Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 1:33 p.m. EST
(Also participating: Lieutenant General Ronald T. Kadish, USAF, Director, Ballistic Missle Defense Organization)
MR. BACON: Good afternoon. We're going to hold the briefing in two parts. First Lieutenant General Kadish, the director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Office, will talk to you about the testing schedule for the National Missile Defense Program, and then I'll take your questions on other issues after he's exhausted all your questions on National Missile Defense.
GEN. KADISH: Good afternoon. I'd like to at this time say that we've established a new target date for our next National Missile Defense flight test because I think we've resolved all the problems that resulted in the failure to intercept on our last flight test and have taken corrective action to fix them.
So the Integrated Flight Test V, our next flight test, will now be targeted for the 26th of June of this year. And it will be our third attempt at a successful intercept.
And as you know, the first succeeded in intercept, and our second attempt failed.
This is basically a two-month delay from a 27th of April flight test target date we had prior to our last flight test. In the two months that followed that flight test anomaly, we took an intensive, comprehensive look at our failure options on that flight test that we were unsuccessful on, pulled in the best experts that we could find on the subject, reviewed the results, and spent that two months deciding what it is we were going to fix, and over the last few days we've decided that we have adequately addressed those problems and have set the date that we think is prudent, from a technical standpoint.
The effort took as much time as we needed to make sure that we got it right. And I believe we have it right at this point in time.
We have concluded that there is no major design or redesign activity that needs to occur prior to our next flight test. The analysis and the reviews that we have done confirm the fact that we had an obstruction in the cooling system -- the plumbing, if you will, designed to cool the IR detectors that we have on the kill vehicle, to make them work properly -- and the corrective actions that we have in place addresses the processes and the adjustments to the hardware cycle that we need to take, to make sure that that does not reoccur.
So the fixes are defined and under way today, and should be complete by the 9th of April, under current schedules.
In addition to the delay of the flight test, given that it's a two-month period and we're moving it into the latter part of June of this year, we think it's prudent to adjust the schedule for the deployment readiness review, which is a departmental process that we're going to do, a technical assessment that we had scheduled in June. And since the Flight Test V is so close to that date, we think it's prudent to take advantage of the data that we'll get out of that flight test and delay the DR review of the entire situation about 30 days.
The delay has some effect, but we don't believe it has a material effect for the schedule of the presidential decision process later this summer, to bring this to a conclusion. (sic) [The delay has some effect, but we don't believe it has a material effect for the schedule of the DRR process this summer. The president will then make a decision later this year.]
On this chart here, I've illustrated the fact that we've had about a two-month delay from the date of the flight test on the 18th of January. We did an intensive review of the flight test data, shown by that first bar. In addition to the experts, as I said before, we had a number of outside people who we brought in to review what we have done, so we left no stone unturned in the overall technical process. And at the same time, we took corrective action on the kill vehicle to the point where now we believe we can ship the kill vehicle assembled and proceed with our normal flight test process. That results in a 26th of June flight date.
And with that, I guess I'll just take your questions.
Q: General, what do you mean when you say that this delay would have some effect but no material effect on the presidential decision? What do you mean by that?
GEN. KADISH: We had always been in the mode of having as much technical data as we possibly can get for our decision on the DRR that was schedule-driven in the June time frame. With a 30-day delay for the data off this very expensive flight test that we're going to do, we believe that we can still meet our commitments to provide the secretary and the rest of the process the right amount of data and assessment.
Q: You mean so that the president can make a decision this summer, albeit it possibly later in the summer, but this summer?
GEN. KADISH: Sometime in the process 30 days later.
Q: You thought in the previous schedule that 60 days was the right amount of time for the president to review this; now 30 days is the right amount of time to review this?
GEN. KADISH: I want to make clear that the DRR, the Deployment Readiness Review, is an internal DOD process, not the presidential decision. It is our technical assessment that we provide to the secretary of Defense, who will provide that assessment to the president and the other interagency processes. So the 30-day delay is in our own internal review.
Q: But is the amount of time you were going to allow before 30 days to review the results or was it 60 days?
