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DoD News Briefing - Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley

Presenters: Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
March 13, 2001 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, March 13, 2001 1:30 p.m. EST

Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have no announcements this afternoon, but I'm prepared to take your questions.

Charlie?

Q: Craig, a report that a U.S. observer on the ground was directing the strike last night in Kuwait and then belatedly ordered it to be aborted after the bomb was dropped -- we assume that this person was not killed by the bomb, that this was after the bomb hit the ground, and they realized what had happened, that he called for the strike to be aborted.

Quigley: Is there a question in there somewhere? (Laughter.)

Q: Yes! Can you tell us what you know about that?

Q: Yes. Can you tell us what you know about --

Quigley: You're getting into a level of detail I'm not going to be able to help you with at this point. Those are all perfectly valid issues for the investigation to look at, Charlie, but I can't provide that level of detail. I don't have it, for starters. And if I did, I think it would be inappropriate at this point to announce such things.

Q: Do you know if the forward air --

Quigley: To me, the most significant issue in the last half hour or so has been the Air Force has released the names of the individual that was killed, and injured. And I would expect the Army to have that later on this afternoon as well. [The Air Force release is on the Web at http://www.af.mil/mediacenter/pressrelease.asp?prID=123006588 . The Army release is on the Web at http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=1740 .]

David, I'm sorry.

Q: Do you know if the forward air controller was among the dead?

Quigley: No, I don't. I do not have specific assignments of those either killed or injured.

Q: Can you tell us what you know about the sequence of events?

Quigley: This was a close air support exercise conducted quarterly as part of Operation Desert Spring. This was the former Intrinsic Action, which was an ongoing series of exercises, with Kuwait and oftentimes involving other countries, to develop your interoperability, your ability to operate with other nations. And in this particular case, the exercise was close air support.

The exercise took place on the Udairi range, which is in Kuwait, controlled by Kuwait, nighttime; happened between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m., local time, there in Kuwait.

It was a fairly large-scale exercise. Eighty-some sorties -- I believe 80-some sorties were scheduled, most of which had been completed by the time of the accident. I believe 79 of the 85 had been completed.

Night vision goggles were used here because it was dark. As best I understand it, weather was not an issue in the area, but darkness had fallen.

And the F/A-18 was dropping Mark-82 gravity bombs. There was a question yesterday as to whether or not these were laser-guided; they were not. They were gravity bombs.

The aircraft dropped three -- a total of three Mark-82 bombs. These are 500-pound, general-purpose bombs. And tragically, they hit near the service members that were at an observation post on the range.

The net result of all that was six killed, a total of seven there were injured. Four of the injured were treated and released; they were two Kuwaitis and two U.S. service members. The remaining three that were -- I'm sorry -- four that were injured were seriously injured; were initially taken to the medical facilities there in Kuwait. I understand one has been medevaced by a C-17 to Landstuhl at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to the Landstuhl Hospital. The other two remain in the Kuwaiti medical facilities. They are stable, but they are not fit to travel yet, due to their injuries. When they are, they also will be medevaced to Landstuhl for further medical treatment there.

Q: Those are Americans?

Quigley: These were Americans, yes.

Q: Do you know what device was used to designate targets? Was it an infrared designator, infrared flashlight, or was it a laser designator?

Quigley: I do not have that, John.

Q: Who took part in this exercise? Brits, Americans, and Kuwaitis or --

Quigley: Well, the large exercise, the quarterly "close air support" exercise was involving airplanes of several nations. It was the British, it was the Americans, it was the Kuwaitis and, I believe, the Saudis -- I believe. Let me double check that, Ivan. [Correction: Saudis were not involved.]

But this evening's activity was strictly American aircraft.

Q: Strictly Navy? Were all those sorties that you mentioned, the 85 sorties, Navy sorties?

Quigley: Oh, no. The 85 took place over a larger period of time, David, yeah. But the activities yesterday evening, Kuwait time, were only American. Close air support.

Q: The 85 was over several days?

Quigley: I don't have the time frame, John. [A total of 85 sorties were scheduled as part of the close air support exercise on March 12.]

Q: Do you understand the process by which the forward air controller directed this strike?

Quigley: No, I don't.

Q: Troops on the ground, obviously a New Zealander was killed. Was there a mix of British, New Zealand, Americans, or what was the --

Quigley: No, I believe the only non-Americans that were at this particular observation post were the two Kuwaitis that were injured -- and, thankfully, their injuries were minor -- and the New Zealand major who was killed.

