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DoD News Briefing - Questions on Environmental Security - Nov. 20, 1996

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry
November 20, 1996 12:30 PM EDT

Wednesday, November 20, 1996 - 12:30 p.m.

This activity follows remarks to the Society of American Engineers in Washington D.C. Also participating is Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security Sherri W. Goodman.)

Q: Dr. Perry, would you please comment on how defense environmental cooperation as it's planned and practiced in your Department specifically fulfills your vision of preventive defense?

Secretary Perry: For centuries, militaries have thought of their role as one of fighting and winning wars. In our Department of Defense, as the Secretary of Defense, my first job is to be sure that if we ever have to fight and win a war we are armed and prepared adequately to do that.

During the Cold War with the advent of nuclear weapons, we said we do not want to fight a nuclear war, so we concentrated our energy on what to do to deter. So during the Cold War we broadened the concept of defense to include deterrence.

Now that the Cold War is over, we have the opportunity to prevent threats from emerging. I see now three lines of defense. The first line is preventive defense, to keep the dangers out there from becoming threats to our nation. If we fail in preventive defense, then we have to build deterrence walls. That's the second line of defense. Finally, if deterrence fails, we have to be prepared to fight and to win. But in the era in which we are now living, we have a very real opportunity to take actions that are comparable, you might say, to preventive medicine. The actions you take now to prevent the disease from arising, the actions we can take to prevent dangers in the world today from becoming threats to our nation. Environmental security, we see as one of these actions we take that build up our preventive defense and keep us from having these dangers out there threaten our nation.

Q: In what way do you see the Department of Defense sharing resources with other countries, or other Departments of Defense in other countries in the area of environmental security?

A: Would you ask that question again? I didn't follow it.

Q: Yes, sir. In what way do you see the Department of Defense sharing resources with the Departments of Defense or similar organizations in other countries to achieve environmental security?

A: We share mostly expertise, rather than resources, and we're very generous in sharing our expertise. We do this through joint agreements, through cooperative programs. We do this by having people come to our military schools through our IMET program which is our military education and training program. The amount of money, resources we spend with other nations, is very, very small, but it is very highly leveraged because with it comes the expertise of the people who are practicing environmental security in this country. So I think of it primarily as the application of expertise, rather than providing resources. A very highly leveraged activity.

Q: Do you have any plans to increase... Ask Congress for increased funding for environmental compliance, cleanup, or pollution prevention for FY98?

A: We're looking at pretty much a flat budget overall in defense, and we do not see any one component of our budget having substantial increases. Sherry, do you want to answer that more specifically?

Ms. Goodman: That's accurate.

Secretary Perry: This five-year program we have, I should say in the last seven or eight years there has been about a 40 percent reduction in defense in real dollars. During that period of time the funding for environmental security has actually gone up. It's been counter-cyclical. But I see both of those trends changing. In the five years ahead I think there's every probability that what the Administration is proposing and indeed, what the Congress is proposing, which is essentially a flat budget, will probably be sustained. And as a part of that flat budget, we expect environmental security to hold its own, but we do not see any major increases or decreases in it.

Q: Dr. Perry, I was just going to ask you to briefly comment on the extent to which DoD is working with other government agencies of this country in its effort to reach out to other countries in environmental security.

A: We're working extensively with other agencies in the U.S. Let me ask Sherry to come up and be more specific on that. that's a good question, and it's a very broad inter-agency activity.

Ms. Goodman: Earlier this year Dr. Perry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the EPA Administrator, Carol Browner, and with the Secretary of Energy to formalize our collaboration on Defense Departmental matters and make our capabilities available as we work with other nations overseas. We also work very closely, of course, with the State Department, and with many other U.S. agencies. We consider ourselves to be part of a Team USA in these undertakings.

Secretary Perry: Thank you.