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DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA
May 24, 2001

Thursday, May 24, 2001 - 1:01 p.m. EDT

Q: Oh, oh. One minute late again.

Quigley: Charlie, I know you're keeping track. And I just -- I'm starting to get worse instead of better. I apologize for my tardiness.

A couple of announcements today, ladies and gentlemen. As we approach Memorial Day, both Secretary Rumsfeld and General Shelton will be joining the president at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday for the 2001 National Memorial Day ceremony. President Bush will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns to honor those who have lost their lives in defense of our nation. And then the secretary will speak briefly and introduce the president, who will deliver his Memorial Day address.

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz will speak and lay ceremonial commemorative wreaths during the Intrepid Museum Memorial Day ceremony at the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in New York City.

And we have press advisories out with more details on both of those events.

Tomorrow, President Bush will deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The event begins at 10:00 in the morning at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Attempts will be made to pipe the speech back to the Pentagon. We don't have all those bugs worked out quite yet, but if we can figure that out, we will pipe the speech back here into our briefing room and carry it live, audio only, on Channel 13 as well.

Next, the National Guard is hosting Joint Patriot '01, a major reserve forces inter-service combined military training exercise for air and ground forces, beginning next week. It's a month-long exercise that will be held at several military sites across the United States. It's a war-fighting capability training exercise that will involve more than 6,000 Air and Army National Guard members and elements from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and allied reserve forces from Britain and the Netherlands. And we have a blue top for you with more details on that.

And finally, Secretary Rumsfeld is meeting, as we speak, with the Minister of Defense Mario Fernandez of the Republic of Chile. And following his meeting, the secretary and Minister Fernandez will participate in a joint media availability in Room 3E869. It's a big conference room kind of kitty-corner from the secretary's office upstairs. And that will be at 1:45, and so, therefore, I will end promptly at 1:30 from this session here. [ Transcript ]

And with that, I will take your questions.

Charlie?

Q: Craig, the Chinese have announced that an agreement's been reached between the United States and China on shipping back the plane, bringing the plane back. The United States says no such agreement has been reached. What do you have to say about that?

Quigley: I can only repeat the latter part of your question, actually. There has been no agreement reached as to how the plane will depart Hainan Island. Discussions continue with the Chinese government, with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I can't explain for you, Charlie, why that was said earlier today, coming out of China, but we checked and double-checked and triple-checked over the course of the morning and there has just been no final agreement as to the methodology by which the plane is removed.

Q: Well, have the United States agreed to China's demand that the plane not be flown out, aside from how it will come out, and has China agreed finally to release the plane?

Quigley: We have said there are options, but our strong preference remains repairing the plane to the point where it can be safely flown off of the island.

Q: So you have not agreed to not fly the plane out?

Quigley: No sir, we have not.

Q: Have the negotiations centered on the question of dismantling the plane?

Quigley: I don't know. You would have to speak to those who are directly involved in the discussions with the Chinese, Jamie, and that's not --

Q: Is there a United States proposal that involves removing the wings of the plane or otherwise dismantling it?

Quigley: I don't know of any proposal. I know I've seen the use of that word during the course of the morning, but I don't know of any proposal that has been presented. To the best of my knowledge, it is still discussions that are going on with the Chinese; verbal discussions with the Chinese.

Q: What about a verbal proposal, then? Are you just mincing words here, because --

Quigley: Again, I would have to steer you to the State Department. No, I'm not trying to be cute. It is -- which is easy for me to do -- (laughter) -- it is just not my understanding that such a proposal has been made orally or in writing to the Chinese. But in all fairness to the folks at the State Department, I would defer to them because they are the ones that are in the actual negotiations with the Chinese.

Q: Whether there's an actual proposal or not, is the administration, is the Pentagon, is the State Department, any one of those three, resigned to the fact that the U.S. will not be allowed to fly the plane off? Vice President Cheney, over the weekend, sounded resigned to that fact when he talked about "crating it out" of Hainan Island.

