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Transcript : DoD News Briefing : Thursday, March 14, 1996, 1:30 p.m.

Presenters: Captain Michael Doubleday, USN/Deputy ASD/PA
March 14, 1996 1:30 PM EDT

Thursday, March 14, 1996, 1:30 p.m.

(Also participating were Dr. Hans Binnendijk, Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University and Dr. Stuart Johnson, Director of Research, INSS)

Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon. First off, the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense University today is releasing a report called Strategic Assessment 1996, the Instruments of U.S. Power. Copies of this document will be available for you in the back as you leave. Here today, to briefly give you a few of the highlights is Dr. Hans Binnendijk who is the director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies. Dr. Binnendijk.

Mr. Binnendijk: Thank you, captain. Hi. Basically, my purpose here today is just to acquaint you with our strategic assessment `96. I think you all have copies in front of you. And just to note that this is the second assessment that we have issued. It is unofficial. It is written by the staff of the Institute for National Strategic Studies and some of the faculty members of the National Defense University. And the purpose of this particular study was to do an assessment of the instruments of national power and how they have changed in the post-Cold War era. And to do that, we have, as you'll see, 17 chapters, the first of which is the strategic context. Fifteen chapters on all of the instruments from the diplomat in the field to the nuclear weapon. And we tried to make judgments about how in each case that instrument has changed in the last half decade or so. You will find chapters in there on intelligence, on the economic instrument, on peace operations. Incidentally, Bob Oakley wrote the chapter on peace operations. He's got a nice catalog in there. Chapters on limited intervention, emerging instruments, the revolution of military affairs, etcetera.


You'll find 55 inserts in there on things like NATO enlargement, on Iraqi sanctions, trade with China, etcetera, and 64 charts and maps. Things like troop contributors to the United Nations. Number of troops. Cost of selected peacekeeping operations, etcetera.

What are some of the basic conclusions that we drew in doing this? The first and most obvious one you've all been reporting about over the last couple of weeks, and that is the budget reductions.

Over the last decade, we have seen a reduction, at least current as of the time that we completed the work on this, reductions over the decade of 34 percent in the 050 budget account. And when you look at the procurement accounts, that increases to a 64 percent reduction. In the 150 budget account, international affairs budget account, we had a 46 percent reduction. Again, that was concentrated to a large degree in the international security systems account where the reductions were 74 percent. Basically, international security programs are limited to Israel and Egypt with very few exceptions now.

My judgment looking ahead at the budget picture, is that if you combine the effort to balance the budget in seven years with the desire to protect the number of domestic programs and to cut taxes, we project that those pressures will continue. But basically, this is a good news book. It's not about those reductions.

What we really discovered kind of surprisingly as we started to look at each of these instruments, is that the United States Government has really adapted quite well under the circumstances to those budget reductions and to the new international environment either by creating new instruments or adapting old instruments.

Let me just give you very, very briefly about eight or ten examples of that. You all know what they are, but let me just run down very quickly. The creation of the system of systems. We're at the threshold of a revolution of military affairs. The Partnership for Peace in Europe which has certainly strengthened NATO; the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program with the Russians; defense engagement which is actually a whole category of things that the Defense Department has been doing, for example, the Marshal Center or the East-West Center. As arms sales and foreign assistance, military assistance has declined, these new instruments have popped up and are very, very useful. Sanctions enforcement -- we didn't do much of this five or ten years ago -- but Haiti, Bosnia, Iraq. These are all new relatively new requirements that have been met in the last half a decade. The use of PVO's and NGO's in operations like Bosnia. There's a very close relationship that has developed between the military and these groups in order to make these operations in Haiti, Bosnia, etcetera, a success.


Outside of the military area, the same thing is true. For example, the creation of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization is a way to fund the nuclear programs in North Korea, the reactors. The use of the exchange stabilization fund for Mexico and the new way in which we've been able to use the IAEA to verify nuclear compliance in the case of Korea and Iraq. These are new uses of an old instrument.

