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DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA
April 27, 2000 1:30 PM EDT

Thursday, April 27, 2000 - 1:33 p.m. EDT

Rear Adm. Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a couple of announcements.

Secretary Cohen will be departing Sunday morning en route to Munich, Germany. Monday he will be in Kosovo and have a joint troop visit with General Shelton. Tuesday he'll be in Stuttgart and give remarks at the U.S. European change-of-command ceremony between Generals Clark and Ralston. And then the following day, he will attend the Supreme Allied Commander Europe change-of-command ceremony at SHAPE headquarters in Mons, Belgium, then return to Andrews Air Force Base later that day.

We have a bluetop out later today on a bilateral, in the spirit of Partnership for Peace, engineering field training exercise called Cornerstone '03, that begins Monday and runs through the end of June in Macedonia. That will be available both online and some paper copies on the table at the end of the brief.

We welcome two visitors from Slovenia to our press briefing today, Ms. Gavi Matkovic, press spokesperson for the president of Slovenia; and Ms. Kristina Plavsak, press secretary for the Slovenian prime minister. They are in the United States for one week under the auspices of the State Department International Visitor Program to learn about our media operations and how the government spokespersons relate to the press. They have attended press briefings at the White House and the State Department and are here today with us. Welcome to both of you.

And finally, could I have all of the sons and daughters that are visiting their parents please stand? I was struck this morning -- (applause) -- yes, to all of you. Thank you for coming. As I've been -- you can sit down now. (Laughter.) As I was walking around the Pentagon this morning, I was struck by the numbers of young people, both boys and girls, that were in the Pentagon today with their parents, and I'm really glad that you could join us. I asked one young man a little while ago if he thought this was fun or was it boring, following his dad around. And he said, "It's okay." (Laughter.) And so I figured that's probably a very honest answer.

And with that, I'll be glad to take your questions.

Q: There was an AP report this morning about an American reconnaissance plane being intercepted off the China coast. Have you got anything on that?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yeah, I saw that report. I didn't quite agree with the way -- the phrasing in the story. We did have a RC-135, Rivet Joint -- this is a reconnaissance aircraft, Air Force aircraft, well into international airspace, that was approached by two Chinese fighters. They did not come very close to the aircraft.

I don't consider this a particularly unusual event. Many nations around the world send up aircraft to just have a look-see as to who is getting close to their airspace. We did that. I remember back to the days of the Cold War with then-Soviet long-range Bear reconnaissance aircraft coming down the East Coast of the United States in international airspace, but we would always send up F-4s or F-15s or some type of aircraft to just have a look. So this was a relatively common event, not only in that part of the world but in other parts of the world. So the article I read, I thought, was a little bit more severe in its treatment of the event than I would have described it.

Q: How close --

Q: Is it relatively common for Chinese aircraft to come have a look-see at U.S. aircraft in --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes, it is.

Q: This has happened before?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Oh, many times before. And other nations in the world too, Barbara. I would stress that.

Q: How far off the coast was it? And how close --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Dozens of miles.

Q: And how close did the Chinese planes come?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Several kilometers.

Q: How far in international airspace?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Dozens of miles off the -- well, 12 miles, 12-mile limit is the internationally recognized territorial waters of a nation, and then that line goes straight up.

Q: Was there communication?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Not that I'm aware of.

Q: What kind of Chinese aircraft was it?

Rear Adm. Quigley: F-8 fighters.

Q: When did it take place?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I'm sorry?

Q: When did it take place?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't have the time. I've got conflicting accounts of that.

Q: Today?

Rear Adm. Quigley: It was today, earlier today, but I don't have an exact time.

Q: How common is it for this kind of reconnaissance aircraft to be operating in that area that close to Chinese airspace?

ADM.QUIGLEY: The United States and other nations routinely operate their military aircraft in international airspace around the world. Without characterizing it, it's -- again, it's not -- any further than it's not an uncommon event.

Q: Were any additional U.S. aircraft deployed or sent up to look at the Chinese aircraft or follow them back into Chinese airspace?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No.

Q: Did it affect the RJ's flight path?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, not at all. I would mention that at no time did the U.S. aircraft feel the least bit threatened.

Q: Where was this U.S. plane? You say dozens of -- where? Off southern China?

