DoD News Briefing: Lt. Gen. Howell Estes, Director of Operations, Joint Staff
Thursday, October 20, 1994 - 5:00 p.m.
Mr. Boxx: Sorry for the delay.
What I'd like to do is change our game plan here slightly and have Lieutenant General Howell Estes, who is the Director of Operations for the Joint Staff, make an opening statement, and then kill the lights and go to background for the rest of it. That's the best I can do, so that's what we're going to do.
With that, I'll introduce Lieutenant General Howell Estes, please.
General Estes: Good afternoon.
I've just come from Korea as the air commander over there. I wouldn't want to start out by saying I'm standing up here this afternoon and enjoying every minute of this. Obviously, that would eliminate all of my credibility the first day in front of you. But I will tell you, I know you've been very patient today and my apologies--all of ours--for taking a little time to get this done, but it was unavoidable.
What I want to do is cover one statement with you so that you have something other than for background, for the cameras. We're going to have Major General Hughes get up here in a few minutes and give you a piece on the intelligence.
Based on the intelligence we are seeing now in Iraq, we obviously can see that the threat is receding. You all are well aware of that. But clearly, the threat is not totally eliminated. There are still substantial forces in the southern part of Iraq. But the change in this posture from what we saw on the 7th of October permits us to make some adjustments in the forces, originally recommended to us by the CINC and approved by the Chairman and the SecDef and the President.
If you recall, the original concept alerted a number of forces which we'll show you here on this slide, in just one second for background. But the original concept was to meet the threat posed by the Iraqi forces. It was a fairly substantial force. Again, I have a slide I'll show you on background that lays out exactly what those forces were. It would have put a very substantial ground force in, both Marine and Army. Air forces were also substantial. We also had a couple of carrier battle groups that were going to go. That was the original concept, a fairly substantial force package to face the threat that the Iraqi forces showed us at the time.
Based on the fact that this threat has ameliorated somewhat, we are going to make some adjustments to that, so the vast preponderance of the forces we were going to deploy are being taken off of alert and will not deploy. That's not to say that some will not deploy, because a number of them will. There are a number of forces already into the Gulf. We plan to flow, and are flowing at this very moment, the 2nd Brigade of the 24th ID. The 1st, as you know, a brigade minus is already in the theater. The 2nd, a brigade minus, is in the process of flowing now and will continue to flow. So that plus the forces that are there now are going to make up the residual force that will remain there for the immediate future.
The purpose of this force that's there in the Gulf at the moment is, of course, to deter any further activity by the Iraqi ground forces. But also the fact that we have those forces there gives us an opportunity to make major improvements in our warfighting capability. You'll recall we've had a conflict for some time now in which we say we're going to pre-position equipment, retain the forces here in CONUS, and then deploy them overseas. For the first time with the 24th Division we were able to do that. We married up the 1st Brigade minus with equipment that was pre-positioned in Kuwait, and of course the 2nd Brigade which is flowing now is going to marry up with equipment that's been pre-positioned on afloat ships.
The marrying up of that equipment with the personnel, the equipment that's afloat, it's the first time we've done this. So we want to test the concept, make sure it works, check out the equipment. We will do some exercising with it while we are there, then reload the equipment on the pre-positioned ships. Those ships, of course, the vast majority of them are in place already. The other ships that are in place already, of course, are the ships for the maritime pre-positioned ships for the MEP, which was originally scheduled to go but which will not go now, and so that's the concept. Scaling the force back to more appropriately respond to what we see going on in Iraq, and also to go ahead and carry out a process of marrying up the forces with this pre-positioned equipment to make sure it is, in fact, a workable concept and the equipment itself is all functional. Obviously, at least at this point, it doesn't look like we're going to have to use it, so it gives us a great opportunity to make sure that this concept works, to make sure that all of our plans work so that in fact if we get asked to do it again and we have some further activities that we need to respond to, we'll be in a position to do that, and we'll have a greater assurance that the plans that we've set, the concepts that we've set are going to work.