United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share


Transcript : DoD News Briefing : Thursday, April 25, 1996 -1p.m.

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
April 25, 1996 1:00 PM EDT

Thursday, April 25, 1996 - 1p.m.

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. I'd like to welcome all the daughters and otherchildren here today on bring your daughter to work day. We've got Ms. Gertzand Ms. Burns. Who else? Whose back there? Andrew and Mack. Welcome. Comeanytime. You can ask questions, too, if you have questions you want to ask,just stand up and ask them. I might even answer them.

I'd like to start with a couple of announcements. First, in about an hour,the Secretary will give a very important speech on National Missile Defense atGeorge Washington University. It will be piped in here, but, of course, Iinvite you to go over there. The first 20 people will get free tickets to thenext phase of the Kennedy auction. [Laughter]

Q: Are we talking about George [inaudible]?

A: I'm sorry. George Washington.

Q: It is George Washington.

Mr. Bacon: It's in -- George Washington. Tomorrow, the Secretary will givethe keynote address at the 1996 Latin Americans Symposium in Miami. This issponsored by SOUTHCOM and the National Defense University and he'll be talkingabout the Defense Ministerials of Americas one year later.

Finally, I have a whole lot of general and flag officer announcements whichare available in DDI, but I'll call your attention to just two. The Presidenthas nominated Vice Admiral Archie Clemins to the appointment of the grade ofAdmiral and he will be assigned to be commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet inPearl Harbor. He's currently the commander of the 7th fleet in Japan. And thesecond, I'd like to call your attention to is that Vice Admiral Dennis Blairwill move from the CIA where he's in charge of military programs to become thedirector of the Joint Staff here replacing Lieutenant General Walter Kraus, whoas you know, is being promoted to the rank of General and will become thecommander in chief of the transportation command.

So, with those announcements, I'll take your questions. Charlie?

Q: Is the Secretary opposed to putting the Pentagon side of the intelligentbudget under the director of central intelligence? Is that why he didn'ttestify? Is he opposed to that?

A: Let me answer the second part of your question because when you ask themulti-part question, I get to choose the part I want to answer.

Q: Just the second part.

A: The reason that he did not appear yesterday was because the hearing beganas a narrow hearing on the National Imagery and Mapping Agency but was expandedover time to a broader range of topics. And the Secretary felt that becausethe Intelligence Committee does not have oversight jurisdiction over theDefense Department, it would be appropriate for him to deal with this broaderrange of topics before the Senate Arms Services Committee. So, he plans -- hehas offered to appear before a joint meeting of the Arms Services Committee andthe Intelligence Committee. That is why he did not appear yesterday. Therewere rumors floating around that there was a rift between the Secretary and Dr.Deutch on intelligence reform and that is not true. The -- I'm sorry, theother part of your question?

Q: Does the Secretary oppose putting the Pentagon substantially as part of theintelligence budget under the director of central intelligence? Removing itfrom the Pentagon and putting it under the civilian realm?

A: They are still working out the details of the intelligence reforms. Butbasically, they have been able to resolve almost all the differences that theirbureaucracies have brought to them. There are still other matters that haven'tbeen resolved and they will be resolved I assume amicably over time. I don'twant to get into the details right now, but basically, they meet twice a week.They've met twice already this week, Dr. Deutch and Dr. Perry, and they areworking together very smoothly to put these reforms and reorganizations intoplace.

Q: So you're saying that the Secretary does not oppose putting the --

A: I'm saying they are working on these issues. I don't know exactly how manythey've ticked off, but I don't anticipate that there are going to be hugeproblems.

Q: Separate and different subject.

A: Sure.

Q: The general accounting office has come up with a draft report suggestingthat perhaps the F-18, E&F program be canceled to save up to $17 billion. Atwo-part question, please. Ken, one, do we know who originated the request forthe report and two, what is the department's position on any cost savings whichwould do away with the Super Hornet?

A: Well first of all, as much as the Pentagon would like to control thegeneral accounting office, we do not. So I think that questions about whoinitiated report should best be put to the general accounting office which isan agency of Congress and they can answer those. On the question of the SuperHornet, that's what you're talking about, the F-18, the E&F program which is--

Q: The Navy wants to buy about 1,000 of them over this span of many years andis the department's position still the same? That gee, give the Navy theaircraft that is needed, wanted, all of the above?

A: We have not changed our view on the Super Hornet program. Remember the JOreport is only a draft report right now. And it's a work in progress. I don'tbelieve there's been a firm Pentagon -- I don't believe they've taken intoaccount the Pentagon response yet. I'm sure they'll be persuaded by ourresponse and want to change their recommendations when they complete thereport. Bill?

