DoD NewsBriefing: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD PA
Thursday, August 3, 1995 - 2:15 p.m.
Just a couple more announcements before I submit to your questions.
We have for distribution a letter from General Shalikashvili and the Chiefs ofthe Services to Congress about an issue that involves veterans' retirement.It's known by the code word of "High 12" or "High 1." I can't explain why ithas two names, but it has to do with an issue that will reduce retirementbenefits for people in the military who enlisted prior to a date in 1980. It'ssomething that the Chiefs and the Secretary are concerned about because it doeschange the terms under which people enlisted in the military... I urge you toget a copy of this. It's very self-explanatory, and it's an issue that'sbefore Congress now.
Q: Can you just simply state the Pentagon's position on that provision that'sbeing debated?
A: The Pentagon is concerned that this is a breach of faith with members ofthe military who enlisted expecting retirement benefits to be calculated oneway. But this bill, if passed, would reduce their retirement benefits. Inaddition to breaking faith with members of the military, we believe that itcould complicate personnel planning because, one result of this law, if passed,would be to encourage people to stay in the military maybe a year or two longerin order to bring their retirement benefits up to the level they hadanticipated they would be at when they planned to retire.
So we think it could complicate our planning, and also we think it wouldreduce the quality of life of people in the military today, and also retireesor those who are about to retire. This is all explained in the letter, and Iurge you to take a look at it.
This Saturday, you are invited to take a ride in a C-17 down to Charleston AirForce Base, South Carolina. It will leave Andrews at 8 a.m. [EDT] and returnat 3:30 in the afternoon. This is the conclusion of the C-17 reliability,maintainability and availability evaluation.
This plane, which has been much criticized, has done extremely well in itsfinal set of evaluation tests. It's flown 467 sorties, logging more than 2,000flying hours, and maintained a departure reliability rate of 99.1 percent. Soif you're interested in this, you should contact Major Ron Lovas, Air ForcePublic Affairs at (703) 695-0640.
The Air Force Chief of Staff, I believe, will also be down at Charleston alongwith some other Air Force officials on Saturday.
I'd like to correct a statement that I made in the last briefing on Tuesdaywhen I said that two EC-130H's were going from Davis Monthan to Aviano. It'sthree EC-130H's. You should not read in there that we are increasing our forceof EC-130Hs by 50 percent I misspoke. The number is three rather than two.
Finally, later this afternoon we will release a Blue Top outlining therecovery tools that the Department of Defense makes available to assistcommunities who are undergoing base closures. The resources include suchthings as grants for base reuse planning, on-site base transition coordinators,job training referral and placement for federal workers, and a new handbookcalled Community Guide to Base Reuse. I guess this is a new version of thathandbook. But this is all part of a package of information and help that'savailable to communities who are facing base closure or shrinkage.
With that, I'll take your questions.
Q: How does the situation stand now on the NAC decision to warn the Serbs andothers over Bihac and other areas? And what about the attack by three Serb warplanes -- Croatian Serb war planes -- recently on Croatian Forces and theno-fly zone? Will anything be done about that?
A: The NAC has completed its work and issued its resolution. It's been wellpublicized. It's been sent to the UN. I believe in that Willy Claes urged theUN to inform the Serbs and the Bosnians of the new resolution, but I think theyalready know of it because it's been so well publicized.
Q: ...to London, yet a French and British and...
A: I don't believe that we'll make a similar expedition. I think they knowwhat's happened and they know what the ground rules are.
Q: Will this be laid out somewhere in public and in detail? What will be doneand where the line will be, and what kind of results?
A: The NATO Secretary General, Willy Claes, issued a statement on this andstated exactly what was happening. As I said, he invited the Secretary Generalof the UN to make a similar statement. I don't know what his plans are. Youmight check with the UN on that. I didn't have a chance to check with the UNtoday to find out.
Q: The Secretary and General Shali on the way to London made very clear whatkind of airstrike we're talking about, in steps. Then the agreement was madeand the Serbs were warned. Is the same kind of thing going to be brought...