Q: You said that seven people were injured, and yet you say four were treated and released and four were seriously injured. Was it eight or seven that were injured?

Quigley: Well, the category of one, Charlie, changed from injured to deceased.

Q: Oh, I see.

Quigley: And so you started off with five that were killed, but eventually that went to six.

The injured, by the way, despite the severity of their injuries, their injuries are not life threatening, and that is the assessment from the medical folks today.

Yeah?

Q: Were the 85 sorties all close-air-support sorties or a mix of?

Quigley: No, all close air support.

Q: And did they all drop similar amounts of ordnance?

Quigley: I don't have that. Sorry.

Q: Is it fair -- in the sequence of events, the bomb dropped based on the direction it got from a ground unit, it did not just drop randomly. Is that correct?

Quigley: I don't have that detail, either.

Q: But you say that three bombs caused these deaths, right?

Quigley: Yeah. This particular aircraft dropped three bombs.

Q: And they -- all three --

Quigley: And these three bombs in some combination caused the deaths and injuries that we have here, yes.

Q: Do they usually carry three bombs rather than two or four?

Quigley: No. No. It is -- it depends on the training requirements, the needs of the training scenario, and things of that sort. There's no particular significance to the number.

Q: Did they pickle them at the same time?

Quigley: Nor the type of ordnance, except for this particular -- this particular mission had the three Mark 82 gravity bombs.

Q: Did they drop them at the same time, or relatively the same time?

Quigley: I don't have that detail, either.

Q: Craig, did you say that all three bombs hit at that spot, or was one of them -- have a malfunction or something, and that's --

Quigley: Well, from the photos that I have seen, it appeared that at least two hit there. I was trying to see a third crater, a third impact point. I can't see but two, but that's still -- I don't think we have that level of detail, Bob.

Tom?

Q: Do you know as part of this close air support exercise whether the forward air controllers rely exclusively on some kind of technological guiding, or whether there is voice communication with the pilots?

Quigley: Well, let me go back, I mean, perhaps, to David's question as well. I mean, if you -- if -- there are a variety of ways to do close air support. And it can be voice, it can be laser, it can be infrared. There are just a variety of techniques to accomplish close air support missions. It can be done from a variety of altitudes, a variety of air speeds, and things of that sort. Which ones were being particularly used here is part of this exercise. I don't have that level of detail.

Q: And one other question. Are you aware of any difference in regulations between the Air Force and the Navy on -- you know, the -- regulating the communication between the FAC [forward air controller] and the pilot in terms of at what point they're cleared?

Quigley: No, I don't think there are. One of the things that comes under the overall rubric of doing an exercise, a training exercise of this sort, is to standardize the procedures so that the forward air controllers as well as the air crews of the various nations involved here get used to -- if there's a difference in procedures, then you get used to those difference in procedures.

But I don't believe there is a difference in the process that -- at least U.S. Air Force versus Navy; I don't believe there is.

Q: Do you know what altitude --

Q: Can you tell us anything about the pilot?

Quigley: I'm sorry?

Q: Can you tell us about the pilot?

Quigley: This was the commanding officer of the squadron. Commander Dave Zimmerman was his name. This is Strike Fighter Squadron 37, VFA-37. He was the pilot of the Hornet.

Q: Can you tell us what altitude the bombs were dropped from?

Quigley: Can I go back? The question before was which countries had aircraft in the exercise. It was the United Kingdom and the United States. I was too expansive there.

Staff: And Kuwait.

Quigley: And Kuwait. I'm sorry. Not Saudi Arabia. The United Kingdom, the United States, and Kuwait. No Saudis.

Charlie, I'm sorry.

Q: Do you know what altitude approximately the bombs were dropped from?

Quigley: No, I don't have that.

Q: How far away the target was?

Quigley: I don't have that either. I'm sorry. I mean, these are all questions that are going to be a part of the investigation, but I don't have that detail yet.

Q: Where is the squadron home ported?

Q: Will you tell us something about the investigation?

Quigley: The investigation will be headed -- it's coming under the overall coordination of U.S. Central Command. That's General Tommy Franks. And he has appointed Lieutenant General Mike DeLong, U.S. Marine Corps, to head the investigation. Each of the services will be asked to provide a member to be on his team to conduct the investigation, as well as New Zealand and Kuwait have been invited to send a representative. To the best of my knowledge, those nations have not yet responded, but the invitations have been extended.

