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DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, DASD PA
June 06, 2000 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, June 06, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. EDT

Rear Adm. Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have several announcements today to start things off. First, updating you on Secretary Cohen's current travels, he is in New Orleans today, as I think most of you know, participating in the grand opening ceremonies for the D-Day Museum there. He participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning, and then there's a celebratory event at the New Orleans Arena this afternoon. And this evening, Secretary Cohen travels on to Brussels, where he will attend the NATO defense ministerial meetings.

Second, the Air Force will host a Korean War Air Power Symposium Wednesday in the Senate Hart Office Building in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. The program will feature remarks by Secretary of the Air Force Peters and Air Force Chief of Staff General Ryan on how the Korean War affected the way America uses air power. Other air power experts and veterans who fought in the Korean War will provide insights into such subjects as air dominance, precision engagement, mobility and reconnaissance. The event is open to media coverage, and for more details, please contact the Air Force press desk.

Next, a delegation from the Department of Defense has departed for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to begin negotiations with North Korea on the recovery of the remains of American soldiers missing in action from the Korean War. The team will seek to reach agreement on the conduct of a single expanded joint recovery operation in areas where North Korea claims to have disinterred four or five sets of U.S. remains. Similar talks in December of last year ended without agreement. As a result of previous negotiations led by the Defense POW-Missing Persons Office, U.S. teams have conducted 12 joint recovery operations inside North Korea between 1996 and 1999, and have recovered 42 sets of remains believed to be those of American service members. The U.S. Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii has positively identified three of the 42, with about 10 others in the forensic identification process.

Next, Thursday, after our regular DOD brief here, Mr. Gayden Thompson, deputy undersecretary of the Army for international affairs, and Major General Nels Running, U.S. Air Force, retired, who is the director of the Department of Defense Commemorations Committee, will brief you on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Korean War commemoration. The commemoration will begin with an opening ceremony on Sunday, June 25th, at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the Mall, here in Washington, and officially close on November 11th, 2003.

And one final note, when we are done with this portion of the brief today, we will have a senior Defense official brief all those who are interested on the shared early warning agreement that was negotiated between Presidents Putin and Clinton during the last week while President Clinton was in Moscow. There is -- this person was integral in the preparation of that agreement and will address that in greater detail for those of you who have questions in that area.

And with that, I'll take your questions. Bob?

Q: Continuing with the Korean War theme, I want to ask you about the Turner Rogers memo that was reported by CBS.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes.

Q: When did the Army investigators find that? And what is their assessment of what it contributes to the understanding of what happened?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, the first part of your question is easy. The second part is less clear. The memo has been in the hands of the Army inspector general, who's doing the No Gun Ri investigation, for some time. I'm not sure how long exactly, but for some time. The team has investigated more than a million pages of documentation and not yet done -- still an ongoing process.

Q: Maybe last year or this year?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, I don't know. But it has been in hand for a while.

So far, we have not been able to find any information that will either refute or substantiate the information that you saw in the piece last night. So it's out there. It's very clear. We have no reason to doubt the authenticity of the memo. We just can't find any further information that will direct us in a particular direction. So we still look, and you never know what you might find as that document review continues. But so far that's the current state of play.

Chris?

Q: Do you interpret that memo to mean that strafing had occurred in the Air Force -- in that memo, or discussing whether it should continue to occur? Is that how you interpret it?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, the -- I think the wording of the memo speaks for itself, and it's pretty clear in the assertions that the writer -- then Colonel Rogers -- says this is exactly -- "they have asked, and we have complied to date." So it's pretty clear, in my mind, but we're just looking for that next thing. You always try to find something, some indication that there -- it was received or responded to or reacted to in some way, shape, or form, and that we have not yet found.

Bob?

Q: Do you know who General Timberlake is, who the memo is addressed to?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, I don't. I'm -- I just don't have it with me. I'm sure we know who that is. I just don't have it with me. Let me take that. We'll get that for you. That should be easy.

Q: Excuse me. When you say it's pretty clear, what is pretty clear?

Rear Adm. Quigley: The wording that he chooses to use in his memo. Can't --

Q: Well, I understand the wording, but what do you -- what did you just mean by "it's pretty clear"? As to what happened?

Rear Adm. Quigley: His choice of words --

Q: As to what happened?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No. No, the content of the memo. It's not smudged, it's not -- I mean, the writing is still very clear. What he intended or meant or meant or inferred or something -- I can't guess at that, Mik.

