DOD Briefing with former Army Secretary West and Adm. Clark (Ret.) from the Pentagon
STAFF: Well, good afternoon, and thank you for joining us. Earlier this morning, Secretary Gates acknowledged the receipt of the independent review report related to the tragic Fort Hood shooting. And he took the opportunity to thank the co-chairs while highlighting some of the key findings, as well as how he intends to move forward upon the recommendations of this report.
Secretary Gates described the report as a serious and thorough assessment and one that, it should be noted, was delivered on time despite a very aggressive schedule.
Today, this afternoon, it's my privilege to present to you the co-chairs of that independent review. The secretary -- former secretary of the Army, Togo West, and former chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, both of whom many of you know -- but have graciously given some of their time to discussing with you in more detail their findings and their recommendations, and to also address some of your questions.
So gentlemen, thank you very much for the -- your review and your dedication, and for giving us this opportunity to ask you about the report.
MR. WEST: Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. Seventy-two days ago, a lone gunman opened fire at the Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Hood, Texas. Thirteen people died: 12 uniformed service members and a civilian. Forty-three were wounded.
That will be remembered as a day of tragedy.
Admiral Clark and I and all who worked with us on this project extend once again our sympathies to the fallen -- to the families of the fallen, to the wounded, to the families of the wounded and to all who were touched by that tragedy.
In the aftermath of that day, Secretary Gates established his independent review relating to Fort Hood. He asked Admiral Clark and me to co-chair it. We accepted. We have done so. As he told you this morning, we have provided him our report. It is being released as we speak. A favored few already have it.
The secretary asked us to do a careful review of personnel policies, of force-protection measures, of emergency-response plans, and of support to those who give medical care to our servicemembers, to our wounded. He also asked us to conduct a review of the Army's application of its policies and practices to the alleged perpetrator.
To accomplish this, we established five teams, each staffed with a full range of experts. We also established a board of advisers composed of senior uniformed leaders from the military services. Now, those teams had full access to facilities, to personnel and to the resources of the department. They visited Fort Hood, as did Admiral Clark and I the day after we were appointed. Their review and the things that they found for us, and our conclusions are what constitutes the report.
In his conference to you this morning, Secretary Gates said that he would not address specifics with respect to the alleged perpetrator. We are bound by the same constraint. But we refer you to what you perhaps have already seen, and that is the concluding lines in our executive summary, as well as the one-page chapter one, with respect to the alleged perpetrator, in which we point out that, as a result of our review, it appeared that there were several officers who did not apply the Army's policies to the perpetrator.
We recommended to the secretary that he refer that finding, as well as materials associated with it, to the secretary of the Army for an accountability review. My specific language was, for review as to accountability or such other actions as the secretary of the Army shall deem appropriate.
Our report however was broader than the latest perpetrator. In fact, its 53 findings and associated recommendations cover the full range of the terms of reference that you heard me speak to a moment ago. And their purpose is to strengthen the Army's ability, the department's ability, to find the indicators, to understand them, and to prepare itself for action as we defend the force against this threat.
The secretary of Defense gave you a fairly detailed overview in his comments this morning. Admiral Clark is prepared to fill in some additional information. But before I pass it to him, let me mention three observations from that day of tragedy.
First, no amount of preparation can be too much. Leaders at Fort Hood anticipated a mass-casualty event in their emergency-response plans and exercises. That preparation showed at Fort Hood.
Two minutes and 40 seconds after the initial receipt of the 911 phone call, emergency responders were on the scene. And by emergency responders, I specifically refer to elements of the Fort Hood security team.
A minute and a half after that, and the assailant was incapacitated, taken into custody and remained in the custody of security forces, throughout the remainder of that day including transportation to a civilian hospital and the provision of care to him during that time.
And two minutes and 50 seconds after that, two ambulances and an incident command vehicle from the post hospital arrived, to begin to dispense life-giving medical care to those who had been wounded.
Yet -- and lives were saved as a result. Yet, 13 people died, and 43 were wounded. We will prepare harder, plan more diligently and seek to see around the corners of our future to find the signs of an emerging potential next event.
Secondly, we need to be attentive to today's hazards. Yes, it is the role of our forces to protect the nation against external threats, but our emerging concern is to protect the force against the internal threat.