GEN. KADISH: It was 60 days before. Now we're going to give ourselves 30 days.
And the reason why we believe that 30 days is adequate is, first of all, the 60 days was an artifact of when we were going to do the previous test anyway. Thirty days gives us a chance to get the flight test data review back, and about 30 days will give us 85 percent of the analysis, the key analysis, that we need.
GEN. KADISH: Eighty-five. And we believe that's sufficient for us to analyze the system as a system and provide a proper technical evaluation.
Q: What's the big rush? I mean, why not take the amount of time to get 100 percent of the data on a system that is this expensive and this controversial?
GEN. KADISH: We will eventually get 100 percent of the data analyzed. We will --
Q: But not in time for the president's --
GEN. KADISH: The presidential decision process is an ongoing process. We drew a point in time called the "DRR" at which we ourselves believe we can make a technical assessment based on that data, and we do this as a matter of course. And within 30 days, we should have a pretty good idea of how the system performed.
Q: General, what is the fix? I'm sorry. Are you replacing a part? Are you putting some tape over the hole --
GEN. KADISH: I wish it was that easy. (Laughs.)
Q: Well, I know, but, what is the fix? (Off mike.)
GEN. KADISH: Well, the fix -- what we had was a -- we have two cooling systems on the kill vehicle. One is a krypton cooling system and one is a nitrogen cooling system and they work at different times. The most likely cause, based on our analysis, was that we had some kind of an obstruction in the krypton pre-cooling system. And that can be traced to a number of factors, but when we simulated it in the laboratory, it matched the data that we got from the flight test very closely; almost an exact match. So we know there was an obstruction.
So the corrective action to that is to go through and make sure the plumbing system itself and the way it's put together and in the way it's cleaned and maintained and operated during the flight test preparations and the flight test itself is better than it was the last time.
Q: So, succeed or fail, on 26 June you will then recommend what you have, whether it's a failure or not, and that will be the last shot before you recommend it to Mr. Cohen, is that correct?
GEN. KADISH: That's the plan right now. Now, you have to understand that as a part of the deployment readiness review process, we have almost a thousand different things that we're watching very closely, all the way from whether our construction contracts are being let on time, to the fact that we have this flight test available. And the most visible of those thousand criteria are the two flight tests that we attempted -- or the three flight tests that we attempted intercept on. So we shouldn't get too focused on the idea that this is a go/no-go situation. There's a lot of things that go into a technical assessment of our readiness to proceed.
Q: Just to be clear, when was the deployment readiness review initially planned to be completed? And what is the completion date now?
GEN. KADISH: The readiness review was always planned to be in June of this year. It was a schedule-driven event.
Q: Was there a date, or is it just June?
GEN. KADISH: It was always specified as June, within a 30-day window.
Q: Now it's July, I think.
GEN. KADISH: Now it's July because we believe it's a prudent and common-sense thing to do, since we are going to have flight test in June, to take advantage of the data that comes out of that. That always gives us more confidence in the technical assessments that we give when we have the flight test data.
Q: If it turns out after 30 days that you believe you need more time to analyze the data, are you free to take that time, or are you locked into the schedule?
GEN. KADISH: In the way we've been approaching this program, if we need more time to do what's right, we take the time.
Q: With these delays, would it still be possible, if the president decides to order deployment, to deploy by 2005, or will that have to be pushed back as well?
GEN. KADISH: Our current program planning with this delay is still on track to do 2005. It turns out -- and I might take a minute to explain why the DRR was set for June of this year in the way we set this program out many months ago. If you start with the idea that we want to meet a threat in 2005, which we've been asked to look -- to plan the program to, and you back up all the things that we need to do to make sure that we can accomplish our goal of deploying the system in 2005, it turns out that the construction contracts in Alaska, specifically Shemya Island, where we're going to put the radar, is the long lead effort. And in fact, we have to start construction on that radar in Shemya, Alaska in the spring of next year.
And when you back up to when we need to let the contracts for that, it turns out to be October-November of this year. And when you back up from that as to all the things we would like to do to make sure that we make the right types of technical assessments in support of those decisions to let those contracts, it turns out that June was the right date.