David?

Q: You said you didn't know if the forward air controller who was in charge of this particular run was among the dead. But just to be clear, the weapons were dropped on the forward air controllers, right?

Quigley: Yes. Yes. It was observation --

Q: And this was the position that was controlling these close air support missions?

Quigley: Correct. It was specifically Observation Post 10, was the site within the Udairi range.

Q: Was a bunker involved or just vehicles or was there a bunker?

Quigley: I think there was a small structure that was a part of the range. But from beyond that point, Charlie, it was vehicles, it was humvees and other tactical vehicles.

Q: I'm sorry, not meaning to belabor, but just to understand, that was the position where the person who directed the strikes was actually physically located?

Quigley: I don't know that for sure. But this was the site of the forward air controller from this observation post. The -- or, of the forward air controller, the FAC as a unit. So it should have been, this should have been the point from which the aircraft were controlled that were actually taking part in the training strikes.

Q: Can you describe the OP [observation post] to us a little bit? I mean, were all these people crowded in there, or -- in addition to the FAC?

Quigley: I don't have that level of detail, either.

Q: Was it up high? Was it -- some people have said it was almost a tower-like structure. Do we know?

Quigley: I -- I don't know.

Yes, sir.

Q: Do you know what the intended target was?

Quigley: No, I don't.

Q: Do you know what the homeport of the squadron is?

Quigley: I believe Oceana.

Q: Oceana.

Quigley: Yeah. Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia.

Q: Craig, is it fair to say 85 strike sorties, they all drop bombs in a -- (word inaudible), this was one of the only -- this was the only one that went awry?

Quigley: Well, seventy -- this was the 79th of the 85, and the others had been done without incident.

Q: Do you have a sense of how many bombs were dropped in those in the cumulative exercise?

Quigley: No. Nor the types of ordnance that were used, either. I don't have that detail.

Q: Was this a new F-18, by the way? The E/F, or the older model?

Quigley: No, this was a C, a single-seat C model.

Q: What's the status of the pilot? Is he flying, or is he grounded pending the investigation --

Quigley: Nobody from the air wing flew today, John. But I don't know if -- and that was across the board for the air wing. But I don't know if his flight status has been changed. [Correction: Aircraft from the air wing flew today (March 13) in Operation Southern Watch missions. No air wing aircraft flew today at the Udairi range.]

Q: Is that a stand-down?

Quigley: I don't know if I would call it that, David. I know that they just did not fly today. I don't know how to characterize it for you, though. [Correction: Aircraft from the air wing did fly today.]

Q: They were scheduled to drop bombs today. Were they not? It's up to the 85?

Quigley: This would have been the continuation of the exercise. Six of those sorties were yet to go as part of the overall close air support exercise.

Q: The rest of the exercise was cancelled.

Quigley: The rest of the exercise was cancelled. [Clarification: The close air support exercise was scheduled to end last night (March 12). Exercise Desert Spring continues.]

Now, I'm not absolutely sure whether that would have completed yesterday evening or not. It's possible that -- there was only six sorties to go. So they could have completed the six last night. I don't have that end time for you, I'm sorry.

Q: But they did stop once people were killed?

Quigley: Oh, yes. Yes. The remaining six sorties were not accomplished as part of the exercise.

Q: To go back on the fact that they're not flying today, how would you -- what is this? If you're not sure you'd call it a standdown, what would you call it?

Quigley: Well, a standdown has a very specific purpose in mind. Generally, David, you do a standdown to conduct something; you focus on a particular issue during the course of your standdown. It can be a day, it can be longer than a day.

And I have not characterized it -- I have not heard a characterization of the air wing not flying today other than that they are not flying today.

Q: But was it scheduled? I mean, there were flight ops cancelled for whatever reason?

Quigley: I don't have that either.

Q: Typically, after an exercise like this, would the air wing fly or would there be a day off?

Quigley: That's a hard one too, Dale. It would depend on -- the schedule could be different each and every time. Had there been no accident and they would have completed the last few missions as part of the exercise, I don't know what today's flight schedule would have called for. I don't have that detail.

Q: Can you tell us about notification of next of kin and movement of remains back to the United States?

Quigley: Well, notification of next of kin, I know the Air Force is complete. I know that New Zealand has completed theirs. If the Army has not 100 percent completed it, John, they're very close, and they do anticipate releasing the names of the killed and injured this afternoon. So if they're not quite there, they will be shortly.