Finally, just a couple of very brief conclusions. The first is as we watched the strategic environment developing and as we see the budget continuing to be cut, it's very important that we set national priorities and to a large degree, that's been done. There will be, as you know, a quadrennial strategy review next year, and basically, our advice to that effort is, in our view, the major priority has got to remain dealing with the major powers and the events that we've seen with regard to China, the tensions there, tend to reinforce that earlier conclusion.

The second conclusion is the importance of coordinating. A lot of the operations that we are engaged in now are what they call complex contingency operations that require a lot of different instruments of national power to be used at the same time, therefore, coordination, interagency coordination becomes critical to the success of that operation.

And then finally, the continuing need for coalitions. The multilateral efforts have gotten a bad name recently, but it's hard to conceive of major operations that the United States is going to undertake alone overseas in the future. And therefore, coalitions of the willing are critical to our ability to operate. And this really comes to the last point I want to make, and that is alliances, the changing nature of alliances. What we are seeing now is that alliances are becoming the core around which these coalitions of the willing are built.

So, that's a very quick summary, captain, of what's in the book. I hope you enjoy it and I hope frankly, that not only that you report on it, but maybe more importantly, that you use it as a reference. Because, you know, if you're running a story three months from now on, you know, pick an issue. I just opened to a page here. We've got a chart here for example on the CJC exercises in fiscal year `95, and it lists all the numbers. So, you've got a table of contents up front that can guide you through this, and if you find yourself writing on a particular issue, you need an extra fact or so, this is the place to turn. Thank you. I'm open to any questions.

Q: You talked about the trim line for procurement. Do you make assessments on what that has done to the ability of the U.S. military to do its job in the years ahead?

A: We did more of an assessment in last year's book on that than we did in this year's book, and the assessment is given the bow wave of procurement in the eighties, it is still sustainable, but it's got to be reversed pretty soon.


Q: There's no fat on the bones to --

A: There still is currently enough of the capability to meet what I would consider to be the likely threats in the future. But, it's got to be reversed in the next couple of years, or ten to 15 years out, we could face a high degree of block obsolescence.

Dr Johnson: But, that's addressed on the chapter that starts on page 171.

Q: Sort of a follow-up on that if I may. If you get into the "leap-ahead" business and the really astronomical, my word, cost of doing some of these things such as the Joint Strike Fighter, does this mean that the procurement is now going to be less safe for the F-22, and putting some aside for the JSF, or how possibly are they going to get the money, the huge sums necessary to do this?

A: Yeah. Well, I think I don't have an answer to that question. I think you're right. Procurement -- you're seeing the budget projections. They go up. And I don't know whether that's going to come out of the O&M or some other account. But, Stu, do you have anything on that?

Dr. Johnson: Well, there's some hard choices about the [inaudible] phase. That's understood.

(Stepping up to microphone) Yes. There are some hard choices, and in that chapter that I referred to -- it's entitled Classical Military Instruments -- we do review the kinds of broad choices we have. One choice is to make sure that the procurement budget does ramp-up to the $60 billion dollars that we're projecting in four years and stays around that area. The other is to take a hard look at the trade off that we would have to do between a large active, highly ready force structure and bringing all the modernization that we -- on our wish list to reality. That will be the kind of trade off that will be studied in the -- I'm confident will be studied in the QSR that will come up this spring.

So, there is -- but it's pretty well understood that in the short term there's going to have to be a hard trade off, and only in the longer term, if we do get this ramp-up with the procurement budget, are we going to be able to re-capitalize the size of armed forces, active armed forces we're carrying today.

Q: Just a quick follow-up on this since you've done what I assume are active missions are not necessarily under the control of any administration. Does the word "procrastination" used with procurement have any validity as far as you're concerned?

