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DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, USN, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, USN, DASD PA
June 13, 2000 1:00 PM EDT

Tuesday, June 13, 2000 - 1:00 p.m. EDT

Rear Adm. Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a few announcements this afternoon.

Starting tomorrow, more than 18,700 service members from all branches of the U.S. armed forces, as well as forces from Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada, will begin Exercise Roving Sands '00. This joint and combined forces exercise, the world's largest joint theater, air and missile defense exercise, will take place at training ranges and sites throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Nevada. And we have a bluetop in the back of the room with more details on that.

Also starting tomorrow, soldiers and airmen from the U.S. Army Europe, Special Operations Command Europe and U.S. Air Forces Europe and the Republic of Georgia armed forces will begin Exercise MEDCEUR 00-1, a joint and combined medical exercise in the Caucasus in Tblisi, Georgia. This is a mass casualty exercise and is the first medical exercise ever conducted in Georgia, in the spirit of the Partnership for Peace program. This will provide an opportunity to exchange medical information and techniques with host-nation medical personnel and conduct training in emergency medication operations. And again, we have a bluetop with more details on that.

The next couple of announcements concern General Shelton. He will be the graduation speaker tomorrow at the combined National Defense University graduation ceremony. This is at 10:00 tomorrow in front of Roosevelt Hall at Fort McNair. There's a press advisory in the back of the room on that with point-of-contact information.

And next, General Shelton and the commissioner of Major League baseball, Bud Selig, will honor and remember Korean War veterans during a formal wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Joining General Shelton and Mr. Selig will be Korean War Marine Captain and former baseball player Jerry Coleman. Other retired players from the Korean War era and numerous Korean War veterans have also been invited to attend. The wreath-laying ceremony, with full military honors, will be followed by a press conference with Shelton, Selig and other ceremony participants. We have a release on that as well.

Finally, on General Shelton, he will serve on the panel of the Secretary of State's Open Forum this Thursday, the 15th, beginning at 11:00 in the morning, in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the State Department.

Joining General Shelton will be former Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, now president and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Ambassador David C. Litt, political adviser to the commander, U.S. Special Operations Command.

Finally, Secretary of Defense Cohen --

Q: (Off mike.)

Quigley: Sorry?

Q: (Off mike.)

Quigley: I believe this is an annual one, John, and it covers a variety of topics. But he has been one of the -- is one of the panel members. And I don't know who the other members of the panel are.

Q: At what time, please?

Quigley: Eleven tomorrow morning.

Q: Tomorrow morning?

Staff: No, on Thursday --

Quigley: I'm sorry. Thursday morning. Thursday morning.

And finally, Secretary Cohen announced today that the president has nominated Army Lieutenant General Donald L. Kerrick for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general, with assignment as deputy assistant to the president for National Security Affairs and deputy national security adviser. Kerrick is currently serving as the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here in Washington, D.C.

And one more announcement for tomorrow: We'll have details for you later on this afternoon, but we will be putting together a briefing, probably in this room, probably early tomorrow afternoon -- and I promise we will fine-tune that as the afternoon goes on -- on national missile defense. [Update: this briefing will not take place on Wednesday.]

Q: What is the topic for the State -- (off mike)?

Q: Who's going to brief on national missile defense?

Quigley: We'll get back to that.

The theme of the discussion, John, for the activities over at State on Thursday morning will be "Preparing for the Crisis after Next: Future Visioning in the State Department, the Interagency Process, and the Military."

Q: Whoa!

Q: Hm. "Visioning"?

Q: Vision?

Q: Hm.

Q: It's a State Department word. (Laughter.)

Quigley: I'm not sure that's a word, but it's their forum, and they can use -- they can call it what they will.

We're -- our hope is to have retired General Larry Welch brief tomorrow.

Q: What's the purpose?

Quigley: As you know, General Welch heads the independent review team, which has so far issued two reports on our national missile defense program. The third has recently been published. He is trying very hard -- and it's classified, of course. He is trying very hard to complete an unclass version and will be -- hopefully have that done, so that we can sit down and discus that with you tomorrow. That's the goal.

Q: Do you have a time?

Q: No time set yet.

Quigley: Not yet.

Q: Cameras?

Quigley: We'll announce that later on this afternoon. I am thinking here, and I am thinking early afternoon tomorrow; but we need to coordinate some schedules yet, and that is still a work in progress.

Q: This will be on --

Q: Barbara, I am not sure on cameras yet.

Q: Well, can we make --

Quigley: We'll let that know as --

Q: -- a request that we would certainly prefer?

Quigley: Indeed.

Q: But it won't be background?

Quigley: No, it won't be background.

Q: And the report will be available to us before the news conference?