You heard the secretary of Defense say -- you'll hear Admiral Clark elaborate -- that we need to make sure we understand the forces that cause an individual to radicalize, to commit acts of violence, and thereby, to cause an internal vulnerability, a vulnerability within our forces.
And third, courage and presence of mind in the face of crisis can carry the day. We saw that, too, at Fort Hood. Courageous acts were a key element in preventing greater loss. The question for us is, can we reward that courage by exercising the foresight to ascertain the threat, to find the information that identifies the threat, and having done so, to act preemptively?
ADM. CLARK: Thank you, Secretary West.
Let's start first with force protection. Existing policies are not optimized for countering any internal threat. What that means, then, is that there is insufficient knowledge and awareness, the kind of knowledge and awareness that is required to identify and address individuals likely to commit violence.
Further, guidance concerning workplace violence and the potentials for self-radicalization is insufficient. There is not a well-integrated means to gather, evaluate and disseminate the wide range of indicators that could signal an insider threat.
And complicating the entire force-protection area of discussion is the challenge that's been created by the diverse nature of the responsibilities as they have evolved within the department since 9/11. There are four undersecretaries of Defense that have responsibilities. In your report on page 25, we outlined the specific things that they are responsible for, but the end result is that synchronization is difficult. As the secretary said this morning, there is no single official assigned overall responsibility, and then that results in a question about effective policy integration.
Shifting to information sharing. Some policies that govern the exchange of information, both inside the department and externally -- and by that I mean within the interagency arena -- some of these policies are deficient and they do not support detection and mitigation of internal threats. The time has passed when concerns by specific entities over protecting their information and how it then is allowed to prevent relevant threat information and indicators from reaching those who need it -- that time has passed.
The people who need it most in this particular case are the commanders and the leaders at the point of interest. As the SECDEF indicated this morning, there is the requirement to create a more agile and adaptive force, one that can deal with the changing security environment, anticipating new threats and bringing a wide and continuously evolving range of tools and techniques and programs into play.
Finally under information sharing, hand in glove with an effective information-sharing program is the command-and-control system that it supports. A robust program and the accompanying command-and-control structure to convert information into specific decisions and actions requires more active information-gathering on the potential threats, and dissemination and analysis of the assessments to every level of command.
Now, the secretary tasked us specifically to look at the area of IDing employees who could potentially pose a threat. And the most -- the most summary statement I can provide you is that there's a lack of clarity for comprehensive indicators, which then limit the commanders and the rest of the chain of command's ability to recognize these threats. Certainly, detecting a trusted insider's intention to commit a violent act requires observation of behavioral cues and anomalies, and this is a difficult task.
Let me shift briefly to a comment on health providers. The secretary asked us to look at this, and they are a very important part of the security equation.
The tendency is to focus on the care of combatants. Health-care providers are not immune to the stressors that are present in their workplace, and that is true whether they are at home or whether they are deployed. And our recommendations suggest that there is a requirement to put the right programs in place to support these critical people.
Finally, let me talk about emergency response. Secretary West, Secretary of Defense Gates this morning made the observation that the response at Fort Hood was great, and I want to align myself with those comments.
I was committed to the armed forces for 37 years. On the second day of our service here, Secretary West and I, as he said, went to Fort Hood. We received a briefing from General Cone and the team down there on their after-action lessons learned. And I want to tell you that their report and the actions that they identified were the best that I have ever seen in 37 years of service -- lots of good news to report. The base -- the people on the base were certainly prepared, dedicated. Secretary West talked about courageous acts, prompt acts. The speed of response was terrific.
Having said that, it is our conviction that it can be even better.
An example of what made it so successful was the effective implementation of a counter to the active-shooter reality that was present at Fort Hood. We can spend some time on that if you would like, but it was executed in a superb fashion, and the outcome certainly did prevent further bloodshed.
With regard to the response of the entire team, there are what is commonly called memorandums of agreement or understanding, and at Fort Hood they are called mutual aid agreements, and these are agreements that lay out the relationships between people on the base and potentially external providers and so forth. Our finding is that there is sufficient policy for the establishment of these kinds of devices. The experience at Fort Hood suggests that without those devices, the outcome would not have been nearly as effective.
There were problem areas in some regimes. Some of them were dated. But I would -- my experience is that you could put them in place this week, and a month from now they might be out of date because people change and so forth. But what we're suggesting is that where improvements are possible, they should be identified, including exercise requirements and all the rest.