Q: Isn't that the real answer to the question that Jack asked about what's the rush? I mean, there is a rush here, and the rush is to get a presidential decision in time to let these contracts so that construction can begin in Alaska in the spring of next year.
GEN. KADISH: From a programmatic standpoint, that's correct.
Q: So there is a rush.
GEN. KADISH: I would -- when I -- when you characterize it as "a rush", there's an implication that we're cutting corners to the point where we're going to do something that's not too smart. I would characterize it that we are taking a very prudent approach to a high risk schedule. And what "high risk" means is that if we have a particular problem that results in a significant delay, we're going to have to tell people we can't make our end date. But as of today we are able to, even with the slip that I talked about here in this flight test, we assess ourselves to be just about on the schedule we need to be on to deploy this system in 2005.
Q: But you are cutting a corner. You're going to make your deployment readiness decision based on incomplete data in half the time.
GEN. KADISH: When you say "incomplete data", I'd have to take exception to that. We had always planned to have about three or four flight tests done by this time anyway. That's been our plan because of the nature of the way this --
Q: I meant the 85 percent of the analysis on the June flight test. You're going to be making a decision, as Jack points out, in 30 days instead of 60 days on 85 percent of the data versus a hundred percent of the data.
GEN. KADISH: I would look at it that we have a hundred percent of the data on the flight tests we've already accomplished. And one more flight test, where we have assessed and analyzed in detail 85 percent of what we intended to do, adds about probably -- I'd say we had 95 percent of the data that we would need at that point in time, given all the other factors that we are going to evaluate.
It's not just this one flight test. Not this -- just this one flight test that we're evaluating. What we think we would like -- any program person likes to have as much flight test data as possible to make decisions. And since we can do this flight test at this point in time after we had gone through the corrective actions and done a very thorough review, we believe it's prudent to include this data in our decision process. And that's the approach we're taking.
Q: Haven't people said from that podium that one of the minimum requirements for a decision to proceed to two successful intercepts?
GEN. KADISH: We have set internal to the program in the absence of any other criteria, the requirement that we would like to meet, have two successful intercepts. We have one already.
And in fact, if you look at that very same criteria that we set for ourselves, the one intercept that we have successfully made so far allows us, in our own criteria, to proceed with the award of the construction contracts.
So it depends on how you want to view that criteria. We needed something to benchmark our approach as to whether we believe we're making successful technical progress, and we set, in the department, the two number of successful intercepts. But we also set about 999 other criteria that we're watching very closely. So this becomes an integrated assessment of many factors, not only the outcome of the flight tests.
Q: The Deployment Readiness Review will simply entail -- will simply entail the technical approach to this thing. It will not entail the threat -- the threat will not -- that's what the president is going to consider, but you all -- that's not part of the recommendation, right? That's strictly whether or not this will work. He will consider the political ramifications, the test ban ramifications, the cost, all that?
GEN. KADISH: Basically, we're the technical folks, and you're correct. We have a portion of the overall decision criteria. The technical assessment, to some degree the threat, and as well as the affordability and cost of the program. So we take a very specific view in DRR of just that activity, and then the process will take care of the rest of the criteria the president has laid out.
Q: Would you address the issue of the political pressure that you are feeling as the man in charge of this program? You understand that there is a huge political debate underway in Congress between the two parties, the president is under enormous pressure to move this program. You're not denying that you're feeling a lot of heat down your neck to move this along, are you?
GEN. KADISH: I feel pressure every day just being in charge of BMDO, quite frankly. It's a tough job. But pressure is a part of this business. In any program that I've run in the past, there is a sense of urgency, if nothing else, because we feel an obligation to take care of the threat not only for our countrymen, but also for the troops in harm's way.
So from my point of view, the pressure is real, just from that standpoint.
I can tell you, there always seems to be this underlying current that we're doing things just because we're being pressured to do things. I mean, that's the essence of your question.
Q: Yes, sir.
