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DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
March 29, 2001 1:30 PM EDT

Thursday, March 29, 2001 - 1:30 p.m. EST

Adm. Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a couple of announcements this afternoon.

An honor cordon hosted by Secretary Rumsfeld will be held tomorrow morning at 10:45 to welcome the Minister of Defense for El Salvador Major General Juan Antonio Martinez Varela. The cordon will be held at the river entrance.

Next, also tomorrow, Secretary Rumsfeld will host an honor cordon to welcome the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ismail Cem. The ceremony will be at 5:15 in the afternoon, again at the river entrance.

This Sunday, April 1st, the Army will begin its Division Capstone Exercise, or DCX, at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. A number of you attended the March 14th press briefing by the exercise director, Major General B. B. Bell, so you know that this is one of the Army's most significant activities this year, and certainly the most important force-on-force exercise. Over a two-week period the Division Capstone Exercise will demonstrate some of the major strides made in transformation, particularly with regard to the enhanced capabilities of a modernized heavy division.

And last, I want to welcome a group of students from Hamilton High School in Hamilton, New Jersey to today's briefing. The students are in Washington to meet their congressional representatives and visit the Pentagon for a first-hand look. Welcome to you all.

With that I'll take your questions. Charlie.

Q: When did the Pentagon's IG begin looking at the Navy spy or not-spy case --

Adm. Quigley: Two days ago, I believe. Two days ago, I believe.

Q: Why?

Adm. Quigley: The request was made to consider that. Held a meeting two days ago to do just that very thing. And it was considered a reasonable request, and the IG will have a look. Now, the -- it was a member of the Congress, and I don't remember -- I don't remember who it was. Let me take that. I don't have that right now.

Q: Shelby?

Adm. Quigley: I don't remember. We can get that for you. The review that the DOD IG is going to take a look at is about the process that was followed, if you will, during the period of time between the start of Petty Officer King's pretrial confinement and the time that all charges were dropped and he was released.

I believe the Navy is going to continue to look into other aspects of it as well, so you're going to have both a DOD IG as well as Navy taking a look at different aspects; not duplicative, but complementary aspects of it.

Q: Well, what's at issue here? Why this thing dragged on so long before they decided not to -

Adm. Quigley: That's one of the questions that will be looked at.

Q: How long was he in confinement, and what --

Adm. Quigley: Five hundred and some days, if I remember correctly, Jim.

Q: His plight wasn't really a secret at the -- I mean, it's been reported ongoing. Why did it take the Pentagon nearly two years to decide to take a look at this?

Adm. Quigley: Well, I think the final event, if you will, would be the decision by the Navy to not refer charges after that lengthy period of pre-trial confinement, Vince. And after all was said and done, there were no charges filed. And I think it's a fair request, to take a look at that and see what sort of a process went into that, what sort of a deliberative thought process went into that at each step along the way.

Q: Craig, why was he held? On the basis of what?

Adm. Quigley: The allegation, from the beginning, was of a compromise of national security information, and during that period of time -- I'm certainly not privy to the day-in, day-out details, but during that period of time, the Navy was trying to ascertain evidence and get to ground truth in his activities and what he may have done. At the end of the day, after that lengthy pre-trial confinement period, that goal was not achieved. And so charges were dropped and he was released.

Q: And the allegation was based on simply -- I think it was a -- lie detector tests?

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

Q: Do you know what the allegation was based on?

Adm. Quigley: No, I don't.

Q: But by "goal" you mean the goal of charging him, or the goal of reaching the truth?

Adm. Quigley: The goal of gathering evidence that would support the original allegation or refute the original allegation. And during that lengthy period of pre-trial confinement, those goals were not achieved.

Q: Craig, is there some strange aspect of military law that allows someone to be held for such a long time, almost two years, without being charged with anything?

Adm. Quigley: Yes. It's called "pre-trial confinement" -- (laughter) -- and there are certain particular circumstances that have to be put in place.

