Thursday, November 7, 1996 - 1:30 p.m.
I have no announcements at the outset. What I'd like to do, though, is after we finish the briefing today, I would like to give you a little guidance on some events that will take place later in the afternoon for your planning purposes.
With that... Yes.
Q: Any word on the F-16 quote, investigation, unquote?
A: That is still working, but I would anticipate that we would have something soon on that.
Q: Have we ruled... It seems that the first incident was almost acknowledged as being in error. Are we correct in saying that or not correct in saying that?
A: I think we should wait until we have this fuller assessment completed to make any judgment on that one.
Q: Would you define soon for us?
A: Not any more than I have at this point.
Q: What's the status of the review of the military officers working up on Capitol Hill that was supposed to be done last week?
A: You've caught me off-guard here. I don't have anything with me on that. We can take the question and try and get you an answer.
Q: Can you give us any more guidance about when Secretary Perry will have his final discussion with President Clinton about his future, and when we might get some official word on that?
A: No. As you know, Dr. Perry spoke about this yesterday and indicated that he hoped to meet with the President later in the week, but I don't have any more specifics on that.
Q: He's coming back late this afternoon...
A: That's correct. He'll be back late this afternoon.
Q: Do you think it will be tonight, or do you expect it will not be before tomorrow?
A: I would not expect it to be tonight, but I can't say beyond that when it might be.
Q: Do you have any guidance on what sort of warning orders are going out for American forces to participate in Central Africa in various contingencies?
A: I think everyone has some appreciation for how the military works. You might imagine any time there is a situation any place in the world, there is a lot of prudent planning that goes on. I would say that at this point that's exactly what we have -- people at the European Command doing the kinds of planning -- evaluating. They're doing that kind of thing that would enable the policymakers to see what the options might be and to see whether they want to pursue any one of the courses of action that the European planners might develop. But at this point, I would characterize that as just kind of the first level of planning and estimating what goes on in any kind of a situation like this.
Q: I take it from that response you're not prepared to talk about the range of things that they are working on at this point.
A: That's correct.
Q: Were you talking about unilateral, or any such move to be part of a multilateral?
A: At this point I'm not specifying. You know that the military people try and get an early start on these so that they can look at a full range of options. At this point, we're still looking at some diplomatic initiatives that I think you're aware of that are going on. Since no decisions have been made, I don't think that it's appropriate to kind of outrun and forecast what might occur.
Q: Perhaps you can describe for us the type of military team that is either being sent there or is already there?
A: I'm not aware of a military team that has been there. Nor am I aware of any kind of a military team that is planned to go there. I do know that there has been a military participant in the meeting that occurred in Geneva yesterday, but I'm not aware of any kind of a deployment that has occurred. But that is not to say that that sort of thing could not be done without us being aware of it, since if it were done by the theater commander, he wouldn't necessarily have to check with us before he did it.
Q: Yesterday, the State Department spokesman basically ruled out sending ground troops. He said there are a number of proposals under consideration, but we're not talking about ground troop units here. Those were his words. Is that your understanding of this as well?
A: I think there is that general feeling. But again, the kind of estimating and planning that goes on is, as I say, underway, but there have been no decisions made at all at this point.
Q: Is there a timetable for decisions?
A: I don't even know of a timetable. I think there's some urgency attached with the situation, given the current situation of the refugees down there. They're out of their camps; the camps they were in initially. I know that the humanitarian organizations are working to try and reach those groups and do the best they can to feed and provide medical attention where necessary.
Q: This is not a war situation, a war contingency. The thought process that is going in to try to assess these options is not classified or anything.
A: That's correct. It's not classified. As far as I know. I think there's probably a little bit of a concern any time you do one of these things as to possible security consequences given the fact that not everybody may be interested in having the kind of help that may ultimately be provided, so that kind of thing might happen.
Q: Can you talk about sort of the range of contingencies, since it's not classified, it's a humanitarian operation.
A: I think at some point it might be appropriate to talk about ranges, but at this point, first of all, I don't think ranges have been developed; and secondly, I think it's premature to do that since there really haven't been any decisions made yet.
Q: Yesterday was the day the NATO Military Committee was scheduled to present its analysis of the options under consideration. Apparently there was a bit of a snag in that consideration process. NATO sources now say it may be next week before they take those up. Can you tell us about, at all, what some of the American objections were to the analysis and why things are...
A: No, I can't. I do know that the North Atlantic Council was briefed yesterday on the status. The NAC did not immediately take action on them, and the Military Committee is continuing its work. I don't have any details for you on any of the discussions that went on during that meeting, which as I understand it, took place in Brussels.
I would like to add, however, that I think there was a report of the meeting which was carried in one of the morning newspapers, which was way off the mark, actually named two officers...
Q: Montgomery, is that one of them?
A: That's correct. It named General Montgomery and also General Joulwan. I'd just like to point out that General Joulwan was not present at that meeting, so I'm not sure how accurate that particular report was. [Laughter]
Q: Quibbling with some little detail.
Q: Would it be a bit unusual in the military as we know it, for a two-star to go nose to nose with a four star?
A: I refrain from answering that question. I'll consider that just a comment.
Q: I see that General Shalikashvili is in Moscow...
A: Actually, he was, but he's no longer.
Q: Okay. He's no longer in Moscow, but he was there to discuss plans for greater military cooperation. Can you expand on what that would be? I think he was there with Mr. [General Viktor Nikolayevich] Samsonov?
A: I think you know, Bill, that during the past three years, we have made a concerted effort to try and expand our contacts with the Russian military on a variety of fronts. That ranges, of course, from Partnership for Peace initiatives to bilateral exercises which have gone on for the last two summers, to the participation by Russian forces in IFOR. What the Chairman was doing was simply to make contact with his newly appointed counterpart to make sure that those kinds of contacts and initiatives continue in the future.
Q: Just another point on Iraq. Did it come up earlier in the discussion here, any movements, any provocations, any hostility by Iraqi forces?
Q: No moves?
A: No moves. All quiet on that front right now.
Q: We still maintain that they illuminated...
A: I think you know, Bill, we talked about this before you arrived, that there is an assessment going on, and we anticipate the results of that assessment soon. Until that occurs, I'm not going to forecast exactly what they may find.
Press: Thank you.