The medical condition of the injured -- well, I've covered that. I won't go over that again. And I don't have the details on the movement of remains back to the United States.

Q: Craig, do you have a home of record for Commander -- Zimmer or Zimmerman, is it?

Quigley: It's Zimmerman. And I'm sorry, I don't. The Navy might have that.

Q: Can I -- and maybe I should ask -- (word inaudible) -- too. But do you happen to know, or can you find out how many hours he had in an F/A-18 and how experienced he was in flying CAS?

Quigley: Well, he was -- I don't know the latter part. But he had approximately 3,000 flight hours in the F/A-18. [Clarification: Cmdr. Zimmerman has flown more than 3,000 hours in tactical jets, including combat experience in Operations Desert Fox and Southern Watch. He has flown the F/A-18 since 1992.]

Q: Where did the squadron do its predeployment air-to-ground work?

Quigley: A variety of places. Fallon, Vieques, Eglin. I don't know if they had been on the Udairi range before yesterday's accident or not. It's a very frequently used practice range for aircraft, once they are in the Gulf region, Chris. But I don't know if this had been their first time there or not.

Q: My understanding is that in the past, pilots have been required to fly this range in the daytime before they did any night runs. Is that still the case?

Quigley: I believe that is still the case. And it was true with Commander Zimmerman in this particular case. Last Friday, the 9th, he flew a daytime run and actually dropped live ordnance on the Udairi range, with a Mark 82, as a matter of fact. That evening he flew another run using a practice bomb on the Udairi Range. So he -- just three days prior, he had one daytime and then one nighttime close air support training.

Q: General Franks is sending this accident investigation board over. Is that essentially a safety board, or would their mission be somewhat broader than a safety board?

Quigley: I don't -- that's a good question. I was going to get that, and I ran out of time before I needed to come out here. I will try to get that for you before the day is done.

David?

Q: Just as a matter of procedure, tell us the responsibilities of a forward air controller doing close air support.

Quigley: It is to properly identify targets that aircraft are to engage. It is to provide detailed information to the pilot of the aircraft on location of target, type of target, things of that sort, and to transfer that information to the pilot of the aircraft so that the pilot and the forward air controller are in sync, if you will, and that they're referring to the same target, under the same parameters. And so you try to preclude misunderstandings or the engagement of incorrect targets where some detail of the mission would be misunderstood by either the aircraft or the forward air controller. Your goal is to synchronize their understanding and coordinate the activities of the aircraft.

Q: How far was the intended target from the observation post?

Quigley: I don't have that, Bob. I'm sorry.

Q: What kinds of targets are there on the bombing range of a -- you know, old vehicles? Structures?

Quigley: You could conceivably simply use nothing more than a latitude and longitude as a point target. But there are vehicles, there are carcasses of tanks and other sorts of tactical vehicles throughout the range.

Q: To finish up on the responsibility, who is in charge? Who -- when the plane is making its run, who's in charge? Who decides whether it's safe to drop the bomb, whether the plane is on the right target?

Quigley: The forward air controller gives a final communication to the aircraft as to whether or not he is cleared to release ordnance or whether the range is foul, or if there is some other issue that there is any question in the controller's mind, then he should call off the aircraft and not let him release ordnance.

Q: Craig, these are still enlisted people, are they not, and not rated people? When I was in, one of the prerequisites for a forward air controller was to be trained in air traffic control. Is that still true today?

Quigley: Well, I think the individuals here, of course you had the New Zealand major, and the other individuals that were either killed or injured are all noncommissioned officers. So these were experienced folks.

Q: You don't know the prerequisite or the training required for a forward air controller?

Quigley: I do not. I do not.

Go ahead.

Q: Was the senior forward air controller one of the -- was he killed in the accident? Was he one of the ones who died?

Quigley: Go ahead.

Q: Just to go back to the idea that this is interoperability training. Now, you're dealing with all these --

Quigley: And proficiency training, also.

Q: Sure. Can you just explain really how the countries are working with each other during these exercises? Just to clarify, being that in Kosovo there are plenty of reports talking about that interoperability were there, and seeing -- really, just explaining how they are working together and how -- and in this instance, as an example.

