Thursday, June 29, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
I have a couple of announcements before we get started.
First of all, Timothy Connolly, who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict will lead a delegation of Department of Defense representatives attending the United Nations International Meeting on Mine Clearance which takes place the 5th through the 7th of July in Geneva, Switzerland.
The purpose of the UN-sponsored meeting will be to exchange information and experience dealing with land mine problems, as well as to seek further political and financial support for UN mine clearance programs from the international community.
We have an MFC for you on this subject, and also some additional background material that you may want to pick up in DDI after the brief.
The coast patrol ship WHIRLWIND will be commissioned at 10 a.m. on Saturday, the 1st of July, on the Mississippi riverfront in Memphis, Tennessee. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Boorda, will be the ceremony's principal speaker. WHIRLWIND's sponsor is Congressman John Tanner's wife, Betty Ann. She christened the ship back in September of 1994, and she'll be on hand along with Representative Tanner of Tennessee.
WHIRLWIND is the 11th of 13 Cyclone Class ships authorized by Congress to be built. With that, I'll be happy to try and answer any of your questions.
Q: The White House announced today that the President has released $15 million for quick support of the Rapid Reaction Force. Is it true that that figure could, and will, eventually reach $50 million? Where will the money come from? And what are the steps that have been taken besides the ship--the American reaction ship--that left yesterday?
A: It is correct that the President has determined that it is in both our interest and consistent with our leadership role for the United States to support the creation and the deployment of the UNPROFOR Rapid Reaction Force. And to that end, we have offered some capabilities with regards to strategic lift and some associated support equipment so that we can move those forces quickly into place and its presence can be felt.
Under the law, what has occurred here is that the President has notified Congress of an initial drawdown to meet these requirements totaling $12 million which will go towards strategic lift, and $3 million in equipment, for a total of $15 million that you heard about. Ultimately, the figure could reach as much as $50 million, but at this point we've gone only as far as that initial drawdown.
The deployment of the CAPE RACE is already underway in connection with this, and there is a second ship which will also be deployed, but that will occur some time later. That ship is called the CAPE DIAMOND, which as I understand it, is berthed down in Jacksonville, Florida.
Q: And that will go to Britain?
A: Both of those ships will be involved in lift of British equipment and troops, if necessary.
Q: What other immediate steps are going to be taken?
A: The other authority that is involved in the strategic lift has to do with air. In that one, there is approval for up to 50 C-5 equivalents to move equipment for both Dutch and British forces, and again, material.
What I say here is 50 C-5 equivalents. The reason I say that is to determine kind of a baseline so that when our people get into place there we can determine exactly what it is they have and how much needs to be moved and how much we can move, but the terminology that's being used at this point for budgeting purposes is 50 C-5 equivalents.
Q: You mean equivalent flights? C-5 loads?
A: C-5 loads. That's correct.
Q: Since Congress so far has not shown any particular interest in us supporting the RRF, what fund is the President tapping for this support?
A: These are funds that have already been approved for use by the Department of Defense. Essentially what occurs is we have a certain budget that's been set aside for sealift, and we are utilizing a portion of the $12 million for that purpose. We have another portion of the budget which is set aside for airlift, and another fraction of that $12 million will be used for the airlift portion of the support.
Q: These are operational funds?
Q: That money has to be made up somehow like in a supplemental, or is this all counted...
A: My understanding is that the money will come from the budget which has already been authorized.
Q: How about the $3 million for equipment?
A: The $3 million for equipment falls into a slightly different area. In that one, the President has gone to the Congress to notify them of his intention to utilize funds under a waiver--which he has the authority to grant--which enables him to provide certain forms of equipment to countries which essentially already have some very modern equipment.
In this particular case, we feel there is some equipment that we have which is not available to the contributing nations to this Rapid Reaction Force which we can provide and which will be helpful to them. That includes some examples that you've already heard about, but it has to do with night vision goggles and some tactical satellite communications terminals.
Q: Is this loaner stuff?
A: My understanding is that it will be provided to them outright.
Q: I think the original figure was hoped to be about $275 or $300 million, and as I recall when the Secretary got back from Paris he listed a whole bunch of things that the U.S. might contribute. Can you tell us which of the items that he listed will no longer be contributed because of the cutback in the amount of money?
A: No, I can't at this point, because we're still talking about what the specific needs might be.
