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DoD News Briefing: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)
August 14, 1997 2:00 PM EDT

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.

We have a visitor from Finland here, Ms. Inka Hine, who is the Information Officer for the Parliamentary Group of Young Fins. She's visiting under the auspices of the U.S. Information Agency. Welcome.

Second, as part of our continuing effort to serve you and the American public, providing information quickly and efficiently, we have improved DefenseLINK, which is our Internet site, by launching a new search engine which will make it easier and faster for you to search the full text of documents. I don't know if any of you use DefenseLINK on a regular basis, but approximately 1300 people an hour log onto DefenseLINK to get information about the Department of Defense.

Finally, before I start the main briefing, I have a question for you. Who can recite the First Amendment to the Constitution?

(Laughter)

This is an indictment here. This is what the First Amendment says. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceable to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." That's the First Amendment.

Don't attribute this to me. This is from the Constitution.

In that regard...

Q: It says Congress...

A: It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting" and then it covers religion, it covers speech, press, and assembly. Those are the four elements covered in the First Amendment.

Q: I take it that that does not apply to the other two branches of the federal government.

A: Well, I don't think we want to get into... You can go back and read the Federalist Papers and other documents on the Constitution, but today President Clinton made a speech about expanding religious freedom and tolerance, and he talked about the practice of religion by federal workers. He issued an Executive Order that clarifies that federal employees may engage in personal religious expression to the greatest possible extent; that employers may not discriminate on the basis of religion, and that a federal agency must reasonably accommodate employees' religious practices.

In light of that, I would just like to point out that the Department of Defense has long had a regulation that says a basic principle of our nation is free exercise of religion. The Department of Defense places a high value on the rights of members of the armed forces to observe the tenets of their respective religions, and then lays out how religious practices can be accommodated by the military.

If you want more information on that, if you're writing stories about the President's Executive Order or speech, we can provide you more information on that.

Q: A question back to the DefenseLINK. This improvement that you've made, do you think it will allow more people per hour to log on, or what is it that the improvement is directed towards doing?

A: The improvement will make it easier to search the entire text of documents for key words. In other words, as I understand it right now it's easy to search the titles of documents, harder to search the full text of documents. This will make searches more complete and easier.

If you remember that you read a terrific speech by the Secretary of Defense given somewhere in Georgia some time in the spring in which he mentioned biological weapons, but that's all you remember, you can put in those words and you'll be led directly to his speech in Athens, Georgia.

Q: How far back does this go in terms of documents, do you know?

A: I think it goes back to the beginning of the documents on DefenseLINK. I don't think DefenseLINK goes back to every document the Defense Department has issued in the last 50 years, or 51 years now, but DefenseLINK was started shortly after I got here, I think, in late '94, early '95, and it would, I believe, go back that far.

Q: Just the past several years then.

A: Yes, the past several years. But there have been a lot of documents. Do you know how many press releases we issue in a year, or speeches, transcripts?

Q: Can you recite the numbers?

A: No, but I can find out. (Laughter)

Q: Will this Executive Order trigger a special review within DoD on uniform regulations and what's permissible for members of the armed forces to wear as far as religious...

A: I don't believe it will. We have now a well established process for reviewing religious requests. Let me give you an example of the type of request we get.

A woman who is a Pentecostal Christian asked if she could be allowed to wear a skirt at all times in compliance with her religious beliefs. She was told she could not, because it would interfere with her ability to carry out her duties.

A Moslem man asked if he could be exempted from eating in dining halls because pork was prepared in the mess halls, and if separate arrangements could be made for him. Separate arrangements were made for him.

We have also, as you know, now created kosher field rations, kosher Meals Ready to Eat to accommodate dietary laws. So there is a process.

Basically what happens is if a soldier needs to request a variance from the uniform rules, or dining rules or any rules or procedure, he or she makes a request to the commander. The commander can rule on the request and if the soldier doesn't, or airman, marine, sailor doesn't like the answer, it is appealed up through the chain of command until it reaches what's called the Armed Forces Chaplains' Board which oversees the regulation of religious practices in the military. They can make a final ruling on the dress request or whatever it is.