Quigley: Mik, it may come to that, and that is a viable option, to disassemble the plane, but it is not our preference. The quickest, cheapest, most efficient way to get that plane off of Hainan Island is to repair it to the point where it can be safely flown off the island.

It's fewer people, it's less equipment, it's less time. The whole footprint is smaller, to do it that way. But there are alternatives. If it comes to that, yes, the plane could be disassembled and removed that way.

Q: Well, China has said repeatedly --

Quigley: It's just harder in every way.

Q: China has said repeatedly in public that they are not going to allow the United States to fly the plane -- fly the plane -- out. Is that also being communicated to you in private? I mean, is that your understanding of their position?

Quigley: It is my understanding that we continue to discuss that, but their position has been made very clear. But we're trying, John. We keep trying to say that this -- the best way to do this is to repair the plane to the point of flying it out.

Q: Craig, if the Chinese proposal were to go beyond simply taking off the wings to actually chopping it up into such small pieces that it could be removed by smaller aircraft than with the big cargo plane we've heard about, and therefore it would not be viable to reassemble it and use it again, would that be an acceptable option to the United States?

Quigley: Hm. I don't know. We'd have to cross that bridge when we come to it. That would be certainly way at the bottom of a list of preferences, from our perspective. If you do that, I doubt that the plane could then be --

Let me back up a step. The advantage of actual disassembly is that you can reassemble, and you build the plane from start to finish with the capability of removing parts, but doing so in an orderly way. And that means even large assemblies, such as wings and things of that sort. But if you actually would chop it up to get it into smaller aircraft, then you ruin the integrity, the structural integrity of the aircraft, and then you would not have the future use of the aircraft; whereas if you disassemble it, you could reassemble it.

Q: But you don't rule out that as a possibility?

Quigley: We'd have to cross that bridge when we came to it, but it certainly would be at the bottom of any list of preferences that we would have.

Q: Doesn't it appear that the Chinese are trying to rub your face in this incident a little bit more?

Quigley: No, I just wouldn't describe it that way, John. I just -- they have, clearly, their preferences. I don't know the rationale for their preferences.

But we just continue to discuss it and try to work out an agreement that both countries can agree to.

Pam.

Q: Do any of the options that the U.S. contemplates include allowing the Chinese to do the dissembly or -- or chopping work? Or is the only possibility that the U.S. would consider would be U.S. personnel coming in and taking the plane --

Quigley: I don't know that that has been discussed, Pam, in any way at all. But the folks that by far are the most qualified to do that, taking nothing away from Chinese aeronautical engineers, but the company, in this case Lockheed Martin, that actually designed and built the airplane would certainly be the best qualified to have the plans and the construction details as well as the disassembly details. And it would simply be a much more efficient way to go than trying to have an unfamiliar group of aeronautical engineers figure out the right way when you have another group that knows the right way to do it from the get-go.

Barbara?

Q: What have you heard from the Chinese about having a joint maritime commission? It should be coming up soon, shouldn't it?

Quigley: Still no response. We have offered some dates for consideration and they have not responded yet.

Q: Well, what do you make of that in terms of the U.S.-Chinese maritime relationship at the moment, that they haven't even responded?

Quigley: I don't know.

Q: Can you tell us how many surveillance flights have been conducted since the flights resumed?

Quigley: No, sir.

Q: Can you give us just a round number?

Quigley: No.

Q: I think there was a military conference coming up in Hawaii that the Chinese I think had previously been invited to. What's the status of that? Are they going to be able to come to that, or -- ?

Quigley: Let me take that question. I'm not aware of the conference.

Dale?

Q: New subject?

Q: Could I ask one more on this, please?

Q: Sure.

Q: If the Chinese have repeatedly said publicly that they will not allow the plane to be repaired and flown off the island, and today they say that they would agree to have the plane dismantled and removed from the island, could it be then said that U.S. insistence that the plane be flown off the island is, in fact, what is standing in the way of an agreement to return the plane?

