Tuesday, August 29, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
I have no announcements today so let me try and answer your questions.
Q: Could you fill us in on the situation around Sarajevo. What the weather's like? What's the plan?
A: First of all, let me kind of restate what our position is on the situation.
I think you know that the United States strongly condemns yesterday's brutal mortar attack on Sarajevo, which killed at least 35 innocent civilians.
At this point, the United Nations has determined that there is no doubt that the attack was carried out by the Bosnian Serb Forces.
At the present time, NATO and UN Forces are in contact on an appropriate response to the Serb attack, but it would be inappropriate for me to comment or to speculate other than to say that the issue is the subject of active discussion between UN and NATO commanders.
The last point I'd like to make is that this is the latest example of outrageous behavior on the part of the Bosnian Serbs, and we are not going to allow this action to derail our efforts to find a political solution to the Bosnian conflict.
Charlie, in response to your specific question which has to do with weather. My understanding is that the weather there is cloudy -- at least scattered to broken clouds -- and that the visibility is probably about ten kilometers.
Q: Two questions. Number one, as a military man, would you concede that the 155mm artillery which is owned by the French on Mt. Igman, could be more effective--or would be more effective--than bombing raids? Is that being contemplated? The use of...
A: Charlie, as I said, I just don't want to speculate on what is being contemplated by the commanders, other than to indicate that both NATO and the UN commanders are talking at this point. I think we just need to let those discussions continue--and to wait and see what they produce.
Q: The senior UN commander--NATO commander--is in the building--is here today--General Joulwan?
A: No. If you'll recall, the arrangement--that was taken as a result of the London Conference--was to put those decisions down at a lower level. So although it is true that General Joulwan is in the city and in the building I don't know if he's in the building at this instant, but he certainly has been today. But the decisions that I'm talking about and the conversations that I'm talking about involve people who are actually over in theater.
Q: Can you tell us what he's doing here?
A: My understanding is that his visit was previously scheduled. He is, of course, very much keeping up to speed on what is going on there, and keeping in touch with his commanders -- both on the NATO side and on the UN side. But beyond that, I don't have any details as to exactly what his plans are.
Q: Describe what political barriers may still be in the way of actually doing something. Have all the keys been turned? Is it now a decision for the commander on the ground to make, or do other governments need to weigh in? Can you talk to us about the way the process works?
A: John, I really can't. I think the process is well known; and that is that, as a result of the decisions that were taken at the London Conference, decisions are made between the UN commander on the ground and the NATO commander. And beyond that I just don't have anything that I can help you with on that one.
Q: Do you have any doubt that the various governments and the various multinational organizations involved have basically given a green light for something to happen at this point?
A: Again, I don't want to speculate on exactly what any government has signaled on this--other than what the United States Government has signaled. That is, that we are not going to let this action deter us from our efforts to find a political solution to the Bosnian conflict, and that these discussions between NATO and UN commanders are going on now.
Q: In anticipation of the possibility that there could be some military retaliation involving U.S. Forces, what kind of movements or increases in U.S. Forces are there in the region?
A: I think you're aware that the aircraft carrier ROOSEVELT, which had been in the eastern Mediterranean, has moved back up into the Adriatic and into a position it occupied earlier in the summer.
Q: As far as any other changes...
A: You mean changes in forces? Those are the only changes that I'm aware of at this point.
Q: The British and the French said earlier--regarding the Rapid Reaction Force around Sarajevo--that that force was only intended to respond to number one, attacks on UN peacekeepers, and number two, the halting of convoys going into Sarajevo. Has the United States received an indication that that attitude has changed and that, in fact, the Rapid Reaction Force is now ready and willing to respond to attacks on civilians such as yesterday?
A: Charlie, I don't want to provide any kind of a signal about what is going on in the discussions, so I really can't provide you with any kind of an indication of what the Rapid Reaction Force has signaled to us.
Q: Can you talk to us about the withdrawal of British and/or other forces from Gorazde? Do you know about any other consolidations of peacekeeping forces on the ground?
A: I am not aware of any other consolidations. I do know that a number of British peacekeepers--UNPROFOR personnel who had been in Gorazde--have departed, but there remain some unarmed observers who are still in that city.
Q: Do you know the nationalities?
A: I don't know the nationalities or the numbers.
Q: The decision you described earlier about what sort of response to make in Sarajevo. Are you saying it's a decision between Admiral Smith and General Smith? Or General Janvier or...
A: General Janvier is back from his absence, and my understanding is that he is involved in these discussions.
Q: With Admiral Smith?
A: With Admiral Smith.
Q: Are they together?
A: To my knowledge they are not together.
Q: What is the U.S. position on responding? I know that you don't want this incident to derail the peace talks, but is it felt a necessity by the U.S. Government that there be some sort of military response?
A: I think I want to leave it right where I have, John.
