Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon. Let me start by welcoming Mr. Han, who is visiting in connection with the U.S. Information Agency's program, and he comes to us from the Republic of Korea. And with that welcome, I will try now to answer some of your questions.
Q: Mike, could you fill us in on the situation in Banja Luka and whether or not any U.S. ground troops are involved in this?
A: Charlie, this is an activity that actually is being undertaken by SFOR troops who are supporting the International Police Task Force. There were some U.S. aviation units that were involved in the early phases, but, to my knowledge, there are no U.S. troops that are involved right now.
Q: Is this a part of the operation that will eventually be aimed at capturing some of the fugitive war criminals that was denied by the Pentagon a couple of weeks ago?
A: Well, actually, this comes under the rubric of creating a secure environment and supporting the International Police Task Force. What we have going on in Bosnia right now is what has been going on for over a year, and that is the mandate of the SFOR units, and before SFOR, IFOR, to implement the Dayton Agreement. The basic goal of SFOR units is to create this secure environment that will enable civilian authorities to do the work that they must do to ensure that Bosnia can get on its feet as a country.
In this particular instance, the IPTF, who had done some inspections -- I think it was on Sunday -- determined that all of the police installations in Banja Luka needed to be looked at more closely. They are not armed authorities. The International Police Task Force do not carry arms, and so they sought from the SFOR commander support to secure these facilities. That support was provided by MND- Southwest, and there were five installations in Banja Luka that were secured.
I think that most of you have seen reporting that has come from the scene that indicated that as a result of the inspections that have been done by SFOR troops and also by the IPTF, that a number of arms have been captured. This is consistent with what SFOR troops have been trying to do since they started their presence there in Bosnia -- and IFOR before them -- and that is to get control of arms that are loose in the country that are not contributing to good order and security there.
Q: For the record, would you again deny that a plan has been put into operation with the aim of eventually capturing war criminals?
A: Well, the war-criminal business, which we've talked about from time to time, actually, the requirement on war criminals is the responsibility of those who have signed the Dayton Agreement -- the parties who have signed up to that. They are responsible for turning over war criminals.
There have been actions taken by SFOR in the past -- the most recent one being where sealed indictments were delivered and a war criminal was captured. But SFOR does not have the responsibility of capturing war criminals, although they certainly are provided the authority to detain indicted war criminals as they encounter them and when the on-scene commander deems that it is appropriate and their forces have the capability to do so. This operation that was conducted down there had nothing to do with war criminals, however.
Q: Capt. Doubleday, are officials in this building surprised by the quantity and types of weapons that were recovered in these raids -- obviously weapons that normal police folks don't use?
A: Let me go through what some of these weapons were, so that we all know what we are talking about here. They included assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, mines, hand grenades, booby-trapped explosive devices and other explosives. And some of these types of weapons have been outlawed by SFOR as being very excessive for what one would normally expect a civilian police force to require.
In fact, the general SFOR guideline regarding long-barreled weapons is that normal civilian police forces in Bosnia should have no more than one per 10 police officers. And in this particular case, there were several thousand weapons that were actually confiscated in this operation.
Excuse me just one second. I want to make one correction. The aviation units, the U.S. aviation units are still supporting that operation in Banja Luka.
Q: Yes. Captain, it did mention in one of the articles I read on this matter that it was thought that there were a great deal more weapons of this type that were in Srpska, and I would ask if there are any further raids contemplated to recover such weaponry. I understand that the country is just loaded with weapons.
A: Well, let me go into just a little bit on that. Some time ago, the SACEUR, who at the time was Gen Joulwan, determined that SFOR should take -- should review the whole business of police in Bosnia; and as a result of that, shortly after Gen Clark became the SACEUR, he sent out an order which defined the police in one of two ways.
On the one hand, there were civil police. These were police in the generally accepted sense that we in the United States think of police: individuals whose primary duty is civilian law enforcement in accordance with international standards. And those individuals, just for the purpose of Dayton, are covered under one section of the Dayton Agreement. Those police units, by the way, have oversight by this International Police Task Force, the IPTF.
There was another category of specialist police, and these are forces belonging to organizations with a military capability, and they were engaged in the maintenance of internal security as their primary duty. They are covered under another part of the Dayton Agreement, the part that SFOR is primarily concerned with, Annex 1 (a). And because SFOR is primarily concerned with that aspect of it, under this definition, SFOR is responsible for keeping track of these units.
Now, in this particular instance, down in Banja Luka, what we were talking about was civil police installations -- not special police, civil police installations. That's why the IPTF was the organization that had responsibility for investigating these facilities and why they called upon the SFOR units to come in and help secure the facilities so that they could do their inspections.
Q: Capt. Doubleday, I'd like to go back to something you said a few moments ago, that U.S. aviation is still supporting the operation. Could you elaborate on what the operation is and what the aviation is supporting?
A: Well, first of all, the operation is to, as far as SFOR is concerned, is to secure civil police installations in the town of Banja Luka, where the International Police Task Force suspected that there were violations of the Dayton Peace Agreement. And the International Police Task Force is doing an investigation of this. You will have to talk to them about the status of their investigation and exactly what they have found.