You cannot do that without those particular circumstances existing. And it's either a concern of flight of the individual or further damage that an individual could do to national security. That was the circumstance in this case. And --

Q: But in all cases -- military, civilian, and other courts -- there's a thing called due process. And isn't there a question here of whether this fellow received due process if he was held for nearly two years while all these things were investigated?

Adm. Quigley: One of the issues that will be looked at. Yes, indeed.

Q: The Court of Military Review, as the highest U.S. military court, almost a year ago urged that this case proceed in a speedy fashion. And you know, again, why did it take the Pentagon now such a long time?

Adm. Quigley: Well, I think the Navy would be probably better suited to answer that one than I am, quite honestly. This is not a case that the Department of Defense, DOD, has been actively involved in from the beginning. In this particular case, at the end of the process, the DOD IG has been asked to take a look at certain particulars, and we will do that.

Q: Why weren't you involved in an espionage case?

Adm. Quigley: We're not good at getting involved in every legal case that the services are in charge of. There are a variety of very serious cases ongoing at any given point in time. And when we have a sense that something is not being done properly or that a service is not handling it properly, we'll certainly let our feelings be known. I don't think that was the circumstance in this case. But we'll take a look, after all is said and done, as to the process that was followed.

Q: Craig, to go back to those criterion for keeping someone in pre-trial detention, is one of the special circumstances that if a person is held on national security-related charges, that there are no limits on the length of pretrial detention?

Adm. Quigley: I don't know. Let me see if I can take that and find out if there's a specific limit. It was -- the letter was from Senator Shelby. I think somebody said that it was.

Pam?

Q: Does this sailor -- does he have any legal rights to compensation or anything, given that pre-trial confinement is allowed under military law?

Adm. Quigley: Don't know that one, either. I'm sorry.

Yes.

Q: Change of subject?

Q: Well, yeah. One more question on this. Is -- in the Navy, has any been -- any action been taken against the investigators who were involved in this? Have they been suspended from duty or anything like that pending this investigation?

Adm. Quigley: Not that I'm aware of. No. It's -- no. Not that I'm aware of.

Yes.

Q: Do you have any information on the bombing of the Kosovar village of Krivenik, Krivenik -- I don't know the pronunciation -- the name -- today, whether it was done by Macedonia or by ethnic Albanians?

Adm. Quigley: No, that's not at all clear to us as to the origin of the mortar rounds. Unfortunately, two people lost their lives today in that incident. But it's not at all clear where the mortar rounds originated from. We'll try to find out. I think NATO has asked that question of the government of FYROM to see if they can provide an explanation. But I don't think that's in hand yet.

Q: How could you determine that? Do you have ballistic specialists who can come in and try to figure out the trajectory, or -- ?

Adm. Quigley: Well, I don't know what process that the government of -- FYROM government will follow. But we'll try to ascertain where the rounds came from. It's a very confused, very unsettled part of the world right now.

John?

Q: Can you help us sort of sort out what American troops are doing while all of this is happening on the Macedonian side of the border, what Americans and how many of them, are they in Skopje, for example? They are basically transport-kind of people. My understanding is sort of -- what are U.S. forces doing?

Adm. Quigley: Two different locations, for the most part, and I think is the thrust of your question, John. About 400 U.S. troops in Skopje. And these are, indeed, as you indicate, mostly logistics folks. That is the major logistics point of re-supply for the American forces in the American sector. Then, if you move north to the FYROM- Kosovo border you've got approximately 300 of the total American forces that are in the American sector that are arrayed along the border between Kosovo and FYROM. Now, the activities they're undertaking there is foot patrol, it's mounted patrol, it is manning checkpoints, it's observation and reporting, it is confiscation of contraband, if you find it -- all of those activities in order to try to minimize the flow of people and contraband back and forth across the border at that point.

Q: And what intelligence resources is the United States offering to the Federal Republic of Macedonia --

Adm. Quigley: There is a reconnaissance platform, a contract reconnaissance -- a plane that is flying out of Skojpe and is used largely over Kosovo. But for that portion of time that the aircraft is over FYROM, that videotape would be available to the government of FYROM as well.