Q: Is Secretary Perry involved in any of these discussions going on, or the President himself? Both men are on vacation.
A: Mark, as you know, Secretary Perry is on vacation, but he is in contact with the Deputy, Dr. White, on a regular basis. He is certainly a part of the consultations on the situation that has presented itself in Sarajevo, as well as the peace initiative which is also going on.
Q: Is that true for General Shali as well?
A: I can't answer your question about General Shalikashvili at this point. We'll try and get you an answer on that one.
Q: Is there any chance to get General Joulwan before us?
A: I believe that General Joulwan's schedule is very full at this point, and I think it is unlikely that we will see him down here at this point.
Q: Do you have any idea when he's going back?
A: I don't have a timetable on him except that I think he either is going to be departing tonight or tomorrow some time.
Q: Would you please...
A: I will certainly pass along your interest in talking to him.
Q: How has the scenario for a complete UN withdrawal changed, given the changed picture of the configuration of UN Forces there? Are we looking at reduced numbers of UN Forces involved? U.S. Forces involved in pulling them out?
A: I think it is a mistake to, at this point, forecast anything with regard to numbers. The reason I say that is because there are so many variables that come into play.
I think that most military people would tell you that if they were ever presented with a task such as a withdrawal of a large number of people from an area which could either be very hostile or could be fairly peaceful, that all of those things have to be put into the equation. The bottom line to this is that I think at this point it would be impossible to predict how many people might be involved, other than to say it's a very complex problem that people will be looking at up until -- if any kind of withdrawal is required, up until--a withdrawal actually occurs. My guess is that a commander would want to have as many people as he determined would be necessary to do the job safely, not only for the troops who were going to be withdrawn, but also for the troops who were going to be involved in the withdrawal itself.
Q: The numbers of troops that were going to be involved before...
A: Was around--on the U.S. side--about 25,000.
Q: ...60,000 or so NATO troops. A six-month project. Are we still looking at something on that scale?
A: At least six months if it came to that, yes.
Q: Are we still looking at something on that scale?
A: I am aware of no change to that. Again, I want to stress that the situation on the ground at the time that a commander would be presented with such a problem would determine to a very great extent the number of people who would be required.
The other thing that you have to keep in mind is that although that number has been used--25,000, 60,000--there would be some flexibility in where the troops might actually be deployed, so that they might not all actually be on the ground in a particular location, but they might be spread enough around the area so that not all of them would be, as I say, concentrated in one country.
Q: Has the United States position, as articulated by Holbrooke on "Meet the Press" on Sunday--promising robust airstrikes if things don't progress with regard to the negotiations... Does the United States position remain the same, or are we pulling back from that position?
A: What we have said all along is that we have this window of opportunity that is not going to be open for long. And the process cannot be dragged out indefinitely. Failure to reach an agreement could have potentially grave consequences, including some kind of military action.
Q: Can you describe what you mean there?
A: I think everybody is well aware of the potential, if the situation deteriorates, what we might be called upon to do.
Q: Otherwise, if either side would reject the plan that means you are going to respond militarily?
A: No, that is not what I said. What I said was that the window of opportunity is only going to be open so long, that we cannot permit this process to go on indefinitely, and that the situation on the ground there could deteriorate to the point that we would have to do something, including military action.
Now the two kinds of military action that we've talked about... One military action involves the introduction of U.S. troops to withdraw peacekeepers. Peacekeepers have made it very clear that they are unwilling to stay there indefinitely if there is not some resolution to all the problems that are going on.
The other occasion would be--if there is some kind of a peace--we are committed to providing some number of U.S. Forces to help carry out that peace, once it is actually established.
Q: But there's a third eventuality now. That is, if there is no peace, the U.S., in its negotiations, is saying we could be involved militarily, at least from the air, in an intensive air campaign. So there is now a third major possibility that's been introduced in these discussions.
A: You're correct.
Q: And we haven't pulled back...
A: We could be, but I want to stress, we could be.
Q: That's what you referred to when you said, "I think everyone is aware of what we might be called on to do?" That was one of the alternatives?
A: Yes. Right.
Q: Are there any unusual military moves by the Iraqi side--the borders of Iraq toward Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or Jordan? The second question is about Iranian maneuvers. Can you give us anything on the scope of the Iranian military maneuvers or the purpose of it right now?
A: First, to deal with the second part of your question, I can't. On those maneuvers.
On the first part of your question--which has to do with Iraq--I don't believe you were here the last time we talked about this, so let me go through very briefly.
First of all, there have been no major movements which we have... Have been reported toward either Jordan or toward Kuwait.
The second thing is that the movements by both the Republican Guards and the regular army troops has been taking place in garrison. There has been some minor activity noted in the vicinity of the Kurds -- that's up north.