A: Not to me. This is a matter of trade off, and the choice was made. One can argue about whether it was the right choice. The choice was made to maintain a relatively sizable active force structure, invest in the Quality of Life, and invest in a high degree of readiness. O&M spending has come down only gradually relative to the overall drop in the defense budget and procurement deferment of procurement has been chosen as a way to pay those bills, those very important bills in readiness and Quality of Life.

The risk, we're fortunate is not as great as it might have been had we been facing a peer competitor but right now, the equipment in our armed forces it's still a full generation beyond any conceivable adversary. So, we're lucky. We do have a certain hiatus. But as anyone who looks into this can tell you, if we don't get that ramp-up in procurement back up to -- $60 billion is not a bad estimate -- in these next four years, then we are going to be facing block obsolescence of some of our major weapon systems.

Q: Do you look at issues like whether it is smart to make sure the Army has high a state of readiness as is currently being forced by the debate on Capitol Hill? Is that the intelligent way to spend your money as opposed to some other priorities or do you not --

A: This is not a report that makes specific recommendations. But that contrast is drawn out in the report, and it is a trade off that you keep 13 active ground divisions, three marine, ten army divisions, at a very high state of readiness. Ready to go at very short notice. That's a very expensive proposition. How do you pay those bills? You have to look elsewhere. You don't want to take all your R&D away because that's your investment in the far future, and you've got personnel accounts that the Secretary -- note, the Secretary regards a very high priority. That only leaves you one place to go and that's, as I said, is procurement. That's a choice to make. We may be lucky because we don't have a peer competitor we're facing right now.

Mr. Binn: Stu Johnson incidentally is the author on the chapter in your [inaudible].

Q: Aren't the pressures [inaudible] worse and worse in the next five, six, seven years [inaudible] balanced budget. I mean, how can anyone predict with confidence that you'll be able to put $60 billion in there?

A: That's the squeeze that we were talking about that I mentioned at the outset and yeah, that is a problem. Where is it going to come from?

Q: You also mentioned as a matter of course that there was going to be a Quadrennial Strategic Review in the spring. I mean, is that definite even if this administration stays in power, and do you foresee a re-examination of the BUR?

A: Well certainly, if there's a new administration, the answer is yes, I would expect a reassessment. I would think that would be a logical time anyway in the second Clinton Administration to review it based on --

Q: You say as if it was a given. I mean, do you know that this is [inaudible]?

A: I expect it's going to be -- of course it was one of the recommendations of the Roles and Missions Commission, and I expect that it will be implemented.

Q: Can you give us any more on that? I mean, my sense is that -- how do you know it's going to happen.

Dr. Johnson: Well, what you're getting here is now opinion. We're not the official spokespersons. But, I think -- I think there will be a review of the strategy. But that's part of opinion from outside, and it's by no, means an official statement. But, yeah, I think it's time to take another look at it. Sure.

Q: You're not at work on anything that might feed into this review already. Are you?

A: Well, I would think our next strategic assessment would probably make a contribution to that review. We're very definitely looking at, you know, the strategic framework in which we, you know, make decisions on defense. If DoD has a QSR and they read this and find it useful, terrific.

OK. Thank you very much.

Captain Doubleday: Thank you. Right. We've got cases of them back there, so there are plenty. I have two announcements and then I will try and answer some questions.

President Clinton, Deputy Secretary of Defense, John White, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili and a host of other distinguished guests will honor soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen for their outstanding service while deployed to Haiti during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY in a ceremony at Fort Polk, Louisiana, on Monday, March 18th. More than 240 representatives from all military services will be recognized in the 11 a.m. ceremony at Honor Field there at Fort Polk. If you, in the media, would like to cover this event, you can contact the Joint Readiness Training Center Public Affairs Office at Fort Polk. That telephone number is area code 318-531-1418. And on Monday starting at 5 a.m., when all of you will be down there knocking on the door, you can contact the Joint Information Bureau at 318-531-7000. Commander Joe March has additional details in DDI, and we're going to have a bluetop later today on this event.

