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DoD News Briefing: Admiral Paul David Miller, USACOM

Presenters: Admiral Paul David Miller, USACOM
October 21, 1994 1:00 PM EDT
Thursday, October 20, 1994 - 1:00 p.m.

Mr. Boxx: Good afternoon. I have a star studded program for you today.

We asked Admiral Paul David Miller to come up before he retires on the 31st of this month and talk a little bit about the operation in Haiti. As you know, he is the Commander-in-Chief of USACOM and overall responsible for the operations in Haiti, and had much to do with the planning and development of that operation, and consequently, can take a lot of pride and credit for the way it went.

So with that, we've asked him to come up and give you a short overview, and then take some questions.

Admiral Miller: Actually the reason that Dennis invited me up is the Secretary of Defense is in the Far East, so is Shali; my good friend Jack Sheehan is out of the Pentagon resting somewhere because he's going to report to Norfolk on Monday, and we're going to start the turnover process, and he's going to take over as both the USACOM commander and as SACLANT on the 31st of this month. But, I did accept this invitation because this is sort of one month, right? About a month ago there was a lot of news breaking in this room and in other places about the activity in Haiti.

If you don't mind, I'd just like to recap that event in a very short period of time. Why? Because we've had many young American men and women participate in this event, and from my vantage point all of them have done a brilliant job, and it's good, a month later since we deployed so many of those folks, just to recap it and see if you have any questions on it.

You'll recall that a month ago we were facing sort of an atypical threat environment. We had somewhat of a traditional military threat, but we had this thing called Haitian-on-Haitian violence that we had to take into consideration, and a lot of instability. But our planning didn't start just before that; it goes back a long time. In fact, I've been in Norfolk for nearly four years as a four star, and Haiti has been on my scope nearly every day--both as the fleet commander and as the previous U.S. CINCLANT and now USACOM. We went through the Haitian migrant evolution a few years back when we took it up to 15,000 in number. Then we had a hiatus, and then we started to ramp up again.


So I look at the Caribbean, particularly in the last year. Since that time, in October of '93, when we had the first UNMIH operation. The HARLAN COUNTY, remember, was turned around. Since that period, I slowly developed in my mind and in the minds of the planners down there, a Caribbean campaign. Because it's not just the Haiti evolution of the last 30 days. We had the initial one of JTF-120 back in October '93 about maritime interdiction operations. Then some migrant operations. We had Operation Sea Signal, the migrant processing at GTMO and the safe havens that we created. We've had Operation Sustain Democracy where we had the observer groups in the Dominican Republic. We've had Operation Uphold Democracy, and Operation Maintain Democracy.

So we've had a lot of issues down there, but the single point that we have focused on in our planning, the single point, in addition to really having executable plans, is on the single word "execution." It's being able to take that plan off the shelf, being able to put it in the field, and to execute it smartly. We've capitalized on what I call America's competitive edge in combat. That competitive edge is strategic mobility; it's maintaining C4I, the best in the world; maintaining clear and accurate tactical pictures all the time. To that extent, I almost asked Dennis if he wanted to do this on VTC today, because I just jumped off a helicopter an hour and fifteen minutes ago and I'll jump on one going back, and we've used VTC very, very effectively in this evolution as a command and control tool. In fact you'll recall that many of you reported on the President having a VTC with USACOM and the operational commanders that Saturday before the event.

Recall, we had two options. I phrased one called "kick in the door," and the other I phrased as a "soft landing." But these were really op plans three inches thick. But with the President Carter/Senator Nunn/Colin Powell agreement, it sort of went between those two bookends, is how I characterized it. But with regard to employment, I believe the record now shows that we had a tailored force--tailored for that aspect of the mission. It was the right force at the right time. The ingredients were flexibility, and I think the record shows that we were very, very flexible, in which we launched 62 aircraft out of 105 that we had planned; pulled them back; and within 12 hours did the soft landing centered on the 10th Mountain Troops and Ike. And by the way, when I lifted off from Norfolk, I was crossing the Chesapeake. Guess what I saw? The USS EISENHOWER getting underway today with their traditional air wing on board going to Europe, and then if need be, to support Southwest Asia. So that demonstrates the flexibility of that capability of carriers and traditional air wings. On that day in Haiti we had 54 or so 10th Mountain helicopters and 2,000 troops. So we used a lot of flexibility.