Currently, all 50 states in the union have complied with the federal requirements for the National Incident Management System, and this was the result of an act after 9/11. We found that within the department, there are no established milestones to define initial and full capability. And our recommendation is that the timeline for achieving capability should be examined with an eye toward bringing about a system that will be fully interoperable with all of the states when the process is complete.
Let me conclude my response about -- my comments about emergency response with another statement about command and control. The command-and-control structure that we referred to earlier has ultimately manifested itself in the middle of a crisis response.
Again, agility, adaptability and speed of response is the key.
At Fort Hood, commanders had to deal with misinformation. And that is true in every crisis that will ever happen in the history of man. We believe, though, that a better system is required. And we also believe and recommend that the department examine more stressing exercise scenarios to ensure that effective crisis response in the future will meet the objectives and standards the department holds for itself.
The response of the Fort Hood community in the aftermath of the tragedy there serves as a reminder of the strength of our nation and the resiliency and character of our people. And Secretary West and I were extremely impressed with the people there at Fort Hood, military, civilian, workers on base and the people in the civil sector that supported them on that incredible day.
I certainly want to align myself with the comments of Secretary Gates this morning and my partner in this, Secretary West, regarding the families and the wounded in this incident. The thrust of our effort has been to do everything that we know how to do to put the spotlight on programs and policies and procedures that will enable the department to become better and to provide the kind of structure and force required for the future.
Thank you, and we look forward to your questions.
STAFF: Right here.
Q The report mentions there are several officers that will be referred to the Army for action. Can you put a number on that? And also, can you speak to the vulnerability of the force today in light of the shooting? How vulnerable are other installations to another attack?
MR. WEST: I'm going to take the first part of your question; I'm going to let the admiral take the second part on vulnerability -- because the first part's easier. We're bound by the same constraints the secretary of Defense is, and can't talk the specifics about that.
Let me say this. We have not considered the question of numbers.
Q Of the numbers of officers that are being referred to --
MR. WEST: Right.
Q Okay. Can you give an estimate, though, of how many you came across? I mean, are we talking dozens, or --
MR. WEST: What's the difference between that question and the one I answered, in terms of getting across the line? I stepped across the line; I'm stepping back.
Q Are we talking two or three people? Are we talking dozens? Is this a systemic problem? Can you at least answer that?
MR. WEST: The language in our report -- the language in our report, which I quoted to you earlier, is "several."
OFF MIKE: Maybe three.
MR. WEST: It's "several."
He's got to give the second part of your answer -- question.
ADM. CLARK: And so with regard to vulnerabilities today, I thought Secretary Gates addressed it directly. This is not a threat that somebody thinks is massive and is just overwhelming the force. But one is too -- is too many. And the -- his language this morning suggested so much has changed in the last decade.
As I look at this and I look at everything that's going on in the area of security and of -- and the issues that face the nation, I believe that this is another one of those key moments in time where we assess ourselves again. We take advantage of this experience and ensure, by having the courage to challenge every assumption that we make about the way we do things and the way we -- the way we execute things, the assumptions that we have in place, building the security apparatus, and make sure, by challenging those assumptions, that it -- we meet the standards that we set for ourselves. And those are the areas that we suggested to the secretary in terms of policy and programs.
STAFF: Right here.
Q I got to ask, in the "Alleged Perpetrator" section -- it's at the bottom of page six, top of page seven, and page nine, you talk about discrepancies between the alleged perpetrator's documented performance in official records and his actual performance during training, residency and fellowship. In English, does that mean his documented performance seemed to indicate a -- an unblemished record where his actual performance spelled problems that never reflected in the official record?
MR. WEST: What are you reading from?
Q The bottom of page six, top of page seven.
MR. WEST: Page six of -- ?
Q The bottom of -- the executive summary.
MR. WEST: Executive summary, okay. Go ahead. Now, your question is, does that refer to --
Q The discrepancies, were those -- they refer to an official record on paper that seems to indicate a promising officer with great academic credentials, versus performance issues in the field that were not reflected in the official record? Am I reading that accurately?
MR. WEST: Let me say this. We're not even going to try to interpret that language for you in general. But the specific answer to that question is this: "Discrepancies" means what it sounds like. It can be discrepancies internal to what is said: in one place this is said, another place that. It can mean what you said as well -- that is, between what's reported and what's known.
