DoD News Briefing: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD (PA)
Tuesday, October 10, 1995 - 1:45 p.m.
Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.
First I'd like to welcome back Joe Walsh, Mutual Radio. Nine months of covering the OJ trial. I hope we'll present comparable drama and excitement here at the Pentagon.
Just a couple of announcements to start with.
Deputy Secretary of Defense John White will give the keynote address at the Electronic Industries Association. It's a ten-year forecast conference on defense, NASA, and related electronic opportunities, tomorrow, at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. That's at 12:45. It's open to coverage.
On Sunday, Secretary Perry will go to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to address alumni and veterans of World War II. That's at 9 a.m. and that's also open to press coverage.
I'd like to bring you up to date on one aspect of yesterday's [Sunday's] meeting between Secretary Perry and Minister of Defense of Russia Grachev. It was agreed at that meeting that the Russians will send their troops to Fort Riley, Kansas, for the PEACEKEEPER '95 exercise on October 23rd. This exercise will last about two weeks. It's a peacekeeping exercise in which about 250 Russian troops and 250 American troops will practice such things as checkpoint operations, conducting dismounted patrols, reacting to civil disturbances, escorting convoys, land mine awareness, and conducting air movement operations.
The Secretary has invited Minister Grachev to come and witness the joint peacekeeping operation and Minister Grachev has suggested that he'll be here on the 26th or the 27th. This isn't nailed down yet, but it looks like, if he comes, he would meet in Washington with the Secretary on the 26th, and then they'd go out to Kansas together on the 27th. We are trying to arrange some coverage of that, so stay tuned. We're trying to arrange transportation out there.
This is a continuation of a joint peacekeeping exercise that took place in Russia last year, TUTSKOYE '94, where they concentrated on small unit tactics, interoperability, communications, etc., and elements of the 3rd Armored Division from Hohenfels, Germany, participated in that.
With that, I'm prepared to answer any questions.
Q: NATO is expected to approve a peacekeeping plan tomorrow for Bosnia within certain limits. Could you tell us if you have any more details on what the peacekeeping plan might entail? How many U.S. troops it might involve?
A: First of all, the North Atlantic Council tomorrow will consider and should approve what's called the concept of operations for the peacekeeping force. Without getting into too much detail, what they're being asked to approve is a five- part plan that basically lays out the phases of the operation starting with preparation. The second phase would be movement into the area. The third phase would be the conduct of the operations. The fourth phase would be the transition to peace. That is the transition from a military operation to one where we incorporate the infrastructure, rehabilitation, economic rebuilding the civil steps that are required. Then the fifth phase of the plan would be the exit, the withdrawal. That's basically what they're looking at.
Of course there are individual steps laid out for each phase. Once that's approved by the NAC -- North Atlantic Council -- tomorrow, then General Joulwan and his team will begin very detailed planning to get down to numbers, time lines, etc. The basic goal here is to have forces ready to move in to Bosnia within several days after the signing of a peace agreement, and to move in significant headquarters operations in major areas such as Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar, etc.
So after the concept of operations is approved, the detailed planning will begin.
Now, we've said up here many times that we can't give you precise numbers until, one, we know what the map looks like; and two, the detailed plan is finished. But the reports that you've all read of up to 25,000 U.S. troops staying there for a year, costing $1 to $2 billion, are basically good ball park estimates at this stage. The Secretary has spoken many times of a division of U.S. troops or a reinforced division, which could be about 20,000 people. But the precise numbers are not available and they won't be probably for several weeks.
If the North Atlantic Council and the military committee adhere to their current plans, they will have the detailed proposal done by about the end of this month, maybe a little before the end of the month. So that's in sync with the pace of the proximity talks which are now scheduled to begin some place in the United States on October 31st. Your guess is as good as mine as to how long these proximity talks will take, but I think no one expects them to be over immediately, so it will probably take some time to negotiate the details of a peace agreement. No forces -- no U.S. forces or NATO forces -- would move into Bosnia as part of the implementation force until after a peace agreement's been reached.
Q: Ken, how does the prospect for Russian participation fit into the time- line for NATO's actual approval of the plan? Is that independent of the details of the plan or does it have to be accomplished in the same timeline?
A: The first thing to recognize is that NATO troops will move in within days of the signing of a peace agreement or the implementation of a peace agreement. You could sign a peace agreement that would then take effect at a certain time, but within days of the effective moments of the peace agreement, troops will move in.
We think it would be important and helpful to have Russian troops involved in the implementation force. There are still significant questions to be answered about command and control, the size of the Russian force, political control, and who pays for the Russian troops. Those questions have to be resolved, and until they're resolved, we can't say if Russian forces will be involved. We hope these will be resolved quickly and properly so that we can count on some Russian participation in the force.