Rear Adm. Quigley: South China Sea.

Q: Where in the South China Sea?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Southeast of the Chinese mainland, southwest of Taiwan. I don't have exact latitude and longitude.

Q: (Inaudible.)

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know.

Q: And what's the role of the C-135?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Reconnaissance.

Q: What type of reconnaissance?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Reconnaissance. (Laughter.)

Q: Just to touch all bases here, did this result in either the U.S. government or the Chinese government filing any kind of a protest or complaint about this?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No. There was nothing to protest.

Q: And in your opinion, was this a non-event?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes. I would call it -- "routine" is probably too strong a word, Jamie, but it is certainly not an unusual event.

Q: I mean, does this mean dozens of times it's taken place, hundreds --

Rear Adm. Quigley: I can't quantify it for you, Tammi, but I -- because my figures would be erratic depending on time of year, part of the world. But it's not at all unusual. I'll put it that way.

Dave?

Q: When carriers transit through that part of the South China Sea, as they often do, and airplanes are operating, do the Chinese come out and have a look at them?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Often. Yes. And I would expand it to go beyond carriers. I would go to warships, period. And it's not at all uncommon for either other ships, whether they be warships or intelligence collectors of another nation to take a look, or aircraft. And all this is done in international waters, in that example.

Q: Did you say you did not know where the plane was based?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know.

Q: Would you take the question and let us know?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Sure. I can check with the Air Force on that. [Kadena AB, Japan]

Q: And you said there was --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Elizabeth, you started to ask something that I --

Q: On a different subject.

Rear Adm. Quigley: All right. Let me finish this one first.

Two F-8s. Two Chinese F-8s.

Q: Was there anything in the way of a lock-on? You said there was no communication. Was there any lock-on --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no. And again, this was a considerable distance. At no time did the aircrew feel threatened.

Q: Vieques, please.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yeah. Any others on the RC-135?

Okay, go ahead.

Q: Yeah, I wanted to ask about what you have on Vieques today, if you have immediate plans to clear the base, what are the discussions now between Secretary Cohen and Janet Reno, ship movement, beaches closing, the whole thing.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, for some time, Elizabeth, as you know, we've been in consultation with the Puerto Rican government, with the Department of Justice, to work out a way to clear the range of the trespassers. That process continues, and I am just not going to go into any further detail on that process at all.

Q: How many trespassers are there right now?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know. The number fluctuates greatly.

Q: Tuesday Ken Bacon said that the ships Nashville and Bataan were not leaving Norfolk that day. Since then can you tell us whether those ships have moved, or are there any plans for them to move?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I won't discuss future plans, but they are still in their homeport, in Hampton Roads.

Q: Did a Navy vehicle run over a protester yesterday in the area, the range of the gate?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, not that I -- first I've heard of it, John. I will take that. But I have not heard of that report.

Q: How many days steaming time is it for ships like the Nashville from there to Vieques?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, it would depend on how fast you want to go and if you want to take the most direct route. But I would say two to three days would be the most direct route.

Q: Can you say whether or not the U.S. military will play any role when the time comes to clear the beach and the main gate of protesters?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, I won't. I will say that it's -- it would be a law enforcement operation, with the Justice Department in the lead, as we've said many times before. But I won't provide any more details.

Yes, ma'am?

Q: Will U.S. Navy ships blockade Vieques and Puerto Rico in any way on the eastern point to cut off supplies to the protesters?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Again, I'm not going to get into any sort of future operational questions at all.

Q: What are the plans of the Navy to get its ships ready to go on their assigned missions? Do you have anybody scheduled to actually use the range for any --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, the George Washington Battle Group would be the one I think you're probably referring to, John. And the Navy has said that their intentions are to train the ships and the air wing of the George Washington Battle Group at locations other than the Vieques range.

Dale?

Q: My understanding is that there's been warning signs placed to tell mariners to stay away from the area off the coast of Vieques this weekend -- I believe Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Can you tell us what what's about?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know. I don't know. I don't think they would have been placed there by the Department of Defense.

Q: What I'm saying is they're placed in port areas in -- on the main island of Puerto Rico.

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know.

Tony?

Q: Not on Vieques?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Vieques questions for -- go ahead.