Q: Is the U.S. paying for that contract surveillance?

Adm. Quigley: There might be some NATO money involved as well; I'm not sure on that. But it's either NATO and/or U.S., yes.

Q: Do you have the name of the contractor?

Adm. Quigley: No, I don't.

Q: Is that real-time downlink?

Adm. Quigley: No. No. Fly the mission, go to a VCR -- land the plane, take the tape out, do a dub of that portion, provide that to the FYROM government.

Q: How about the UAVs?

Adm. Quigley: Sorry?

Q: The UAVs?

Adm. Quigley: The UAVs are in Tuzla, so they're getting there. But they are there -- that is as far as they've gotten so far.

Q: They haven't started flying yet?

Adm. Quigley: They have not.

Q: That's where they will be based, Tuzla?

Adm. Quigley: I don't know as if the theater commander has made that final decision yet. We have flown them out of Tuzla in years past, but other sites as well -- Skojpe, Hungary, other places. I don't think the --

Q: Because Tuzla is pretty far from the relevant places.

Adm. Quigley: Yeah, and that's one of the issues here; Tuzla much more -- a shorter flight time, if you will, if your goal is to do the surveillance over Bosnia. But if it's Kosovo and the border between FYROM and FRY, you probably would want to move them a little bit more to the East and South. But I don't think that final decision has been made, yet.

Q: Can you give us the Pentagon's assessment of the trend line here as to what direction you think things are headed along that border region, with violence almost every day now, and the forces of Macedonia engaging more and more frequently? Where's this heading?

Adm. Quigley: That's a tough one to answer, John. I think the government of FYROM has made its intentions pretty darn clear, and they are to eliminate the threat of as much violence as they can by working hard to negate the effectiveness of the Albanian extremists that are operating along that border region. They're doing it militarily, I've read reports this morning politically as well, to enter into discussions within the country itself, with the Albanian minorities, representatives of the Albanian minorities within the government.

So on at least those two areas of focus that I have been aware of.

The level of violence changes very rapidly, as you might imagine. Yesterday was fairly quiet. Today we had the mortar incident and two deaths. It's just a very, very unsettled part right now. Long-term projections that's a tough one. I'm not sure that we have a very good answer to that.

Barbara?

Q: Are you looking or thinking at all about improving the force protection or the security for the 400 U.S. troops in Macedonia, sending anything additional there, and making it -- are you at the point yet where you're even giving consideration to looking for a different route into Kosovo? Do you feel that road is -- it can't possibly be completely safe for you guys.

Adm. Quigley: No, I -- that's a very -- that's a perfectly good question. We have taken a look at the force protection that we have in place. We're comfortable that we have adequate force protection in place. The hostilities between the government of FYROM and -- the FYROM military forces and the Albanian extremists is not in any way directed at the United States or any other NATO nation. You're certainly -- with that much violence going on, today a good example of that, it is possible that you could be injured or individuals killed from being close to some sort of military activity, but the focus does not appear to be against NATO forces or U.S. forces within the NATO context. So, given that understanding, we have indeed taken a look at the force protection measures of the facilities in Skopje and we feel that they're adequate. It's something you're never completely done looking at, and we'll continue to watch that very carefully.

Q: What alternatives do you have to get into Kosovo road-wise, logistics-wise, other than that road, if it's -- you know?

Adm. Quigley: You would probably have to reposition to a completely different part of the country in order to gain access to another road that would serve your purposes. You see, the American logistics facility there at Skopje has access to a major north-south road, and for instance, the German -- comparable German facility at Tetevo again has access to a north-south road, so they can get supplies into the German forces in their sector. We would have to take a hard look at that and -- if that would come to pass.

So far, that is not the case.

Q: So you haven't had to look at alternatives yet?

Adm. Quigley: No. No.

Chris.