Q: The concept phrase of approval by the NAC...
A: It's one of the issues that has to be worked out. There are a number of unresolved issues that will have to be worked out over the next couple of weeks. One of those unresolved issues has to do with whether Russian Forces participate and under what rules. But you should be clear on one thing, that the U.S. and the NATO Defense Ministers coming out of the Williamsburg meeting are very clear that the force will -- the implementation force will be -- will have a unitary command and control, and there will be no dual key here. There will be a military command and control chain going right down to the bottom. The question is, how to fit in other non-NATO forces. That will be worked over the next couple of weeks.
Q: Will there be any change in the Russian objection in principle to serving under NATO? Is there any clarification on the "functions" the Russians might perform?
A: There's no clarification on the functions they might perform. The Russians seem very willing to participate in an implementation force. We think their participation would be helpful, because we want to establish a workable security dialogue with Russia. NATO and Russia want to have a workable security relationship and this would be a very important first step.
Of course it's related to the PEACEKEEPER '95 exercise, in that we would actually be practicing with them as we did last year -- peacekeeping functions. But their precise functions or what types of troops they would send still have to be worked out.
They now have two battalions in the former Yugoslavia. They have a battalion of about 810 people assigned to Sector East, eastern Slavonia; and they have a battalion of 420-odd people assigned to Sarajevo on the Bosnian Serb side of the line. Jim Pardue told me that he recently spoke to General Rupert Smith in Sarajevo and General Smith reported that the Russian troops have done very well over there. They escort convoys, they monitor checkpoints, etc. So those troops are already there and the Russians have said they would like to leave those battalions there if they participate in an implementation force. They've also said they would like to contribute more troops, perhaps up to a division. But that has not been worked out at all, and one of the factors that has to be resolved is who pays for maintaining Russian troops there. Another has to be whether the optimal numbers of troops to fit into the allied operation. It may be considerably less than a division. We've suggested several battalions would be a more appropriate number of troops. But all of this will be worked out, if possible, over the next couple of weeks.
Q: Does that suggest there has been a change in the objection in principle or refusal to serve under NATO?
A: I think the Russians are looking for a way to be as cooperative as possible, and if you haven't read the transcript of the joint press conference that Minister Grachev and Secretary Perry gave on Sunday, I recommend that you get it from Doug Kennett's operation. It lays out pretty clearly what their thinking is on this right now.
They want a force that is operating under a UN mandate, and this force would operate under a UN mandate. They want a force that has a name that, as Minster Grachev said, would be the operation of the implementation force in Bosnia. They would like it to have a name, he suggested that name. Nomenclature is negotiable. What isn't negotiable here is chain of command. That still has to be worked out.
Q: Can you provide us with any more details on the concepts? You've given us the five breakdowns. Obviously General Joulwan had a lot more to say to the NATO Ministers. This is a peacekeeping operation, right?
A: It's a peace enforcement operation, right.
Q: Is it all classified?
A: What I've seen is, yes, at this stage is. We hope to give you a full briefing on this as soon as possible. I think it would be more appropriate to wait until after the North Atlantic Council actually approves the concept. It's, of course, subject to change until they do approve it.
I think you can imagine the types of things we're talking about here. It would involve a certain amount of pre-positioning. An important part of the concept involves taking parts of the withdrawal plan that was worked out several months ago -- the so-called 40104 -- and just moving them over into the peace implementation force plan, for instance. Some of the logistics elements, communication elements and other elements -- you could look at them as modules that don't have to be reinvented and reworked. They can just be moved, and they will be.
So the 40104 will be the foundation for the implementation plan.
The concept does not get into the types of details you want. How many forces? That will come out later. Where the forces will be deployed? That will come out later. What it does get into is the types of functions these forces would perform. Basically, they would monitor zones of separation. They would not get into nation-building functions such as economic rehabilitation. They probably would not get into tasks such as disarmament. That would be left more to civilian authorities, but they would mainly be policing zones of separation and they would be monitoring compliance with the terms of the peace agreement. That is, to keep people from trying to cheat, seize territory, etc.
Q: I guess I'm more puzzled as to why a peacekeeping operation would be classified. Why not talk about it in public in a fairly detailed way?
A: I think right now what we want to do is get the allies on board, get the NAC to approve it. It's like a labor negotiation in a way. The details will not be firm until they're actually discussed and approved. After that, I hope we'll be able to brief you on it. We're not trying to hide the details of a peacekeeping operation here, but the fact is, there are fewer details available than you probably think at this stage.