A: Charlie, I'm telling you it's been done. It's been public. It's in thepattern of the Gorazde. It's been spoken to publicly by the Secretary, byMinister Portillo before the action took place, but they were predicting theaction. It is basically the same format, the same rules, the same triggersapplied to three other safe areas -- that is Bihac, Tuzla, and Sarajevo -- thathave been previously applied to Gorazde. The triggers are basically a massingof troops that look like it's leading up to an attack, or an actual attackagainst these safe areas.
Q: Can you tell us whether the United States either explicitly or implicitlysent any sort of signal to Croatia that the U.S. would not be upset if Croatiaacted against Bosnian Serb Forces in Bosnia?
A: The main point to be made here is that we are now, and have been from thebeginning, very determined to prevent the expansion of this war. We don't wantit to spill out of Bosnia. We want to contain it in Bosnia as much aspossible, and then shrink it down and try to resolve this fightingdiplomatically. We realize this can't be solved militarily. We are urging adiplomatic solution.
The Croatians have an interest in their federation with the Bosnian governmentto stop the Serb attack on Bihac. The Croatians have said that it's astrategic interest of theirs to prevent the fall of Bihac. They have actedrecently to prevent the fall of Bihac.
Q: Did the United States send, as one published report suggested today, agreen light to Croatia; or as another report suggested, an amber light? Whatcolor was that light?
A: I'm not going to talk about lights. I'm talking about what our policy is.Our policy is to prevent the Serb attacks against Bihac, to present a Serbtakeover of Bihac, to get the Serbs and other forces to stand back, allow thesafe areas to be safe areas, and to give negotiators a time to resolve this.
Q: But the policy and the repeated warnings have also been if Croatianaircraft flew over Bosnia and launched [an] attack, that allied air power willthen hit those fields in Croatia. Have you decided not to do that, and to tryto let the Croatian government -- the Croatian Serbs -- try to work this thingout in order to keep things from heating up and spreading?
A: We have always urged a diplomatic solution to this. And in answer to yourfirst question, DENY FLIGHT remains in force. It is not always easy to stopplanes making these short hops from one place to another, but yesterday therewas a case where a plane was spotted, intercepted by NATO aircraft, and itturned back over Bihac.
Q: What kind of plane?
A: I don't know what kind of plane it was.
Q: I mean which nationality was it?
A: You can get the details from that on DDI. We believe it was a Croatianplane, but you should check on the details for that.
Q: You mean Croatian Serb?
A: Yes, a Croatian Serb plane. But get the complete details.
Q: Is the United States asking the allies to in any way beef up the Air Force?There's been a lot of talk about what's being done to augment the force. Itseems like a relatively little is being done. Just a couple of electroniccountermeasure planes. Is there anything going on by way of encouraging theother NATO allies to increase -- expand -- that air power to further back upthese ultimatums, if you will?
A: First of all, we have a substantial air force there already. The Secretaryhas said that that air force should be able to do the job. I'm not aware ofany specific plans by the allies to add more planes, but I'm sure that they,just as we, would be willing to do that if the planes are necessary.
There is one other thing I'd like to point out that doesn't deal directly withany potential air campaign designed to deter attacks against the safe areas.It has to do with the support of the Rapid Reaction Force which the British,the Dutch and the French have put together, and that is that the Germans haveassigned 14 Tournadoes to support that force. That is a major show of supporton the part of Germany. The Germans are also, I believe, building a hospitalor sending a hospital unit into the Split area, in support of the allied RapidReaction Force. So there is allied support for the efforts to strengthen theUN Forces in the area and make them do their job -- help them to do their jobsmore effectively.
Q: From the Christian Science Monitor yesterday, August 2nd, theirassessment, "A massive Croatian attack is dangerously close, according to UNofficials." I believe they also reported the deployment of 100,000 Croatiantroops and equipment, and 50,000 on the Bosnia side. Does this governmentagree in the UN assessment that war in the Krajina is dangerously close? Whatmore about the involvement of the Yugoslav...