What I think you're focusing on today is the lift and the equipment that's going in this initial $15 million increment. The remainder of the amount--up to $50 million... They're still talking to the contributing nations about what exactly it is they may need. I know Dr. Perry indicated that there may be some intelligence support that we could provide, and also some close air support kinds of items that we could provide. Those discussions are still going along. We haven't come to a final determination on those.
Q: The $50 million wouldn't include any additional close air support?
A: It could, indeed.
Q: The $50 million is all you envision supplying as of now?
A: As of now.
Q: That would include the intelligence cell...
A: That would include those items that he's talked about before.
Q: Does that include the Predator deployment?
A: The Predator deployment has already been announced, and, in fact today, some of the initial steps of personnel moving into the area in preparation for that occurred. I'll have to get back to you on whether that is included in this package or that was done separately.
Q: The North Atlantic Council, as you know, has provisionally approved the evacuation plan. Does this launch any more pre-positioning of U.S. equipment or anything like that?
A: No, it does not. It does not launch any kind of pre-positioning equipment with the provisional acceptance of 40104.
Q: What does provisional mean?
A: The way NATO does business, this provisional approval is one step in the process. What you have here is a plan--a very, very complex plan--that was put together for the purpose of being able to respond to UN requests to withdraw the UN Forces from Bosnia-Herzegovina, if the UN determined that that became necessary. At this point I want to stress that the UN has not made any such determination, and, in fact, the UN and NATO at this point feel very strongly that we should keep those forces in place.
However, because this is such a very complex plan, it's necessary for some of the work, the refining, some of the further steps that go into actually making such a plan work when and if such a plan were necessary--to make it possible for that planning--to go on. They gave provisional approval to those areas of the plan that everybody had agreed upon, but there are some areas of the plan which require further work, and that work will go on in terms of negotiations and talking about specifically the financial arrangements and also some of the ROE arrangements. That kind of negotiating will go on as the portion of the plan that's been approved starts to be refined even further.
What will ultimately occur, however, is that the NAC [North Atlantic Council] will once again have to give final approval if the UN ever comes to the point where it requests NATO's assistance in any kind of withdrawal. I just want to make sure everyone realizes that that final approval would require each one of the NATO nations to approve the plan in its final form. So this is by no means an occasion where we have a plan that is fully approved.
Q: On Egypt. Is there any detection of troop movement on the border between Egypt and Sudan? What's the assessment of the situation there?
A: I don't really have anything for you on that. Frankly, we're not involved in that situation. I realize that's of interest to you, but I can't provide you any kind of information on that.
Q: How about if there's any evidence to suggest or implicate the Sudanese government in the plot to kill President Mubarak?
A: I have not seen anything on that.
Q: The South Koreans have apparently asked the U.S. military for help in dealing with this department store disaster. Do you have any details on what the armed forces might be doing?
A: Indeed, the government of the Republic of Korea has suffered a very devastating disaster there. We have made it known that we stand by ready to assist in any way we can. I've seen some reports that, in fact, the government of the Republic of Korea has indicated that they would like some assistance, but at this point I have no details on that. We'll have to get back to you when we have something more in hand.
Q: What criteria or what factors will Secretary Perry use in making a decision as to what recommendation he'll make to the President about accepting or rejecting the Base Closure Commission's report?
A: There are three key factors that the Department is looking at in connection with those recommendations made by the BRAC Commission. The first one has to do with the impact on military operations; the second one is the cost; the third one is the cumulative economic impact.
I just want to go back for a moment to the cost factor. To give you some sense of how complicated this whole analysis becomes.
When you look at the changes that were made by the Commission, you have to realize that there are initial costs involved in closing any kind of a facility. Those are the short term costs, and they can be environmental cleanup and a host of other kinds of expenses.
The services had spent a lot of time in coming up with their lists and had factored in the closing costs that they were expecting. With the changes, essentially what's got to happen is the services have to look at that again. But equally important, they have to look at the impact it has on overall savings in the out years. In fact, with all of the changes that were made to the original recommendations from the services, there are significant impacts that occur there.
So those are the three things that the Department is looking at, and that we are providing to both Secretary Perry and Dr. White, the Deputy Secretary, as they go about formulating what their recommendation to the President will be on what action he should take.
Q: Do you have any idea of when that evaluation will be finished?
A: I've heard several different dates. I think I want to stay away from giving anything firm. I know we're working very hard on this, because tomorrow, if the press releases are correct, there will be a press conference conducted by the chairman of the Commission in connection with the completion of the Commission's report, which will then be turned in to the President. I want to point out that that will be the first time that anyone in this building has seen the final report of the Commission. We've, of course, seen the numbers, but we have not seen the language that backs up those numbers. We won't see that until the Commission publishes its report. Again, we anticipate that that will be sometime tomorrow.