Quigley: It's been my observation over the years that negotiations on sticky subjects can be protracted and difficult. That should not stop you from entering into them. I think you're seeing one of those examples right here in this circumstance. We'll keep trying.

Barbara?

Q: Well, when you say that, "you're seeing one of those examples right here," are you saying that you feel this latest statement from the Chinese is a pressure tactic by them?

Quigley: No. I can't explain for you the statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry earlier today.

Q: Just to be clear, though, that statement is not accurate, in your opinion?

Quigley: Correct.

Dale?

Q: Can you update us on the department's consideration of the General Dynamics/Newport News merger? Is the department going to meet tomorrow's deadline?

Quigley: I know we're hard at work at assessing the particulars of that proposed merger. I don't know if we'll meet the time line for tomorrow. It's complicated. We'll offer the recommendation that we come up with when we're done, but I'm not sure that we'll meet tomorrow.

Q: Yes, Admiral, any readout on yesterday's meeting here at the Pentagon between the Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and the Deputy Minister of Defense Paul Wolfowitz?

Quigley: They met for about 30 minutes here yesterday in the Pentagon. They discussed a variety of regional and NATO issues, in particular, I think, the circumstances in the Balkans and the way ahead there. Secretary Wolfowitz thanked Minister Papandreou for his efforts, particularly in the Balkans, and for also strong efforts in improving Greek-Turkish relations as well.

Q: One follow up.

Quigley: Sure.

Q: Any discussion of the CBM over the Aegean issue?

Quigley: Not that I know of. I didn't not hear that as an outcome from that. They may have; I just did not get that as a readout from their discussions.

Q: Thank you.

Quigley: Yes?

Q: Can you confirm the secretary is planning a trip to Ukraine in the next month?

Quigley: I'm sorry, say that again.

Q: Can you confirm the secretary is planning a trip to Ukraine or --

Quigley: We have not yet announced any secretary travel in the month of June.

Yes?

Q: Can you update us on what's going on in Kosovo?

Quigley: Yes. We have -- as of 8:00 local time, Balkans time, this morning, the FRY military forces started to move into both the northern and the southern subsector of the final piece of the ground safety zone that had not been occupied -- reoccupied by FRY military forces.

What KFOR had done is to divide the Sector B, as it's called, into three parts; a northern, a center and a southern sector -- subsector. And FRY military forces were reintroduced this morning into the northern and the southern subsectors.

So far, it is going extremely well. There have been no reports of any clashes between armed Albanian insurgents and any of the FRY military. They were able to successfully and ahead of schedule achieve roughly the tactical position that they wished to achieve by the end of the day, which has now occurred, in the local time there in the Balkans, and it just went better, I think, than many people had even dared hope.

With the several hundred Albanian insurgents that had either left or surrendered to KFOR, turned over their weapons to KFOR in the last week or two, it was clear that there was going to be very light resistance, at best. And thankfully, what we have seen during the course of this first day is next to nothing in the way of resistance.

So in the days ahead what you'll see, the FRY military forces, is continue to expand throughout the northern and southern subsectors, starting patterns of patrol in both the northern and southern subsectors, and if all of that goes well, and KFOR will monitor that very carefully, then you would see FRY military reintroduced into that middle sector sometime maybe a week down the road, depending on progress made.

Q: What was the size of the force, the Serbian force that went in?

Quigley: It was several hundred, but I don't have exact numbers for you. KFOR folks might be able to -- I'm sure they do -- have those numbers.

Q: Is that the area that borders Presevo?

Quigley: Yes. Yes, this is the last piece of the ground safety zone, ground security zone, that was a belt, basically, around Kosovo.

Jamie.

Q: What effect would you expect the shift in control in the Senate from Republicans to Democrat to have on the Bush administration and Secretary Rumsfeld's plans for revamping the military? Any effect?

Quigley: Hm. Hard one to predict, Jamie. I don't think I will.

Yes?

Q: Yes, new subject? Official sources in Puerto Rico had stated on Friday of last week that the USS Theodore Roosevelt battle group was going to conduct COMPTUEX exercises in Vieques as of -- from the 9th of June.

