Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon. I don't have any announcements, so let me try and answer some of your questions, if there are any.
I also would like to remind you all that there will be a backgrounder following my briefing that the Air Force will be introducing.
Q: Was there any military assistance given to the North Korean gentleman who has defected?
A: Susanne, at this point, what information is available on that situation has been provided by Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin, and I have nothing to add to what he has said. Charlie?
Q: Do you plan on debriefing this man, especially the Ambassador from Egypt, due to the Pentagon's interest on missile sales -- North Korean missile sales to the Middle East?
A: Charlie, let me say once again that, at this point, I think it's premature to say much on this issue, and I really don't have anything to add to what Jamie Rubin said earlier today.
I think you know that the issue that you raise, which is the issue of arms transfers, is one that we follow very closely, and we're interested in it on a variety of fronts.
Q: Do we have any plans to participate in the debriefing process of the defector?
A: I think what I've provided here is all I'm going to be able to provide today. The State Department is really the appropriate place to provide information on this issue. I'll be glad to replay this record as many times as you want. So if anybody has more questions on this issue, please, I can go as long as you can.
Q: Could you tell us if the U.S. military flew the gentleman to this country?
A: I tried to answer that question before by saying that the information that's been provided so far by Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin is as much as we're going to be able to say on the subject.
Q: It was said that Mr. Holbrook, in his mission to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, was accompanied by DoD officials, too. I'm wondering if you could release the name of your official and if you could say something about his role during the process.
A: The information that I have indicates that Ambassador Holbrook has no specific plans to travel to Cyprus at this time. Newly appointed special Cyprus coordinator, Tom Miller, will be visiting Cyprus and other countries in the next several weeks. There are no plans for a DoD representative to travel with Mr. Miller.
Q: One more question. Turkish fighters are violating the Greek air space over the Aegean recently, almost every day and, in some cases, they cross Greek Islands. The State Department has not taken a position to say anything on that, on the basis that it cannot confirm the "Greek" allegations.
Since February, however, Mr. Spokesman, NATO imposed the RAP system -- R-A-P -- over the Aegean, in full cooperation with the DoD, and there is clear issue of what is going on in the Aegean.
I'm wondering if you could give the data to the State Department not to take a position?
A: Well, let me just explain for those who aren't familiar with this system, this RAP system stands for Recognized Air Picture, and it's an asset that allows this NATO Command -- Allied Air Forces, Southern Europe -- which is located in Naples, Italy, to monitor and record on a real-time basis the air picture throughout most of the Southern Region.
There are radar inputs which are provided to RAP by the nations which are participating. The first Southern Region nation to provide radar inputs was Italy. They were followed by Turkey and Greece.
And, for additional information on this system, since it's a NATO system, I would refer you to the NATO Public Affairs Office in Naples. We can provide you a telephone number.
Q: I was told that they are using American facilities, even computers from the DoD. That's a full cooperation. That's why I'm asking the question to you.
A: Well, I think that, since it's a NATO system -- and not only is it a NATO system but it is a NATO system for a NATO command -- the best place to start on this would be with the folks there in Naples. And we can provide you a point of contact on that.
Q: Could you fill us in on the number of U.S. troops in Bosnia now, and how quickly that number will rise to 11 or 12 thousand, and how quickly you expect it will go back down after the election?
A: Currently, there are about 8,500 troops in Bosnia. The two ground squadrons of the 2nd ACR are in country and providing support to operations in Bosnia.
What we anticipate is that the deployments and redeployments will be frozen during the two weeks before the municipal elections, which are still expected to take place on the 13th and 14th of September. During those elections we anticipate that the overall troop strength in Bosnia of U.S. forces is not expected to rise above about 10,500.
After that, there may be a slight rise as the changeout continues, and then the numbers will go back down to about 8,500.
Q: Do you have any idea how quickly you can get them brought back down or will that depend on --
A: Well, it will take probably some period of time. I don't want to give you an exact prediction. But the redeployments will start in the latter part of September and continue on for probably a couple of weeks after that, maybe even longer than that.
Q: Do you have any knowledge of U.S. role or SFOR role in helping Mrs. Plavsic wrest control of the Serbian television station that's broadcasting in Bosnia, in Serbia?
A: SFOR actually is there, as you know, to provide a safe and secure environment. The concern that some have voiced with regard to media, particularly media in Pale has been the statements regarding SFOR. Some have been very concerned about the tone and level of rhetoric coming out of some of those stations.
As you know, the journalists independently switched the transmitter, so that it became possible for them to broadcast news out of Banja Luka, but the Office of the High Representative actually is the office that would trigger any kind of activity that may be undertaken in connection with the media in that...in that country.
What they are attempting to do at this point, however, is to explore positive initiatives to bring independent media to Bosnia. And I think those of you who have visited the area know that there are some independent radio stations that are broadcasting there now, including some that are from the Swiss-funded Free Elections Radio Network.
There's also an internationally funded Open Broadcast Network. There's Radio MIR. And then there's also Voice of America.
So, at this point, what they're attempting to do is look for these initiatives, which bring in the independent view of things from media who are not connected with the government. It really is a situation that SFOR could become involved in, but their actual approach to this thing has not been determined at this point.
Q: Yes. On North Korea, Mike, can you confirm weather satellite indications that the drought persists and deepens in North Korea?
A: I haven't looked into the weather over North Korea just recently, Bill, but we can see if there's anything we can get for you on that subject.
Q: And, for our readers, especially, our Catholic listeners and readers, does the DoD welcome intercession to provide relief to salvage some of the crops which I understand could still be salvaged in North Korea?
A: Well, you may be aware that we have -- We, the United States Government -- have provided probably the most, the largest contribution to the world food program to provide food there.
I think that most people associated with the issue of food in North Korea would be very happy to see a successful crop.
Q: I was talking about an intercession for a change in the weather.
A: I think we would be in favor of anything that we could -- would see in connection with better weather that would be conducive to crops there.
Q: Thank you.