So I can't give you an exact date, but I think that we would expect that some time very soon--perhaps even over the weekend or certainly some time next week-- there would be some kind of recommendation that would at least have been formulated, although we will continue to refine our numbers in this analysis with as much time as we can possibly devote to it.
Q: Wasn't the Commission supposed to take into account those three factors when they came up with these recommendations?
A: The Commission has to look at those factors also. The thing that makes this very complicated for us is that even as they look at it with the changes, then we have to go back and essentially analyze what they have done and the impact that their numbers make on our operations, on our costs, and on the cumulative economic impact of the communities that were affected by the closures.
Q: Are those three in priority order?
A: Certainly the military operations is the key provision, and if you look at the language of... There are actually eight factors that were published with the first BRAC and have been used ever since then. If you look at those, the military operations impact is the one that is key to all of this.
Q: If the Secretary and the President reject this list, what will happen then? Could the Commission then go back to studying it and two months from now offer another list? How does this...
A: The President has two options. He can either approve the report or he can disapprove the report. He has to take that action by the 15th of July. If he approves the recommendations of the Commission, he sends it to the Congress and lets them know that essentially he has approved the report. Then they, in turn, have to take action on it. If they take no action on it, then it stands approved.
They can take action based on his approval. If they elect to disapprove the Commission's recommendations and the President's approval of those, then both Houses of Congress would have to agree to that.
Q: I understand that. But if it's disapproved, could the Commission then, as I say, come up with a new list? Go over the list, put two bases on it or take two bases off of it, and give it back to the Pentagon in a month or so? Is there any restriction against...
A: There is no restriction against what the Commission can do if the list is returned to the Commission from the President. The President, if he returns the list--if he rejects the list and returns it to the Commission--the Commission can elect to take no action; can elect to take the action that is recommended by the President; or can do anything in between and beyond, including taking further action that was not taken in the first portion of their deliberations.
Q: In reality, his options are three. He rejects it totally and kills it, he sends it on to Congress, or he sends it back to the Commission with recommendations for changes.
A: If he rejects it, he sends his reasons for rejection to both the Congress and to the Commission. Then they have a period of time up to the 15th of August to submit a revised list.
Q: That would be submitted to the Department?
A: It would be submitted to the President, and then we would have a period of time when we could make recommendations again.
Q: What happens if they just send the list back--the same list back? The President rejects it? Presumably, if there's no change, your objections would still stand and the President would just reject it again and send it back?
A: Excuse me?
Q: If the President rejects the list, sends it back to the Commission, and the Commission basically says we stand behind our work so they send the same list back. Presumably, the Pentagon's objections to the original list will still stand, so they would, presumably then recommend again...
A: I don't want to predict what the Pentagon would do in that case. But essentially, they are not--the Commission is not--bound to act on the President's complaints about their list. And, except that by the 15th of August, they would have to send a revised list, which could be exactly the same list that existed before, back to the President. He then, the President, would have to take whatever action he deemed appropriate.
The other point that I think is very significant--if the President rejects the recommendations by the first of September--then the BRAC process ends. It happens that there are no further rounds in the BRAC process. This is the last one. The law does not extend past this round.
Q: Is it the Pentagon's position that they need this BRAC for future, to get savings for future...
A: It's the Pentagon's opinion that we need this BRAC to get the savings that are going to enable us to modernize and to continue to maintain readiness.
Q: The cost of closing. The Commission took more bases off the list than it had, by a better than two-to-one factor. Everybody focuses on the big add-ons--the two Air Force depots--but they removed Kirkland AFB at your request, which is going to save you a bunch of bucks, and they mentioned, by my count, more than 20 total bases that you all wanted to close.
A: Yes. But again, the difficulty you get into there is because they made so many changes, you incur costs that you were not anticipating. In some cases they'll be short-term costs, and in other cases there will be some savings in the out years. But essentially what you've got to do is to reconstruct your budget--your five- year defense plan budget--to accommodate all these changes, or make accommodations in some other way.
Q: You talked about the cumulative economic impact. Doesn't the cumulative political impact weigh in this at all?
A: Say that one more time.
Q: Does the cumulative political impact weigh in this at all?
A: It may weigh in some people's mind, but the objective in this building is to conduct an analysis that is objective and that rests on those three areas that I mentioned before.
Press: Thank you.