Q: House Speaker Newt Gingrich reported today, he said that he was concernedthat U.S. military assets, Naval ships and surveillance aircraft were enforcingan embargo against Bosnia at the same time, the Administration had secretlyallowed Iran to ship arms to Bosnia. What's -- I wanted to get your responseto that. And secondly, do you have a cost estimate or can you get a costestimate for the cost of those enforcement operations between April `94 andNovember when they formerly stopped enforcing the embargo.

A: Well first of all, the implication of your question is that the embargo wasset up only to prevent arms from going to Bosnia. Of course, that's not true.The embargo was set up to prevent arms from going to Serbia as well. It was totry to contain and limit the fighting as much as possible in the formerYugoslavia. The question that you asked, of course, will be answered I'm surein the course of one of the many hearings that seemed to be ahead of us on thisissue.

I think it's important to focus on what happened here and what didn't happen.There was not a violation of the embargo. Weapons from several countries wereshipped through Croatia. Some stopped in Croatia. Some of the weapons went onto Bosnia. The sea, the Sharp Guard was an embargo at sea. The weapons as faras I know that came into Croatia from Iran came by air. In fact, the firstshipment was in a 747.

The Administration faced a very ticklish situation here. It was pointed outto us many, many times by Senator Dole and others in Congress, the Bosnianpeople were dramatically less well-armed than their Serbian opponents were.And there was a perceived need in Congress and within the Administration tofind a way to balance the forces. Faced with that challenge, theAdministration decided that it was -- everything else considered an acceptablerisk to take to have some arms leaked through the embargo to Bosnia. That'swhat happened. And I think that the decision helped lead to a stronger Bosnianforce and a stronger Federation force.

Remember, the Federation between the Croatians and Bosnia was created in Marchof `94, right after the Sarajevo market attack to strengthen their efforts towithstand Serb attacks. The ability of that Federation and the ability of theBosnian forces to withstand the attacks ultimately helped lead to the DaytonPeace Accord. There was a careful weighing many times, at several times,throughout this period in 1994 of the -- of concerns about Iranian influence inBosnia and concerns about the survival of the Bosnian forces and the Federationforces. And when those were weighed, the Administration reached the decisionthat I described.

The arms, the multi-lateral arms embargo which was imposed by the UnitedNations was not something we supported and we proposed to the United Nationsthe ending of the multi-lateral arms embargo. The United Nations decided notto end it. We decided that it would not be right to breach the embargounilaterally by shipping arms to Bosnia. And in November of `94, as you know,Congress took away our right to enforce the arms embargo. That's when the NunnMitchell legislation took effect, I think November 15th, 1994. So from thatday on, we didn't have a right to participate in Sharp Guard in an enforcingcapacity and we didn't.

Q: But until that time, we were engaged and we spent a lot of money presumablyfor our ships to interdict shipping and also our surveillance aircraft topresumably --

A: As I said, I think you're taking too narrow view of this. The embargo wasnot set up against any one group or country. It was set up against -- it wasset up against all the warring factions and it was an effort to reduce thefighting by choking off arms flows, in particular, to the Serbians. So.

Q: As well as the Bosnians too?

A: That's right. And so, you should look at the overall embargo, not just onepart of it. Jamie?

Q: You said and I don't have your words exactly here, but you said that if itwas an acceptable risk to take to allow some of the arms to leak through. Thatwould seem to imply that the United States had it wanted to would have beenable to stop --

A: I'm not sure that's the case. As I said, there were arms from severalcountries coming in. We were one part of an operation. It was, as I said, itwas a multi-lateral operation largely with European participation.

Q: Just to be clear. Was this leakage something that it was within the powerof the United States to stop if it had wanted to?

A: I don't believe it was. I do not believe it was.

Q: What was your thoughts on that? What was the United States role in theland part of the embargo? Like you said, while we're talking about it.

A: Well, I talked about air.

Q: As you said, the main point of the discussion has been the Naval embargowhich didn't really affect these arms shipments by air. So what was the U.S.part of stopping air traffic into there?

A: We were not interdicting flights going to Croatia at that time.

Q: Or from Croatia into Bosnia?

A: Certainly not flights going into Croatia.

Q: You say that it was not in violation of the embargo no matter which sidethe situation you're on. How is allowing and condoning leakage, acircumvention of the embargo, not in violation of the embargo simply becausethe United States --

A: In violation of the embargo would have been shipping arms in violation ofthe embargo. That's not what we were doing.

Q: So knowingly allowing the circumvention of the embargo even though youdidn't actively say, is not a violation of the embargo?

A: What happened was we were asked the question would we take the position andwe said we would not take the position on the shipments of arms from Iranthrough Croatia into Bosnia.