But I think the lettering of the memo is a clear document; there is no misinterpretation. It's not in a foreign language; it's in English. So I think he is very clear, or the document itself is very clear. Now, what he meant, we are just trying to -- as I said -- we are trying to go to the next step and find some sort of corroboration or a refuting of that. And so far, that's it. That is the only piece of the documents that have been located to date; that address, the topic that Colonel Rogers is addressing in his memo.

Q: I was a little bit confused because earlier you said there is nothing in addition to either substantiate or refute --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Right.

Q: -- what's in the memo. Then you said it's very clear. So you're not saying that it's very clear that in fact the Air Force strafed civilians?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No.

Q: Okay.

Rear Adm. Quigley: If that was the impression I left you with, my apologies. No, that was not my intention.

Q: Okay.

Q: Well --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Barbara?

Q: -- just to clean this detail up then, could you please summarize for us here today, the contents of this memo and what it exactly does say?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Sure, in one second. I can read you, I think, the relevant parts anyway.

It's dated one day before the alleged No Gun Ri incident, and that would be the 25th of July of 1950. And it's a memo to this General Timberlake. And again, I will find out exactly what position that gentleman held at that point in time. But let me just skip to the part, I think that -- it's quite long to read in toto here -- let me just skip to the part:

"The Army has requested that we strafe all civilian refugee parties that are noted approaching our positions. To date, we have complied with the Army request in this respect." And then it goes on with a discussion of whether or not this is a good idea and a recommendation as to what to do about it.

Q: What's the recommendation?

Rear Adm. Quigley: "For the protection of the Air Force, it is recommended that a policy be established whereby 5th Air Force aircraft will not attack civilian refugees unless they are definitely known to contain North Korean soldiers or commit hostile acts. It is further recommended that we so inform 8th Army headquarters."

And so there is a recommendation for action here, and that we have not found any record of.

Q: And has any evidence been found in Air Force records as to whether they followed the Army's request or the colonel's recommendation?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, not yet. But again, I mean, despite the very large number, over a million pages so far, a lot remains to be done. So it's still very much a work in progress.

Q: Speaking of work in progress, what's the timetable now for wrapping up this investigation, including the other incident, the alleged massacre of civilians at the bridge at No Gun Ri? What is the timetable on that investigation?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, that is certainly the focus of our efforts, and we have always said, from the beginning, that our initial focus will be trying to determine the details of what happened around the 26th of July, 1950, around the bridge at No Gun Ri. We had hoped to have the investigation completed by the start of the 50th anniversary commemorative activities of the Korean War. It does not look like that's going to be the case, Jamie, just because of the volume of documents. Everything is taking a little bit longer than we had hoped it would. We're looking now to sometime in the early fall, perhaps, before we're going to be all done with that.

Bob?

Q: It just occurred to me, you know, this memo doesn't mention geographic places exactly, and I'm wondering, is the Army assuming that this is connected to No Gun Ri given the time connection? Why are they investigating it if they're not -- I thought that was -- sticking to the No Gun Ri incident and not investigating strafing --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Good point. Exactly. At this point, I mean, when the investigators are trying to find any and all documents that are relevant, and perhaps piece them together -- you're absolutely correct that there is no geographic description contained in this. So there's no particular reason to connect this to No Gun Ri. And perhaps there is no connection. We just don't know that yet. So it is in the documents that have been uncovered so far by the inspector general. It's in the collection. That may or may not have a bearing on the direct findings of the investigation. And we're still looking for something that would either tell us for sure, yes or no, that there is a tie. So it's kind of fuzzy right now in that regard.

Dale?

Q: Different subject?

Q: Could I just follow?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Go ahead. Mik?

Q: Understanding that the early days of the Korean War were steeped in chaos and all of that sort of thing, but would a request from a service to another service, such as a request from the Army to the Air Force to strafe civilian refugees -- would a request like that normally be conveyed in written form?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I can't say, Mik. I don't know. You just have to put yourself in the context of the times, and that's information we just don't hold.

Q: Different subject?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yeah, Dale. Go ahead.

Q: This morning, Senator Warner introduced an amendment to the authorization bill to bring military retirees over 65 under the Tricare program nationwide, to treat them as those under 65 are treated. Was that developed in consultation with the secretary's office, do you know, or is that a department proposal, or is that strictly something that Warner is doing?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, it's certainly Senator Warner's proposal, but it is something that has been done in conjunction with us here in DOD, yes.

Q: And is that -- the details of this are still fuzzy. Is that being funded, or is the plan to fund that out of the Department's budget, or is that an add-on, or do you know at this point?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Let me take that. I'll see if we have an answer at this point. We may not, but I'll try.

Yes?