Q: Is this building working on the assumption that the question of congressional approval of this issue will be resolved in the mean time? Or are you working on the assumption that you can put the troops in regardless of what Congress has done, and then let the White House and Congress...
A: One of the issues at stake here is American leadership. We're confident that when Congress considers the scope of this operation -- the importance of the operation in maintaining NATO solidarity and effectiveness -- that it will endorse the commitment of U.S. troops to this operation. Mr. Panetta said over the weekend that the President as Commander-in-Chief had the right to send U.S. troops into an operation like this. Congress must fund this operation. We're confident that we can, through the consultations and discussions and explanations that have already begun, convince Congress that this is a right and important thing to do.
Q: But if you haven't gotten the funding yet, that's not going to keep you from sending the troops in?
A: We will meet our obligations as a leading member of NATO.
Q: There's a general impression that the Administration has not sold the need for American participation in this peace plan. The President has made one speech, we expect him to make others. Is Secretary Perry going to be part of this effort? Is there any plan for him to make speeches in attempting to convince the American public...
A: Secretary Perry has already spoken on the need for American leadership here. Secretary Christopher has spoken on it as well. I think you'll see both Secretary Christopher and Secretary Perry testifying on the Hill soon. There have been consultations going on over our involvement in Bosnia for months and months -- from the beginning of the prospects and well before the prospects of the peace agreement when we were talking about the withdrawal.
You noticed that last week Mike McCurry had a long list of consultations that have taken place by phone, in person, etc. So we're quite certain that the American people and the American Congress will see that it's important for America to show leadership in the implementation of a peace agreement, just as we've shown leadership in moving toward a peace agreement. We are where we are today, on the verge of a ceasefire which we hope will take place tonight, largely because of American leadership. I think that's very clear to our NATO allies, and it should be very clear to the people in the U.S. as well.
Q: Do you have to ask for a billion dollar supplemental to fund it? How will you fund it?
A: We will have to ask for money to fund it. How much we ask for depends on how much it costs, obviously, and the timing of the operation.
Q: You're the one that said about a billion dollars...
A: The Secretary has said up to $2 billion. If you just look at the cost of maintaining a division or an enhanced division overseas for a year, you come up somewhere in the range of $1 to $2 billion.
Q: Is there any option but a supplemental?
A: I think we would have to request a supplemental.
Q: Can I just go back and ask one other thing on something you said a minute ago. On the tasks that it would perform, would it assist in the withdrawal of UNPROFOR as that would take place? Or would that be a separate operation?
A: No. One of the very complex parts of this operation will be monitoring the flow of troops into and out of Bosnia. On the one hand, we have to flow in very quickly a substantial force of 40,000 to 60,000 -- maybe more people, depending on what's finally determined. This force has to get in quickly over pretty bad roads, so they'll come in by rail, they'll come in by road, they'll come in by air, they'll arrive on the scene by ship and then move to their headquarters and then fan out from there.
At the same time, we'll be withdrawing out some undetermined number of the UNPROFOR troops. Some of the UNPROFOR troops will just become incorporated into the implementation force. How many and who hasn't been worked out yet, but that's what will happen over the next couple of weeks after the concept of operations is accepted, and then as we begin working on the detailed plans.
So people flowing in through four or five entrance points into Bosnia. Other people coming out. And since the road system is not great and the rail system isn't great, this all has to be sequenced so the convoys don't meet on the road going in different directions.
Q: In other words, NATO would take some role then in coordinating that?
A: NATO will obviously have to be involved in coordinating it. I think the UN Forces are going to be able to move out on their own. They have their own trucks and APCs, buses, etc. They should be able to move out on their own.
We're assuming and hoping that there will be a tranquil environment in most places in Bosnia. After all, there will have been a peace agreement signed. One of the keys to making this peace agreement work is moving in with a fairly overwhelming, convincing force as soon as possible to basically tamp down any temptation of violence, territorial grabbing, etc. The second is to move in as quickly as possible with economic aid, food aid, rebuilding bridges and roads etc., so people quickly see the benefits of peace. As soon as we can give people a tangible reward for peace, I think the better our chances are of maintaining the peace.
Q: You said that the peace implementation force would not be engaged in nation-building. Then you just went on to talk about how you want to -- they want to -- be very quickly showing people the benefits...
A: But I didn't say the peace implementation force would do that. Other civil authorities will do that -- the UN, the EU, the WEU, whatever. There are various European and international operations that will handle the rebuilding of Bosnia. There will be economic benefits as well for Croatia, I believe, under this plan. The idea is to have the civil authorities work in, sort of, side by side with the implementation force. The implementation force will monitor and maintain zones of separation -- will prevent outbreaks of fighting while the civil authorities work on rebuilding. They're separate, and it should be very clear that they're separate.