Q Can I ask you one quickie about just --
MR. WEST: No. That's it. Okay.
Q Sirs, your report talks about problems that you've identified with the Joint Terrorism Task Forces, a recommendation that potentially more military personnel should be on that task force? I know that was at the limit of your review.
But if you could, talk to us a little bit about what you found there and what you're recommending, to ensure that critical information does get to the military.
ADM. CLARK: One of the things in the terms of reference cites several other investigations that are occurring. And we were given clear guidance in the terms of reference not to interfere with the criminal investigation.
The president had authorized and chartered an investigation into intelligence activities. And we did not go there. But what we did learn in the process, and our reflection there, is the simple awareness of how many -- what our -- what the commitment -- the department's commitment was, in terms of personnel resources.
And also an understanding that it was in a public domain, that there were -- there were modifications in the dissemination process that were being examined. And our recommendation is simple and straightforward.
The department has a vested in the outcome of all of that, and that we should be working together ensuring the -- what we talked about in the information sharing -- ensuring that the best information that is available is made available to the key people, so that we can provide for the security of our people.
Q Admiral Mullen said earlier today, and the report also mentions this -- it says self-radicalization. And the admiral said more and more of that is going on. The report also talks about extreme practices of faith groups.
Isn't the immediate problem Islamic radicalization?
MR. WEST: The immediate problem is radicalization of any sort and for whatever reason.
Our concern is with actions and effects, not necessarily with motivations. The role of motivations is, if they're allowed to get carried too far, then they become the spark of actions.
So suppose it were fundamentalist Christian-inspired. Our concern is not with the religion. It is with the potential effect on our soldiers' ability to do their job.
Q So no particular religious group. Across the board.
ADM. CLARK: We do not -- we certainly do not cite a particular group.
What we're citing is the activity that is prejudicial to good order and discipline and making sure -- you notice the language.
The language talks about activities that are dangerous to us and activity that should not be authorized. Well, so the question arises, the question of self-radicalization.
There is much to be learned about all of these indicators. And so when we talk about the indicators, we're suggesting to the department, look, we did phase one. Phase one suggests to us that there isn't clarity about these indicators. And what needs to happen now in phase two, as the secretary has laid out the phase-two process, is digging -- drilling down into this issue and coming to grips with solutions to that question. What are these indicators? And then, the other thing that was said is, and we believe that this is the -- why adaptability is so important.
Q Do you agree --
ADM. CLARK: This is -- this is not a single-point solution. It's an evolving solution.
Q Would you agree with Admiral Mullen, that there's more self-radicalization going on?
ADM. CLARK: Well, I don't know the universe, and we didn't seek to -- our study didn't go into -- all that we were examining, policies, procedures, programs, and so we weren't out there digging around in that. Admiral Mullen has his point of view, and I respect it.
Q That timeline you gave began with the 911 call. Do you know how long elapsed from the beginning of the shooting until the 911 call?
MR. WEST: Well, I -- frankly, you see my colleagues from the -- we tried -- we thought about that, and we even had a best estimate. The problem was, when we try to add in all the components, we never come out with the same number. So I'll give you my answer only, and I do not tie my colleague to it: roughly, somewhere between seven and eight minutes from the first shot to the last.
ADM. CLARK: And I align with that. And you can understand why -- the difficulty in getting from the initial shot to the 911 call. There's nobody sitting in there with a stopwatch, taking that kind of information. But it's very clear, and that's why -- that's why we're so impressed with the response at Fort Hood. It was -- it was fabulous.
MR. WEST: Here. And then I thought there were some hands on this side of the room, too. Go ahead.
Q Secretary Gates also said that he didn't consider the internal threat to be significant. But obviously, this is a question of changing culture and mindset within the military.
I'm wondering if you think that the fact that this could be more of an aberration, this shooting at Fort Hood -- is it going to make it more difficult to change the culture over time?
And also how do you strike the balance? Because you don't want to go too far and make it -- make the military become kind of a witch- hunt attitude.
MR. WEST: Well, I think, he was right in that here's what's significant. We're talking about the fact that on all of our posts, across the country, what we called credentialed members are able to enter using their cards and their uniform, without being stopped for the routine check.