Q: No, I understand. But what you're saying is again, that I'm just askingdirectly that knowingly allowing or condoning circumvention of the embargo isnot a violation of the embargo.

A: We did not violate the embargo.

Q: When you say we were asked the question. You mean the United States wasasked the question, by whom?

A: By President Tudjman of Croatia.

Q: Did Secretary Perry approve of the new instructions policy, the newinstruction position?

A: You and I talked about this yesterday and I'll tell you now what I told youyesterday which is that the issue was discussed by the Administration's topforeign policy advisors and what the line the discussion was to weigh concernsabout Iranian arms provisions on the one hand with concerns about keeping theFederation going and the Bosnian forces capable of fighting on the other. Itwas weighed against the backdrop of our view of the fairness of themulti-lateral arms embargo on the Bosnians. They were severely disadvantagedby this because in the Former Yugoslavia broke up they were left with a muchlighter force, less well-armed force than the Serbs were. So, they were alwaysfighting from the significant disadvantage. Against that backdrop, weighingthe two factors that I talked about, the Administration made the decision thatit did.

Q: Was the issue discussed before the decision was made with the Secretaryinvolved?

A: The issue was discussed at times when it was possible to influence thedecision.

Q: Change the subject. Yesterday, -- do you have something else?

A: Sure.

Q: The issue of the weakness of the military [inaudible] of the Bosnians was acontinuing problem. It didn't start with President Tudgman [inaudible] theU.S. government. Has Secretary Perry participated in discussions beforePresident Tudgman's request came in as to the issue of whether the U.S. wouldput in some fashion, find a way that other parties would supply this embargo.

A: I'm not going to get into the business of talking about privateconversations the Secretary had. I've given you a general discussion, ageneral description of discussions within the Administration on this topic andthat's as far as I'm going.

Q: Discussions prior to President Tudgman's request?

A: David?

Q: A question on Bosnia, but different. If anybody wants to keep going on theembargo. There seems to be -- have been a fairly substantial change in theplan here on the withdrawal of American troops from Bosnia which originallypeople have been talking about starting to pull out in June or July and nowyou're basically saying that you're going to keep the force in my configurationthat you're going to keep 18,000 troops there right up until December 20th andthen began [inaudible].

A: Yes, let me walk you through that. That's something that has been talkedabout in piecemeal from this platform and other places over the last few monthsand let me try to make it as clear as I can. Initially, there was talk aboutbeginning the drawdown in the summer. We were asked by the OSCE to keep, we,IFOR, was asked to keep the full force there until after the elections. One ofthe primary accomplishments of the IFOR force is to make freedom of movementpossible to a much greater extent than previously. And freedom of movementobviously is crucial to effective election campaigning and effective gettingout the vote. So, IFOR has agreed to remain there in full force until afterthe elections which I believe are now scheduled for late September.

General Shalikashvili said in Europe earlier this week that this means thatthere probably would not be any drawdown of the U.S. troops until Deplus 270,nine months into the mission. General Joulwan said here six or eight weeksago, maybe six weeks ago that he wanted to leave a significant force in Bosniauntil the end of the mission which is Deplus 20 as he explained it. Themission will end in Deplus 20, but all the troops won't be out by Deplus, Imean, I'm sorry, all the mission will end on December 20th, 1996, but all thetroops won't be out by then because he doesn't want to leave, have a skillfulforce on hand on December 20th. He wants a significant force there right upuntil the last day.

So that means that it will take a month maybe longer to get all the troops outafter December 20th. What the chairman also said earlier this week and whatAdmiral Smith has said is that between now and September 20th, there could besome reconfiguration of the force. That generally taken to mean that the forcemay be lightened up in some way. There could be somewhat fewer tanks and maybereplacing combat soldiers with trained MP's and Humvees who might be able tomove around more quickly than the tanks would be.

This is something that's being discussed, but it hasn't happened yet. Sobasically, the mission will end on December 20th and the troops will come outas quickly as possible after December 20th.

Q: On the embargo, one more.


Q: I'm sorry. But the full force will be there until December 20th?

A: Well not necessarily the full force, but a significant force. I didn't saythe full force, but there could be -- General Joulwan has said that he wouldlike to leave a significant force there. There may be some drawdown. Isuspect that there will be some drawdown of the force starting at the ninemonth point which is Deplus 270. But how large that is, and how quick it is,remains to be seen. But General Joulwan has said that he expects some drawdownbefore December 20th, but it could be a rather limited drawdown.

Q: Can you define significant in terms of numbers?

A: Not yet.