GEN. KADISH: There's no pay-off in that for an acquirer and a developer and someone who's trying to put something together and make it work. And I can tell you, we took as much time as we needed here. If we were rushing this, we would have scheduled it for 24 -- (2)7th of April, and we would have been out there trying to make that happen. The fact that we took the time to make sure that we were doing what we think is right in fixing the problem as a normal part of a development process -- that's why we do these types of things. That's why we test. That's why we engineer this stuff and have a development program. The very fact that we've done those things ought to argue for the fact that we are taking a very strict technical approach to this process. And I think that ought to stand on its own. And I can tell you that all of us have a desire to be successful in these programs. But we're not taking this to the point where we're doing things irrationally, and rushing things unnecessarily.
Q: Could you see any situation in which the Pentagon's recommendations to Cohen would be "Don't go ahead with this"?
GEN. KADISH: I can only speak for the technical part of this.
We are building confidence with each one of our flight tests as well as the many other factors that we watch in this activity that we could proceed with the schedule, the very aggressive schedule that we have. And that's about all I can say today. And I think as we go into the rigorous and the disciplined process we're using for DRR, that confidence will tend to build unless we find something that is extremely difficult for us to handle in the development program. And as of today, with this anomaly that we believe we've fixed, I believe we're on track to accomplish our objectives.
Q: On the anomaly, is it -- it sounds what you described that it was a human error, somebody didn't clean out the plumbing properly or left some object in there?
Is that --
GEN. KADISH: I think it's better characterized as a process error. And let me explain that. We have standard procedures and developmental activities that we have in -- to load krypton gas, to do preparation of the kill vehicle. And what we found in this particular case, that those process procedures needed to be improved to prevent a problem from happening. I guess to characterize it more simply, people did exactly what they were supposed to do, but what they were supposed to do wasn't good enough. All right? And that's, again, why we do development in very complex systems. We think we know how to put these things together, and we test them, and when we fail the tests, we go back and find out that something was wrong, and we improve it and we make the next step. So --
Q: There's no penalty for the contractor?
GEN. KADISH: No. There's no negligence here, if that's the intent of the question, that I could determine at all. It's a question of whether or not our processes were adequate for the developmental state that we're in.
Q: What caused the obstruction? Or can you explain more about the physics of what happened?
GEN. KADISH: When we have a cooling gas going through that kill vehicle to cool the IR detectors, we have very small orifices that the gas passes through in order to change temperature and expand. In the case of this particular type of cooling system, the orifice is no wider than two human hairs. And I like that analogy because I have a little problem with hair. (Laughter.) So it's very small. And when we introduced, we believe, through our process activities, moisture into the krypton gas that was a part of this process, and very small amounts of moisture could freeze -- will freeze because of the cold temperatures involved and potentially block those orifices. And given the data and all that we have measured, we believe that's the most likely cause. And so we think we know how to now make it moisture free. That was our objective to begin with, but our procedures weren't up to speed.
Q: General, is Flight Test 5 exactly the same as Flight Test 4 in terms of a target profile, what you're going to be looking for?
GEN. KADISH: Yes.
Q: Exactly the same?
GEN. KADISH: Yes. Now, we are putting -- one of the things that we want to know about Flight Test 5 and why we want to watch it so closely is that the radars, the battle management system, the in-flight communication systems will be a big part of this intercept attempt, and those are the systems we really want to pay attention to to make sure it works properly. So in that sense, it's more than what has been on Flight Test 4 because we're having the in-flight communication systems in line this time. But the target set is exactly the same.
Q: What's the battle management you're going to be using in five?
GEN. KADISH: It's the same that we used in four, the same set of software, at this point.
Q: And the difference is you're just kind of tying them all together and have them --
GEN. KADISH: Correct. In fact, what we're going to try to do is actually have the inputs that we would get from the radars and outputs of the in-flight communication and battle management system actually effect the test, as opposed to just being -- operating separately, like they were on our previous flight tests.
Q: You mean to make an in-flight change and be able to --
GEN. KADISH: Yes, based on inputs from our other sensors.
Q: General, you said that the DRR will include the cost as well. What is your best guess, and not just for the procurement cost, which I think $12 billion is the figure, but of the whole life-cycle cost of operating the system for its expected life?
