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DoD News Briefing, Thursday, July 30, 1998

Presenters: Capt. Mike Doubleday, DASD (PA)
July 30, 1998 1:35 PM EDT

Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon. First let me welcome a group of students from Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois. Welcome to the brief. We've got a couple of announcements before I start taking questions.

This first one is a marriage of competition and scientific technology that is going to take place in early August. It is the first International Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Competition, which is going to be held at the Naval Coastal Systems Station in Panama City, Florida. That's from the 1st through the 3rd of August.

Teams competing in this competition are required to build, or to design and build, a completely autonomous underwater system that will traverse a body of water, navigate a series of gates, return to a designated recovery zone, and determine the maximum depth of the recovery zone. The vehicles must perform all the tasks autonomously with no control, guidance, no communications from a person or from any -- excuse me -- or from any off-board computer.

Competing in this first annual event are teams from the University of Florida, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from Stevens Institute of Technology, and Johns Hopkins University. And the word on the street is that there will be scouts from several other universities checking out the competition for next year's event. The event is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

And we have a piece of paper for you on that that can provide more detail and I'm sure many of you will want to be down there to cover the event.

Q: What do you they get if they win?

A: That's a good question, and I don't have the answer. But I'm sure it's a significant prize. This is from August 1st through the 3rd. Although there is a light-hearted spirit to all of this, in fact, the military frequently looks to young scientists, particularly those at civilian institutions, to develop some interesting technology that could possibly be utilized in some of the work that we do. So this does have a potential impact on some future systems. Actually, this is going to be open coverage.

The other event, which is tomorrow, is concerning a pioneering medical advance concerning the restoration of noise-induced hearing loss. This is going to be a press conference tomorrow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies at 1600 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia.

This research was conducted by the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, and it's sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. The event occurs tomorrow, Friday, at 8:30 a.m., at this Potomac Institute. The technique, which Navy researchers describe as unique, uses micro-devices implanted in the ear to deliver anti-oxidant pharmaceuticals that rescue the hypersensitive hair cells that are fundamental to sound detection. And they will outline for you tomorrow all the details on that one.

And with that I will try and answer some of your questions.

Q: Do you have a response of Linda Tripp's statement that she's been demoted and cast aside by the Pentagon?

A: I have just a few things that I can pass along to you on that subject. First of all, she has not been demoted. Linda Tripp continues as an employee of the department. At her request, we made special arrangements for her to work at home, and those arrangements will be reviewed at some appropriate time.

Q: Can you say how many hours a week she puts in at her job? And does the pay scale reflect...

A: No, what I've just gone through for you right now is the extent of what I can give you today. Yes.

Q: Can you go a little deeper into some appropriate time? My recollection is that this arrangement allowed her to prepare for her testimony, which is over. So is there going to be a review very shortly to find some other arrangement?

A: I can't forecast for you any kind of a time table. As soon as I have any information, I'll be glad to pass it along.

Q: During all this time has she produced some work product?

A: I think I've indicated what I've given you here is the extent of what I can provide for you.

Q: Is Ken Bacon the one who has to make the decisions on her future or is it someone else?

A: I can't answer that question for you. But when I can I'll certainly do so.

Q: Is the reason you can't answer is because you don't know or it's classified or...

A: It certainly is not classified, but I don't happen to have that information.

Q: Well, Mr. Bacon has said that she was preparing a study of the work that she had done, which was this annual conference. Can you say if that study has been prepared?

A: I can't give you any information on that either.

Q: Has a conference come off or happened since she stopped sitting in the office?

A: Yes, there's been a very successful JCOC that took place over the summer. And from all reports, it was well received by all the participants.

Q: Could you define JCOC?

A: It is an opportunity for individuals from any segments of society to get exposure to the military. Most of the participants have never been exposed to the military. And in a very concentrated period of time, usually about seven days, they start here in Washington, they then go to a series of military installations, receive briefings, see military hardware and have an opportunity to talk to commanders, to officers, to enlisted personnel. And as I say, in a very short period of time, they get exposure to what the U.S. military is all about.

Q: Who's running that program now?

A: Well, there are a number of people who are involved in it, but they're all employed down in our programs shop.

Q: Is there an acting -- she was the director of that, correct?

A: She had been the director of that, that's correct. And this year, it was handled by a combination of several people.

Q: Well, is she still the director?

A: We've already addressed that one, Jim. And what I've told you is as much as I can today.

Q: On Kosovo?

A: Sure.

Q: Shahab 3 -- any idea when they're going to test again?

A: You know, I can't provide you any insight on that one. Anything else?

Q: Are you monitoring the situation in Kosovo with this large number of displaced people? Where are they?

A: Well, we're certainly aware of the situation in Kosovo. I can't give you any firm numbers on the total of displaced persons. I've heard figures all the way from 100,000 to 200,000 people. But it's certainly a situation that concerns us very much and, to the extent that we can, we watch very closely what goes on it Kosovo.

Q: Any update on the progress, or lack of progress, in NATO plans for coping with Kosovo?

A: Well, the planning by NATO continues, I think that you're aware that the situation on the ground in Kosovo changes almost on a day-to-day basis and, as a result, the planning that NATO has undertaken has to be modified to accommodate that. I think everybody is hopeful that the situation there can be resolved diplomatically, but certainly the possibility of military involvement by NATO is there.

Q: Mike, apparently, Human Rights Watch wrote to the Secretary yesterday raising questions about laser weapons that could blind people. And I know there's a commitment by the United States not to develop these. Their concern is that the military is, however, developing laser weapons which could damage eyes. This might undermine and erode the whole international commitment to not produce these weapons (inaudible) --

A: Well, first of all, I have not seen the letter that you're referring to. I'll be glad to take a look into it. But as you point out, we do not have weapons that are designed to blind people.

Q: Their concern is that the weapons that are being developed -- although not designed to blind -- are still designed in such a way they could damage the eye sight.

A: Let me see what we can find out about that one. I don't have -- first of all, I have not seen the letter and I think we ought to take a look at it before I comment.

Q: Does the troop rotation in Iraq still appear to be a routine movement of forces?

A: It does and it is, as I indicated on Tuesday, a rotation of garrison, that sort of thing. And as I indicated then, we've seen this sort of thing before.

Q: There had been reports that ships, including the (inaudible) moving off Korea. And I was wondering if there was anything to that or if those ships were normally in the exercise area of, you know, the Pacific rim exercise?

A: I don't know of any specific activities that you might be referring to. We certainly have ships operating in the eastern Pacific all the time. But I'm not aware of any particular operations that are going on there.

Q: Well, their military has complained that U.S. ships were moving in to assist South Korea, protecting their coast line from mini-subs. There have been a couple of incidents lately. Can you add anything to it?

A: Well, I can't add anything. But I don't think that it's any surprise that the United States has a commitment to the Republic of Korea. We've had it for many decades. And we certainly participate in assisting the Republic of Korea in their defenses from any possible intrusion from the North Koreans. But the actual details of those deployments I think were announced some time ago and I am not aware of any change to those.

Thank you.