Now uniformed persons in Washington state that those exercises have been suspended on order from civilians in the administration. Can you share any -- shed any light on that, and where then would the battle group conduct its COMPTUEX effectively?

Quigley: We have not announced any training intentions in the Vieques range.

Q: The CNO has stated, I think it was about three weeks ago, that they were going to conduct their training exercises in June.

Quigley: I would refer you to him, then.

Q: Craig, has a decision been made about where COMPTUEX is to be conducted?

Quigley: Not to my knowledge, no.

Q: Political sources say -- I mean, there are sources that are saying that because of the civil disobedience on Vieques the department has decided not to conduct future training exercises. Do you envision that future similar acts in military installations in Puerto Rico or throughout the U.S. mainland could prevent Navy training, or any type of military training?

Quigley: I don't know.

Q: Do you have a reaction to the sentences that Reverend Al Sharpton and other Puerto Rican -- I mean, New York -- the elected officials of Puerto Rican descent received in Puerto Rico yesterday?

Quigley: Well, I -- certainly the sentence that the judge arrived at is certainly the prerogative of the judicial system, and I wouldn't offer a comment good, bad or otherwise. But during the course of the last training period one of the things I said from here, and I'll say again, is that the ability and the right of American citizens to protest is one of the reasons, one of the freedoms that America's military protects. But there is a big difference from a peaceful protest and a breaking of the law. And if you break the law, we have a legal system in place in our country that takes care of those issues. And I think you've seen that here. So I make a big distinction between a peaceful protest and a breaking of the law.

Q: Has the department abandoned the current agreement?

Quigley: No.

Jamie?

Q: Speaking of military exercises, the authoritative wire service United Press International has reported --

Q: (Off mike remark, laughter.)

Q: -- that the United States has, in fact, cancelled a planned military exercise with Israel. Can you -- you didn't seem to have any -- be able to shed any light on that on Tuesday. Can you help us out today?

Quigley: I really can't go any further than I did on Tuesday. We made no announcement of an exercise, as we never do, Jamie. Yeah, we have exercises with Israel throughout the year, and we have for a long time. We have also cancelled those with not only Israel, but other countries around the world if we feel that that's the appropriate thing to do given the political situation, the situation that we're faced with around the world. If we think that's the right thing to do, we'll not hesitate to do that.

But in this particular case, we never announced any exercises with Israel, we never do, so I have no announcement to make of a cancellation.

Q: Was there an unannounced exercise that was cancelled? (Laughter.)

Quigley: Pam?

Q: Actually, you do announce these exercises with Israel. They happen a couple of times a year, and I found many references to them in the DefenseLINK web site -- "Noble Shirley."

Quigley: Once exercises have commenced, we will acknowledge that they have commenced. We just do not do them in advance.

Dale?

Q: To get back to the shipyard merger for a minute. Now that Mr. England has been confirmed as secretary of the Navy, I think he indicated during the hearings that he would be divesting himself of his General Dynamics stock and not taking part in consideration of the merger. Is that still the case? Is that understanding correct?

Quigley: I believe that's still the case. He also has not been sworn in as the secretary of the Navy.

Q: Do you expect him to be sworn in today, tomorrow?

Quigley: I do not know. I do not know. Soon, but I don't know if it's today.

Q: Will you please take the question as to whether or not he is currently holding General Dynamics stock, and is holding any right up until the point of the merger announcement? As a public official, I think that that ought to be --

Quigley: I would probably ask you to check with the Navy on that to ascertain that. I can lodge that with them, if you wish.

Q: I would appreciate that.

Quigley: Okay.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Well, just to follow that for a second. Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't have a policy -- I would think there might be a DoD policy that service secretaries who had stock holdings like this would divest themselves.

Quigley: You will typically see those divestiture agreements take place within a certain period of time after an individual is sworn in. Until -- you know, it ain't over till it's over, Dale, and you're not going to want to divest yourself of your financial holdings if something happens and you're not sworn in to that position that causes the conflict in the first place.