GEN. KADISH: There's various ways of calculating the life-cycle cost, depending on if it's 20 years or 30 years and all. I'd have to get you the specific number, but if I recall, it's somewhere around $38 billion -- 20-year life-cycle cost. (sic) [Total cost estimate has not yet been determined but will be done as part of the DRR process.]
Q: How much does this test cost, this next one?
GEN. KADISH: Our tests, on average, cost $100 million, so I am very concerned that we take as much advantage of each one of these tests as possible.
And let me describe why those tests are so expensive. These are intercontinental tests. We launch a target out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California that goes 4,300 nautical miles into the South Pacific and releases a target. We launch the interceptor from Kwajalein Island in the South Pacific to intercept it. And all the infrastructure, the radars, the range safety activities, the people involved in making sure that these things go where we want them to go, as opposed to where they maybe would like to go, and do it safely is very expensive.
And we take that very seriously. So the idea here is that each test counts very carefully for us, and we want to make sure that we maximize our ability to get what we want out of it.
Q: A follow-up on that. On some of the earlier tests before you were actually doing the intercepts, you were doing fly-bys and things like that, your targets were a lot more complicated than they were for these two intercept tests we've had. There's a whole variety of different things, not just a big balloon and a little RV. Considering the fact that these things cost so much I would think you'd want the opportunity to collect data on what a lot of other stuff looks like and, you know, how the discrimination function really works. Why did you dumb down the test so much?
GEN. KADISH: I would not characterize it at all as "dumbing down the test". Let me explain why I say that, because there's a lot of people --
When you say there's a balloon in the target constellation, I'd like to point out that's a decoy. Okay? It happens to be a balloon, but it's a decoy. When we did the first test, we had, I think there were nine objects that we were collecting data on. We did not attempt to intercept any kind of a warhead. We were collecting data, and we have been using that data rather significantly in our analysis.
The idea of having a decoy, which is a balloon, a warhead and its carrier up there is akin to what I would call prudent flight testing, because if you look at the way we flight test aircraft, for instance, for the last four years, the first time you do an aircraft test, you take off and you don't raise the landing gear. And the reason why you don't do that is because there are things you want to prove, and you want to make sure that you're doing that basics, the essentials. The first flight test that we doing on the NMD program is to do the basic, and that is to prove that we could hit the vehicle we're aiming at.
We don't have explosives on this vehicle. Our kill mechanism is that we collide with the warhead. You have a kill vehicle that weighs 120-some pounds at a closing velocity of 15,000 miles an hour trying to hit an ice cream cone that's five feet long in space. We put the decoy up there as a very useful discrimination technique so we can get some discrimination and not make it -- I know you're going to quote me on this -- too easy, if you will, to find the kill vehicle. But what we're trying to prove is that we've hit, and can hit, that vehicle.
In later flight tests, the 17 to 27 that we're going to do over the next four or five years, we're going to be adding more and more complexity into the discrimination problem, which is the second part that we want to make sure works right. But our first activity is to make sure that we don't put the gear up unnecessarily and keep it on our essential flight test, which is, Can we hit the vehicle and discriminate sufficiently to do that? But we're really after the basics.
Q: But why are you ramping up your level of complexity slower than you had initially planned? I think initially you were looking at using multiple decoys in IFT V?
GEN. KADISH: We always look at -- in fact, we're reviewing the test program all the time to make sure we're doing what makes sense for the situation we're in, and we change it dynamically. We got enough complexity in the program, in the early phases, without compounding our difficulty. Again, why put the gear up on your first flight test if you don't have to? And that's where we're going right now.
Q: Do you have to hit the entry vehicle dead center? Will any kind of contact destroy any kind of warhead? Or, how does that go?
GEN. KADISH: We know about where we want to hit that kill vehicle, and I can describe it in this kind of terms, in that kind of an ellipse. And we know from our first flight test that we could do that very, very accurately, okay? And our task now is to make sure that we can do it repeatedly and under off- -- what we call nominal conditions -- not normal conditions. And our flight test program eventually will stress that, especially as we get out into the '04, '05 time frame.
Q: So a nick is not a kill?