Secondly, I want to let everybody know that copies of the budget document known as the C-1, the construction presentation, are available today in DDI. As you know, this is the complete military construction and family housing budget request document for fiscal year 1997. We didn't have these documents available when we had our budget briefing on March 4th. We don't yet have a firm date for the arrival of the R-1 which is the research development test and evaluation and the P-1, the procurement budget books, but we'll put the word out as soon as they are here. And with that, I'll be happy to try and answer your questions. Charlie?

Q: When is the NIMITZ leaving the Gulf, or is it?

A: Charlie, I'm going to stick with the answer I gave you the other day and that is that NIMITZ will be leaving the Central Command area of responsibility when the aircraft carrier GEORGE WASHINGTON moves into that area through the Suez Canal. And I don't want to provide that information in advance. But, if you kind of watch the people who watch the Suez Canal, you'll see those movements or at least be warned of those movements about the time they are occurring. We'll --

Q: Within days?

A: Within days. We'll confirm it once its occurred.

Q: Can you characterize the Chinese exercises that have gone on?

A: I think the best way to characterize that, right now we're seeing primarily air and naval activity. The air activity includes aircraft dropping bombs within the area designated by the Chinese for the live fire exercises; also, some anti-submarine warfare exercises. And that's about as much as I can give you right now. It may be that at the conclusion of the exercises, we'll be able to kind of put all of this together and talk in a little more detail.

Q: Now, that you've had a chance to observe the operations, how would you characterize what's happening this year to past years?

A: This is very preliminary. Keep in mind that these exercises have just commenced, but I don't believe that anyone sees anything particularly unique about these exercises.

Q: Can you give us some idea of how many ships and planes, just in some round ballpark figures, would be involved in this?

A: I don't want to get involved in numbers at this point. Again, maybe at the conclusion, we'll be able to give you some more specific numbers. I will tell you, as you might expect, that everyday there is a change in the numbers as the exercise activity shifts from one area to another.

Q: I'm just trying to get a rough idea. I mean, are we talking about, you know, two ships, some dozens, hundreds?

A: Again, I don't want to get involved in numbers at this point.

Q: [inaudible] aircraft or ships. Can you tell us what types?

A: Let me see if we can -- let me see if we can give you some of that a little bit later. I don't have that with me now.

Q: I have two questions related. General Shalikashvili was reported yesterday in wires as stating the types of exercises that were going on were types that would be consistent with a cross-channel move. Can you confirm that is a correct report? And I have a follow-up.

A: First of all, I have not seen any comment from General Shalikashvili to that effect whatsoever. The second thing I would tell you is that earlier today, Dr. Perry was asked about the intentions of the Chinese in connection with these exercises and he said, as he has said in the past, that he did not believe that there would be any military conflict as a result of these exercises. He said that he thought that the Chinese were trying to intimidate Taiwan before the elections and that after the elections are over that the forces involved would return to their barracks.

Q: The second thing. Could it be assumed here, or projected, that were the PRC interested in making some kind of a projection across the channel, military projection, to Taiwan that they would disguise this move in a large scale exercise and project from that large scale exercise in a surprising fashion. Is that correct?

A: On that, I would say that General Shalikashvili has commented and what he has said in the past is that he does not believe they have the capability to conduct amphibious operations of the type and size that would be necessary to invade Taiwan.

Q: In related China question. Apparently, the Chinese defense minister, General Chi, is coming to the United States next month. Considering that these intimidating exercises, as you say, and considering that this general was chief of staff at the time of the TienAnmin massacre, is there any reservations in the department or on the part of the Secretary for honoring and hosting this general?

A: Well first of all, the dates of the visit that you are asking about have not been specified at this point, although you may recall that Ken Bacon in early February indicated that visit was likely sometime in March or April. What I would say so though, in the overall context of your question, is that Dr. Perry paid a visit to his Chinese counterpart back in 1994, as I recall. And, at the time, Dr. Perry and since then, he has talked at considerable lengths about the importance of maintaining a strategy of engagement with the Chinese -- not turning a blind eye to what the Chinese are doing that we find fault with -- but maintaining an engagement with the Chinese as a means of understanding them, letting them understand us and preventing any kind of miscalculation that might occur.