I think this process has worked well through the years, and I would anticipate, that it will continue to work well under the new regulations.

Q: Do you expect any changes in religious practices within the military? I know that religious practices are permitted and encouraged daily in this building for all faiths. Will that be expanded or changed in any way?

A: No, that will continue. As you know, there are prayer groups in the building and there are chapels and other places for prayer in the building. That, I don't anticipate will change in any way.

I suppose to the extent that the military is becoming more diverse in its membership, there could be more diversity of religious practices within the military and more requests for variances from regulations, and we'll continue to process those requests the way we're doing now.

Q: Could you go back over a point for us on the Department's anti-trust policy? At this point, is there any concern by the Secretary or the Department that mergers are going too far in the industry, number one? And is there any view that there needs to be any line drawn beyond which mergers should not take place or simply do we have no boundaries in our policy at this point?

A: First, we review all merger proposals on a case by case basis. We make recommendations to the Federal Trade Commission or to the Justice Department. We do not rule on mergers, we don't have the power to prevent a merger from taking place or to approve a merger, but we do make recommendations.

Second, within the context of looking at all proposals on a case by case basis, as you know, Paul Kaminski, when he was the Under Secretary of Defense, did talk about some concerns in the supplier area, subcontractor area. That is an area that the Department has been studying, but I'm not aware that we've come out with a broad policy statement on that, and certainly nothing that interferes with our case by case consideration of merger applications.

Q: To the best of your knowledge, has anyone from United Defense yet asked the Departments its views on a potential buyout by General Dynamics or any other firm, as to whether there would be anti-trust concerns on the part of the Pentagon?

A: You're talking about the armored vehicle issue.

Q: Right.

A: I'm not aware that there has been a request, but I can check on that. It may be that there's something I can't reveal to you because of securities laws, but...

Q: . ..any kind of preliminary view?

A: I'll see what we can tell you about that, if anything.

Q: Has there been any change in the statement from the other evening that there is now no training going on for snatch teams, so to speak, to nab Bosnian war criminals?

A: No.

Q: Can you tell us then if there has been any discussions, however, of this? If there is no training going on, is this something that has been considered?

A: No, I can't tell you that. All I can tell you is that our position is very clear. We believe that indicted war criminals should be brought to justice. We are doing everything we can to help the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague bring these indicted war criminals to justice, and we are considering a number of options for helping them. I think that General Clark, yesterday, Ambassador Holbrooke over the weekend, and Ambassador Gelpart have been very clear in stating what our policy is. The President, Secretary Cohen, and Secretary Albright have also been very clear in stating that we are determined to help bring these indicted war criminals to justice.

Q: But there is no U.S./British/French combined training mission underway?

A: We issued a statement on that and that statement stands.

Q: As for the claim that there would be a buildup of MPs in the area, up to 800 Reserve MPs being called up to...

A: That figure is not entirely correct. Let me explain what's going on.

There is, as you know, a normal rotation of troops in and out of Bosnia, and we're just about to begin a rotation where the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division will come out, and we'll be moving in members of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Polk.

This will take place over a series of weeks. I think the first people from Fort Polk, they've been training in Germany, I think they're in Hungary now, and they'll actually go into Bosnia tomorrow, I believe, the first wave of those people.

There are currently slightly fewer than 8,000 American soldiers in Bosnia. During the next several, really over the next month or so, new soldiers will come in, but there will be a delay in the exit of the 1st Infantry Division soldiers. So there will be a temporary buildup to 11,000 or 12,000 soldiers. That's to provide some additional presence during the elections, the municipal elections which are supposed to be held in mid-September, I think the 13th and the 14th; and also to give a handover period, a handoff period so the new people can come in and get their feet on the ground with some help from the 1st Infantry Division people.