Q: Craig, the KFOR forces, German and U.S. and others, are trying to sort of seal off that border to some extent to prevent, I guess, support for these rebels in Macedonia. This area is right over by the Albanian border as well. Is there any evidence -- where are these rebels getting support from? And is there evidence that they're getting -- it's coming from another border, the Albanian border?

Adm. Quigley: Well, if you knew that with certainty, you could really move your forces and focus your efforts. And I don't think we know that with certainty. We do know that there's a least some movement of people and material over the border with FYROM -- or between FYROM and Kosovo. We've just not seen that level of flow to the west to the Albanian border. It seems to be focused on that relatively narrow stretch of border, a very rugged, very ill-defined border. It's an area that's tailor made, frankly, for the movement of people and contraband back and forth. Much less developed, I'll put it that way, than the border with Albania to the west; much more defined borders, much more defined border-crossing points and things of that sort. So if your goal is to smuggle people and material back and forth, you're better off doing that in this particular stretch.

Alex.

Q: You mentioned the 300 U.S. troops who are doing the immediate border patrol.

Adm. Quigley: Mmm hmm.

Q: And last week, when we talked about it, you said that another group, a non-American group, Task Force Viking --

Adm. Quigley: Task Force Viking, yes.

Q: -- had come down. Now I understand additional non-American units have been brought in to enhance the border patrol. First of all --

Adm. Quigley: Right.

Q: -- do you --

Adm. Quigley: That's my understanding as well. I believe these are British, Finish and Swedish, I believe. Numbers -- I don't have numbers. You'd have to -- I was going to try to find that before, and I ran out of time before I came. But they had been arrayed closer to the border along the southern part.

Q: Is there a link between these supplemental movements into the border area and some criticism that I've heard being said that the U.S. forces along the border are more concerned with -- obsessed was the word -- with force protection than versus force projection?

Adm. Quigley: Oh, I don't think so. You know, force protection is a focus of everybody's soldiers, all the time. Is it important to the United States? Sure. But it's about using the available resources. These happen to be from three other nations, but NATO has always said that they would shift resources around, people around within Kosovo amongst the various sectors, and you've seen that in other cities and other instances in the months past, as needed.

Well, the need right now is along that border, so you use the resources that you have at your disposal to move where the need is greatest, and right now that is on the FYROM and Kosovo border.

Q: So you don't see any link between that and somebody saying that U.S. forces are just not up to the assignment in that area?

Adm. Quigley: I sure don't. I just don't think that's a fair criticism.

Bob?

Q: Could you comment on the New York Times story today about lowering the readiness rating for the Third Infantry Division?

Adm. Quigley: Sure. Sure. I have -- let me start by saying two things first, then we'll go into more detail. One, it's not a surprise; and two, we prepared and planned for this eventuality, and let me explain what that means.

You try to prioritize -- if you're a unit commander, you try to prioritize your capabilities to carry out the missions that you have been assigned. Now, if you're an infantry division, you have a variety of things that you're expected to be able to do, but you also have priorities within that very large list. Right now, the Third Infantry Division's priority is being assigned to peacekeeping duties in the Balkans. This was a conscious decision: from October of 2000 to October of 2001 the Third Infantry Division would carry the responsibility for providing peacekeepers to the Balkans, and we knew that months ago.

When you go to the peacekeeping responsibilities in the Balkans, you are still carrying out a lot of the skill sets that you're expected to perform -- small unit tactics, patrolling on foot, patrolling in vehicles -- but not all of them, particularly some of the more complex, large-unit, comprehensive combat skills. You just don't have an opportunity to practice those and to train for those opportunities when you're in the Balkans performing the peacekeeping.

The Army fully understood this, and they adjusted in a couple of different ways. One, they made a decision that the Third Infantry Division was going to be the unit, during this one-year period of time, that would be sequentially deployed to the Balkans for peacekeeping. That would allow them to focus the other training activities amongst the other Army units during that same period of time.

They also adjusted the flow point of when the Third Infantry Division would be expected to flow forward if we would have some sort of a major contingency combat operation in the world, and moved their flow point to the right, to make it a later flow point, to give the division the time it would need to recoup its skills, its combat skills, that they found lacking from carrying out the peacekeeping mission.