I remember with Secretary Rumsfeld, his divestiture agreement was to divest himself of those holdings that were conflicts within 90 days after having been sworn in as the secretary of Defense. I would suspect, Barbara, that you would see some comparable sort of agreement, although we will check on that. The time frame may vary, but I'm sure the basic principles are comparable.

Q: How's the secretary doing on divesting his portfolio?

Quigley: Still working very hard at it, but it's not yet complete.

Q: Does he hold any General Dynamics stock?

Quigley: All of the holdings that were publicly traded were divested very quickly. And if it's something that you could literally sell through a brokerage house, or something like that, they were divested within days. But the illiquid public holdings that are simply not publicly traded, that is the effort that is underway.

Q: Does that include any GD --

Quigley: The specific holdings of the illiquid were redacted in the ethics agreement, and they are redacted so that all parties, both the other members of the limited partnership as well as Secretary Rumsfeld, are not actually damaged financially, or receiving as little financial damage as possible, until the divestiture is complete.

Q: But don't we have a right to know whether or not this major merger is going through and whether the secretary would then --

Quigley: Secretary Rumsfeld has said that he would play no role and would recuse himself from any decision involving any of his holdings. He said that on day one, and that's still true today.

Q: How much time does he have left?

Quigley: Well, let's see. The 90 days ended up towards, I think, the third week in April, I believe. So whatever 90 more -- May, June, July -- latter part of July, Bob.

Q: Well, is Secretary Rumsfeld in the review chain on this merger, or has he recused himself from it?

Quigley: I don't know the parties that are particularly concerned, although the principal focus, I know, is Under Secretary Aldrich.

Q: Are you in a position now -- I know you weren't a while back, but are you in a position now to let us know how many study groups Secretary Rumsfeld commissioned and to look into -- what topic areas they looked into? Can you give us a --

Quigley: If I read the piece of paper yesterday, I believe it's 12.

Q: Is there a piece of paper available then on this?

Quigley: Yeah. It was actually available in DDI yesterday.

Q: Could it be what I have in my hand? (Laughter.)

Q: I have in my hand --

Quigley: That would be the one.

Q: I have names!

Q: Would someone please direct me to the back of my hand? Because I know this place like the back of my hand.

Quigley: That would be the one. And I am now told that Secretary England is Secretary England as of 11:00 this morning. He was sworn in by Doc Cooke.

Charlie.

Q: So he's divested, then?

Quigley: I don't know that, Barbara. I think my answer is the same; only after being sworn in, typically an individual will then agree to divest within a period of time, and I don't know what his ethics agreement says, that he entered into.

Q: Craig, is it true that the United States has now made it clear to Chile that it will not transfer the AMRAAM as part of the (inaudible) sale of the F-16s to Chile? I understand that the deal is still being negotiated. Have any decisions been made on the FLIR, on the long-range tanks, on the air-to-air refueling, do you know?

Quigley: Well, because that's an ongoing process, Charlie, I can't offer you an answer to that question. When the final decisions have been made with Chile, with the government of Chile, then you would work that through the government process. You'd have both DOD, Department of State. And ultimately that would be then presented to the Congress for their approval.

Q: The U.S. has made clear it will not transfer AMRAAMs until --

Quigley: I believe that's our policy, that we will not be the first nation to introduce such a capable missile into that part of the world, yeah.

Yes, sir.

Q: Quick question on Iraq. There's a sanctions policy that's being hammered out now at the U.N.; the U.S. and U.K. have put forward a proposal. Any sense from you guys what that would require in terms of surveillance that you have in the theater, more, less, more of a different type?

Quigley: No. I think we'd have to take that probably one step at a time. If there is a new sanctions policy, you'd have to take a look at what impact that would have on the military piece of that overall policy. But not yet, no.

Q: Thank you.

Quigley: Gosh, we did it. 1:27 [p.m.] by my count.

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