Q: Can you confirm if the POMs [program objective memoranda] that the service chiefs were supposed to turn in yesterday, if they actually go above the congressional top line, as was reported in the Washington Post?

Rear Adm. Quigley: We're still reviewing them, although they were turned in yesterday to DOD, but --

Q: Is that a new -- the article, I guess, implied that this is a new way of doing business, that now they're going to be planning for military strategy instead of the congressional top line. Do you know?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know that that's a change. I mean, we --

Q: Isn't there a --

Rear Adm. Quigley: The services do their planning in their program objective memorandums, or their POM, with a specific capability and limitations in mind.

Q: But isn't there a limitation that's a congressional top line, saying this is the top line; that you can pick all these things that you want and you need, but this is how much that we're saying is your top line. The rest will have to be compensated for in supplementals --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, yeah. I don't know that that's a change from prior years. I mean, you don't have unconstrained spending ever. There is a budget top line that is provided to each of the departments.

Q: Right. Yes. That's what I'm saying. And according to the article, they said that was the words they used exactly, is "the services are showing no constraint." They're just going for however much they think they need. Not based on a top line any more.

Rear Adm. Quigley: The services are each tasked to come up with, within their POMs, a prioritization of where they think their greatest need is in order to carry out the responsibilities that they're tasked to do around the world.

And as Secretary Cohen has testified and chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Shelton has testified, we think that there is indeed a -- should be a goal of a higher level of spending for DOD, given the missions that we're being asked to carry out around the world.

Example: Secretary Cohen was very complimentary of the ability to get to the $60 billion procurement figure but said that needs to go higher in the years ahead.

So I don't think it's all that different to see service POMs or various service POMs come in, making a strong case, as we would want them to, for greater levels of spending, if that's what they think is appropriate. Then every year there is a trade-off and a prioritization done, taking each of the service POMs and making them into a DOD-wide budget that is both prioritized by need and effectiveness department-wide and still meets budgetary guidelines set forth by the president and the Congress.

David?

Q: Do you have a definition for how the Air Force could have handed out so many Bronze Stars to servicemen who apparently were pretty far removed from combat?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, the piece that was in -- pieces that were in Stars & Stripes this morning -- I think the short answer to your question is that we, DOD, provide broad guidance on the eligibility criteria for various medals, but the awarding of those medals and then fitting the criteria to the awarding of those medals -- we hold the services responsible for making that judgment as to which medal, if any, a service member is -- should be awarded for a given action at a given point in time.

So I think you heard then -- you read the Air Force and the Navy in particular in this morning's piece defend the actions that the authorizing authorities had taken in awarding those awardings of the Bronze Star and other decorations that were mentioned there. And that's where we -- I think, the answer to your question.

Barbara?

Q: Are you -- well, I want to follow up on a couple of things here. I mean, are you -- you know, are you satisfied with what the services did here, or are you thinking of reviewing the criteria?

Rear Adm. Quigley: We'll take a look at them. We'll take a look at them. I don't have any sense at this point that the services have somehow inappropriately applied the criteria, but we'll take a look.

Q: That means -- do I understand you correctly? -- in fact you are taking a look.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes.

Q: At -- just to be very accurate, at what?

Rear Adm. Quigley: At the awarding of the Bronze Stars resulting from Allied Force.

Q: Who's doing that?

Rear Adm. Quigley: DoD.

Chris?

Q: And what is -- what is the Bronze Star supposed to be awarded for? What are the criteria?

Q: Let me read you specifically, if I could, because the wording is quite specific. Bear with me, it's a medium-length paragraph. "The Bronze Star was authorized by Executive Order 9419, February 4th, 1944. And it is awarded to any person while serving in any capacity with the armed forces of the United States by distinguishing themselves or herself by heroic or meritorious achievements or service, not involving aerial flight, under the following circumstances: while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; while serving with friendly forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. And when the Bronze Star is awarded for heroism, a Bronze letter V, for valor, is worn on the suspension and service ribbon of that medal."

Those are the criteria. And for those of you who need a little more time to write that verbatim, we have that in DDI as well as the specific criteria for other declarations as well.

Barbara.

Q: If you are reviewing this and you do find that there is some inappropriate award, how does that work? Is the medal withdrawn from the person?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know.

Q: Would you please take that question?

Rear Adm. Quigley: We'll try. Mmm hmm. {yes]

Q: And can I ask another Kosovo question?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Sure, yeah.

Q: Although --

Rear Adm. Quigley: But -- yeah, go ahead. Go ahead, I'm sorry.

Q: Well, it's Kosovo, but different.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Go ahead.