Quigley: You need to -- again, these close air support exercises are done quarterly at the Udairi range specifically because you have not only U.S. but other Allied forces moving into and out of the region. You have aircrews swapping out within units, and so that you have a constant need to refresh your skills and to refresh the familiarization of interoperability amongst the nations that are doing the training.

Q: Well, I guess what I'm getting at, I understand that I guess in this case, how were we dealing with people from Britain as far as the sorties going in and out? I mean, are we communicating with them? The Kuwaitis are leading this; they're in control of this area. I'm just curious how the communication level goes. I mean, yeah, we have Air Force, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army. How are we communicating with the other countries during this whole process?

Quigley: During -- do you mean the scheduling and the conduct of the quarterly exercises?

Q: And letting this -- the aircraft drop the bomb as, you know, they're working together in this whole thing. I'm trying to get an idea of how they're communicating and just the process that they're going through.

Quigley: Well, one of the things that you train to do is, in coalition air operations, you try to standardize your procedures. And this was something I talked to a little bit before, but it's making sure that the nomenclature is common; the language is not a barrier between air controllers and air crews; and you try to demystify the differences that nations' air forces have come to use over the years so that you do have a common set of procedures, despite the nationalities of the individuals on the ground or in the air and, as a coalition, you can still effectively carry out air combat.

Q: Craig, is it true that the forward air controller -- excuse me if this was already answered -- that the forward air controller tried to abort the mission after the ordnance has been dropped?

Quigley: It was asked, but I don't have any answer to that. I'm sorry.

Q: Craig, who was the forward air controller?

Quigley: I don't have a name on that.

Q: Was he in the service?

Q: Which service?

Quigley: No, I don't. I'm sorry.

Q: Was the senior -- the man responsible for giving the ultimate order to drop the ordnance -- was he killed in this accident?

Quigley: I don't know.

Yes?

Q: Craig, you said it was a Mark-82, and it was not a laser-guided bomb.

Quigley: Correct.

Q: But was it a self-flying bomb or a smart bomb, or was it a dumb bomb? Was it guided?

Quigley: No, it was a dumb bomb. This was a gravity bomb only. It is a very, very commonly used weapon. It's very low-tech and has been in the inventory for many years. But there's no guidance to this at all, except the aerodynamic forces on the fins and the body of the bomb itself.

Q: Pilot skill --

Quigley: And the pilot skill in placing it properly, given its aerodynamic characteristics.

Q: Who would have been the commanding officer in charge of Desert Spring? And was this person observing the exercises as they were going on?

Quigley: I don't think that that person was physically present. It would fall under the overall rubric of the commander of the Joint Task Force Kuwait, because -- I don't have that name. We can get that for you, but I don't have it with me. [Update: The commander of Joint Task Force Kuwait is Army Brig. Gen. Tom Miller.]

Yes?

Q: Is there a standard procedure whereby the person who's using infrared or the laser makes a mark to determine that that where they are, versus the other end, where the target is? And is that a point of confusion at all -- confusing the two ends of the laser?

Quigley: Another good question, and that'll be a part of the investigation as to what procedures were in place here. But I don't have that today.

Q: Craig, was that --

Q: Craig, is it possible that no infrared or laser was used, and that just coordinated -- coordinates were radioed to the pilot and that he didn't make a calculation about where --

Quigley: Well, there are a variety of ways that you can designate a target to an aircraft. Daytime, nighttime, there's just a variety of ways to do that. But which one was in use here -- I don't have that.

Q: Was the team that the bomb came too close to and killed the members -- were they involved in some of the prior 79 sorties, where there was no incident? They called -- cast -- the bombs were dropped, and they --

Quigley: I don't know. I don't know.

Q: Different subject?

Q: No, I'm not done.

Quigley: Yeah? A couple more on that one. Yeah?

Q: Craig, a couple things. One, do you -- does the Pentagon have statistics on how many deaths have been caused by errant bombs in live-fire training over, say, the last 10 years?

Quigley: Not readily available. We would probably go to the services, I would imagine, and take a look at some of the safety statistics and some of the accident reports, and compile that. But I don't know where it would exist today. I mean, that could be brought together. But I don't think it exists in one location, anyway.

Q: And then secondly, can you explain the benefits of using live fire as opposed to just duds?

Quigley: A variety of benefits of using live fire, both for the air crews involved and for the handlers that would load them on aircraft. Whether it would be Navy or Air Force or Marine Corps aircraft.