In the aftermath of Secretary Perry's visit over there, there have been a number of visits by some fairly high level department officials and those include Dr. Nye before he left the Department. There has been a visit by the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. There have been visits by Chinese defense officials here to the United States and, at present, Dr. Steve Joseph who is the ASD for Health Affairs, is in China along with his military deputy and the surgeon for the US Pacific Command on one of these reciprocal defense in military-to-military visits.


So, the visit that Ken Bacon talked about the possibility of having in early February could very well take place sometime next month. But, at this point, we're not ready to pinpoint any kind of a date or the activities that might be included in the visit if it does occur.

Q: On the question of this particular individual, this General Chi, is the Pentagon and Secretary Perry aware that he was directly involved in the massacre of civilian protesters?

A: I am not aware of what Dr. Perry knows about the history of this individual, although I do know that this is the defense minister and the individual who is his counterpart on the Chinese side. Yes, John?

Q: Can we return to your characterization of these exercises that is something that is now out of the ordinary. I have been led to believe that these were larger than ordinary, larger than has ever been conducted before. Is that not correct?

A: I think that so far I would not characterize them as larger than anything that we have seen so far.

Q: Do you expect them to grow?

A: It's kind of difficult to project. It's conceivable that they will. They certainly have the capability to have much larger exercises. All you have to do is look at Janes to see the inventory of equipment that the Chinese have.

Q: Does this exercise demonstrate from what you've observed so far any increase in Chinese military capability either in weapons or tactics or command and control?

A: I don't think that I could characterize that at this point. I think, again, there may be the possibility that we could provide a larger assessment after everything is over with. But we're kind of in the early days of the, at least of the live fire portion.

Q: Perhaps there's another way to ask the question to characterize these exercises perhaps not larger. Are they more aggressive? Are they closer to the Taiwanese shore? Why the level of initial hysteria in this country if they are not more aggressive, closer, bigger?

A: I think that the concern that's been voiced in this country has been because of the obvious attempt to intimidate the people on Taiwan, to try and exert some influence over the upcoming elections. And, certainly, the position of the exercises which is in the Strait of Taiwan there, in an area where shipping could be, although it has not yet been effected, is one of the factors in the reaction that the United States and others have had to the activities of the Chinese at this point.

Q: With its timing and location?

A: Timing, location, and what we see as the intention of the Chinese to coerce the people on Taiwan.

Q: Doesn't this exercise though also include some sort of mock amphibious assault invasion of an island?

A: I have not at this point seen any confirmation that has occurred, but I'm -- that certainly is a possibility. Yes?

Q: The Secretary and a number of other persons in this government have voiced confidence that China and Taiwan will not go to war. Has the United States asked the Chinese and received any assurance that they do not intend to attack Taiwan?

A: Yes, in public and private conversations, the United States has been assured that the Chinese do not intend to take any military action against Taiwan.

Q: Do you have the reaction to the Russian's almost complete support of the Chinese inthis particular matter, saying Taiwan is internal affairs and that basically, almost -- it's almost a PRC line -- the Russians are supporting.

A: Frankly, I have not seen that and I have no reaction to it. Yes?

Q: I think you said that the U.S. received assurance that China does not intend to take any action Taiwan. Why does the Pentagon keep moving men, material, and ships into the area?

A: Well again, I think that, as I said on Tuesday, our concern about this thing is that we want, number one, we want to take some prudent moves that communicate to the Chinese and to ensure that there's no miscalculation on their part. The second thing we want to do is to reassure friends in the area that we have continuing interest in that part of the world and that we want to ensure that there is peace in that region.

Q: Communicate what to the Chinese?

A: We want to communicate in a way that sometimes words cannot. Our interest in that area and our interest in having them resolve any differences they have with Taiwan in a peaceful way.