Successes. We completed the deployment and employment phase fairly quickly. We put 2,933 troops, was the max point, into Haiti. We did that in 10 days. For those that like numbers, we put in 7,181 pieces of equipment--trucks and other types of vehicles, being able to get the mobility on the ground that we needed. But the key to success, from my vantage point, was boots on the ground. We got a lot of them there simultaneously to set the conditions that we needed to set to do what? What did the folks do? They had some tasks. I think they accomplished them brilliantly. The designated leadership of the FAd'H departed about on schedule; major weapons have been destroyed; the weapons control issue, I think, has been quite successful. We've taken weapons and ammunition off the street. We've secured the communications systems. We have LNOs, liaison officers with the FAd'H. We've started the vetting process. That word was new to me until just a few months back, but I think all of us know what that is now.

The missions were clear. We needed to go down there to protect American citizens and designated Haitian third country nationals. But in summary, we provided them the freedom of action, the movement throughout Haiti. They never lost that. No one lost the freedom of action and movement around Haiti. The civil order, we worked very, very hard on that. You've seen the results of that. You've also seen the results of civil action--establishing better water works, electrical power, trying to get that grid back up immediately both at Port-au-Prince and Cap- Haitien. We coordinated and assisted with the non-governmental and PVO organizations. We assisted local authorities in reopening schools. When I personally went down there, I said it was very important for those schools to open on time. Very important. I talked to the Mayor of Cap-Haitien, just about that. That was one of the topics, what could we do to show that, because that said what? That said things were about normal.

We had a lot of activity in restoring the legitimate government of Haiti. President Aristide is, of course, there and working. Mayor Paul's in his office. Parliament. You followed all those events. There's a lot to talk about down there.

One of the things that gets a spotlight is this weapons control program. For your catalog, we've taken about 12,088 weapons off the street. That's a lot. We've done it both through direct action--many of you reported the caches that we went after. Some of them have been dry holes, but a lot of them have been very, very fruitful. Then we went into the Cash for Guns program, that returned about 3,000.

On the migrant front, I told you that was one of our Joint Task Forces which were the migrants. We're returning those to Haiti at a very good rate now. There were 14,000 on the 20th of September. Now we have about 8,500 and there are some being returned as we speak.

Where's our focus now? I have VTCs with General Shelton and General Meade and all the commanders every day, and our focus now is on transition to UNMIH. We're working to transition also from General Shelton to General Meade, JTF-180 to JTF-190, and we're working with United Nations, their advanced team, to set the conditions for transfer to UNMIH too.

Additional data. Cost data has been reported about $140 million. Costs calculated since the end of September, currently monthly costs are being added. The personnel count is down. I sent a message to Shali that we would be on a glide slope to 15,500 by the time I turn it over to Jack, and I report to you we're on glide slope. We have less than 17,000 today. We have about 16,800. The Joint Task Force itself in the joint operating area, we only have 2,000 left outside of Haiti in the support operation. Most of them are on the MT. WHITNEY, and we're going to work very hard to get MT. WHITNEY out of there next week, so that number will go way down.

The commanders there, they've done a brilliant job. Hugh Shelton and Jay Johnson as the Deputy, he's been on Mt. Whitney, and the naval force commander. Dave Meade, who will soon shoulder the full responsibility for the transfer to UNMIH. But other leaders who you maybe don't hear their names very often, working hard in the field: George Close is Deputy of the 10th Mountain; Jim Record, Major General, U.S. Air Force, is a key figure that we relied on heavily if we would have had to do the "kick in the door" option. Bill Wright and Tom Jones, some of you might have seen them operate up at Cap-Haitien. We had the Marines there. The Marines set the conditions expertly for Cap-Haitien. Then we transitioned with the 10th Mountain.

Dick Potter, some of you may have heard that name and some of you haven't. Special Forces. Guys out in the field. Their A-Team. I visited one of them one day, nine, ten young Americans doing great work. Their responsibilities are awesome in going out there, operating independently in the field. The two that I visited were just very, very impressive, and they have bold, young Americans doing an independent job. Dick deserves a lot of credit for that activity outside of Port-au-Prince.