In the course of that there will be a switch-out of some MPs. I think about 400 to 450 MPs will be coming in, but largely they'll be replacing MPs who are already there, but there will be an overlap for a time. So I suppose that could mean that during a period, if there are already 400 MPs there and we bring in 450 additional MPs, that for a period of time there could be as many as 800 MPs, but it's not a permanent augmentation to that level.

Q: Another claim made on the same story, if I could follow up on that briefly, was that your denial, the Pentagon's denial of the night before last depended entirely on the use of the word "now", that there was not "now" any training going on for a snatch mission.

If that word were eliminated, would the statement still stand?

A: I'm not going to get into textual analysis, nor am I going to get into hypothetical speculation about statements. We issued the statement, the statement stands, you can read it, interpret it any way you want.

Q: Is this a change in schedule, the 1st Infantry Division? Had they always been planned to...

A: I think you'll recall General Joulwan briefed here a month, six weeks ago, maybe a little longer, maybe two months ago, but he laid out this schedule, and we'd be glad to go back and get you the charts and the text of that briefing, but this has always been anticipated. What has changed a little is obviously the time of the municipal elections has changed. Remember at one time the municipal elections were supposed to happen earlier. They've been delayed more than once, so they have moved back. But we've known about the September dates for the municipal election since March. I think that's when the decision was made by the OSCE which supervises these elections. Since then, we've planned to have this overlap in September.

Q: This overlap is, I guess the current force is around 8,000, build up to about 11,000 or 12,000. Depending on how you count it, that could be as much as a 50 percent increase in force strength. Is this tied specifically to the date of the elections?

A: We did this before with the national elections. We had exactly the same type of arrangement. It's temporary. We've been clear in public about this for months. We've discussed it with Congress, we've discussed it here. This information has been available. So yes, it's an increase, it's a planned increase, it's done for a reason, and I think it will be as successful this time as it was last time when we had an increase for the national elections, last fall.

Q: Was the last increase of the same magnitude?

A: I'd have to go back and check, but I think it was of approximately the same magnitude, yeah. But I can go back and get the figures. I just don't recall from memory.

Q: On that same subject, just to make sure I'm clear on this, I remember back in the beginning of the year when the Bosnia operation was extended to June '98, there was talk about going back every six months to reassess the troop levels. How does that tie into this? It's more than six months.

A: Yes, it has been done, and it will be done again. I believe the last review was around March and the next one should be in September or so. I can't predict how that will come out, but it will obviously occur after the election and take account of the conditions in Bosnia after the September elections.

This overlap, this surge, if you want to call it, of troops, is supposed to last until about two weeks after the elections to provide a period of review and reflection and evaluation of the election results.

Q: In addition to just the numbers, 11,000 or 12,000, is there anything else you can tell us may happen in preparation for these elections? More reconnaissance flights, more of other types of assets going...

A: I'm not aware... The main thing that's going to happen is, if we follow the pattern of last time, and I believe we will, there will be an influx of election workers and observers, people to sort of help prepare the way for the elections. Then people to monitor the elections when they take place. So there should be an increased civilian presence in Bosnia in preparation for the elections, but I'm not aware of other military operations. We have pretty thorough intelligence gathering and monitoring of the situation going on all the time.

Q: Could you run down exactly which units will account for that surge increase and what the schedule is for their introduction into the theater?

A: I've asked for that information. I don't yet have it, but when we get it we'll get it to you.

Q: Pertaining to the 1990 Livermoore National Lab report on Gulf War bombing, General Schwarzkopf told Gannett News Service this morning he never saw the report. My question is why not, and how far up the chain of command did that go?

A: I can't answer either of those questions. We do have a separate investigation going on into the intelligence aspects of the Gulf War -- what we knew, when we knew it, who learned it, how they learned it, why didn't other people learn it, did the right people learn it, were our procedures efficient and effective? That's all being run by the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight, Walt Jacoh. He was instructed to do this study in the fall of 1996 at the same time Dr. Bernard Rostker was appointed as the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses. He's been laboring away in that study, and we hope that it will provide answers to some of these questions.