Quigley: Well, the report is classified. And there is no intention of doing an unclassified report, but there will be certainly a synopsis of its findings. And you have the leaders of the independent review team that will be available -- and again, that's the goal for tomorrow -- to try to answer any follow-on questions, talk about process and some of the issues that went in the -- he may also be able to get one or two additional members of his team.

Q: The last report was published in an unclassified form -- I don't know if you want to call it a synopsis or whatever. But is there -- you know -- I don't know -- 50 pages or something -- are you going to do the similar --

Quigley: I don't know. It certainly won't be available in that format by tomorrow. I don't know; I just simply have not discussed that with him.

Barbara?

Q: Can we just come back on one thing? I think I heard you answer to him it's not a background session?

Quigley: Correct.

Q: So, therefore, we will be able to have cameras.

Q: Yeah.

Quigley: Well, that's my working assumption. Okay? You're trying to nail me down with specifics that I don't have yet, and I do promise you that we'll have them before close of business today. But that's what we're shooting for, for tomorrow.

And that completes my announcements. I'll be glad to take your questions.

John?

Q: Just to get a step ahead of these, Larry Welch and the people who may be briefing tomorrow. As you know, yesterday, a group of 35 scientists went up on Capitol Hill and said to various lawmakers that national missile defense is not going to work, it's a stupid idea, and that even if you spend the money, it's not going to work. Do you have any response to --

Quigley: Well, certainly. I mean, that's certainly not our position, John. I mean -- we have --

Q: It's not stupid?

Quigley: -- we have always said that this program is technologically very challenging but we feel we are making good progress. And the testing process is laid out for quite a ways to come. We are anticipating the next shot to be in early July.

That's a significant shot, but it's certainly not, by any stretch, the final test. The testing of a national missile defense program would stretch on into the next several years, as you might expect for a program of this complexity. We're still working with a prototype exo-atmospheric kill vehicle. We're working with a prototype, or a developmental, booster. All of the battle management radar, the command and control system, all of these things are still being developed concurrently. So there's a considerable level of technological risk.

But we have confidence that we will successfully be able to integrate these various technologies and come up with a system that is effective and can discriminate against the projected threat that a rogue nation might possess in the year 2005, which is our target to deploy this system, initial operational capability.

Q: Well, they say that you will not be able to distinguish between the kind of decoys that even a rudimentary adversary would be able to deploy. You're saying, "Yeah, we will"?

Quigley: Completely disagree with their assessment in that regard. The combination of discrimination abilities that the entire national missile defense system would incorporate gives incredible discrimination capability against the countermeasures that our intelligence community best estimates will be present from the likely nations that would deploy such a system in the 2005 time frame.

A lot of the arguments have focused on a single discriminator within the family of discriminators, and there is no single element within that, that -- on which we rely. Rather, we are relying on a combination of factors -- the radars, the optical sensor in the kill vehicle, the IR sensor in the kill vehicle, intelligence estimates -- a variety of capabilities and discriminators that we have confidence will, in total, in sum, now, be able to do the job of effectively discriminating warheads from decoys for the threat that we project to exist at IOC in 2005.

Bill?

Q: So, why? If this system was not viable, was not buildable and not workable, would the Russians, the Chinese, many of the Europeans allies make such a fuss about our not even yet having decided to deploy this system?

Quigley: Well, that's a tough one to answer, Bill. I'm not sure.

Secretary Cohen earlier today had a session of about 40 minutes, I believe, with his counterpart, Defense Minister Sergeyev. That was followed by about 45 minutes with both he and Minister Sergeyev with President Putin, and then again Secretary Cohen and Minister Sergeyev together about an hour more after that. And they discussed a variety of topics. But certainly their views on national missile defense and European missile defense and the threat and the viability of technologies such as boost phase or mid-trajectory were all very much on the table.

The talks were very constructive, although it's very clear that the two nations are -- see things very differently on this subject. The tone was amicable, and all have agreed to discuss this further and take a look. And again, we got three major elements here from the discussions today. One is the threat. Two is the viability of boost phase intercept -- interceptor program. And third is the whole concept of the European missile defense that the Russians have recently proposed. Much discussion and clarification and detail needs to be exchanged on these three subject areas, and that was agreed to today.

Q: On that particular subject of the European system that the Russians proposed, what can you tell us insofar as those details you mentioned? What can you relate to us about what they want to do, what the Russians want to do?

Quigley: Well, I don't think I can go much further than at this point in hearing the Russians out in greater detail as to what their proposal entails and take it from there, Bill. There's not a -- that is the next step, I believe, is hearing their views, getting additional details on the system that they might propose, and take it from there.

Q: And that's ongoing today.

