the military relationships?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Well, there will be no planning for any future exercise activity. There will be no exchange of liaison officers. You find the military-to-military relationship quite helpful if the circumstances are appropriate. We just don't think that it's appropriate given the circumstances, that that relationship continue at this point.

Q: Are there any Indonesian military officers here in the United States attending any of (inaudible) that will be asked to leave the,,,

Rear Admiral Quigley: We are researching that right now, Barbara. That question came up this morning. We don't know the answer yet.

Q: If there are Indonesian military officers in this country, are they going to be expelled?

Rear Admiral Quigley: We'll take a look at that carefully, figure out what the specific circumstances are, and make a call at that point.

Q: What about students at the service academies?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Ditto. It would include the same thing. In any level of training in this country.

Q: What about the... I assume Indonesia has a military attache attached to its embassy. Will the military contingent be expelled?

Rear Admiral Quigley: No. That is a different element than a military-to-military relationship. That is under the rubric of diplomatic relations within the embassy on a diplomatic basis. So no, the defense attaches would not.

Q: Do we currently have any military people in Indonesia other than our own security guards and people attached to the embassy?

Rear Admiral Quigley: No, we do not. Let me amend that. As a follow-on to what Barbara asked a minute ago if we have any Indonesian students in this country, we also by the same token are checking on whether or not we have any U.S. military in various Indonesian schools, and I don't know the answer to that yet. We are researching that as well.

Q: This message was delivered last night, is that true?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Yes.

Q: And the three Marines that are attached to the UN, would they be called back?

Rear Admiral Quigley: No. They are with the UN contingent there in East Timor. Again, they are also not a part of the military-to-military relationship.

Q: What are the conditions now for restoring military-to-military relations? What does Indonesia have to do?

Rear Admiral Quigley: We have not gotten to that point yet.

Q: (inaudible) part of an international force in East Timor?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I'm sorry, say that again?

Q: Is an international force to be sent to East Timor (inaudible)?

Rear Admiral Quigley: You're asking about U.S...

Q: (inaudible)

Rear Admiral Quigley: ...to any military involvement in East Timor. Well, as Secretary Cohen said yesterday we don't envision sending any ground troops, but the Australians have approached us asking about whether or not we could support any sort of a force they might put together in logistics, communications, intelligence, and strategic lift. We are considering that, although no final decisions have been made on that at all. Of course we'll consult with the Congress before doing so, but those are the areas of discussion as we speak.

Q: That's only with Indonesian approval, is that right?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Well, we have said that the conditions must be appropriate for there to be a UN force to be inserted into Indonesia, and that would be with the Indonesian government's approval and welcoming such a force.

First and foremost we still look to the Indonesians to take care of this themselves. But second, the international community is prepared to do something in the way of helping out this situation. But it's got to be on a basis that the Indonesians welcome such support into their country.

Q: Are there any foreign military sales that are affected?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I don't know the answer to that. I'll take that question. I don't know.

Q: Will you also take the question of what exercises or programs or any of that sort of thing was part of the mil-to-mil relationship and give us some specificity by the end of the day as to what now is canceled?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Yes.

Q: Is this just basically symbolic? Or are there certain programs now that are ongoing, in the works, that are going to be brought to a halt that people will have to leave immediately?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I guess I take the specifics of that as part of Barbara's question, and we will research specifically what's entailed here, but we don't consider a military-to-military relationship with another nation as symbolic. It is substantive at every level, and there is a very good reason for doing so. In this case we think there's a good reason for suspending that relationship.

Q: The other question is, are you now asking other nations in the region to suspend their military-to-military relationship with Indonesia?

Rear Admiral Quigley: No, that is not being contemplated to the best of my knowledge.

Q: Can you just spell out what the reason is for suspending the mil-to-mil relations?

Rear Admiral Quigley: It's broad, although just in general we just don't think that this is the right thing to do, given the current situation. It's just inappropriate to continue a military-to-military relationship that in our view is not doing enough to contain the violence in East Timor. It's fully within its ability to do so, but they're simply not. That's not a military that we feel we can sustain a military-to-military relationship with at this point.

Q: Has Indonesia asked officially or unofficially in any manner the Pentagon's help in any way in this crisis there?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Not that I'm aware of.

Q: There have been rumors that the military may be looking to seize power there, or at least push aside the civilian government. Are you getting any information that would indicate that?

Rear Admiral Quigley: No, I'm not. I've not heard that.

Q: Over the last couple of years can you give a sense of how extensive the exercises have been so we have a basis of comparison whether this year's ratcheted up or...

Rear Admiral Quigley: I can, but I need to do that in the context of Barbara's answers. We'll have an answer on that for you before the end of the day.

Q: New topic? Russia. The extent of Russian corruption is starting to come out, the organized crime, further instability in Russia. Can you walk us through a little bit what the security concerns based on all this phenomenal lack of stability there are?