I might add two things about that study, though. The first is, the idea that there were intelligence reports done that did not always reach all the soldiers in the field is not new. We have discovered that there have been other examples of that. One of the reasons that Mr. Jacoh is investigating the treatment and use of intelligence is to find out how we can avoid that from happening in the future.

Second, there is nothing in this report, as I understand it, that suggests that poisonous materials that may have been blown up north of Baghdad or around Baghdad during the war drifted far enough to go over U.S. troops. I believe there is nothing in this report that suggests that. But again, we have, and Dr. Rostker announced this along with Mr. Walpole at the CIA when we did the plume analysis, we have decided to go back and to reexamine a lot of these analyses using the new formulas we've developed and the new computational techniques for charting wind directions and dispersion of gasses or potential chemical elements.

Q: You said drifted, past tense. This report was done three months before the war. I've seen the report. It predicts a plume of 378 miles -- well within the combat theater.

A: It's not my impression that it does, but I will doublecheck on that. There are actually diagrams of plumes in the report, and the modeling indicated, in fact the CIA provided a report on intelligence related to Gulf War Illnesses in August of 1996, and in that report it said Our modeling indicates that chemical agent fallout from these facilities, both located in remote areas west of Baghdad, do not reach troops in Saudi Arabia. We have no information to suggest that casualties occurred inside Iraq as a result of chemical warfare agents' release from the bombing of these sites, probably because, and they mention some facilities that are in remote locations far from any population centers.

Q: One of the models was done by Livermoore specifically at the request of the Pentagon. My understanding from Livermoore is that that model was thrown out as being too extreme and that it did show theater-wide dispersion.

A: I'm not aware that that's the case, but I'll look into it.

Q: You'll take that question?

A: Yes.

Q: Will that report be released?

A: You're from Gannett, right?

Q: I am from Gannett.

A: You've already gotten the report, haven't you? I guess the...

Q: We're talking about two different reports. My first question was on the 1990 request. Livermoore was tasked with doing a study on the Khamisiyah plume also, and that study was deemed, I'm paraphrasing, but too extreme. Said it was not useful. The other model...

A: You're asking me about two things.

Q: I am.

A: I was confused because it wasn't clear that you were asking me now about Khamisiyah. I will check into that.

I know, obviously, that in general terms as Mr. Walpole disclosed, there was a lot of trouble getting what we thought were adequate models of the Khamisiyah experience, and I will look specifically into that Lawrence Livermoore...

Q: The second part of your answer, I think, I assume, when you said these new, more sophisticated models that Walpole has said will be applied, they're going to be to Methana and Almadiyah?

A: And we will apply them to other possible... To any possible incident where there's concern about drifting or dispersion of agents. We will, as I understand it, apply the new, more sophisticated techniques that were developed to analyze the Khamisiyah plume.

Q: Can you be a little more clear on that? I'm kind of confused. This Livermoore study...

A: The Livermoore study, as I understand it, refers to Khamisiyah.

Q: I'm sorry, I'm talking about the pre-war...

A: That's a different study, right?

Q: Right.

A: The Livermoore study applies to...

Q: Reported by Gannett...

Q: . ..October of 1990.

A: Right.

Q: Does this go into detail about specific agents at specific locations and the type of threat or harm it might do to troops in certain regions? I'm asking about the specificity of this...

A: I do not know.

Q: . ..if it's a template or...

A: I haven't read the study.

Q: Can you say that the... This model I can buy. Livermoore was commissioned by Tactical Air Command, is that correct? That's my understanding.

A: That is what I've been told, yes.

Q: And if General Schwarzkopf never saw it, then it presumably did not make it, and I don't know whether you know the answer to this yet, but that the report didn't go beyond Tactical Air Command at that point?

A: This is the type of thing that Walter Jacoh is trying to figure out. He is looking at what happened to all of these studies, where the information got, did it get to the right people, did it get there on time, and he, I hope, will have the answers to these questions. I do not.