GEN. KADISH: If you're going those speeds and you nick, it's going to hurt. (Laughter.) It's going to hurt. So -- but what we want to do is be perfect so that if we have -- for some reason we're not perfect, we still accomplish our mission.
MR. BACON: Thank you, General. Thank you very much.
Q: How many more flight tests?
GEN. KADISH: It'll be three years till -- after three years -- (off mike).
MR. BACON: Let me start with one announcement about Thursday.
From 1:30 to 3:00, the department is going to broadcast, by satellite to areas around the country, an electronic town-hall meeting featuring Deputy Secretary John Hamre and other officials on the topic of the Defense Reform Initiative, which will be a review of what we have accomplished so far and where we go next. That will be available for watching here in the building. If you want to see that, it's on Channel 15 of the internal system, or you can go to Room 1-E-801 just downstairs to see that.
Second, are there any Germans here? Any German students here? (Laughter, cross talk.) Well then, I won't welcome you if you're not here. (Laughs.) (Laughter.)
With that, I'll take your questions. Yes?
Q: Ken, anything on the military exercise Dynamic Response 2000 in Kosovo? Did your forces arrive successfully and so on?
MR. BACON: They are in the process of arriving. They have landed in Greece, and they are in the process of moving into Kosovo. I think they are now in Macedonia at Camp Able Sentry. And they will move from FYROM into Kosovo over the next several days.
Q: And, Mr. Bacon, it was reported today by the Washington Post that by Friday, your forces are supposed to sign an agreement with the Albanians in the east part of Kosovo. Do you know what it is about?
MR. BACON: No. I haven't found anybody who knows anything about it. To the best of my knowledge, there is no such agreement in the works.
Q: Yesterday, I think it was a Taiwan newspaper printed some incendiary stuff from the PLA about how they would go about invading Taiwan; 200,000 fishing vessels with 2 million people on board. (Chuckles.) And there were some threats issued in there; that is, if the United States got involved, nuclear weapons could be a -- (inaudible). Do you have anything on that?
MR. BACON: All I can tell you is that, on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the militaries seem to be calm and restrained. We don't see unusual military preparations or events taking place either in Taiwan or in China.
There is an amphibious exercise now taking place in China, near Shanghai, some 500 kilometers away from Taiwan. It's the type of exercise that usually takes place at this time of year, in the spring training cycle. It involves only five ships. It's not a large exercise. It's very much inside the parameters of what -- of how China trains at this time of year, normally. We see nothing unusual on either side of the strait militarily.
Q: So you're not taking those reports seriously?
MR. BACON: All I can tell you -- what the facts are. We don't see any unusual preparations. People on both sides of the strait are free to speculate about what could happen under certain conditions. But what we see is basically a political restraint in statements on both sides of the strait, and we see military normalcy on both sides of the strait at this time.
Q: What she's trying to ask is, does the Pentagon have any knowledge of a plan by the Chinese to use hundreds of fishing vessels to attack Taiwan, simply put?
MR. BACON: No.
Q: Can we return to the Kosovo story? I just want to make sure I understand your response earlier. You do not know of an agreement, as described in the Washington Post, that has almost been codified in some way, to -- for the ethnic Albanians to not aggress on the Serbs? Or were you addressing something else in response to that question?
MR. BACON: I was addressing the -- what I took to be the thrust of the story, that there's an agreement involving KFOR forces and Kosovar Albanian forces that, as described in the story, says that if the Kosovar Albanian forces disarmed and showed restraint, that we would cease doing certain types of searches or -- as we did last week. I know of no agreement on the horizon of that type.
What I can tell you is that we have been working very hard to convince the Kosovar Albanians not to be provocative, not to attack Serbs, either in Kosovo or outside of Kosovo.
But we very much reserve the right to act on credible intelligence to go after arms caches if we believe they're there and we can find them. This is what we did last week, and we reserve the right to do it again. To the extent that people disarm voluntarily and stop provocative acts, there will be less of a need for KFOR forces to go searching for arms.