You can't do it any other way, or we would bring the post to a halt. We're talking about the fact that also our policies, which do permit stop-and-search, won't catch anything that's carried in a car if there is not a stop-and-search.
Now, that is significant in that we need -- if we cannot ensure that we can find that there, and I don't know anyone -- we certainly haven't proposed anything in an after-action action -- after-action action.
ADM. CLARK: (Laughs.)
MR. WEST: Fort Hood has instituted periodic checks of everyone without advance notice. And that will certainly help.
But what we're thrown back on and what is significant then is our ability to respond to cues, indicators and other ways of identifying the individuals on whom we have to be -- with respect to whom we have to be particularly careful, to see if those are indicators of potential violence.
Q But this will take a village though, right? So how's it going to -- I mean, how are you going to inculcate this new kind of culture in the military?
MR. WEST: Well, we've made several recommendations. And of course, we have that old fallback. And that is, that's for the next set of reviews that follows us to try to focus on.
The secretary sent -- said -- I hope you heard that and saw it. In his statement this morning, he sent a message to the force. He said, commanders, step beyond your day-to-day duties.
That's part of it. And it's a message for everyone.
Q Just before all this happened, there was an Army mental health advisory team that among other things recommended a doubling of the number of mental-health providers in Afghanistan.
Was there pressure to provide those bodies that might have caused people to overlook Major Hasan's problems so that -- so that he could be deployed?
ADM. CLARK: Frankly, I think that you would have to ask the Army about their specific response. But in looking at programs, policies and procedures, we know that there were -- you know, that there are always -- in doing personnel assessments, there are always shortfall areas that a department, a particular service is pursuing.
I can't speak to the accuracy of the report that you are speaking to, but in -- one would expect that the whole personnel-management process is continually doing the kind of assessments that seek to meet the current needs. We know that -- the kind of warfare that our people are facing on the front, and that's why I alluded to the -- then, health-care providers. These are -- these are stressing times for them.
Is the force stressed? Well, the force is stressed when we train it. Part of the growth and development process is to test it. And so what we are saying in response to the question put forward to us with regard to health-care providers is, they must be provided the same kind of care in responding to the stressors that exist that even the combatants are dealing with.
MR. WEST: Thank you for the phrasing of your question. It almost triggered my alert, but it didn't quite.
Q In this "Force Security" section, you call on commanders to have the authority to intervene in the case of activities that sort of -- or DOD personnel at risk for potential violence, make contact to establish relationships with persons or entities that promote self- radicalization.
Does that mean, though, that commanders or their -- or their delegates will have to be out there looking at what's being preached at certain mosques or radical Christian churches or whatever, and determining what kind of religion, philosophy, statements constitute radicalization? And how involved do you want the military in that kind of assessment?
ADM. CLARK: What you heard Admiral Mullen say today, and what you heard him say the day that this whole task force was put into being, is that there's a -- and I speak, too, as a person who did this for 37 years.
There is an inherent belief, in the chain of command, in the ability of the chain of command to deal with problems.
The secretary -- as Secretary West said a moment ago, SECDEF charged commanders to look carefully, understand that this a challenging threat arena, and the difference between a force- protection system that puts up barriers, to keep everybody out, and now dealing with threats that have the potential to be inside.
And what those comments mean in the report there is that the chain of command has to be attuned: watching, listening, being -- situational awareness is the order of the day.
Q So do you want them out there in churches and mosques listening?
MR. WEST: Not anywhere in our recommendations, nor even a hint of it.
ADM. CLARK: You don't see that.
Q Admiral, was political correctness a factor in perhaps overlooking the self-radicalization that went on here?
ADM. CLARK: You're really referring to my personal assessment of what might be in the annex and a restricted annex. And we're not going to discuss anything that is in the restricted annex, other than what's been said.
STAFF: I think we have time for one or two more.
MR. WEST: But since you didn't get that question answered, because it was out of bounds, do you have one that is in bounds you want to ask?
Q No. Go ahead, sir.
MR. WEST: Okay.
Q What are the duties of -- you talk about information sharing within the Department of Defense. Does a -- how far do you want that to go? Do you want chaplains who counsel someone, other mental-health providers -- if they see some of the indicators you were talking about -- to go to unit commanders? And say, I counseled this fellow, but I think you need to take quicker look based on what he said.
Or is that a privacy violation? How far should that sharing go?