Q: Can we stay on the subject for a second?

Q: Please.

Rear Adm. Quigley: I was going to say, could we stay on medals if there are any more. Dale.

Q: Yes, is there a standard military definition for the word "engaged?" For example, would someone in this building planning an operation, let's say a bombing operation in Kosovo, would they be considered to be engaged in that conflict?

Rear Adm. Quigley: The answer to you question is no. There is no further definition of the word "engage." (Light laughter.) Okay?

Barbara.

Q: Could I -- let me just one more, and I'll --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Go ahead, yes.

Q: -- because I think the two words were "meritorious" and "heroic." And you said when it involved heroism, that is being actively in combat, I would think that would mean -- that carries a V with it?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Correct.

Q: So without a V, it is meritorious?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Correct. Correct. And there are other awards, I will say also, that have the V distinction, it's not just the Bronze Star. There are several others that can come for valor in combat, or just meritorious without the V.

Q: Is there a definition for meritorious?

Q: (Chuckles.)

Rear Adm. Quigley: No.

Q: I feel like I'm covering the White House -- (laughter) --

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, that is very much in the eyes of the beholder.

Q: -- parsing each word here!

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, that is very much in the eye of the awarding authority --

Q: (Off mike) -- merit?

Rear Adm. Quigley: There is -- there is latitude here in these words. Trying to try to sort through and prioritize and describe what is appropriate and what is not appropriate, but there is latitude given to the judgment of the awarding authority, the services, in this case, on purpose so that they can apply their own standards. You try to be uniform across the services, but there are going to be differences in the judgment of the leaders of each service as to how many, of what type, for what circumstance should be awarded.

Barbara? Kosovo, different -- yes?

Q: A different Kosovo question, although it's maybe a few days early here to ask this. But we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of the end of the conflict.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Saturday.

Q: And --

Q: (Whispering) Oh, man, I'm off. (Laughter.)

Q: (Laughs.) Sorry. Your thoughts -- the department's thoughts a year afterwards: Where are you on Kosovo? I mean, do you at this point see any end in sight, number one, for the U.S. participation in the peacekeeping mission? Is there any end in sight? And is there any way through both the Albanian and the Serb violence and unrest? And how do you assess both sides on their violence at the moment?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I would say, to really kind of cut to the bottom line, there has been tremendous progress in the last year, but much work remains to be done. Now, expanding on that a little bit, we've got 840,000 refugees have returned to their homes. We've got -- I've got a variety of numbers here. But we've got 840,000 have returned from Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and other countries, and 550,000 more internally displaced, for a total of about 1.3 million refugees have returned to their homes and villages. The murder rate is down from a rate of 50 a week, a year ago, to seven. Three thousand eight hundred small arms have been collected and destroyed; 8,500 weapons have been handed in voluntarily by the former KLA.

Children are back at school. Sixteen thousand houses have been cleared of unexploded ordnance. Eighteen thousand stoves, 4,000 truckloads of firewood and over 1 million roofing tiles have been distributed to the people; 1,165 schools have been cleared of mines and unexploded ordnance, and it's a long list of accomplishments during the last year.

But much remains to be done, and again, we -- the proper mechanism for that is the international community, through the United Nations. Some progress is being made in that regard. More needs to be done.

Q: So with all this progress, what's your projection on when U.S. troops can come home?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, that's a decision this nation will make, not this building.

Jamie?

Q: Can I just go back to the Korean War for a moment? Can you just, for the record, just clarify what the current estimate of Americans killed in the Korean conflict is, and how it should be adjusted?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Yeah, I sure can. The overall number has remained constant. What has changed is the reporting methodology in those numbers. Let me just run through the numbers specifically. We're talking about the period of time from 1950 to 1953 and the number of deaths within the Korean theater of operations, okay? So that's the boundaries that we're putting in place here, okay?

We have changed our reporting procedures over time, and I took a look at three snapshots -- in 1974, in 1997, and now in 2000. You'll see one significant change, which I will describe here in more detail just in a moment, but other than that, the overall numbers have changed only slightly, as you would expect -- as remains are recovered, rumors are changed to fact -- and so you're talking about pluses or minuses of a handful; 10, 12. Other than that shift, on those three periods of time the numbers have remained about the same.

But in 1974, these were the categories of people: battle deaths, other deaths, and then a total for those two categories.

The number of 54,246 has not changed. And today I would still tell you that it's 54,246 that have died, but the difference being as follows:

We then started breaking them out in 1993 by battle deaths, non-battle deaths still in Korea, and then other, like a training accident in California, or a soldier killed in an automobile accident in Germany or Italy or some other place around the world, but not in Korea. And that is the methodology and the computing practice that we follow today.