A: First, that Christian Science Monitor article, if it's the oneyou're referring to, erroneously reported that the United States isparticipating in efforts to arm the Croatian forces. That's not true. We arehonoring the arms embargo in the former Yugoslavia, and we are not, as reportedin that article, violating that embargo.
Secondly, to answer your question, we believe that any intensification offighting in Croatia -- any fighting in Croatia, specifically a Croatian attackagainst the Krajina Serbs -- would be dangerous. We believe it would expandthe war. We believe it should not happen.
There are currently diplomatic efforts going on to prevent that. AmbassadorGalbraith, our man in Zagreb -- is -- maybe even as we talk -- meeting withTudjman of Croatia, to try to broker some sort of an agreement to prevent anattack. Any sort of military action in Croatia. He has been in contact withthe Krajina Serbs as well, and there are also talks going on now in Geneva totry to find a peaceful solution to this.
We have told the Croatians in plain terms that they should not launch a waragainst the Krajina Serbs, and that any such attack would be very dangerous.
Q: Have we had a reply from the Croatians?
A: They're involved in negotiations with Ambassador Galbraith, and they'realso involved in the negotiations in Geneva. I think they know what ourposition is.
Q: Do we believe there is an imminent danger of an outbreak of hostilities inCroatia?
A: We are trying to reduce whatever danger there is through negotiations.
Q: What can you tell us about what the Air Force officers accused of spying byChina were actually doing in China? Can you describe their activities? Andcan you tell us whether or not they were working for the Pentagon or for theState Department?
A: They were part of the Defense Liaison Office in Hong Kong which carriesout... Is a group of people who monitor -- overtly observe -- the activitiesof other militaries and report on what they're doing. This is what militaryattaches all around the world do. The Chinese have military attaches in theUnited States that have the freedom to travel around the country and to observewhat our military is doing on 48-hours notice. We have attaches all around theworld, and countries from all over the world have attaches here.
These attaches were carrying out their normal business and traveling inChina.
Q: Can you tell us specifically what they were doing when they were stoppedand accused of spying by the Chinese?
A: They were basically on an authorized trip to observe the Chinesemilitary.
Q: Were they in uniform, and did they require any sort of documents orauthorization...
A: They were traveling on a normal diplomatic visa with diplomatic passports.They had a visa to go into China. They were traveling...
Q: The area, they were apparently close to some base where there wereexercises going on. Were...
A: They were not in a restricted area. They were on a road, along with manycivilians.
Q: Did the Chinese know they were going to be there, or had they beeninformed?
A: I guess you should check with the Chinese on that, but they did have anauthorized visa, and it had been cleared. They both had multiple entry visasto allow them into China.
Q: What were they wearing at the time, and what type of vehicle were theyon?
A: They were on a two-wheeled vehicle. Each one on a separate two-wheeledvehicle. I don't know what they were wearing at the time.
Q: A bicycle or a motorcycle?
Q: When U.S. military officers travel in China on official business, are theyrequired to be escorted by any Chinese civilian or military officials? Andwere these men escorted?
A: I don't know the answer to that question. I don't know whether they wererequired to be escorted.
Q: Will you take both of those questions?
A: I will take the questions. I'm not sure we want to get into a great dealof detail about what they were doing, but we'll take the questions.
Q: Can you take the question also, what were they wearing at the time of theirdetention?
A: You mean what... What do you want to know?
Q: Were they in clothes, were they wearing straw hats...
Q: Did they have uniforms on?
Q: Uniforms or civilian clothes.
A: They were dressed in civilian clothes.
Q: What do you mean by civilian clothes?
A: They were dressed in civilian clothes.
Q: Casual clothes, or coat and tie?
A: We will consider that question. I'm not sure we want to get into a greatdeal of detail about what they were wearing.