MR. WEST: Well, I can feel the admiral's elbow in my -- in my ribs saying, now is the time to talk about balance and balance in our report, balance in our recommendations.
ADM. CLARK: (Laughs.) Yeah.
MR. WEST: And it's raised by your question as well.
Do we want commanders in the mosque? No. Do we want anybody there? No. What we want is commanders' awareness of what's happening in their units and what's happening to their people.
Admiral Mullen will tell you, they're already supposed to do that, and we shouldn't be having to say it.
And perhaps they are. But our emphasis is on that's where we believe much of the solution lies.
No, we're not saying or we're not recommending that our soldiers and our commanders be told to peach on their colleagues. But we are recommending that they be concerned, that they engage in conversation, that they be aware. The language in our report is, be aware when they are in trouble or when they require support. Sometimes, just counseling and a helping hand can help, but other times, there are warning signs that need to be paid attention to and passed along the chain of command so that those in authority can decide what is the right approach.
None of this works without another one of our recommendations, which is that there be an effort to collect from experts -- our own experts and others -- the signs that something is wrong, the signs that are there across the board, so that commanders and others can have a sense of what they are. Then there is the ability to bring those two together.
ADM. CLARK: Before we go to the next question, let me just then talk about other things that we should be speaking about when we're talking about sharing information. Something happens on Base A, and how does that information get to Base B a few miles away? When we talk about a command-and-control system that changes outcomes, we're talking about the ability to share real-time or near real-time information in a way that will ensure the right outcomes.
And our finding -- and the secretary of Defense referred to it this morning -- is that system does not exist. We need the same kind of common operational picture for force protection that we have in the field when we're talking about anti-air warfare; you know, the pieces that go with that. We need to enable the commander with the kind of information shared inside the department that will allow them to be preemptive in dealing with threats, and not dealing with them after the fact.
MR. WEST: Your question, and then yours.
Q If you had been Major Hasan's -- one of his commanding officers, who would you have done, based on what you've learned?
MR. WEST: Now do you think maybe you've stepped across there?
Q (Off mike) -- legitimate question. You can answer that within your --
MR. WEST: No, I think -- refer to what we've learned, right?
Q No. You probably could say that you would have been alarmed by certain things.
You could probably say that.
MR. WEST: Well, let me tell you what we did say.
MR. WEST: We said that we thought that several officers responsible for applying the Army's policies to him did not do so, and that we think that that should be referred to the secretary of the Army for considerations of accountability. I think that's as far as you want us to go.
Q But I -- but I would like to just say, is there a positive thing you could say about what you would have done had you been in that situation? Like the kind of wording you- to the commanding officers, you said, well, we're concerned about this and this and that?
ADM. CLARK: Let me take this in a direction that might be helpful, without speaking to this specific case. This morning, the question was asked about information moving from base to base and with an individual. One of the things that leaders do, and good officers, is that -- and at the heart of the United States military -- is we grow and develop people. The growth and development process sometimes takes counseling and sometimes takes instruction.
And so part of what we are suggesting here -- and it has to do with sharing information. What we found is that some information is maintained at a local level, and some information is maintained at a service-wide level. And leaders are the people who direct the kind of interchange with individuals to improve their performance. We used the term "officership" in our report because we believe that this is fundamental to the institution and that -- our recommendation is that the secretary of the Army take a look at it.
MR. WEST: Here, and then here because you've had your hand up a lot.
Q Mr. Secretary, you said you don't want troops necessarily telling on each other, but you want them to be concerned. But you really want them to be more than concerned; don't you? If someone hears something that is of concern to them, you want that shared within the change of command; do you not?
MR. WEST: Yeah, and I -- I said that, but it may have dribbled off, yes.
Q I'm sorry, this may -- you may have gone over this, but when can we expect to hear who and how many people will be reprimanded for the mistakes made?
MR. WEST: Well, we're not going to give you a time, but it's going to be referred -- in fact, it may have been referred to the Army. I'm not sure of what --
ADM. CLARK: Certainly, yes. It has --
MR. WEST: It did this morning?
ADM. CLARK: It has, yes.
MR. WEST: He's referred it to the secretary of the Army. They have the information.
Q You have the information. You have those people in mind already, right?
MR. WEST: The decision is within the chain of command. This is a referral for accountability.
Accountability has to do with whether there -- there's a basis there to hold those particular people responsible.