The CARICOM is led by Lieutenant Colonel Graham from Jamaica. That's working well. So is Mr. Kelly. He's working the IPMs, and that's the police monitors. You see those yellow hats on TV, that's him.

In summary, it's a relatively safe environment in Haiti right now, but that quiet and safe environment does not mean an absence of effort. It does not mean an absence of risk. So I think that everybody has worked very, very hard to assess the conditions that we currently enjoy. I follow it, as I say, on a daily basis. My report to you is that things have unfolded as we have had planned. Everything that's unfolding was some place in one of those two plans that I mentioned. We just had to take it out of the previous plan, adjust it a little bit to the conditions that we see as they unfold in Haiti.

Q: In retrospect, would it have been better if the Seabees and/or the engineers aboard the HARLAN COUNTY had gone ashore and not turned back? And a second question, on your joint force concept, there are those, in fact most I've talked to applaud what you did by putting the troops and the helicopters on board the EISENHOWER, but there are also those who say that worked because the carriers are operating close to home, but it wouldn't work if you were operating in the Persian Gulf or WESTPAC or somewhere else. Can I get your comments on both of those?

A: With regard to the first, the HARLAN COUNTY. We all look back on that and we can say that things should have been different, it would have been easier. But you play the cards that you're dealt, and the cards that were played that day was to not continue on with that operation. So we didn't continue on with it, but we used what we have learned from that to the next set of plans that we put into effect.

With regard to troops on carriers, I am a keen advocate of what I term joint force packaging. Tailoring the capabilities to the mission at hand, using a national kit of capabilities, so to speak, particularly here in CONUS, taking what is needed, using the mechanisms that you have available for use, tailoring them for the mission.

What we did with the carriers this time, they were intermediate support bases to enable us to move them in close to shore. Why? Because there was no air threat, no shore-to-sea threat. So we knew that we needed to put boots on the ground quickly, simultaneously, all those words, and the best way to do that was from helicopters close aboard as opposed to helicopters far away or waiting to air-land them, which takes a lot of time. So what we did was tailor the right force for the right mission at that time.

It won't be, you won't do it in other environments, but you need that brand of flexibility in all our mission planning, and that's all that shows. Our writings and our records have lots of other examples about joint task forces and packages, but I think that...

Q: The joint force packages now, has this changed the concept of warfare from now evermore as you see it?

A: No. Commanders need to look at the situation at hand, and ask for those forces that commanders feel necessary to accomplish the mission. What joint force packaging is about from my personal vantage point, and the reason that I've written about it and tried to articulate it, whatever audience I can, is that our resource line is going down, right? And the numbers of forces are going down. And the numbers of forces overseas are coming down. So what is it that we can look at and be able to draw on to ensure that we get maximum utility out of the forces that we have?

Next year this nation is going to have 1.4 million men and women in uniform, right? Give or take a few, but about that many. Where are they going to be positioned? We're going to have about 100,000 in Europe. President Clinton underwrote that at the NATO Summit last January. About 100,000 centered on Korea. Where are the other 1.2 million going to be? Here in the United States.

So force packaging and the Joint Task Force '95, the first concept that we developed and trained to, put together Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine units, trained them together as a composite team, as a joint team, and be able to satisfy our peacetime crisis and contingency response mission. So my only point is that we're going to have to look at such a mechanism because of the factors that I talked about going down, we're going to have to leverage our strength that I talked about earlier, the competitive advantage in combat, to be able to maintain a capability that we need to maintain as a nation, and this is just an evolutionary process that I think leaders that are responsible--CINCs, myself, are going to have to look at and take into account.

Q: Admiral, regarding disarmament. Some in the United Nations are saying that the United States is not going far enough in disarming the Haitian paramilitary. Two questions. Is there a difference in understanding between the United States and the UN about the mission of disarmament? And will you be doing more to disarm Haitians before the turnover to a UN force?