Q: Has the scope of these exercises changed from our original estimates, from what we thought was going to happen? One of the Chinese told us through other channels that the scope of these have changed since they started.

A: First of all, I can't answer the question because the exercises aren't over. I think we ought to hold off on that. I don't believe that other than the communication that I referred to earlier, assurances that they had no plans to attack Taiwan. I think that's the only communication that we've had with regard to the exercises. Yes.

Q: What is the miscalculation that the U.S. fears China could make? Is it miscalculating that the U.S. does not --

A: Miscalculating that the U.S. has lost interest in that area of the world. Miscalculating that the U.S. will not pay attention to what's going on. Miscalculating that perhaps nobody cares about what they're up to.

Q: Isn't it clear now that deliberate ambiguity is no more and that the U.S. will stand militarily to defend Taiwan?

A: Well, I think that, one... We have had for a number of years the Taiwan Relation Act which has been very clear about the fact that we would view with very great concern any attempt by the Chinese to settle their -- the one nation issue with Taiwan, the one China issue with Taiwan by other than peaceful means. That policy is a good one and one that should be maintained.

Q: On these naval forces, are we sending any hardware to Taiwan for air defense purposes?

A: I am not aware of any other hardware, although I just want to make sure everybody is aware of that contract announcement yesterday. But that was -- that sale was announced back, in I think, 1992.


Q: [inaudible]. On the Taiwan Relations Act, as I understand it, there are provisions in there that require the Administration to notify Congress when there are threats or somehow defense related concerns about Taiwan. Has the Pentagon carried out that obligation and if so, what have they told Congress.

A: There are people up on the Hill today talking to people in Congress. I believe they were up there on Tuesday. The meetings are closed, but I think we can say with assurance that Congress is being kept informed about the situation with China and Taiwan.

Q: Is there anything at all that you can characterize about what the Administration has explained to Congress in those meetings?

A: Well, no. At this point, I can't. We'll see if we can get any kind of a readout that would be meaningful and, if we can, we'll pass it along.

Q: Have there been any other firings of M-9 or other missiles and when is that part of the test, what time is it supposed to stop?

A: The answer to the first part of the question is no, there have not been any further firings and I believe that the -- I thought I had that with me -- let's -- I'm sure that we have an indication someplace of what the NOTAMS said on that closure.

Q: Can you tell us what the origin and general area of where these missiles came in China?

A: The only thing that I can tell you at this point is that the missile involved was an M-9, as were the three others that have been fired. This one landed in the southern impact area. The southern impact area by the way is located off the southwestern portion of Taiwan. It's in international waters. It does not -- the trajectory does not go in any way over the land mass of Taiwan. I don't have with me and I'm not sure we can provide to you the origin of that other than to say that it was a land site, a land-based site.

Q: In your private conversations with the Chinese, have they, not only have they told you that they don't intend to take military action against Taiwan, but have they said maybe we will bring in some of our more aggressive exercise components?

A: I have no indication that anything like that has been said. Yes, Mark?

Q: Have accredited military attaches in Beijing, have they been invited to observe any portions of these exercises?

A: Not to my knowledge. But that's may be one that we could look into to see if there's anything. I don't -- I know we do that. I am not sure that the Chinese do it. We'll look into that and see if they have a program similar to what the United States has.

Q: [inaudible]? Could I ask just one more? The Chinese have made it very clear as it communicated the last few days that they are the protectorate of Taiwan and it's really nobody else's business to get involved militarily there. Does the United States understand that the PRC feels that this is a part of their sovereignty and their prerogative to defend Taiwan?

A: Well, I think the United States position for many, many years has been that something's missing between China and Taiwan need to be settled peacefully. And essentially, that is the cornerstone of the Taiwan Relations Act, and it is with that in mind that we have operated for many, many years in a kind of a bipartisan atmosphere on the Hill through many administrations.

Press: Thank you.

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