Quigley: Well, just starting today. That agreement was reached today.

Q: Okay.

Quigley: Bob?

Q: Does the -- does the new Welch report address the question of whether the deployment readiness review should be delayed, or should go ahead as scheduled this summer?

Quigley: Yes, it does.

Q: And what does it conclude?

Quigley: Stay tuned.

Q: Well, I mean, why can't you say now?

Quigley: Because we plan on doing this tomorrow in a much more comprehensive way -- (laughter) -- much more comprehensive way than I can address today.

Q: It doesn't require a comprehensive answer, just --

Quigley: I'm not going to do it piecemeal, I'm sorry.

Q: Another subject?

Quigley: Yes.

Q: Yes. Senator Gordon Smith stated the other day that he favors now the independence of Kosovo. I was wondering how is it going to affect your military presence in the area?

Quigley: I don't know as if it will have a direct effect. This is a decision that this nation takes in concert, in discussions with its friends and allies around the world. So there's many discussions ongoing on Capitol Hill on any given day on Kosovo and many other topics. It's something that we note with interest. But this a part of our process each and every year here in this country. But ultimately, I'm sure the senator would agree that this would have to be a decision that this nation would then make.

Q: The awarding of Bronze Stars to service members who were not at the theater under fire, when will the Pentagon -- what's the status of the review into that and how --

Quigley: Just really getting started, and I have no estimate for you. I'm sorry. I asked that question this morning. Just really getting started.

Q: A question about these missing computer drives from Los Alamos. Since they're said to contain technical and tactical data for the NEST [Nuclear Emergency Search Team] teams, and since U.S. Special Forces are part of the NEST teams, was the Pentagon, DOD, Special Forces Command informed of this security lapse either before FBI, DOE, or since?

Quigley: Not to my knowledge, no. Since? Yesterday, certainly, yes, when it was announced publicly, yes we were. But prior to that, not to my knowledge, no.

Q: Okay. Were you formally informed by DOE or Los Alamos? How did --

Quigley: I think there was notification made from DOE in a variety of different points within DOD yesterday.

Q: And has anybody --

Quigley: I think that was around the same time in the day, but it probably varied by a little.

Q: And is anybody at DOD or Special Forces Command now in contact with DOE to determine exactly what was lost and what the potential --

Quigley: No. No, we are not. We are not involved in the investigation at all. This is DOE and FBI.

Q: And what can you tell us about the kind of tactical data that was contained in these disks and whether in fact it would in any way possibly jeopardize Special Operations?

Quigley: The answer to your question is not a thing, Mik, because we don't know what was on the disks.

Q: But you know, generally, that the Special Forces are in fact part of NEST tactics in terms of their operations.

Quigley: But I am not going to get involved in any details on NEST team operations.

Q: Well, I'd like to follow up on that. Is the --

Quigley: Okay.

Q: -- (laughs) -- is the secretary of Defense or this department -- if I understood you correctly, you said you weren't informed until it came out in the newspaper yesterday?

Quigley: No, we were informed by DOE yesterday.

Q: Yesterday, okay. Fine. Are you not perturbed about them not telling you previously, since in fact much of that material involves both U.S. nuclear weapons design and foreign nations' nuclear weapons design and analysis? Are you not concerned that you haven't known about this for weeks?

Quigley: We are very comfortable that, between DOE and FBI, that they had a handle on this and are doing the very best they can to try to ascertain what material may have been lost and its impact on national security.

Q: Was the U.S. Strategic Command, which is in charge of all nuclear stuff, or the Nuclear Weapons Council in this building, not even informed? Nobody knew?

Quigley: Not to my knowledge, not before yesterday.

Q: Can you shed any more light on what -- just a general fashion -- what these NEST teams, what function they serve and to what extent the military has a role in that?

Quigley: I would steer you to DOE for that because they come under their aegis, Jamie. And I'll tell you, they will probably not be particularly forthcoming, but neither will I. (Laughter.)

Barbara?

Q: Well, on that note -- (laughter) -- can you tell us whether or not any of the Air Force assets or the tech escort unit assets, which serve as backup to NEST teams, have moved men or equipment outside of their normal areas or are on any heightened state of alert as backfill?

Quigley: Again, Barbara, that's a detail I am just not going to get into.

David?

Q: The 86 people who allegedly had access to the vault and of the 200 people who have allegedly been questioned so far, were any of them DOD personnel?

Quigley: No.

Q: And in the exercise which took place at Lawrence Livermore in April, which apparently was the last time they know where these disks were, was that an exercise which involved the Department of Defense?

Quigley: That one I don't know. Let me take that. I don't know if we were players in that at all. Hadn't heard that.

Q: Thank you.

Quigley: Thank you.

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