Carrying out the peacekeeping mission in the Balkans is -- does have an effect on some of the comprehensive combat skills of a unit. But that's not a surprise; we knew that.

So the key here was the -- was to prepare for the eventuality when the commander, that person in the best position to judge the capabilities of his unit, could come to the point and say, "I can no longer carry out these sorts of skills sets, and so, therefore, my readiness rating will dip to perform these other missions." So that was not a surprise. We were very much prepared for that.

Q: (Off mike) -- before they left?

Adm. Quigley: You couldn't come to that decision with certainty, Bob, because it isn't a given that you would eventually get to that point. But neither, I don't think, was it a big surprise, and nobody was all shook up when the commander came to that decision, eventually, when he was looking at his missions across the board, and he says, "I can do these fine, but I can't do these, and so my readiness rating takes a dip to perform the more comprehensive combat sorts of skills."

Q: (Off mike) -- right now?

Adm. Quigley: I think so. I think so.

Chris?

Q: So even with the adjusted flow point that meant he had to get to the major theater thing later than --

Adm. Quigley: Later.

Q: -- than he originally did, even with that adjusted flow point, he couldn't do that, in his judgment.

Adm. Quigley: Well, there's a lot of the readiness rating process that is left to the judgment of the commander, but some is not left to the judgment of the commander. And you have some objective and some subjective grading criteria. And in accordance with the objective grading criteria, the division did not meet the standards for the higher readiness level. So --

Q: It was --

Adm. Quigley: Go ahead.

Q: When you talk about division-level training or whatever, is it, by definition, if you take a chunk of the division and have them off peacekeeping, then it would seem, by definition, the division cannot do division-wide large-scale training, right?

Adm. Quigley: Well, the --

Q: Or is more complicated than that?

Adm. Quigley: No, that's the -- you're not far off. The skills are very perishable, but they're not instantaneous. So if I would be fully trained in a month, March -- it's March. Let's just say I'm fully trained in March, and I deploy some portion of my division to the Balkans for a peacekeeping mission, right away, you know, three days after I leave or something, I'm not going to fall off a cliff on my readiness capability. But little by little, over time, my skills will erode, unless I have an opportunity to practice them.

So I have a portion of my division that's forward-deployed in Bosnia doing peacekeeping. I have another portion of my division that's back home at Fort Stewart, and I am not doing peacekeeping, I am doing my training, my more comprehensive combat skills. And we expect of the commander to be sensitive to the capabilities and limitations of his entire division, and then come to an honest assessment of what they can do and what he would need to get himself back up on the step.

Q: Has the readiness level of other divisions in the Army been degraded in the past 12 months?

Adm. Quigley: Ooo. I'd have to check, Charlie, but I don't think so. I don't -- nothing that comes to mind, no. But you've seen it in the past with some other -- I mean, I want to say 10th Mountain Division in the past. In the last 12 months, though, I don't think so. But the concept is fundamentally the same.

Q: This is the only division in which a ratings level is different, at current -- at the current time?

Adm. Quigley: I believe so, but I would need to double check before I give you such a comprehensive answer. But I really do think so. But, yes, we'll take that, see what we can do [there has been no other Division reporting this level of readiness in the last 12 months].

John?

Q: Along the same lines, it was at about this time last year, during the campaign, that the issue of readiness arose and the candidates debated it. And the Pentagon, through the different services, acknowledged that there was growing concern about the issue of readiness.

Now we are a year later, a new administration. Has readiness across the board, and concern about operation and maintenance and spares, and all those things, improved one bit since that debate and conversation and acknowledgement by all of the chiefs that there was a readiness problem?