Q But do you have recommendations about --
MR. WEST: The recommendation that we made on this is the recommendation that you have in the report.
Q Right, but I haven't had a chance to read the report.
MR. WEST: No, no -- I used the language for you. I've already used the language: "Refer to the secretary of the Army for review as to accountability and such other matters as may be appropriate -- such other actions as may be appropriate."
Q So you didn't recommend specific people or numbers.
MR. WEST: We did not.
Q So you're not recommending specific reprimands --
MR. WEST: We did not.
Q -- you're saying to consider whether there should be --
MR. WEST: We didn't even say that. We said to consider accountability or such other actions as appropriate. Accountability certainly raises the question of anything the secretary of the Army may consider in terms of action.
Q Maybe this is a "phase two" question, but do you recommend at all in here on how to break this culture of essentially letting troops slide by with -- on bad recommendations, or people kind of not really responding to what they see as maybe odd behavior or anything? Is that something you kind of discuss in here?
MR. WEST: Well, we have a recommendation to the secretary that he send a strong message, of the kind that only he can send, and he sent part of it this morning.
Q But is there language in there on suggesting what to do? I -- because this culture is kind of the big -- one of the big problems. Or is this something that has to be tasked elsewhere?
ADM. CLARK: You have assessed it correctly. This is a challenge. The -- performance appraisal -- when I was the chief of the Navy, one of the things that I was digging after was the whole performance-appraisal system. And in offline discussions, we have talked about the challenge of this. This isn't just a department issue; this is an issue in performance-appraisal systems everywhere.
We did not define a specific "you should do this." We said to the secretary, in order to -- in order to be able to identify internal threats, as much accurate information as is possible is required to be known by the leaders. And what we find in the process is that some information is passed and some is not. By the way, the report says, on page seven, I believe, that some -- potentially some information was missed. Potentially some information -- I think it said "missed" or "misinterpreted" or -- but the point is -- is that we're suggesting to the secretary the policies and the programs behind the performance- appraisal system merit review and the emphasis -- and an emphasis on accurate information.
And the secretary passed that emphasis this morning.
MR. WEST: One question, and then I think we're going to get dragged off.
Q Just to clarify again, the report -- the language of the report is that several officers failed to comply, et cetera, and that you're recommending them for possible reprimand. But you do not recommend names?
MR. WEST: No.
Q You're just saying several officers? You're not saying who in the report?
MR. WEST: We're not recommending, but all of our research and everything that contributed to it is being passed to the Army along with the report.
Q Which points to those individuals.
Q Well, wait, there were news accounts today saying five -- five could be -- eight. Accurate, or not?
MR. WEST: I read those. I read those, and we have no comment on that.
Q Why can't you clarify the record? I mean, that's not asking you to give numbers ?.
MR. WEST: Oh, yes it is.
Q No, it's not.
MR. WEST: Yes, it is. If you ask us to confirm it, then you have us saying it.
MR. WEST: Here's the answer: We're not going to confirm. She hasn't finished her question.
Q Well, I just -- you don't have -- you don't name the several officers in your report ?
MR. WEST: We did not name them to the secretary, either, in this or in any protected annex.
Q Okay, so --
MR. WEST: We have no doubt that the Army will be able to isolate the individuals and take the appropriate action.
MR. WEST: If we had any doubt about that, we certainly would have named.
ADM. CLARK: There's a technicality here that we don't need to get immersed in, but there are informal investigations -- informal investigations when it comes to discipline -- disciplining personnel.
We were given -- the phase-one part of this was the informal piece of it, but there is -- there is a large amount and volume of information that was -- is being turned over to the Army. We have the kind of data and records that we were able to examine in this report that is part of the restricted annex that gave us the kind of comfort that we understood the issues in a -- in a manner in which we could make the recommendation that we did. And we recommended that it be -- that the secretary pass this to the secretary of the Army for action. And he did so. According to his words this morning, he said he has already done so.
MR. WEST: Remember, when he -- when he announced our formation several -- what -- six weeks ago? -- it seems like longer -- he said this is not a review to point fingers. We followed his instructions, but make no mistake: The Army has sufficient information to do what it has to do. And we thank you all for your time.
(C) COPYRIGHT 2010, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE. NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.
UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.
FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.
FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL CARINA NYBERG AT 202-347-1400.