Q: The Senate Banking Committee asked for the information in October of 1993, and it had to be revealed via FOIA. That person only got it last Saturday. Why is there a delay of four years in getting the announcement out of the study?

A: I cannot explain that. all I can tell you is that since the fall of 1996 when Mr. Jacoh was appointed to do his review and Dr. Rostker was appointed to his job, that we worked very aggressively to get out as much information as possible. It's clear that there are vast numbers of studies, there are vast numbers of intelligence reports. Many of these have been revealed, some have not yet. One of the things Mr. Jacoh is doing is looking at the whole picture of what we knew and who got to know that and whether it was efficiently and properly distributed.

Q: Now I'm a little confused. Your answer to Susanne's question about there was not specificity in the report...

A: I did not answer the question. I don't know. I haven't read the report. I made it very clear. I don't know whether there was specificity in the report.

Q: I'm sorry. I thought Colonel Bridges had indicated to you from off-line here that there was not a lot of specificity in the report, so let me rephrase my question then.

I thought Susanne had asked whether the report addressed the potential of agents being released from targets in Iraq, and you said it was not clear whether there was specificity? Is that it?

A: I did not comment on specificity because I haven't read the report. I can't tell you anything about specificity.

Q: Can one of your aides who has the report tell us?

A: You can check with Brian afterwards on that.

Q: Can you say up until this point in time if the Pentagon has had any evidence that bombing by the Air Force did, in fact, release agents?

A: We do not have evidence that agents were released from bombing of facilities in Iraq that affected U.S. troops.

Q: Yesterday Sergeant Major of the Army McKinney's lawyer said if the case goes to court martial he will file a motion saying this is a discriminatory and vindictive prosecution, and that he's going to release a bunch of names of officers -- colonels and above, and possibly a four star general -- who have committed similar offenses of harassment or adultery and who have not been prosecuted as Sergeant Major McKinney may be.

First of all, can you tell me your comment on that? Do you know who these officers are? What is the procedure for dealing with complaints against officers? Have any colonels or above, and specifically any generals, ever been court martialed for sexually-related crimes or any crimes?

A: Any crimes?

Q: Well, in recent memory.

A: I don't know.

Q: What about sexual harassment or...

A: I do not know whether any general officer has been court martialed for sexually-related crimes. The Army could tell you that.

Q: What about his saying there was a double standard in terms of not only race but rank in these prosecutions?

A: The military works very hard to avoid a double standard. We try to apply uniform rules to people of all ranks. One of the purposes behind the three task forces or panels that Secretary Cohen set up in the spring is to make sure that the rules are one, clearly understood; and two, consistently enforced. As you know, the panels are the one led by former Senator Nancy KassenbaumBaker that's looking at gender integrated training and some social issues that have arisen in connection with that. There's another panel looking at the term "good order and discipline" and what that means, how it's enforced, whether it's clear enough. And there's a third panel that's looking at the rules that deal, sort of the definition and clarity of terms involving adultery. And in the regulations and whether they're enforced equally by the various services.

Probably the adultery panel, the work of that will be folded into the good order and discipline panel because adultery, as I've explained here before, is of interest to the military when it compromises good order and discipline, so it's more appropriate to look at that under the general umbrella of good order and discipline.

Q: Is there an update on when that's going to be released?

A: It should be, I think we announced that it would be done in September. As far as I know, it's on track.

Q: Have they been giving the Secretary periodic updates, or is he waiting for their final report?

A: Rudy DeLeon has recently taken over as the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and he's in charge of these reports, and he has given the Secretary some updates, but there haven't been formal reviews and benchmarking updates as far as I know.

Q: A follow-on on McKinney. Do you believe McKinney has threatened to expose others in the military, in the Army? Would this be welcome? Would his testimony be welcome? His exposing other types of sexual impropriety?

A: I think welcome is not quite the word I'd use to describe this. (Laughter)

Q: Do you know if the guy...