But in connection with this operation, there were some aviation units that provided overhead security as the facilities were being secured by ground forces. Those ground forces were in an area called Multinational Division Southwest, which is primarily a British sector. The British have the lead in that sector.
Q: You're talking about attack helicopters, right, and the aviation --
A: I don't have any detail on exactly what kind, but they are the helicopters that are at the disposal of the commander over there. And I don't have any numbers either, but I'm sure that they could probably provide you some detail of that over there in Tuzla.
Q: Isn't it assumed that aviation will be the extent of U.S. participation in each similar --
A: I wouldn't want to assume anything. Although there are sectors where the British, in this particular case, have the commander on the ground, we have the division up north, and the French have the division in the southern section. There is certainly a lot of movement of personnel and the SFOR commander has the capability to draw upon whatever forces he may feel he needs, wherever he may need them.
Q: Could you explain the distinction between this operation and the specialist police barracks, and I believe it's the Domet factory outside of Banja Luka that was also secured by SFOR yesterday?
A: To go over one more time, this operation which is going on in Banja Luka is a civil police operation. To my understanding it is not involving the specialist police.
Q: But wasn't there -- didn't SFOR restrict specialist police to barracks right outside of Banja Luka also yesterday and confiscate their weapons?
A: It may have been in connection with this. That may have been part of the operation, but this is primarily directed against civil police installations in the town of Banja Luka.
Q: Two questions. First, did the SFOR Commander have the authority to authorize this operation on his own? I thought that it would go up to (inaudible)--
A: No, he had the authority. He has the authority. He was called upon by -- he was asked by the office of the High Representative and the International Police Task Force authorities who had -- who remained in very close contact with the SFOR commander to provide this support. It was not anything that had to be referred to Brussels for approval.
Q: Could I ask you though, in practice both the instances of NATO getting tough --
A: And let me just add one other point to that. The reason for that is that this falls under the overall rubric of the SFOR requirement to maintain a safe and secure environment in which civil authorities can do the work that they must do to implement the Dayton Peace Accord.
Q: Could I ask about personnel? In both instances of NATO getting tough so far, that is, capturing war criminals under sealed indictment and now the disarming of the paramilitary. In practice it has involved British troops getting in with US helicopter logistic support. Is that, in fact, the division of labor that's been agreed for these get-tough operations?
A: No, I think it just happens that in this particular instance and in the other one that was the way it worked out. But I think that there's no division of labor that specifies what country is going to do what job.
I think the SFOR Commander is always in a position to call upon assets that he feels he may require, wherever the operations take place. In this particular instance in Banja Luka where the situation arose, it happened to be in the sector of the country that was led by a British unit.
Q: So can we expect to see some of the get tough measures in the U.S. sector like, for instance, the arrest of war criminals?
A: Well, I don't want to predict anything other than the fact that SFOR... their mandate is to implement the Dayton Peace Agreement and they will continue to do that on all fronts. And wherever they see infractions of the peace accord that need to be corrected, they'll take the steps necessary to correct it.
Q: I was wondering if we're looking for evidence of the new get-tough policy in the American sector, what would we look to?
A: Well, John, I'm not sure that I would necessarily agree with the premise of that question. That is to say that I think that the policy that SFOR has had -- that NATO has had throughout here -- has been one where we have been creating this environment.
I think that you could say that we have taken the extra step here of late as a result of the assessment of the police situation to ensure that these specialist police units, which were actually very military in nature, were brought under closer scrutiny and that their weapons were put under the same controls that military units had.
So I'm not sure I totally agree with the approach that your question there seems to imply. Yes?
Q: What was the precipitating factor that led to this so-called lockdown on the police facilities in Banja Luka? Was it the suspicion that there were weapons over and above those which were allowed for those police forces or was there...
A: I sense it was the suspicion that the IPTF had that there were human rights violations going on, and as a result of that there -- I don't want to say there was a meeting because it's a continuing dialogue on the part of the leadership of all the many participants in the Dayton Agreement. But in this particular case it was the Office of the High Representative, the International Police Task Force and the SFOR Commander reacting to this concern that the IPTF had that there were these violations.
Q: Violations more specifically were folks detained there or __
A: Well, I think it had to do with threats against certain parts of the judiciary -- some of the other activities that were going on in those civil police installations. And as a result, of course, they uncovered these weapons which seemed to be way beyond the requirements of what a normal civil police unit would need.
Q: The facilities had been inspected not too long ago, correct?
A: By the IPTF.
Q: That's my --
A: My understanding is, yes, they had. I don't have any detail on the degree to which they had been subjected to inspections. You'll have to talk to the IPTF about that.
Q: Mrs. Plavsic, I believe, has said that Mr. Karadzic was behind an attempt to overthrow her regime. And I would ask the IFOR if this department believes that that is correct and, if so, what about those special police in Pale who protect Karadzic? Once again, isn't it imminent that IFOR would have to move against them and disarm them? Take their capability away?