Adm. Quigley: I don't think the acknowledgement -- I don't know if I can give you a good answer to that broad a question. But I think that the impact on training, of having some portion, at least, of your forces forward deployed doing peacekeeping is -- we are just as much aware of that today as we were a year ago. It is not without an impact; it does have an impact on, particularly the large-unit combat and maneuver, a lot of the combined arms sort of an aspect of a unit's combat skills. You simply don't have an opportunity to practice those in a peacekeeping setting. So I think we recognized it some time ago, that it would have an effect. And in this particular instance, yeah, there is an impact on the readiness.

Q: You're talking about Army units in particular. The debate was much broader than that. The Air Force was complaining about lack of spare parts, that its availability of combat aircraft had declined steadily over the previous five years. And the Navy had fallen behind in its maintenance.

All of the services had a whole shelf-full of complaints about their ability to fuel the force. The services have all become mute since the new administration came in, and I'm just trying to figure out whether things have suddenly gotten miraculously better.

Adm. Quigley: Well, I think we had the service vice chiefs go over and testify on readiness, I think a week ago of so. It may have been two weeks. But I want to say it was last week. So you have their testimony on the Hill. I think people are, I mean, are fully aware of the fact that we're conducting the defense reviews that are ongoing right now and are not in a position to be able to predict the future, really, until that sort of a comprehensive look at the way ahead is completed.

Q: How about the combat readiness of Tactical Air Command in conjunction, for instance, with Northern Watch?

Adm. Quigley: I don't have that specific, Charlie. I'm sorry. We can -- maybe we can -- you're talking about Air Combat Command?

Q: Right.

Adm. Quigley: Have you spoken to them on that? We could hook them up with you, if you wish. I certainly don't have those specifics with me today.

Pam?

Q: Back on the Third ID. What portion of the division rotates into the Balkans at one time? Is it a third, or is it a half? And are they just going to Bosnia or Kosovo or both?

Adm. Quigley: I believe Bosnia -- let me take that. I want to -- I think I know the answer to both, but I won't guess. Let me check [as much as 50 percent of the Division will be serving in Bosnia & Kosovo through Oct - for details see http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=1761 ]

Q: And as to the portion.

Q: (Pause.) Thank you.

Q: Wait. Hold on. What -- what's the status of the search for these -- the other F-15 pilot in Scotland?

Adm. Quigley: Oh, yeah. Thank you. I wanted to mention that as well. The weather --

Q: Is there any indication of what happened to those two?

Adm. Quigley: No, on that aspect. We'll come to that, Bob, but we're not there yet. The weather continues to be just horrible. Eight inches of new snow fell just today on the site where the teams are still searching.

Just to recap, we have found one of the -- I say "we"; the Royal Air Force -- bless them -- and the searchers that have been involved in this have found the crash site of one of the F-15s, fairly in one location, and also the remains of the pilot. They've also found a portion of the tail section of the second plane, but so far have not -- we have no evidence of the pilot yet. The searchers were in the area today until darkness and weather just, you know, forced them to curtail the search. But Secretary Rumsfeld called Minister of Defense Geoff Hoon today to thank him for the incredible heroic efforts of the RAF rescue folks that have been working in just terrible conditions for the past two days to help us find the remains and the crash sites. And he just said thank you.

Q: Was there a deployed chute with the remains of the one pilot?

Adm. Quigley: The first -- there was a chute, I think. I don't know if it was deployed, John. And the second, of course, we have not found any evidence of the second pilot.

Ann?

Q: How high are these mountains that they're searching in?

Adm. Quigley: I don't know.

Q: Is there a suspicion that these two planes probably collided, given the fact that one -- you've only found a small amount of the wreckage of one?

Adm. Quigley: We'll take a look as best we can, Charlie, at any and all possibilities. Right now you've got about -- I said there's about eight inches of new snow. You've got about three feet of snow total that has fallen. The weather for tomorrow is projected to not be quite as bad, but tomorrow night you've got another front projected to move in either late Friday or early Saturday with more bad weather and probably more snow and high winds. So I'd be hard-pressed to make a prediction on when. But sooner or later, certainly, we'll be in a position where you can -- we're pretty good about eventually finding out the causes of crashes.

Q: Thank you.

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