So today the numbers are as follows, okay? Battle deaths in Korea: 33,686. Non-battle deaths in Korea: 2,830. Other military deaths around the world, not in Korea: 17,730. And again, for a total of 54,246. So the difference is in the methodology of the computation and how we count those numbers.

Bill?

Q: I'll defer.

Q: Isn't that a fairly large number -- 17,000 deaths over three years -- for non-combat? I mean, that's half what you've got from a very violent, vigorous war going on. I mean, are the --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Jim, you're used to the figures that we have been enjoying in recent years, with the emphasis that all the services have placed on safety, training safety, attention to detail around the world and throughout each of the services. If you take a look at that time in history, in the early 1950s, the services simply did not have that focus that we have in recent years on trying the absolute best that we can to keep training deaths, other causes -- now a person in uniform who dies in a car accident completely off base is also counted in that as well.

So I can't break down for you the 17,730 number with any specificity, without doing a little bit more digging. But I would just say that we have made incredible strides in reducing the number of non-combat accidental deaths, training deaths, and things of that sort in recent years.

Q: Craig, that's close to about two a day for three years. That just seems hard to believe.

Rear Adm. Quigley: I did not do the math, but I won't question theirs.

Q: Okay, but what --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Bob, going back to an earlier question -- Bill, if I could -- Lieutenant General Edward Timberlake retired in June of 1965. And at the time, he was the vice commander of the 5th Air Force.

Q: Jim?

Q: Is --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Okay.

Q: -- is the general still living? And has been interviewed as far as the investigation?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know -- don't know.

Q: And what about the colonel?

Rear Adm. Quigley: He has been interviewed, I believe.

Q: And what does he say?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I won't get into that detail.

Q: Okay.

Rear Adm. Quigley: I am only getting into this detail because the document was out there, as a part of the public record.

Q: All right.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Bill?

Q: Yes. As we have touched on military history, let's go back 56 years. Let me ask if you think -- if DOD thinks that the successful invasion of Normandy during D-Day was a turning point in the Second World War or certainly a turning point in the European war? And I believe there were about 50,000 U.S. dead troops on the Western Front before the Nazis fell. Is that right?

Rear Adm. Quigley: I would certainly emphatically agree with the first part of your comment or your question. I think that most military historians, if not all military historians, would tell you that indeed one of the key events of the second World War were the landings at Normandy and it turned the tide of war in the European theater. I don't have the figures immediately available to me on casualties from the European theater during the war; but no hesitation to agree with the first part of your comment, whatsoever.

Q: Do you think it was a turning point in the history of the 20th century?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Indeed.

Q: Indeed.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Mm-hmm. (In agreement.) Chris?

Q: Going back to the memo; when you were talking about that, you said this is the only memo that we have found that points to anything like this happening. But then just a couple of seconds ago, you said --

Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, no.

Q: -- I only got into that because it's become part of the public record. And I am trying to understand, might be there parts that you have, other such documents that corroborate this that are not part of the public record --

Rear Adm. Quigley: No.

Q: -- as far as you know?

Rear Adm. Quigley: So far, in that extensive document review, to date, we have found no other reference in any way, shape or form, to refute or substantiate the words that then-Colonel Rogers used in his memo.

Dale?

Q: You said earlier that there had been over a million documents reviewed.

Rear Adm. Quigley: Pages.

Q: A million pages. Excuse me. Can you characterize, are they halfway done, are they two-thirds, or are they one-tenth of the way done?

Rear Adm. Quigley: No, they are more than halfway done. Again, their best estimate -- the Army IG's best estimate is some time in the early fall to be done with the entire report. I don't have a percentage for you -- (inaudible) -- have for two-thirds or something. But that's the estimate of approximately the time frame, when they hope to have the whole thing wrapped up.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Thank you.

Rear Adm. Quigley: One other thing. One -- I think -- Dale, I think it was you that had the question on Senator Warner's proposal. We are still just studying this proposal -- okay? -- and I don't have a specific response to the contents. And we need to study it a little bit further because he has just introduced it today.

Q: Can I just ask one more quick one about Sierra Leone? Senator Gregg has been holding up money for peacekeeping operations, and I believe that he has said that DOD and EUCOM are urgently assessing -- his word -- what the U.S. military might do to train peacekeepers. Is that assessment underway? Is it about done? And if so, what conclusions have you guys come to?

Rear Adm. Quigley: Let me take that one too, Jim. I'm not sure.

Q: Thank you.

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