Rear Admiral Quigley: In a broad sense, we've expressed our concern over the years in any nation. That's why we are so much the proponent of a stable situation in governments and nations around the world. Unstable relationships, unstable governments, unstable nations just do not provide the sort of environment that the United States thinks is the ability to thrive. But the Russians have shown over the past several years, in what has been a very difficult time for them as they transition to democracy, that they have maintained control of their military -- both their conventional forces and their nuclear forces, and we find that absolutely appropriate and essential, of course, and remain satisfied that that is the case today.

The other issues you addressed, Tammy, the crime, the corruption, it's just something that this building does not get involved in directly.

Q: Back to Indonesia for one minute. Can you tell us who actually makes the decision to suspend mil-to-mil? Is that Cohen, Clinton, Shelton? And when exactly was this done?

Rear Admiral Quigley: The military-to-military relationships are entered into after a thoughtful consideration process, and you've got the Chairman involved, you've got the Secretary of Defense involved, you've got the Secretary of State very much involved. But the principal decision, Secretary Cohen, General Shelton, because it is clearly within their area of responsibility, and that's the military-to-military relationship.

Q: So I'm just asking the specifics in this instance. Was this a decision that was reached last night or this morning? And who actually put...

Rear Admiral Quigley: I can't put an exact timeframe on it. It was within the last day or so but I don't have an exact time.

Q: Does that mean it's a joint sort of Cohen/Shelton decision?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Very much so. Very much so.

A2: Admiral Blair delivered this message last night personally.

Q: Our time?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I think this morning our time. This morning their time. Sorry.

Q: He told Wiranto at that meeting it's suspended.

Rear Admiral Quigley: Yes.

Q: Did he get any kind of response from Wiranto? Any suggestion that they were going to do something?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I don't have a characterization of that. I don't know.

Q: Do you know if there were other issues that were discussed besides the military-to-military relationship?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Certainly. Again, repeating the plea to get control of the situation, use the military forces that are under General Wiranto's command to regain control on East Timor. Many of the messages you've heard before, but it was a very personal way of delivering the message in the region of the world that Admiral Blair has responsibility for. So it was a fairly brief meeting. I think it was something like 30 or 40 minutes in length.

Q: Did he offer any type of assistance, either direct or indirect?

Rear Admiral Quigley: No. Not that I'm aware of.

Q: Back to the beginning. You said the MOBILE Bay and O'BRIEN were in Darwin, and KILAUEA I guess you said was...

Rear Admiral Quigley: I'm sure they are underway, I'm sorry. MOBILE BAY and O'BRIEN are underway.

Q: If they were in port in Darwin, are they in the...

Rear Admiral Quigley: In the Timor Sea, between Australia and East Timor.

Q: Were they sent down there specifically because of the unrest in East Timor, or were they on normal watch?

Rear Admiral Quigley: There's an exercise with the Australians called CROCODILE '99 that I think starts here in the next few days. They were positioned there to conduct that exercise. So it was good timing in the sense that they were in the vicinity.

Q: What sea...

Rear Admiral Quigley: The Timor Sea, T-I-M-O-R. It's the body of water between northwest Australia and Timor.

Q: Are they underway for the exercise now or to participate in some sort of...

Rear Admiral Quigley: I don't think the exercise starts until the 12th, I believe. They are underway until the 12th, which is this Sunday. Then they make a port visit to Darwin before the actual exercise commences.

Q: Why are they underway now? Are they getting into position near Timor...

Rear Admiral Quigley: You're in the Timor Sea, you're in the vicinity, but I will have to check on the specific taskings of that.

Q: Would they be launching shells, or operating evacuations? What is it they would be doing?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I will take that question.

Q: As you respond to the request from the Australian government are you going to send U.S. forces from Okinawa or the forces on the ships?

Rear Admiral Quigley: That's a couple of steps ahead of where we are right now. Again, specifically the Australians have asked for those four areas, and we're discussing that and considering that but we're in the very early stages.

Q: What's the status of the Vieques panel?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Mr. Rush is still writing his report. We would expect that in the near term, but I can't give you an exact date. But I know as of this morning, it is still being written literally.

Q: Do you have any sense, Craig, of what the hang-up is? We were told it's being typed for eight to ten days now.

Rear Admiral Quigley: That's not the characterization I would use. I mean Mr. Rush is being very fastidious in the preparation of this report. He wants it to be right and thorough and very comprehensive. That has taken some time to accomplish that.

Q: Another topic. What is your latest information on the situation in the Taiwan Straits? There's some heightened tensions there in recent weeks.

Rear Admiral Quigley: I don't think too much different than what Ken briefed a couple of days ago. Less than we had seen. That's encouraging. But I don't have anything substantially different from Tuesday.

Q: Are there any U.S. forces, naval forces, that are still in the vicinity there?

Rear Admiral Quigley: Typically stationed in Japan and Okinawa, so I guess yes, in the sense of in that region, certainly. But nothing that is staged anywhere particularly close to Taiwan or China in the sense that you're asking the question I believe, no.

Q: Craig, in terms of the northern no-fly zone, there was a retaliatory strike today, and it just says coalition aircraft. Can you give us anything on what type of aircraft? Were they just U.S. or were they U.S. and British?

Rear Admiral Quigley: I don't have that. We'll get that for you.

Press: Thank you.

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