A: The Army is committed to learning what its problems are and to disciplining people fairly if necessary. Sergeant Major McKinney is involved in a legal proceeding. He is represented by an aggressive counsel, and he is trying to protect his rights as he sees fit.

Q: Can you say anything, a little bit... They're too much related, I'm afraid. Can you say anything about the arrest of Captain Michael John?

A: No, I cannot.

Q: In the military if an individual has knowledge of such activities of say adultery, sexual harassment, things that are not allowed, is that person, is it necessary that that person as a high ranking officer in the service come forward and do something about it?

A: Are you saying is there an honor code that requires...

Q: Sergeant Major McKinney was on a sexual harassment panel inside the Army. Did he bear any burden as a senior officer, a senior military officer, to make the knowledge to the lawyers or whatever that those supposed crimes or whatever had occurred? I'm just asking, is there a responsibility... There was a woman who was called to testify, and she said she was ordered to testify by the Army in the case. Is it the responsibility of an individual in the military not to keep something like that quiet? To have to come forward?

A: I'm not aware that there is.

Q: On the border shooting, grand jury meeting today. Procedurally, if there's an indictment that's handed down against Corporal Banuelos, what happens next? Does it get moved to federal court? I just don't know what the procedure is after this.

A: The procedure is that we sit down immediately with the Justice Department and talk about the options, one of which clearly is exercising the supremacy clause of the constitution and moving it into federal district court. But these decisions will have to be made if there is an indictment, and we hope there will not be. We don't think an indictment is justified based on what we know. We think Corporal Banuelos was carrying out a lawful and authorized mission, one that was authorized by the Congress of the United States. He was performing appropriately as a member of the armed service in defense of the national interests. He followed the rules of engagement, clearly. And those rules of engagement allowed him to defend himself. He was under fire, he and his three other marines were under fire and acted appropriately in self defense.

Q: When will the results of any of the military investigations into this be made available?

A: As I understand it the prosecutor, who has been bringing the case and is bringing ten witnesses before the Grand Jury today, has said that he will make all that information available to the Marine Corps and to JTF-6 and other military authorities after the Grand Jury proceeding is completed. If that's completed today or tomorrow, then the military should have access to it early next week.

As soon as we get access to that information, as soon as the military gets access, it should be able to complete its investigation relatively quickly.

Q: What type of information is the military lacking?

A: There have been, I believe the military would like to speak with some Border Patrol agents, it would like to review some autopsy and other reports that it hasn't been able to during the pendency of the Grand Jury proceeding. But when that's over, my understanding is that they will have access to that and be able to move ahead quickly

Q: The policy review that's been underway as to whether you have these patrols on the border if the military does them, has there been a decision yet as to whether or not to permanently cancel the operations? I guess they're just suspended right now.

A: They are suspended. There has been no final decision made.

Q: What kind of concessions is it going to take to get the military back into these operations? What are you looking for? Legal protection? Those kinds of things when can you outline what they're looking for?

A: I think it's premature to talk about concessions right now. We'll look at the results of the study that's been done about the missions and decide based on that whether it's appropriate to continue them. I don't think we're, right now, in the position of asking for concessions from any other law enforcement agencies. We're just looking at whether the missions, as currently structured, provide proper protection to American soldiers who have been asked to perform these missions by Congress, and whether the missions are appropriate, given the current conditions, and whether these missions should be performed by soldiers or whether they should be performed by Border Patrol agents. Those are among the questions. We'll also be looking at the procedures we've set up to govern the missions and whether they're appropriate.

So there are two basic questions. One, is it appropriate to be performing these missions? And two, if so, are the procedures for the missions appropriate? The training, rules, etc.

Q: Can you check to see when the last time active duty military or federalized guardsmen have been indicted for a crime while conducting an operational mission on U.S. soil?

A: We can attempt to find that out. Sure.

Q: Who's responsible for the defense of the Marine should this become a criminal case? Is that...

A: The Justice Department has provided counsel to Corporal Banuelos. Very stalwart counsel, Mr. Zimmerman, a well-known lawyer in Texas. That counsel is serving at government expense and, if necessary, will continue to defend him.