Q: Could it be reasonable to presume that the withdrawal at the same time ofthe year as the entry will take about the same amount of time?

A: Well, it's hard to tell. We won't have to build bridges. We won't have toput navigation aides into the Tuzla Airport. There's a lot of infrastructurethat has been built and won't have to be rebuilt. A number of roads will havebeen improved. So, I would suspect that we will be able to get out morequickly. We also, as you know, moved in during one of the worse winters inrecent years. If we're lucky, we'll have a milder winter when we move out andthat will make leaving quicker. Also, we won't have to phase the troops comingin as we're building up camps and facilities for them because they'll be ableto just vacate the facilities they have. So, I would hope that the evacuation,the exit, will be much faster than the entrance.

Q: Also, on the Former Yugoslavia and the general terms. It would seem thatthe transport plane carrying Secretary Brown was in violation of Air Forceregulations at least NIC [ph] regulations about landing in that Croatianairport under instrument conditions. I know the investigation is not complete,but can you give us some guidance as to, you know, how the disparity is shapingup?

A: Well, as you pointed out, the investigation isn't complete and I just don'tthink it would be appropriate as I said, on Tuesday, to get into parts of amuch broader investigation. When we have the facts put together, we'll tellyou what they are.

Q: Any idea as to a timeframe?

A: I don't have an idea right now. We're working as fast as we can.

Q: On the Prime Minister Peres visit this weekend.

A: I'm coming back to you.

Q: In addition to missile defense, what are the topics on the table?Specifically, is there going to be any discussion of any kind of mutual defenseagreements or arrangements of that sort?

A: Well, the main topics here will be on ways to maintain Israel's qualitativeedge and this will involve missile defense systems, rocket defense systems, andearly warning systems. We will also talk about continue discussing a topicthat Secretary Perry and Prime Minister Peres launched in January when he wasin Jerusalem and that is what should the relationship be, the securityrelationship, between the U.S. and Israel be or between Israel and othercountries in the region be after a comprehensive peace agreement. This seemsunfortunately somewhat less urgent topic today than it did in January, but wewill continue to talk about future security arrangements both on a bilateraland regional basis involving Israel.

Q: Also, on the early warning. What are we talking about for an earlywarning?

A: Well, it would be basically early warning that could be tied into missiledefense systems.

Q: Are you talking about satellite ground stations, things of that nature?

A: I think we'll talk about details on Sunday rather than before. I thinkit's also better to talk after the meeting than before the meeting. I know itruns counter to the journalist code, but the bureaucratic says it's better totalk after meetings than before.

Q: On the issue of the Iranians and Bosnians. Republic critics are sayingthat this has allowed -- this policy has allowed the Iranians to have afoothold in Europe and in Bosnia and it is also complicating efforts to conductthe arms equipment training program for the Bosnian military. Could youcomment on that? Whether you agree with that or disagree. And secondly, thereare reports of Iranian assassination teams in Bosnia. Is this something thatposes a threat to U.S. troops or with the NATO troops?

A: To take your last question first. Are you referring to the New York Timesarticle today?

Q: Well, there were European press reports and the New York Times article.

A: The New York Times article I think referred to Iranian trainedassassination teams. We're obviously looking closely at those reports. Weknow from the raid several months ago that there was significant Iraniantraining going on. We believe the Iranian presence has been diminishedsignificantly in Bosnia in the last couple of months and I think that it'sdiminished at such an extent that the equipment training program will be ableto be in relatively soon in the next few weeks. Because of the decline in theIranian presence as well as the fact that now money has been raisedinternationally to help fund the program. It should be off the ground, as Isaid, sometime next month.

Q: The equipment and training would begin even though all of the Iraniansforeign forces have not left the country?

A: That's not what I said. It will begin when we're satisfied that they'vecomplied with the foreign forces provision. I think we will be in a positionto be satisfied relatively soon. We've been dealing with the Bosnians on thisissue for a long time and our views are very well known to them. So, andthey've responded.

Q: Well, then let me ask will the training and equipment program begin if anyforeign forces remain in Bosnia?

A: It will begin when it's certified by IFOR that it's appropriate for it tobegin and we expect that we'll be in a position to do that sometime next month.But until we actually reach that time, we won't know. But, we think that we'reclose.

Q: Thank you. A: Sure. Yes. Sorry.

Q: Yesterday, the President issued an Executive Order affecting line of asuccession to the Secretary of Defense. Is it for the first time, for thePentagon to have such an important --

A: I'm sorry. Your question has caught me totally by surprise and I'll haveto check into that. We do have a Deputy Secretary of Defense and have had onefor some time. But, I think I better check the facts of the Executive Orderand we'll get back to you.


Additional Links

Stay Connected