Q: On Tuesday Bacon announced a, quote, "fine" against Royal Shell for violating the U.N. embargo. Yesterday I got a call from their Washington representative at Patton Boggs, the lobbyist firm, and they said the company objects to the word "fine" and that I should ask DOD at today's briefing to clarify whether in fact it was a fine or some kind of payment. (Laughter.) Can you shed any light?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't think I'm going to try to split that hair. I'll let the transcript from Tuesday stand.

Q: Are you sure?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Bob?

Q: The briefing or meeting, whatever you want to call it, that went on here yesterday afternoon/evening with Ivanov, Mrs. Albright --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yeah, 5:00 yesterday.

Q: -- participation by various people from the Joint Staff and others, can you give us a rundown on what was discussed, who presented what in terms of the subject matter?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know who the presenters were. I wasn't present for the tank session, but the subject was national missile defense. And again, as you've heard many people say, I think both on the U.S. side and the Russian side, this is part of an ongoing dialogue. You have Secretary Cohen talking to his counterpart on the Russian side, Secretary Albright talking to hers, et cetera, for some period of time now trying to fully explain our position on why we think that the limited national missile defense system that we are contemplating should not be viewed as a threat to the Russians.

As you know, the system that we are contemplating is a relatively small number of interceptor missiles which would be effective against a relatively small number of incoming missiles from rogue nations, not effective against the massive sort of a strike such as Russia could produce, if it wished. And so in that sense, we are trying to convey to the Russians at all levels a consistent message that this system does not pose a threat to their nation because it's strictly defensive in nature, and it certainly does not effect a negation of some sort of their strategic deterrent force against the United States. You have heard the Russian position as clearly as I, and clearly, we have work to do and some tough diplomatic work ahead of us.

But that was the thrust of the session in the tank yesterday afternoon.

Q: Was he shown any kind of -- anything different than the Russians have been shown before in terms of technical details or tape of tests or anything like that?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, I don't think -- I don't think there was any new ground broken in the tank, but it was another session to hear from, in this case, the professional military members, their take on the system and --

Q: On the U.S. side?

Rear Adm. Quigley: On the U.S. side, yes. And to an exchange of views, clear exchange of views such as we're doing at a variety of levels right now.

Q: Was it a power point briefing? (Laughter.)

Rear Adm. Quigley: (Chuckles.) I don't know. I don't know if it was a power -- I did not see the brief, I'm sorry.

Barbara?

Q: Well actually, there's a question. I just thought of something I also wanted to ask. This briefing clearly was not classified, if it was provided to the Russians.

So can we see it? Can we have a copy of it?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I'll see. I don't know. I'll see.

Q: The other question I really had was, you know, why do Republicans in Congress --

Rear Adm. Quigley: I would say that we typically do not share the contents of briefings held in the tank. So I would not hold out a lot of hope. That is intended to be for private discussions. But I will try.

Q: Then there was no classified information in that briefing.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Not that I'm aware of.

Q: Well, members of Congress are now saying that they're against the missile defense because it doesn't go far enough, that, in fact, what they want to see is the much broader, 200 interceptor, two type-kind of system, sort of a more robust defense. Has the Pentagon now absolutely ruled that out, it's a limited system, that's it, not the broader system that people like Trent Lott are talking about?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, I would -- let me start by saying this is not a Pentagon decision. This is a national decision. This nation will have some sort of national missile defense system. That is the question on the table. But there are arguments on both sides as to the proper scope; whether we should have a system; if we should, what should be the scope of the system, what should be its capabilities. These are the very discussions that are ongoing now and will all become a part of the president's decision later on this year.

Q: And the Pentagon's opinion on this? On --

Rear Adm. Quigley: The secretary will ultimately, after the late-June, the next late-June shot, will provide his best assessment and recommendation to the president. But I'm not going to get ahead of myself here. We need to have the data from that next shot in order to make a comprehensive assessment. And the secretary will make his best recommendation to the president, and we'll go from there.

David?

Q: Two follow-up questions on that. One is I think the thrust of Barbara's question is, is the United States going to lock itself into a more limited defense than some people advocate in the interest of getting an arms agreement with the Russians? And my second question would be, and what was the price tag on that again? It keeps changing.

Rear Adm. Quigley: On which, now?

Q: On National Missile Defense.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Describe which you would like a cost estimate on.

