DoD News Briefing: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD PA
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
I'd like to start by noting that since yesterday, 597 troops have left Haiti to begin the drawdown of the 6,000 troops by December 1st. Almost all of them are from the 10th Mountain Division, and most are leaving by contract air flights.
I'll be glad to take your questions.
Q: When will we have some news?
A: It depends on your definition of news.
Q: Do you have an update on the situation in Bosnia and what America's intentions might be as it gets hotter...
A: We're watching it very closely. We still believe that peace is the best answer. We want both sides to accept the contact group plan and to stop the fighting.
Q: Do you have any comment on the little blurb about General Rose leaving in December?
A: I don't have anything to say about that, but I would like to go a little beyond your question, if it's okay. There has been a report that Secretary Perry and Defense Minister Rifkind of Britain discussed an earlier departure, and that report is untrue. General Rose is expected to leave in January, and we fully expect that he will stick by those plans.
Q: Dr. Perry yesterday said that he's not considering taking troop reductions down below the numbers in the next fiscal year of 1.45. Can you give us an update of where those budget discussions are? The situation with the Deutch memo? Because there's been mention of announcements to be made later this month. Is there anything you can say about that?
A: We're in the process of the normal budget planning and that takes, as you know, months and months. There will be a series of decisions made, and the Deutch memo decisions will be part of that chain of decisions. We'll get to that probably some time this month. So I would expect an announcement on the Deutch memo within the next couple of weeks.
Q: He was talking about making these decisions public before putting them in budget submissions.
A: Some of the decisions will be made public as we make the decisions. Not all of them, obviously, but a lot of attention has been focused by you and others on the Deutch memo, and that's something people are wondering about. So when we have the decisions, which we don't yet, we'll announce them.
Q: One of the decisions people have been expecting is a contractor selection on the JPATS program, the joint trainer. That program may be delayed because they expect to do a down-select on the contractor. Is that the expectation?
A: I don't think I should talk about down-selections or up-selections or any selections involved with the Deutch memo now until those decisions are made and until we're ready to announce them.
Q: About the Bosnia situation, there's an article in the journal today that specifically speaks about the public opinion in Serbia. People being incensed with the Bosnian government offensives and wanting the blockade to be lifted and to join their Bosnian-Serbian brothers. It seems to me that this offensive could backfire and destabilize the whole situation. Would you care to comment?
A: We are trying to find a stable situation defined by peace in Bosnia. That's our policy. It's, as you know, very, very complex. I can't talk about public opinion in Serbia. I'm not qualified to talk about that, and won't.
Press: Thank you.