And there is continued training near garrisons, at SAM sites, and at air bases. All of these were the kinds of things that we were seeing in the last couple of weeks. There has been no dramatic change in any of that. As a result of those military movements that we saw, we were concerned but not alarmed, and we took certain steps to move some military units into the area. Those units, for the most part, remained there. The only one that has changed is the aircraft carrier which has left the eastern Mediterranean.
Q: The maneuvers near the Kurdish or the south near the Shatt, is this in preparation of any...
A: No, I think what we have seen over the last several years is those kinds of activities that have gone on. I don't believe this is anything that is particularly unusual.
Q: How many American Forces have now been pumped into the Gulf area above and beyond what was already there?
A: We have--in connection with VIGILANT SENTINEL--we have approximately 1,500 Army personnel who are involved in Exercise INTRINSIC ACTION from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. We have about 300 Marines and sailors who are part of that off-load preparation party. They're from Camp Pendleton and from San Diego and also from Williamsburg. We've got about 110 Air Force personnel from the 74th Air Control Squadron which is going to be deploying a ground-based early warning command and control system to Kuwait from Langley Air Force Base. My understanding is that over ten transport aircraft will be transferring these personnel and equipment.
Q: Just to return for a moment to Bosnia. Do you know what the American troop count and/or the aircraft count at Aviano... Do you have any of those statistics in your...
A: Yes, indeed I do. I don't have the number of personnel, but I can go down and give you a list of the types of aircraft that we have and the numbers. There are eight U.S. Air Force F-15Es at Aviano. There are 12 Marine Corps F/A-18Ds at Aviano. There are 12 Air Force F-16Cs at Aviano. Eight Air Force F-16C/D's which are also at Aviano. Eight Air Force A-10 ground attack aircraft, also at Aviano. We've got six A-6Es which are... Excuse me, it's a combination because they can either be A-6s or F/A-18s on the aircraft carrier the THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
By the way, as a footnote to that number, keep in mind that not all of the aircraft on board the aircraft carrier are committed to the NATO operation. Some percentage are. And the number I just gave you was a percentage of the aircraft that are committed to NATO when the aircraft carrier is operating in the Adriatic. The number I gave you was six Navy A-6Es or F/A-18Cs, which would be provided by the aircraft carrier when it's in the Adriatic.
There are three EC-130s at Aviano. Those are airborne battlefield command and control center aircraft. There are three EC-130 electronic warfare aircraft. There are four AC-130 gunships at Brendisi. And ten Air Force KC-135 tankers which are located at various bases. And they [the locations] are Pisa, and I think it's Estre--Istres--France.
Six Air Force EF-111 electronic warfare aircraft located at Aviano, and six EA-6Bs which are ground-based there at Aviano.
That's the total list of the U.S. Now that is not the full NATO list. If you'd like a look at that, I think Chuck Franklin can provide you with details of the others.
Q: Has it been boosted in recent days?
A: The most recent boost, as I recall, came with the electronic warfare aircraft that were added. Those are the 130s, the EA-6Bs which were added at Aviano when the aircraft carrier was called out of the Med, and the six EF-111s.
Q: How many KC-135s did you say?
Q: It's approximately a month until the end of the fiscal year. What kind of guidance is the Pentagon giving to the military around the world for the so-called budget train wreck yet to shut down. What kind of guidance are you giving out?
A: Let me go through this, because this is an important one, and I have a few notes here that I want to work from.
First of all, I think many of you know that on August 22nd, the Office of Management and Budget issued guidance to the Executive Departments asking for them to draw up some contingency plans in the event that Congress does not provide funds for continuing the operations in fiscal year 1996. As a result of that, the following day, on the 23rd of August, Secretary Perry issued a memorandum to the military departments, to the Chairman, to the Under Secretaries of Defense and the defense agencies, calling on them to develop a plan to implement the requirement.
The plan has three elements. First, the goal is to put together a plan that will carry out an orderly termination of government activities. Secondly, to exempt the activities which are required for protection of rights and property from imminent danger. There is another category of exemptions: accommodation of national security responsibilities of the President as Commander-in-Chief under the Constitution.
What we have said, and the overall planning guidance that is being put out to everyone, is that the plan must fully protect the national security and must be sufficiently flexible to meet any security challenges facing the Department. The plan will actually be put together over the next couple of weeks, and not finally approved until some time in mid to late September.
Q: You're telling us that people on aircraft carriers in the Med, for example, will not be able to go off the job when the government runs out of money. Is that what...
A: At this point, John, I don't want to get into the details because I don't want to say anything that would be difficult to support later on. But I will go back to what I said before, and that is that any kind of security challenges that we face: we're going to cover.
Q: Is there a difference between active duty military and civilians...
A: Again, I...
Q: They've been treated differently in the past.
A: I don't want to get into details on this at this point. As soon as we can, we will communicate to you--and certainly to the employees of the Department as well as the uniformed personnel--the various parameters of this thing. But those are still being worked out, and I think we need to wait until they have been before I predict what's going to happen.
Press: Thank you.