Q: Secretary Christopher said repeatedly this would have no effect on theforward movement, as he put it, of U.S./Chinese relations. The United Satesseems to have gone out of its way not to deny that these people were involvedin espionage activities. Do you deny it?
A: Charlie, military attaches are a very normal part of life. As I tried toexplain to you, in every country there are military attaches who observemilitary operations and file reports back. This happens all the time. That'swhat these gentlemen were doing. It is a very much accepted part of militaryrepresentation and of general diplomacy.
Q: So what you're saying is these guys were spying legally.
A: Charlie, I did not say that. I said that they were out there observing.That's a standard provision of military diplomacy. It happens all the time.
Q: What determines what would be standard observation, part of militarydiplomacy? When does that enter into the realm of being espionage? Is itsomething that the host country decides? When does it cross the line? Whatwould be routine information gathering into what would be considered spying?
A: That is a question that probably a lawyer should answer and I'm not alawyer.
Q: Have we heard from these two gentlemen? I understand that they havedeparted China. Are they back and being debriefed? Do we know the facts fromtheir point of view, and were they, in fact, engaged in legal observation?
A: We know some of the facts. They are in good shape, they were well treatedin China. They are back with their families in Hong Kong now.
Q: What's the current status of U.S./Chinese military-to-military relations?Is there any hold at this time on U.S. military officers traveling into Chinaeither by the Pentagon or on the part of the Chinese?
A: I'm not aware that there is.
Q: So regular travel of U.S. military officers to China is continuing?
A: We have, in Beijing, an Office of Defense Attaches. There are 16 people inthe U.S. defense attache office in Beijing. China has ten military attaches inWashington.
Q: Does the Pentagon have any anticipation of recommending expulsion of anyChinese military attaches from the U.S.?
A: Not that I'm aware of.
Q: Can we get photographs or official pictures of those two guys, and get someinformation like their home towns?
A: I can give you their home towns. I don't think we'll hand out theirphotographs now. Colonel Chan is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a graduate ofthe University of Indiana. I know that will be important to you. And CaptainFlorenzie is from Jersey City, New Jersey; a graduate of Lehigh University.
Q: How long have they been in China? They live in Hong Kong?
A: They live in Hong Kong.
Q: But they were in China just temporarily?
Q: They weren't attached to Beijing for a period...
A: They traveled regularly to China. That's a normal part of their job -- isto make trips into southern China.
Q: What was the military imperative to be on such a trip during Christopher'stimeframe of his meeting with his Chinese counterpart?
A: They travel on a regular schedule, and their travel schedule is clearedboth by the consulate in Hong Kong and by the embassy in Beijing. They travelaccording to their ability to get out of Hong Kong, and make their observationsin China.
It's perfectly normal. I don't know what causes their schedule.
Q: Do you know if their film or tape was confiscated or how much they hadshot? They said they had shot.
A: That's the type of detail... They did not have cameras on display whenthey were picked up, and they were not taking pictures at that time.
Q: How did they have their cameras concealed then?
A: They were carrying backpacks, like most bicyclists do.
Q: It was reported on the wires yesterday that these two officers wereobserving at a base that was, let's say, militarily relevant to Taiwan, to theincreased tensions over Taiwan. Is that correct? And second, it was alsoreported that these two officers were apprehended, if you may say that, byuniformed Chinese military. Is that also accurate?
A: I don't want to get into the details here. I suppose in one respect theChinese consider many of their military bases relevant to Taiwan.
Q: They had cameras in their backpacks? You said they didn't have cameradisplay, and they didn't... But they did have cameras in their backpacks.
Q: Video and still cameras?
Q: Again, I don't think you made clear, were the cameras confiscated?
A: I don't know the answer to that question.
Q: They had still cameras or video cameras?
Q: Hurricane Erin, has it produced any damage to military facilities orcreated any problems down there? Or have you had to change operations? Areyou doing anything to aid the effort there?
A: First of all, it's not a hurricane any more. It's a tropical storm. Idon't believe there has been damage to military installations in the area, butwe'll get you a definitive answer to that question.