If I'm using a piece of practice ordnance, which is much physically smaller, but it's aerodynamically identical, so if I'm the pilot of a single-seat Hornet, I can practice my techniques quite well with inert ordnance. But if I'm a handler on the flight deck, or on the flight line, it's a very different process: much larger, and there's that sense of realism that this is a live piece of ordnance. And I can't replicate that, knowing that this is a training shape that is identical, perhaps, in size and shape and weight to a piece of ordnance, but I know that it's got cement or steel or something that gives it heft. But it does not explode. So I have for the handlers of the ordnance the very real training benefit of using the live ordnance on the flight deck or the flight line.

Now, if I'm an air crewmember, I have certain procedures that I can -- there is value in using inert ordnance to train. There is, indeed. And we've done that for many years, and it's a good procedure to use. But again, you have that sense that I have real ordnance under my wings. And it's an added incentive to take one more check, to double-check your procedures and things of that sort before I release live ordnance. And in certain other circumstances you also have troops on the ground, whether they be soldiers or Marines or something, that would have the combined noise and activity of using live ordnance versus inert ordnance in the vicinity of their training.

So you both -- both are needed. But both play very different roles, but very important roles.

Dale?

Q: Admiral, in an exercise like this, would a pilot typically make a run past the target without dropping bombs, and then come back and hit the target?

Quigley: Yes. And I believe that was the case here, although I don't know how many times that he had done an orbit of the particular site. But this was the only one that he actually had released ordnance. But it -- he had done an orbit of the vicinity, Dale, before the actual run where he released the ordnance.

Yes.

Q: Yes. Was the pilot involved in the accident, did he have the opportunity to train in Vieques in December as part of the last squadron that trained in Vieques?

Quigley: Well, that was -- not with live ordnance, certainly.

Q: But did he train in Vieques in December?

Quigley: I believe so. We'll double-check on that.

Q: Is the fact that live ordnance training is not allowed in Vieques according to -- per an agreement a factor in any way in this accident?

Quigley: Can't really say. Without knowing what the cause of the accident is I can't make that claim today.

Q: Put it another way, though. Did they drop live ordnance in their work-up process which in the old days would have been in Vieques before they got to the Persian Gulf?

Quigley: I believe they trained with live ordnance at Fallon, Nevada. Eglin is inert; Vieques is inert. I'm not aware of what training they may have accomplished en route to the gulf along the way, although some of the sites that naval gunfire ships have used in the past -- Cape Wrath, Capo Teulada, places like that -- just aren't suitable for air-to-ground ordnance training. So --

Q: Flying off the deck of a carrier, this may have been the first time in the voyage of this particular ship that these folks have used live ordnance.

Quigley: I just don't know that for sure, John. I'm sorry.

Q: On a different subject?

Quigley: Any others? Yes.

Q: Yeah, a follow-up. In light of the accident, is live firing -- the resumption of live firing in Vieques on the table during the current sessions that are taking place between the secretary and the governor of Puerto Rico?

Quigley: The secretary and the governor have agreed to not hold their discussions publicly, and both are committed to doing that, continuing to do that.

Q: The governor of Puerto Rico has stated quite publicly in Puerto Rico that her stated goal -- at least her public goal -- is immediate and permanent cessation of all bombing in Vieques. Is that on the table during -- as part of the current discussions?

Quigley: I think that it's two very different topics.

Yes.

Q: Another one?

Quigley: Go ahead.

Q: Okay. We know what the secretary told us here last week when he was here with the NATO secretary general about not speaking to the Army on the green -- on the black beret issue. But since then have there been any high level discussions with General Shinseki trying to dissuade him from issuing black berets to soldiers on June 14th?

Quigley: The deputy secretary, Dr. Paul Wolfowitz, is looking into that issue and will provide his recommendations to the secretary.

Q: And a follow-up. General Shinseki has offered, some weeks ago, to brief the secretary on this topic. Has such a meeting been held, scheduled, or anything like that? Have there been any other communications directly between the Army and the secretary?

Quigley: They have not, Chris, no.

Charlie?

Q: The White House announced today that Torie Clarke is going to be nominated to be spokesperson here.

Quigley: Yes.

Q: I haven't seen the announcement, but she will be nominated as an assistant secretary for Public Affairs?

Quigley: Correct. Yeah, the announcement from the White House today, just for everyone's information -- we do have biographies on both, and I'm sure you could go to the White House web page and get them as well -- but both the assistant secretary for Public Affairs and the DoD general counsel. The announcements today were for the intent to nominate those individuals to those positions.