A: I personally haven't used the term disarmament, and I've been the responsible operational commander for this mission. I've used weapons reduction and control. I think to disarm a country such as Haiti that has so many weapons would be a pretty tough assignment, right? But what we want to do is set conditions for civil order. I mentioned how many we've taken off the streets thus far. We have a clear mission. We don't have a mission to go out and administer what the Haitian police are supposed to administer. So from this vantage point, the pace of our activity is correct and we look at the different ranges of violence. In fact, I graph them. Every day I get a graph, and the violence is FAd'H against the population. We had one on when the FRAPH was active, the FRAPH against the population. Popular violence against the FAd'H, and unknown Haitian-on-Haitian violence. I've been tracking each case. The trends are basically in the right direction, so I think you have to look at it, that it was a tough environment to begin with when we went there, there are many fewer weapons on the street now. And most importantly, if you go there and visit there, are you comfortable? That's what's important. I would ask, the last time you were there, were you comfortable?

Q: Do you have any plans to increase or reduce...

A: I don't have any plans to enhance the efforts that are currently ongoing. The local commanders are comfortable with what they're doing, and I've not reported to Shali or the Secretary or Defense any other recommendation.

Q: Do you think in the long term, though, that it facilitates trust in the U.S. forces that even though Aristide asked the population to identify the attaches and to turn them in, that they are being turned over to the police and then set free. Do you think that engenders a trust for U.S. forces on the ground?

A: President Aristide has been there for what now? Sunday, Monday, Tuesday... We are in an evolutionary environment with his return. The thing that's important, and there are lots of questions on individual areas like that, but we have to keep in mind trends, number one, because that's what will give us success over time. Are we achieving the right trend lines and setting the right conditions? And again, from talking with General Shelton, General Meade this morning, and Ambassador Swing just before I came up here. I checked with him at the last minute. With regard to those two questions, both of them are comfortable with the current pace of activity.

Q: You've noted how well this mission has gone up to this point. What is your greatest concern for the days, weeks, months ahead?

A: My greatest concern today, and it will be tomorrow, is what it was two weeks ago, and that is the untoward event. As I said, there are still risks in Haiti. There are still people that probably, if the opportunity were there, would hold our soldiers at risk. I'm mindful of that all the time, that single event that might hold our soldiers at risk in a tough environment, whether it be at Port-au-Prince or whether it be at Jeremie or some other place where we have the A-Team operating. The only thing that I rest in comfort in is that we have a very well-trained force and an alert force down there, and they set the momentum, and they're keeping the momentum to ensure that what I mentioned doesn't happen.

Q: On this matter of the Haitian military, their commanders are gone into exile. Who controls?

A: The previous commander. There are still commanders down there, right?

Q: Who is in command? Who commands the loyalty of the Haitian military? Is this military a threat to Aristide's regime?

A: No. I personally don't see the military as a threat to President Aristide.

Remember, I described two bookends at the beginning, of all the plans. Then came the agreement that I talked about. I think I'm correct in remembering a particular word in that agreement was to work "cooperatively." I think that word was in the agreement. Our on-scene commanders have been able to do that. It's a fine line to walk, but they've been able to do it, and we've been able to work with the military, with the FAd'H. We've gone and we've occupied their largest camp, we destroyed all their major weapons -- destroyed them, and we're working with them to help set the security conditions. That is a very important institution in Haiti, a very important one. Look at Cap-Haitien right now. Who is on the streets in Cap-Haitien? We have a model, a public security model up there. On the streets are FAd'H members. On the streets are trainees from the population that we had in GTMO. On the street are international police monitors. It took a week for the population to get comfortable with this new model of public security but it's there, it's working.

One of the things that I talked about when I met with the Mayor to tell him we were going to introduce that model is that we wanted to engender respect two ways. We wanted to engender respect to the people, to the law enforcement authorities, and most importantly, the law enforcement authorities to the people. So I don't see it as a threat. They're working as part of the overall mechanism to maintain the overall conditions that you see in Haiti.

Q: Is Aristide in command of the FAd'H currently?

A: He is in charge. He is meeting with Major General Dupraval, and Major General Dupraval is meeting with General Meade, and the right circle of influence is being established to move forward in working the FAd'H correctly into the security picture of Haiti.

Q: What are your thoughts on the number of people, now three, that have committed suicide within the Haitian AOR?

A: My thoughts, of course, I'm very sad about the young soldiers taking their lives. There were two within Haiti, and I think the third one was sort of out of area, over in Puerto Rico, a young Marine there. We have a team from the Department of Army, of course, looking at it. I've talked with the commanders about it. They don't have any additional information at this early stage to add, so I don't have anything else to add to that other than as the commander and the local commanders being very sad about that event, that a young person did take his life.