Q: Can you give us an update as to whether or not there are some negotiations going on behind closed doors to solve this issue over the Guard Bureau Chief being a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? I know the active services are very much against that, however, it seems the National Guard Association is kind of calling in all of its favors on Capitol Hill to try and get this thing through. Is there going to be some sort of compromise? Can you just tell us kind of what's going on? Or is nothing going on?

A: The Secretary of Defense has written members of the Senate Armed Services Committee saying that he thinks this is a bad idea, and we believe that under the total force concept which sweeps the Guard and the Reserves into the active duty force for a variety of operations, that the Guard is adequately represented. That its interests are adequately represented by current members of the Joint Chiefs.

There are some discussions going on, and I can't predict how they may come out, but my sense is that many members of Congress who, of course, passed the Goldwater/Nichols Bill and have been very supportive of the total force concept, understand the arguments that we've been making.

Q: If they understand the arguments, why then were there 47 signatories in the Senate? And secondly, if in fact the House recedes to the Senate during conference, is this provision considered veto bait? Have the Joint Chiefs talked to anyone in the NSC about getting the President to veto this bill if that...

A: I can't answer that question. I just don't know the answer.

Q: A follow-up on Korea. We've seen that up to 80 percent of the crops in North Korea may be lost to the drought. What's the effect in South Korea insofar as agriculture and other matters concerning security? How much water is available? Are the crops also being burned up there?

A: My understanding is that South Korea does not face the same agricultural problems that North Korea faces. One of the differences is that there's been substantially more deforestation in the North than there has been in the South so there's more erosion, less water retention by the soil, etc. Secondly, of course, the South has a market-based agricultural system and the North has a command-based agricultural system which has been proven to be much less efficient and resilient than the agricultural system in the South has been. In terms of using modern agricultural techniques, fertilizers, agricultural machinery, simple things like rotating plots of land among crops, aren't practiced as assiduously in the North as they are in the South.

So aside from the climatological problems that the North has faced, those are some of the reasons why there's a food shortage in the North and not one in the South.

Q: But there's not expected to be a shortfall in the South due to...

A: No. My understanding is that the South is actually donating food to the North. It's one of the consortium of nations that's been making food donations under the World Food Program to the North.

Q: There's supposed to be some sort of sitdown tomorrow in Sarajevo in regards to the disarming of the special police brigades. Is there any information you can give us on the format of tomorrow's talks or...

A: No.

Q: . ..any of the demands?

A: I'll get some details on that, but basically my understanding is that that program's going pretty well. That's what General Clark indicated at his news conference in Pale yesterday, and that's what the people I talk to every morning in Tuzla have been suggesting.

Q: Can you clarify one thing? There are inspections ongoing now, but there's also an August 31 deadline. Will the inspections after that deadline be the same as what's going on now? And secondly, how can you have inspections now if the discussions really haven't even begun about what will or will not be allowed? Those talks are happening tomorrow, and yet there are some inspections going on now.

A: Both the SFOR forces and the parties in the Federation as well as the Republic of Serbska seem to understand what the rules are, and this is sort of a three-phase project, as I understand it. The first was basic, they announced what they were going to do and they put the headquarters of the special police units under observation right away so they couldn't spirit stuff out the back door after they got the letter announcing the new program. So the first phase was announcement and observation.

The second phase was actual inspection where they have to declare what they've got, what their weaponry is. Then the SFOR forces go in and inspect to see that the inventory actually measures up to the list that they've been given. That's been going on, and I believe that's completed or almost completed in the American Sector, MND North, there were only eight sights for them to inspect.

The third is followup. Now follow-up is what we do all the time with the Army weapons cantonment sites where we go in every once in awhile and just inspect them on a spot basis to make sure that everything is where it's supposed to be and it hasn't been moved out.

Q: If we're already deep into phase two here, apparently, what's going to be discussed tomorrow then?

A: I don't know. I will have to find out.

Press: Thank you.

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