Q: The normal part of the logistics and moving into an area like that is improving the roads and facilities. We may have to do some roadbuilding...
A: There may be some roadbuilding. It will depend on what the situation is, but the goal of this force is not to be involved in nation-building; it's to provide fairly well defined protection against military outbreaks while they're there, and they'll be there 9 to 12 months. It's during that time that we hope there will be a transition to civil order.
Q: Is Secretary Perry ready to recommend to the President and Congress that the United States pick up a substantial part of the cost of keeping the Russians there for a year or however long they're going to be there?
A: The way we anticipate the implementation force being financed is that every nation will finance its own participation.
Q: Secretary Perry said he favors a contracting out of the training and arming task if it is required of the Bosnian government. He mentioned that on Friday in Williamsburg. Can you qualify that or expand on that at all?
A: No. Except in one respect. What Secretary Perry said first is that he hopes that a new military balance and a lasting military balance in Bosnia can be achieved through disarmament, through what he called a build-down. That's our hope, and it's the hope of the NATO allies. If that's not possible, there may have to be some training to professionalize the Bosnian Government army, and it's that type of training that would be subcontracted out. It would not be done by the implementation force.
Q: How would that be subcontracted out to other governments or to security companies in other lands or...
A: I think there would be, for the U.S. part of it -- if there is a U.S. part, and we're willing to take part in this because we believe that a military balance is important to the long term stability in Bosnia -- a government agency would be sort of the overall contractor and then would contract out. Would be the manager of the operation and would contract out to companies to do parts of the training.
Q: If rearming the Bosnian Muslims is part of the establishment of a military balance, will the U.S. rearm them?
A: First of all, we hope that balance will be established through disarmament rather than rearmament. Secondly, if there is any rearming, it will be mainly small arms and defensive, not offensive arms, and it will take place under a general concept of trying to disarm Bosnia by controlling heavy weapons, etc. There will be clear limits on the types of weapons that other countries will sell or provide -- will ship into Bosnia. And it's not at all clear that the U.S. would do any of the arming.
Q: If, as you say, you don't expect the implementation force to be directly involved in disarmament, I think you said earlier. Who would be conducting the disarmament?
A: Presumably that would be provided for under the -- would be spelled out under the -- peace agreement and there would be some turn-in of weapons. But all of this remains to be negotiated, so it's pretty difficult to get into details until it is negotiated.
Q: Could I just clarify something? You're talking about disarmament.
You're talking mainly about smaller weapons, right?
A: We would hope. What I'm trying to tell you is that this has not been worked out. It has not been negotiated. We would hope that the general peace agreement would provide some disarmament provisions that could involve a number of possibilities. It could involve moving weapons away from certain confrontation zones -- from certain zones of separation -- to pull them into the middle of the country. It could involve turning in weapons. There are a number of ways this could be structured. It has not been negotiated yet, and this would be one of the things we would hope to do in the proximity talks.
Q: Right, and I apologize for pressing you on the point, but I want to make sure I'm absolutely clear. When you do talk about withdrawal of heavy weapons, perhaps, from the zone? You're not ruling out, or are you, that the implementation force might be involved in the monitoring of heavy weapons?
A: This has not been worked out and I don't want to commit them to doing it or not because I just don't know.
Q: You've also said that there might be limits on the kinds of weapons other countries could provide. Are you talking about some sort of monitoring of weapons going into Bosnia and a new NATO monitoring operation?
A: I don't know if it would be a NATO monitoring operation or not. Our clear hope here is to not create a new war zone. It's to create a new peace zone. The way to do that is by getting rid of weapons, not by putting new weapons in. We've already had a precedent for moving weapons away from confrontation areas. That's what happened in Sarajevo. The Serbs agreed to move nearly 300 heavy weapons out of the exclusion zone. It's this type of thing that could be a model for other movements of weapons away from flashpoint areas.
Q: You're just not clear yet who would monitor that activity?
A: Many things aren't clear, and they're being worked out. But there's time to work them out. That's the point. This is not something that has to be resolved tomorrow. It has to be worked out over the next month or so.
Q: What happens if your hypothesis of the arms drawdown under the peace agreement doesn't work out and there is no drawdown, but you still want a military balance because the peacekeepers will stay there until the Bosnians are able to defend themselves. Do you then have to consider putting in heavy arms? Is that the imbalance?