A: Well, to answer the second part of your question first, I would refer to you to what Gen Clark has said on this same subject in the past. And that is that the specialist police should do only those things that are legal. And as they... an indicted war criminal Mr. Karadzic owes it to the people of Srpska to turn himself into the Hague to answer the charges that have been filed against him.
Q: But doesn't it look like it's coming to the showdown whether it's either get Karadzic or Karadzic will take over once again by force?
A: I don't want to predict what it's getting to. I think that the actions here have to do with the civil police installations in Banja Luka.
Q: And then just one more follow-up.
Q: First to Gelbard's role in ordering this raid. Was he not involved in --
A: What I've been saying all along is that we have the International Police Task Force. We have the Office of the High Representative and we have the SFOR Commander. Mr. Gelbard is not a part of this equation.
Q: (Inaudible) chain of command and was not in the chain of command in this particular matter?
A; Mr. Gelbard is a representative of the United States. He certainly is a part of the overall U.S. policy. He is not a part of the SFOR chain of command though.
Q: All right. What's the status of the special policemen whose weapons were confiscated? Will they be allowed to rearm themselves to a certain extent or will they permanently disarm them?
A: Well, now, first of all, we're not talking specialist police. We're talking civil police. The civil police.
The IPTF is going to have to make an assessment there as to what the requirements are. One of the mandates of the International Police Task Force is to come up with a restructuring of the civil police forces in Bosnia. This is all part of what their mandate is.
They not only go out on patrols, they not only monitor what is going on with the civil police, but they have been very active in restructuring police organizations. And what they will be doing in Banja Luka is to pursue that particular part of their mandate. And again, I'd have to refer you the International Police Task Force to really get any insights into what their plans are in that regard.
Q: On Mr. Gelbard's role, I mean, several correspondents from several different newspapers, based on briefings given by un-named quote senior American officials on the spot, did say this morning that Gelbard has ordered the raid, or cleared the raid. Is that just self-aggrandizement on the part of the un-named senior American officials?
A: Well, I don't want to speak for Mr. Gelbard. All I can tell you is that there is an SFOR chain of command that does not involve Mr. Gelbard.
Q: Can I follow up? I'm just wondering to what extent we're looking at a set up here. I mean there's nothing new about these paramilitary forces. The stations were inspected, and threats -- and threats by -- threats between both sides in this sort of battle between the Plavsic faction and the Karadzic faction have been commonplace for months and months. I wonder if this isn't just a case of us discovering that we're shocked -- shocked -- to discover that these paramilitaries are going on, and in fact it's a political decision just to take down a chunk of Karadzic's power base. And that the request from the International Police Task Force is a timely but prearranged excuse. To what extent is this just a basic political decision to take down a chunk of Karadzic's forces?
A: John, all I can tell you is that the sequence of events that occurred over there was such that the International Police Task Force, the Office of the High Representative and the SFOR Commander determined that it was a requirement to take a look at these police installations at this particular time, and they did so.
Q: So you're saying it was happenstance and fortuitous; it just happened like that?
A: Well, I would say that it was driven more by events than anything else.
Q: One last question about Gen Clark. Gen Clark, the last time he talked in public, said he didn't really know what kind of police were guarding Mr. Karadzic (inaudible) and it was on the 11th or 12th. Has there been a determination made as to what kind of police are, in fact, guarding Mr. Karadzic?
A: Well, I don't think it makes any difference what kind of police are guarding him because he is not an elected official so he should not be guarded by any kind of police -- specialist police or others. Duly elected officials are accorded police protection.
Q: So if Mr. Karadzic is receiving so-called police protection from any quarter right now, that is unauthorized as of right now?
A: If he is receiving specialist police protection, he should not be receiving specialist police protection.
Q: Even from civil police?
A: He should not be receiving any kind of specialist police protection. He is not a duly elected official. And, in fact, part of the Dayton Agreement required him to step down from any kind of post he had.
Q: Is the ban on all levels?
A: Excuse me?
Q: Does this ban on his protection also include civil police? You mentioned specialist police. Does the ban also prohibit civil police from guarding Mr. Karadzic and other indictees?
A: I don't know how I can say this any more clearly. People who are not elected officials should not be guarded by police, civil or otherwise.
Q: And does it follow that it's the fact he's being guarded by anybody that it is then the responsibility of SFOR or what particular police agency to disarm whoever is guarding him?
A: I think we'll wait to see what unfolds on that one.
Q: On the B-2 bomber, what's the Pentagon's reaction to that GAO report this week and announced by the Air Force that it could be at least two years before B-2 bombers can be deployed overseas because it might rain on them?
A: Charlie, I haven't seen that GAO report. I don't want to really comment on it until I take a look at it.
Q: So these planes have to be constantly maintained in special shelters because humidity and rain and other things could affect their stealth capabilities. And the Air Force has conceded that it could be at least two years before they're deployed overseas... Any deployment overseas could occur because no such shelters are available there.
A: Before I comment, let me take a look at the report and see what it looks like.