Q: The activities that you've described as being so successful are a long ways from the traditional warfighting that we've come to expect from the military. Obviously, the forces have been very successful at doing that, but are you satisfied that there's enough training going on that people elsewhere in this building are committed to extending that training all the way down through the ranks, that these kind of operations can be done repeatedly and on larger scales than you've had to do here? Is this something that we're moving towards fast enough or early enough?

A: I've taken time in the last two years to write four monographs about the military of the future. I think this brand of operations will be in the calculus of our military in the time ahead. I think that the soldier, the sailor, and the airman and marine that this nation trains right now is well trained and expertly trained for this brand of mission. You've seen it unfold. There's one additional ingredient that you have to add, though, and that's the cultural one. You have to overlay all the good training about being that soldier, sailor, airman, and marine in the culture in which he's going to operate. That has to be done during the final stages of training. We did that with regard to the troops that are down there.

I think we have the base laid, but as we work our joint training for the future, one of the important things we've established, and Phil Midlin just gave me a little brochure from it, and I think this is one of the most important things I've been able to lay out at USACOM. We opened in Suffolk, Virginia, three days ago the Joint Training Analysis Simulation Center, called the JTASC, in which we're going to train joint staff together. Operational. Not this joint staff here, but operational joint task force staffs, their commanders. We're going to provide a training environment. We're going to be able to simulate the activity. Simulate the activity whether it's this brand of operation or the brand of operation that you see unfolding in Iraq. I think it's going to be a world class facility and it's going to leverage the capability that I talked about earlier that we have in the United States. But on balance, we've got the best trained forces in the nation, and you've seen them operate in this environment expertly.

Thanks for listening to me and giving me the opportunity.

Mr. Boxx: I'll try to catch up on other areas if you'd like to take a minute or two.

Q: One question on Haiti. Just on what Admiral Miller said about having no plans to go beyond the current disarmament plan, wasn't there any lesson drawn from Somalia about the level of disarmament that took place in Somalia and whether or not the U.S. resisted the disarmament mission in Somalia, and many have pointed to that as a possible flaw in how things turned out. Could that not be a problem in Haiti, if we fail to disarm enough people in Haiti?

A: I think the Somalia comparison is just not valid. The situation in Somalia and Haiti in terms of armament is entirely different. In Somalia, first of all, we had clan fighting, tribal fighting, severe tension and fighting among groups. That, by and large, does not exist. More importantly, though, on the weapons side of it we had significantly different kinds of armament. In Somalia we were talking about lots of heavy weapons. We are not talking about heavy weapons in Haiti. We're talking about small caliber, individual arms kinds of weapons. I think there's a significant difference in the types of armament which makes the environment and how you approach it significantly different.

Q: Not to quibble, but in Somalia, it was small arms that killed all of our people with the exception of some RPGs, which they don't have in Haiti, but almost all of our people were killed with basically infantry weapons. Not the heavy weapons. You took away the heavy weapons in Somalia...

A: We tried to take away the heavy weapons. I would disagree that we succeeded in taking away the heavy weapons. The heavy weapons still provided a significant threat. What I'm trying to say is, and I think what Admiral Miller was saying, to go into a different environment in Haiti and try to go house to house, person to person to disarm the population is not what this is all about. This is an effort to try to help the Haitian government get on its feet, get its military on its feet, get its police force on its feet, get a judicial system in place that will allow for an orderly transition.

Q: The UN is quoted as saying they want a much more massive disarmament. Admiral Miller makes it clear that's not what's in the cards. How are you going to reconcile this? Doesn't this disagreement suggest that it's going to be many more months before the UN is prepared to go in there and relieve the U.S. forces...

A: I don't know who... Who in the UN? We've not heard anyone in the UN... I love the unattributed source. Paul David Miller stood here and told you what our position is. I've not heard an individual in the UN articulate that concern. So I think it needs to be something voiced to...

Q: Are they not articulating that concern? That's what it says they've told the U.S. that they want a more aggressive effort. Are you saying you don't think that's...

A: There may be some discussion about how to approach it, but I've not heard to the degree it was described in some of the stories I've seen today.