Dale?

Q: Does Dr. Wolfowitz have a deadline to report to the secretary on the black beret? And has the secretary responded to Senator Warner's letter on the subject?

Quigley: Let me take the second one first. He has not. The letter came in overnight. He has seen the letter, but he has not yet responded to the chairman in that regard. And there is no particular deadline that the secretary has asked Dr. Wolfowitz to complete this by, but neither is he going to let this tarry too long. He'll move it along pretty quick.

Q: One more follow-up on that. It's really a double issue, in a sense. There's one, the overall issue of the berets. But is Dr. Wolfowitz also looking into the time frame which necessitated the Army seeking a waiver and going outside the United States to six other nations to make the bulk of these berets, and one of those nations being China and some other former Eastern European nations. Is he checking that, too, to see why we're doing that?

Quigley: Yeah -- no, I understand the thrust of your question, Ivan. There are several different facets to this overall topic, and the deputy secretary has been asked to take a look at each of them and come back holistically to the secretary with his recommendations on the way ahead.

Q: In other words, he's not only looking into who's making the berets, but whether in fact the whole Army should be wearing the berets?

Quigley: Well, I don't want to get into too much detail. His charter is very broad. But it's to just say, "I want you to look into this and come back to me with your recommendation." There are several aspects of that. The issue of the berets themselves, the contracting issues involved, it's all part of the look that he will take at the program.

Yes.

Q: Before President Clinton left office, he issued a directive ordering the secretary of Defense to provide a report by March 9th on the training that will be -- the Navy will obtain for the next two years as part of the Vieques agreement or according to the Vieques agreement. Has that report already been issued?

Quigley: I don't know. Let me take that. We will find out the answer to that question. [Update: No.]

Lambros.

Q: Any comment on the signed agreement between Serbian military officials and Albanian secessionists in the south part of Serbia?

Quigley: Would you repeat that, Lambros?

Q: Any comment for the signed agreement between Serbian military officials and Albanian secessionists in the south part of Serbia?

Quigley: We see that particular piece of that as an important part, but only a part, of the overall effort to bring peace to the Balkans. The agreement, KFOR's decision, is to allow elements of the Serb military back into what's called Sector Charlie East. This is a small piece of territory, roughly five kilometers by five kilometers, that is at the southeast corner of the ground-security zone. This has been an area where there's been a lot of traffic back and forth by extremists, by smugglers. And it's been -- because it goes right up into the ground-safety zone, in which there could have been no Serb military forces up to this point nor KFOR forces have been, it was kind of a free zone. Once you got across the border there and into the ground-safety zone, you had quite a ways that you could go with very little risk of being stopped or caught.

With the -- now the agreement to move Serb military forces, with certain restrictions as to their armaments and procedures that were used, into that area, that Sector Charlie East, it is hoped that that free pass of the ground-safety zone will stop.

And it's important -- the signing of the agreement that you referred to is an important element of that. And we hope, again, the over goal is to stop the movement of both criminals and extremists up into that part of the ground-safety zone and, hopefully, speed up the process of bringing peace to the Balkans.

Q: One follow-up. It was reported extensively in Athens today that the U.S. is planning to deploy military forces on a bilateral basis in the north part of Greece, in the framework of the Balkan crisis. Anything on that?

Quigley: I have not heard that at all.

Q: Will you take my question?

Quigley: Yeah. I have heard nothing of that, though.

Q: As a housekeeping measure, can you give us a sense of when the V-22 blue ribbon panel hopes to wrap up its report? Early April, late April, into May?

Quigley: I don't think they've limited themselves to the portion of April, but I think their intentions are April, Tony. But I have not heard a date. I don't think they actually said one.

Q: But they're going to brief the secretary first and then you're going to roll the report out publicly?

Quigley: Mm-hmm. (Affirmation.)

Yes?

Q: Are the ongoing discussions on Vieques continuing at the level of Mr. De Leon and Mr. Wolfowitz, or the secretary?

Quigley: No, at Dr. Wolfowitz and Mr. De Leon.

Q: And is limiting training in Vieques on the table?

Quigley: Their discussions are very wide-ranging, and I'm just not going to characterize them in any way, to try to abide by what the governor and the secretary have each pledged to do, and that is to hold their discussions privately. And when they have something to announce publicly, then they will do so.

Q: Thank you.

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