A: The point of negotiating a peace agreement is to achieve peace. We have to assume that, in a peaceful environment, the sides will be willing to take steps that reduce tensions. Part of that could well be a drawdown of weapons. This hasn't been worked out yet, but we're assuming, as we have from the very beginning, that day by day we will move closer to peace, and that day by day the benefits of peace will become more apparent to the combatants and that, therefore, combat will fade away and will move into a peace monitoring operation.
Q: Have you heard one peep from the combatants that they have any interest in laying down any kind of arms, any disarming at all? Or is this just an idea which the U.S. is trying to...
A: As I said to you earlier, there already has been a precedent in that the Bosnian Serb Forces have moved weapons out of the exclusion zone around Sarajevo.
Q: Not exactly voluntary.
A: This agreement will be signed because people see benefits to moving from war to peace. That's the only thing that's going to make it work. If they don't see the benefit, it's not going to work. The goal here is to make everybody see the benefits of peace rather than war. If we don't succeed, it will be a tragedy for this area. We think we have a good chance of succeeding and the progress in this direction has been quite extraordinary over the last month.
Q: To translate some numbers on the Russians, you said they had a battalion of about 800, I believe, in eastern Slovenia, about 420 in the Sarajevo...
A: I didn't say eastern Slovenia, I said Slavonia.
Q: I beg your pardon. And about 420 around Sarajevo. You said that they've offered perhaps up to a division. The United States preferred several battalions. Can you translate those into numbers?
A: No. You can see right here, they have one battalion that has 810 people in it, anther battalion that has 423 people in it. So I can't make that translation.
Q: So when they say perhaps up to a division you can't tell us how many troops they're suggesting they might add?
Q: How many troops that means in numbers?
A: No. But all of this is negotiable, and it was Minister Grachev who said yesterday that they were prepared to provide up to a division, but said that we were talking in terms of several battalions. What's going to happen over the next couple of weeks, as we carry on discussions with the Russians -- through their representatives that they're sending to SHAPE, a three-star general -- is if we can work out the standards of rules under which the Russians would participate. We'll also work out the size of the Russian force.
Q: How does the United States propose that these Russian troops be paid for? The Russians can't afford to pay for them.
A: The Russians now have troops there. They have not been... They're supposed to be paid for by the UN, but it's my understanding they haven't been paid for recently by the UN, so the Russians are bearing the cost of these troops.
We assume right now that the Russians will, in fact, bear the cost of the troops. There are options that could be worked out, and one of the options would depend on exactly what the troops do. There will be a fund put together for rebuilding Bosnia, and to the extent that the Russian troops perform functions in the sort of civil side -- the engineering side, the logistics side -- they might possibly be reimbursed for what they did. But the troops that participate in the implementation force are more likely to be paid for by their own countries.
Q: Did Secretary Perry and Minister Grachev at all address the issue of demarcation parameters as they relate to the deployment of theater missile defenses and the ABM Treaty that were left open following the Yeltsin/Clinton agreement in May?
A: They did not. I'm glad, though, you brought up the other issues, aside from the Bosnian peace implementation force. It's worth reading the press conference that they gave, because General Grachev made, I thought, two very important remarks. First, he, in discussing the CFE Treaty which deals with the conventional weapons deployed in flanks, he said that the CFE Treaty was fundamental to the security of Europe. Those weren't his exact words, but he did say it played a very important role in the security of Europe and gave a strong endorsement of this treaty.
Secondly, he noted that although Russia remains steadfastly opposed to NATO expansion eastward, that even if this expansion occurs -- and it will -- they plan to continue dealing with NATO and continue dealing with the West on important security matters. So I regard both of these comments as very important signs that the Russians are prepared to enter into a fairly significant security dialogue with NATO and with the European powers on a range of issues.
Q: I'd like to follow up on the ABM Treaty. Are there plans for the two at some point to actually come out and say we've finally settled on something? Or are they going to continue negotiating this?
A: Our view is that right now the ABM Treaty allows us to do what we want to do. We'll continue on that course.
Q: Did they discuss the Partnership for Peace? Despite the fact that the Russians are now official members of the Partnership for Peace, they didn't take part in the Louisiana exercises. This exercise that's coming up is a bilateral exercise and not a PFP exercise. Have the Russians agreed to take part in any PFP exercises?
A: This exercise, PEACEKEEPER '95, is what we call in the spirit of Partnership for Peace.
Q: All of these bilateral exercises are in the spirit, but they're not PFP exercises?
A: You went to an exercise in L'viv, Ukraine, with U.S. and Ukrainian troops which was in the spirit of PFP.
Q: I understand. Have the Russians agreed to take part in any PFP exercises yet?
A: We did not discuss that specifically.
Press: Thank you.