Q: ...generally on the ground before the UNMIH force can take over.

A: I think there needs to be a stable environment that will allow for the government to operate, and one that is agreed upon by the Secretary General of the UN, by the commander on the ground, and one that is endorsed by the UN monitors that are there now, in fact, observing. So I think there are a variety of conditions that have to be observed by the people on the ground to make the decision that the turnover is appropriate.

Let's go on to another subject. New subjects?

Q: Are the Iraqi forces out of the south? And are the Marines going to be sent, the U.S. Marines?

A: The intelligence today indicates by and large that the Iraqi Republican Guard units that were in the south, principally below the 32nd Parallel, are now, by and large, out of the region that they were entrenched in. There are some diplomatic efforts that are currently underway within the U.S. government and the UN, and before we make any final decisions regarding deployment, those need to work themselves all the way through. We may have something on that in the very near future, but I don't have anything more beyond it right now.

Q: On the movement of forces out there ten days ago, the discussion from this podium was in terms of gross numbers. I wonder if you can put it in terms of the movement of coherently organized combined arms forces. We were told that the three-plus-three battalion task force and the 24th Mech was the first, other than the Marines, that was the first going out. Can you tell us what date that force was stood up on the ground, ready to move in Kuwait? Rather than just giving us yay-thousand people. It could be cooks and bakers for all we know.

A: You mean how many people arrived on what day? I don't have it.

Q: When was that organized entity, that task force, on the scene and ready to roll?

A: What task force? I'm sorry, I'm not following you.

Q: We were told in the first two days of briefing this was a six-company battalion task force from the 24th Division.

A: I'd have to check the date. I don't have it off the top of my head. We, frankly, may have a little more to say on the subject of Iraq today, hopefully. Maybe we can get into some of that.

Q: On the subject of the mystery Gulf War illness, another report today or a statement from Senator Riegle, I believe, about his belief that this may be a communicable or contagious disease, do you have any reaction to that or anything like that?

A: We continue to be very concerned about those individuals that are suffering from illnesses that we cannot diagnose. We have, in fact, diagnosed a large majority of people that have come back from the Persian Gulf with different kinds of symptoms, but we have not been able to pinpoint each and every one of those illnesses with a diagnosis, and that's very frustrating.

We don't have any firm information that would lead us to believe that these kinds of symptoms, and it may not be a single illness, by the way. It may be a collection of different symptoms and illnesses that are creating these particularly difficult-to-diagnose problems. We do not have any indication at this point that these things are transmittable to children or spouses, but we have not ruled out the possibility. We simply cannot. If we cannot diagnose it and describe what it is, we then cannot tell you that it is not transmittable. But at this point, we don't have any indication that it is. We are pursuing it very aggressively on a number of fronts -- not only within DoD, but within the U.S. Government in general.

Q: Some of the people seem to be drawing the conclusion that it's transmittable from simply the fact that the veteran has it and then the spouse or children seem to have similar symptoms. It's not that simple?

A: I don't think anything in medicine is that simple always. I think these are the things that need to be more carefully looked at from a medical, diagnostic standpoint. Those are certainly good indicators to begin the process, but that can't be the end all. There's got to be more aggressive follow-up in those kinds of situations, and in fact, that's what we're doing.

Q: What is Secretary Perry going to do in Korea?

A: He will be meeting with the Republic of Korea leadership. He has meetings today, I believe, and I believe also tomorrow. They'll be discussing a number of security issues, including the agreements that will be signed with the North Koreans. I believe also, by the way, they will be discussing the future of Team Spirit and whether or not that will proceed. There may be some announcements that come from those meetings.

Q: According to the recent Defense Week, the scenario made last May [inaudible] the increase of the number of nuclear weapons in 1999, 15 to 25, like that. Is there any kind of expectation of the increase? North Korea [inaudible] the nuclear weapons by 1999?

A: The expectation from the agreement is that the program will freeze where it is and not be able to produce any additional nuclear weapons capability.

Q: There was another unattributed quote to defense officials saying that the Pentagon had some reservations about this agreement. Does, in fact, the Pentagon have reservations about the agreement?

A: Dr. Perry and Dr. Deutch are clearly pleased and satisfied with the agreement that has been reached.

Press: Thank you.

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