Q: You described a process whereby you are trying to convince the ethnic Albanians to restrain themselves in terms of attacking the Serbs. What you are not describing is any sort of response that you getting from the ethnic Albanians, either in words or in actions, most particularly actions. Can you shed any light on either their words or their actions to agree to that kind of restraint?
MR. BACON: Well, I think we've made it very clear that there are clear limits to what we can do to protect Kosovar Albanian forces, particularly outside of Kosovo itself. And there are clear limits to the acceptance -- I would say public acceptance and political acceptance of provocative acts by the Kosovar Albanians on the part of the KFOR nations. I think the secretary general of NATO, Lord Robertson, has made that clear in recent days. I think that my esteemed colleague at the State Department, Jamie Rubin, made it very clear last week on his trip to Kosovo. I don't think we can be more clear than we've been to the Kosovar Albanians.
They really have a choice, and they have a choice to make about how they want peace to unfold, or if they want peace to unfold. And if they make the right choice, I think we can continue to make progress in Kosovo. If they make the wrong choice, it will make it more difficult to make progress in Kosovo, but not impossible.
Q: There was talk last week about sending additional U.S. Army troops over with UAVs. Can you give us anything on that?
MR. BACON: We have made a decision to send UAVs over, and we will be doing that -- I don't know the schedule. It won't be a huge number of troops. But we will be doing that.
Q: How many -- (off mike)?
MR. BACON: We're not going to get into the details of kind or numbers.
Q: Where will they be based; in Albania?
MR. BACON: I don't know the answer to that. When I get it, I'll -- I mean, in the past, they've flown out of other countries, but they'd probably be --
Q: Is that Predators or --
MR. BACON: Pardon?
Q: Predator or --
MR BACON: Well, Predator and Hunter will be among them, yes.
Q: I'm sorry, I don't understand your answer. Have you gotten a positive response, either in words or in actions, from the ethnic Albanians? You've described all of our expectations, but you haven't described any sort of response from them.
MR. BACON: We have gotten some positive responses in words. What we need to see is a positive response in actions, and only time will tell whether they got the message and they're acting on it.
Q: But you say you haven't offered a quid pro quo. In other words, you said that a natural result of them stopping doing this would be less incentive for you searching for weapons. But you're saying that you're not going to offer to stop -- you're not going to agree to stop searching for weapons?
MR. BACON: That's what I'm saying. To the extent that weapons -- that there are no attacks and weapons are turned in, we obviously won't have to search for them. But we are not going to give up our duty or obligation to go out and collect weapons that should have been turned in, or to collect weapons that may be used in provocative acts against the Serbs.
Q: It was a year ago this week that the NATO air campaign began in Yugoslavia. How would you assess what's been accomplished in that year? And how would you answer the criticism that in fact the NATO mission is failing in its primary objective, which is essentially to create an autonomous Kosovo within Serbia where Serbs and Albanians can live together. That doesn't seem to be happening.
MR. BACON: Well, I think we have to be clear about what's been accomplished and clear about what's yet to be accomplished. I think the biggest accomplishment so far is that the ethnic cleansing has stopped, systematic ethnic cleansing or ethnic expulsion in Kosovo has been stopped. Refugees have returned; over 800,000 refugees have returned home to Kosovo, so they've come out of Albania, they've come out Macedonia, some have come out of Montenegro and come back to their homes in Kosovo. The number of murders taking place every week in Kosovo has declined from approximately 50 to about 5, so there's progress on that respect. Thousands of arms have been collected, thousands of uniforms have been collected. That's all good and it all fits squarely with the objectives that we set last year when started the NATO air campaign.
We have begun to make progress in building a domestic justice system and local governance, but we've only begun.
And there has to be a lot more progress in that respect. And this is no secret. Lord Robertson, the secretary-general of NATO, has talked about it. General Clark, the SACEUR, has talked about that. Bernard Kouchner, the civil authority in Kosovo, has talked about that. And that is a challenge that the Europeans and the Americans and other participants in KFOR are now addressing. But it's not all -- these are tasks that fall outside of the military tasks that were undertaken by the allies at this time a year ago and also under KFOR when it went into Kosovo.
Q: What's the progress on the supplemental, Ken?