Q: Well, what do you --

Rear Adm. Quigley: What we have costed out so far is a 100-interceptor force based in Alaska with X-band radars, expanded early warning radars, a battle management command and control system. And that is over the life cycle cost from 1991 to 2026 in fiscal year 1999 dollars about $30.2 billion.

Q: You're using 1999 dollars on that?

Rear Adm. Quigley: 1999 dollars.

Q: Not 1991 dollars, from a couple of weeks ago.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Correct. Correct. Now, let me check that bottom line, but I'm pretty sure. I got all the rest of the parameters correct. I will -- sorry -- 36 billion; $36 billion --

Q: (Off mike.) (Laughter.)

Q: That was a very expensive two minutes --

(Cross talk.)

Rear Adm. Quigley: Now, let me -- let break that down further. In the acquisition cost for the same period of time, in the same, you know, in '99 dollars, $20 billion; and the life cycle cost, $36 billion.

Q: And do you have --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Now, those are different from the Congressional Budget Office numbers, which we don't take particular issue with, except what they costed out was a 250 interceptor force at two different locations, and it was -- it was a different cost comparison and we simply have not done the cost comparison as they have. We have only costed out the first phase of the program.

Q: As a follow-up, again, I still would like to know, have you ruled out the broader system, or is that still on the table, in terms of the Department of Defense's thinking?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't think this nation has ruled anything in or out. You're asking me to predict the completion of a national debate, and I can't do that.

Q: One other question. Does this $35 billion include this tracking and killing satellites, or are there no satellites in that?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I think it does. I will take that. I'd take that question. I think so, but I will check my notes.

Q: And do you also have an estimate for the broader system with two sites and 250 interceptors?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, we do not. Now, that is the Congressional Budget Office estimate that they put out yesterday, I think, or Tuesday. And we can't take issue with that, because that's simply not something that we have costed out. We have gone only so far as phase one costs, and that's the system I just described to Jamie. But -- I can't take issue with their figures because it's not work that we have done.

Tony?

Q: In the interest of clarity to public debate on this thing, you should, if you can, take that $36 billion and cost it up to 2015 -- that's what CBO did -- so there'd be apples and apples there, in terms of -- you guys are saying through 2015 it's going to cost X, CBO says Y. That would really be apples and apples, because they did cost out the lower-tiered system, this $36.2 billion, but they stopped at 2015. Yours goes to 2026.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Tony, I'll tell you what. We're going to probably do cost estimates that we find most useful for our own internal use and for describing the program to the appropriate oversight committees on the Hill.

You can slice this six ways from Sunday; I don't know if we'll ever be able to put a side-by-side and come up with some sort of a reasonable comparison. I don't know if that's meaningful.

You might ask the Program Office if they have those sorts of figures that would allow a side-by-side right down the line sort of a comparison. I'm just not sure that they're going to be there.

Chris?

Q: Yes, in the discussion with the Russians, was there any talk of you sharing early warning data or hardware or something like that?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Not that I'm aware of. But again, I'm not going to get into a description of the exchange -- in any detail, of the exchange within the tank yesterday afternoon.

Q: New subject?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Jamie?

Q: How helpful would you say the comments of Senator Jesse Helms were in -- (scattered laughter) -- in advancing the cause of arms control?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I would say that Senator Helms is certainly entitled to his opinion. His views on that are well known here in the Department of Defense. There has much -- there has been much said, pro and con, with differing views on a national missile defense system, on the ABM Treaty. This is all part of the give-and-take of American politics and American democracy. We're well aware of those.

Q: I'm not talking about voicing his well known opposition. He's now vowed to block any arms control agreement negotiated by this administration, regardless, apparently, of what the agreement is.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, I don't know how -- what to give you that would be responsive to your question.

Q: Well, if that's of any help when you're trying to negotiate a new agreement with the --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, I think he's made his position clear. (Laughter.)

Bill?

Q: But I guess just to follow Jamie, to ask if, say, you know, 10 months to a year, which Helms says it should be something that is handled by the new Congress after the election, would that kind of a time lag be dangerous, unhelpful to U.S. policy?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, whatever proposals anyone would put on the table are all going to be a part of the very healthy national debate that goes into this question in the months to come.

Q: Thank you.

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