MR. BACON: The supplemental? Our hope is that the supplemental will be passed in -- I think we're hoping for -- we'd like to see it passed in April or May.
Q: Is there any deal with Warner yet --
MR. BACON: Pardon?
Q: Is there any deal with Senator Warner yet? You know he's been pressing for some kind of confirmation from the White House --
MR. BACON: Well, I think Senator Warner has been involved in -- he should really speak about his own views. But we're fully engaged with Senator Warner on that, and I think we're coming to an understanding with him. But he should really talk about that.
Q: Could I change the topic?
MR. BACON: Sure.
Q: The IG report to the secretary on the gays in the military. What's the upshot of what they found, and --
MR. BACON: Well, that's a very interesting question, but it's too early to answer.
Q: When will it be time to answer it?
MR. BACON: Probably later this week or early next week.
Q: Will they release the report then?
MR. BACON: Yes. We'll release the report and any other documents that will go with the report.
Q: Hi. Could you just clarify when you said the unmanned vehicles are going over there won't be a huge number of troops, those are troops specifically for the Predators and --
MR. BACON: Yeah. I mean, they have to be operated.
Q: This has nothing to do with a separate battalion at all.
MR. BACON: No. It's purely to operate the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Now, we had them operating there last fall. The fact of the matter is that they can't operate in Kosovo or Bosnia in winter. They actually start operating at about this time in the Balkans every year.
Q: Is this a heavier deployment than you typically have, or is this the same?
MR. BACON: Well, as I say, I don't know the exact numbers. We'll supply what SACEUR and the KFOR commander ask us to supply.
Q: Just, then, to follow through, there was -- was there a formal request, then, ever for another battalion?
MR. BACON: Sorry?
Q: Was there a formal request for --
MR. BACON: No, there has not been a formal request for a U.S. battalion.
Q: And just to complete the loop on this, is the United States considering augmenting the U.S. force in Kosovo in any way other than these UAVs that you mentioned?
MR. BACON: Not at this time.
Q: Did the French forces arrive?
MR. BACON: I don't -- the French -- some of the French forces are already there, under French authority. And there are going to be turned over to Kosovo, I think, two companies, and then they're going to send a third company, as I understand it, from France, for a total of one battalion. And I don't know whether the third company has arrived yet.
Q: And --
Q: Isn't it true that -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Q: Oh. Just can you ballpark the number of people that would be going over with the UAVs? Is it fewer than 100, or is it more than 20 or -- bread box --
MR. BACON: Well, I'd say it's between 100 and 150.
But I want to be clear; there are -- as I understand it, there are two companies already in Kosovo that were not part of KFOR. They will be --
Q: (Off mike.)
MR. BACON: Two French companies. They will become part of KFOR, and they will send a third company from France, as I understand it. And I would anticipate the total of those three companies to be around 500, maybe 600 people.
Q: Excuse me. Just to make sure we're not talking about apples and oranges here, the 100 to 150 -- those are the folks that operate the UAVs?
MR. BACON: No, no, we're talking about French people now.
Q: All right. Just to make sure --
MR. BACON: We're talking about --
Q: Oh, oh, oh. I was asking about UAVs.
MR. BACON: Well, I thought you were talking about the French company.
MR. BACON: Didn't you ask me about the French company?
Q: She was asking about the UAVs.
Q: I was asking about the UAVs.
MR. BACON: All right. Everything I just said was about the French.
Q: Ken, she was asking a ballpark figure on the --
MR. BACON: About our allies, the French. As I said earlier, I don't know how many people are going to be assigned.
Q: Can you give me a ballpark figure? (Laughter.)
MR. BACON: No, I'm not going to guess, because I don't know.
Q: Thank you.
MR. BACON: Tom?
Q: Isn't it true that Clark is doing an analysis now, a troop- to-task analysis that's going to be done in a couple of weeks?
MR. BACON: That is correct. It may be done sooner than that.
"This transcript was prepared by the Federal News Service, Inc., Washington DC. Federal News Service is a private company. For other defense related transcripts not available through this site, contact Federal News Service at (202) 347-1400."